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Who and What is Skywarn?
Citizens dedicated to protecting life and property

Skywarn Recognition Day - December 5, 2015

Updated: Thursday, September 24, 2015 21:34

Wichita, KS NWS Office

National Weather Service Office in Wichita, KS
We welcomed Meteorologist In Charge Suzanne Fortin who joined the Wichita office in May 2012. Many thanks to Warning Meteorologist in Charge Chance Hayes along with Ken Cook, Robb Lawson, Jim Caruso, Kevin Darmofal, Paul Howerton and Brad Ketcham, Jerilyn Billings Wright, other staff and interns not mentioned for the many years of service to central, south central and southeastern Kansas. The Wichita NWS Field Office has been a model of excellence for many years. The public served in the warning area has experienced extended lead times of threatening weather.

Who and What is SKYWARN®?

NWS offices across the country utilize various spotter networks for severe and other inclement weather verification and reporting. The various spotter networks are comprised of emergency management officials, law enforcement, TV meteorologists and radio stations, fire fighters, EMS personnel, and road crews. We also utilize the general public with training taking place during the late winter and early spring as NWS personnel travel to various counties to provide training. A final group of spotters utilized by our NWS office are amateur radio operators. These and other agencies not listed are working together with Wichita Skywarn group members creating an active, reliable sources to protect and serve the public.

SKYWARN® (formed in the early 1970s) is the National Weather Service (NWS) program of volunteer severe weather spotters. SKYWARN® volunteers support their local community and government by providing the NWS with timely and accurate severe weather reports. These reports, when integrated with modern NWS technology, are used to inform communities of approaching severe weather. The focus of SKYWARN® (and of the NWS) is simple...to save lives and property.

Since the 2011, the Dual-Polarized Doppler Weather Radar has provided valuable information to forecasters...with better detection of severe storm phenomena and more accurate and timely warnings. However, even with the advance in technology..."ground truth" is still a very important part of the warning process. "Ground truth" is what is actually occurring. This is especially true as the radar continues to scan higher at as it gets at greater distance from the radar. Is the storm tornadic? Is it producing large hail? How about damaging winds? Most of the "ground truth" is provided by trained storm spotters (through SKYWARN®)...or the "eyes of the NWS."

Who is Eligible?

SKYWARN® storm spotters are part of the ranks of citizens who form the nation's first line of defense against severe weather. There can be no finer reward than to know that their efforts have given communities the precious gift of time -- more lead time minutes that can help save lives.

NWS encourages anyone with an interest in public service and access to communication, such as ham radio, to join the SKYWARN® program. Volunteers include Emergency Management trained personnel, firefighters, sports directors with summer and school sporting events, and others who have the responsibility of protecting the public are also encouraged to become a spotter.

There are a few essential requirements to becoming a SKYWARN® volunteer.
  • Basics of thunderstorm development
  • Fundamentals of storm structure
  • Identifying potential severe weather features
  • Information to report
  • How to report information
  • Basic severe weather safety
  • Follow posted and normal driving laws
To be a good SKYWARN® member - to be someone that:
  • Is safe and not in the way
  • Gives concise meaningful weather ground truth information
  • Refrains from giving unnecessary weather reports
  • Who has good equipment that functions
  • Who continues to improve their weather education
  • Knows that we are all volunteers, not working for the NWS
There is room for people who are new and experienced in SKYWARN®!

How can I get involved?

Every year the National Weather Service in Wichita conducts spotter training sessions. Individuals as to look for and where to find them. What and how to report information and basic severe weather safety are also covered. The class is a multi-media presentation which includes detailed video. The class typically takes around 2 hours. More information on Storm Spotter clases will be posted on our at the top of this page when they become available. There are no required courses, however you can learn a great deal from the resources listed below.

Amateur Radio Operators

Ham radio operators are a vital link in the spotter and communication network used by the NWS during severe or otherwise inclement weather. Hams are duty bound by holding an FCC license to help without picuniary gains in many emergency responses. Not only do they report what they see with their own eyes, but they can report what others see, and also provide communications to other NWS offices should normal communication modes fail.

The largest network of repeaters are owned by individuals and Clubs and dedication to keep things working. This network takes finances to maintain and people to help keep them working optimally. This network of repeaters named K-Link began in its build in 1991 and with a the dream of a few hams and a lot of personal work by Justin, NV8Q. A push along with the help of others in the 2010-2014 timeframe, now covers nearly two thirds of the state of Kansas. Covering I-70 from Colorado to Missouri, and US81/I-135 from Nebraska to South of Wichita; and most areas in between during extremely threatening weather, the net control will ask for Skywarn or Emergency traffic only. You can hear the Minneapolis repeater Primary feed on Broadcastify 24 hours a day and during severe weather

K-Link and KØHAM/NEKSUN Repeater link systems can be linked together allowing storm coverage from the Wichita NWS area to be monitored in the north central Kansas in the Hastings, NE NWS service areas, the northeast Topeka, KS NWS service area, and overlaps with the Stateline Network into the Dodge City NWS. Thanks to Justin, NV8Q, and Brian, KCØBS for their collaberation to allow these systems to link when appropriate!

El Dorado 443.100+[162.2] is the South Central Kansas Hub owned and operated by Jordan, KØJWH, and those who made this link possible; and connects to the K-Link system via IRLP Node 7551. It can be monitored via Broadcastify during severe weather in southern Kansas if both areas have weather going in each region. Please read the K-Link Use Policy page prior to using the system. Please visit the Frequencies link page for all linked repeaters in the two systems. K0HAM is now mapped in at this time. IRLP Nodes have been added to the system to allow areas of Kansas to link in that are not presently able to connect via repeater links.

Wichita ARC's Hutchinson 146.820[103.5] at 200' and Derby Repeater 146.850[103.5PL], both are WØUUS' are connected to the Stateline Skywarn System in Nashville/Kingman, KS and covers the southwestern counties of the Wichita warning area as well as going in to Oklahoma and further west into the Dodge City warning area. The Stateline Skywarn System can reach into Kingfisher, OK.

WXØICT is now on EchoLink Node #361677 as needed. Echolink is also available for most every platform of smartphone so check the apps for your phone. There is more latency via phones. We urge any hams in southeast Kansas to use Echolink. One of the Advisory Group members will try to be on Echolink when weather warrants in the Wichita county warning area.

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Updated Thursday, September 24, 2015 21:34


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