Welcome to the North Alabama/Southern Middle Tennessee SKYWARN Network website!
Here, you can find out what this organization is all about, also get related weather information from NOAA’s National Weather Service of Huntsville, Alabama and the Storm Prediction Center of Norman, Oklahoma.
The preferred mode for traffic into this net is via a liaison station from a local county net. (see below). Individuals are encouraged to “check-in” with their local emergency net instead of the SKYWARN net. It is critical that people in your county get the information as quickly as possible. This also makes the net more efficient, since the North Alabama and Southern Middle Tennessee SKYWARN net control operator is only having to communicate with around 10 liaisons when a request for specific info comes from the National Weather Service. The North Alabama-Southern Middle Tennessee SKYWARN Net will, however, recognize ANY station that has emergency or priority traffic.
To participate in this net one needs:
- An FCC Amateur Radio License Technician Class or higher…
- A willingness to volunteer his/her services…
- A thorough understanding of these operating procedures….
Although not officially required, the Huntsville National Weather Service provides and recommends storm spotter training and certification, which will greatly increase the accuracy of the reporting.
This network will utilize a linked VHF repeater system, which provides optimal coverage for all of the North Alabama counties and links those counties to the Huntsville NWS office. The linked repeater system is designed to allow stations to use low powered handheld and mobile radios, thereby eliminating the risk of operating on an external antenna during thunderstorms. With the linked repeater system, it is possible to set up direct communications between persons located virtually anywhere across North Alabama/Southern Middle Tennessee and that traffic can be monitored by the National Weather Service in Huntsville.
The linked repeater frequencies are:
Individual County Nets
This net recognizes that each county is responsible for organizing it’s SKYWARN personnel and encourages each county to hold an ongoing net on their local frequency. It is preferable that stations “check-in” with a local net. It is recommended that these local nets be coordinated with the county EMA, and that provisions be made to have an operator at the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) to be a net liaison.
Severe Weather Activation: An ESTABLISHED NET CONTROL OPERATOR will activate the North Alabama/Southern Middle Tennessee SKYWARN Emergency Net anytime the SPC issues a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, Tornado Watch, or receives a specific request from the NWS office to activate. The Net Control Operator may be located at his/her residence or, preferably, at a county EOC. An NWS Liason will be activated by the NWS office in Huntsville and he/she will report to the NWS there to coordinate traffic with all hams in the coverage area. North Alabama and Southern Middle Tennessee SKYWARN, and the NWS can utilize statewide alpha-numeric paging to activate and update amateur radio operators that are equipped with pagers. The NWS Liason will coordinate all weather traffic with the SKYWARN Net Control Operator. Persons are asked to pass weather traffic to the North Alabama and Southern Middle Tennessee SKYWARN Net Control Operator only, and operators are asked NOT to pass traffic directly to the NWS Liason unless directed to do so by the net control station.
Upon activation of the net, all repeater links are turned on and recreational use of the systems are temporarily suspended. The frequencies are kept clear for EMERGENCY and PRIORITY traffic. IMPORTANT: THE SUCCESS OF THIS NET DEPENDS ON EVERYONE USING DISCRETION WITH THEIR MICROPHONES. PLEASE DO NOT TRANSMIT UNLESS IT IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Do NOT transmit to pass information that is of no real use for the net, such as it’s raining, the clouds are getting thicker, it’s lightning off to the west….etc… Traffic of this nature is of no real use to the net and only ties up the frequencies from useful information. Always think before you transmit… USE DISCRETION WITH YOUR MICROPHONES. Remember also that as many as several hundred hams, and private citizens, can be listening all across north Alabama and will not transmit unless they see a need to do so. Most of the time just listening and calling when you have severe weather to report is the best help you can provide a severe weather net!!
The Net may be downgraded to an alert status if a watch is in effect, but there is not any severe
weather immediately threatening the area. Recreational use of the repeaters is permitted during Alert Status,
but please keep transmissions brief and allow pauses in between. If a weather emergency arises,
the NET CONTROL OPERATOR will resume the controlled net.
When the severe weather bulletin is canceled or expired, the net will close and the linked repeaters
will be returned to their normal use.
EMERGENCY NET REPORTING
NWS is especially interested in the following:
- Funnel cloud or tornado.
- Wall cloud with or without rotation
- Location (reference to town or major roads)
- Event Time – Always give a time. This is important!! Most all reports older than 15 minutes
are of little or no use during a severe weather event. DO NOT send in reports from a second
source such as news media…Example: “Channel 83 says it’s all clear in Limestone county”
or “they are saying on the scanner in XYZ county that it is clearing to the west. “These kind
of reports only confuse the conduct of this net and it’s purpose!
- Wind speeds in mph, remember that severe begins at 58.
- Hail – Always give hail size in reference to coins such as dime, quarter or 1/4 inch or
1/2 inch hail…etc.. Generally, less than a quarter of an inch should not be reported.
Avoid using “marble or pea size” to describe the size.
- Flash Flooding
When sending a report in to the Net Control Operator:
- ALWAYS relay your report with reference to the nearest city or town.. For example: I am seeing a wall cloud in the Mooresville community 3 miles northeast of Decatur. This reference to the nearest town or city will help NWS officials in Huntsville who are new to the area and not aware of the location of the hundreds of small communities and crossroads in north Alabama.
- Please remember that the purpose of the net is to RECEIVE severe weather reports from spotters in the field and help the NWS verify what they are seeing on radar.. The net is not intended as a “one stop weather source” for all weather information you may request
for a certain area… The net may relay conditions in a certain area for the storm spotter’s safety, but detailed weather information requests to net control for a particular community only tie up the frequency, and should be gathered from NOAA weather radio, TV or Broadcast Radio. It is not the intent of this net to provide amateur radio operators with “up to the minute forecasts for their community.”
Please remember that statement in order for the net to be successful in it’s true purpose.