National Weather Service (NWS) program of trained volunteer severe weather spotters
SKYWARN volunteers support Calloway County, KY by providing the NWS with timely and accurate severe weather reports. These reports, when integrated with modern NWS technology, are used to inform our citizens of the proper actions to take as severe weather threatens. SKYWARN, formed in the early 1970's, has historically provided critical severe weather information to the NWS in time to get the appropriate warnings issued . Thus the key focus of the SKYWARN program is to save lives and property through the use of the observations and reports of trained volunteers.
Despite the elaborate radar and forecasting equipment at the National Weather Service, they are only able to determine the potential for severe weather. They rely on reports from the public and law enforcement personnel and actual severe weather.
Accurate and reliable information from the general public is difficult to obtain. Severe weather is complicated and confusing. The NWS has found that only regular training of weather spotters improves the quality of information. The National Weather Service (NWS) collaborates with Amateur Radio organizations and others to put together training programs. The NWS brings its weather knowledge, the Amateur Radio Service brings its expertise in emergency communications, and together they work with local government and the Red Cross.
The Amateur Radio's operators participation in the SKYWARN program is formally acknowledged and encouraged in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) and the NWS. This agreement indicates that ARRL will encourage its local volunteer groups operating as the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) to provide the NWS with spotters and communicators as requested by the NWS during times of severe weather.
Trained SKYWARN observers provide the Weather Service with accurate, and timely reports from radio equipped cars and homes. The NWS is most interested in severe weather reports. Severe weather includes flash flooding, hail, damaging winds, a wall cloud (which is the area of a thunderstorm where a tornado could form) and a tornado funnel. If the NWS confirms severe weather with radar and other available information, it then notifies local authorities who then can activate Civil Defense sirens. The news media receives notification so they can make reports on local broadcast stations.
SKYWARN volunteers donate thousands of hours and the use of their own personal radio equipment and vehicles to give their communities advanced warning of life threatening weather. Since the NWS instituted the SKYWARN Program, there has been a significant decrease in the death rate due to tornadoes and other severe weather.
Calloway County is located in Western Kentucky, southeast of Paducah. Murray is the county seat.
Weather net operations are as follows:
- Weather "SKYWARN" Net: on 146.940/.340 as required during severe weather conditions.
Click here for John Hart's: Weather Network Operating Protocol.
Who Can Join? Calloway County SKYWARN is open to any licensed Amateur Radio operator in Calloway County. Those living outside the county are encouraged to participate in our operations, but should join their local SKYWARN organization. If there is no local organization, we'll be glad to help you start one! We also encourage you to apply for membership in the Murray State University ARC (MSUARC). MSUARC membership is not required to join the Calloway County ARES.
For more information, or to join the Calloway County SKYWARN or the Murray State University ARC contact Mark Garland, K4SDI, ARES Emergency Coordinator for Calloway County.