A Guide for Amateur Radio Operators and Weather Enthusiasts

When severe weather hits, we often rely on radar and satellite imagery to track its progress. But there’s another crucial layer of information that’s essential for issuing accurate warnings: Ground Truth Information. That’s where storm spotters come in.

We spoke with Louis Long, a Section Coordinator for the Dayton Skywarn program, to learn more about the role of storm spotters in emergency communications.

Skywarn is a program run by the National Weather Service that relies on amateur radio operators and other volunteers to report severe weather phenomena from the ground. These spotters are trained to identify and report tornadoes, flash floods, and other hazardous weather conditions to the National Weather Service, providing vital information that helps inform warnings and emergency response efforts.

Jim from Ham radio Prep interviewing Louis from Skywarn

Getting Involved with Skywarn

If you’re interested in getting involved with Skywarn, Louis recommends starting by obtaining an amateur radio license and then taking a basic training course. This will give you the skills you need to communicate effectively with other spotters and the National Weather Service.

But what kind of equipment do you need to get started? According to Louis, a good handheld radio that can operate on both 2 meters and 440 frequencies is a good starting point. And if you have a mobile unit, make sure to practice hitting different repeaters in your area to ensure you can communicate effectively.

Course outline for skywarn online programme

The Importance of Ground Truth Information

As Louis emphasized, the National Weather Service relies heavily on ground truth information from storm spotters to issue accurate warnings. This means that as a spotter, you’ll need to be able to identify and report severe weather conditions from the ground. Louis recommends attending in-person training sessions to learn more about the role of the spotter and what specific information they’re looking for.

By providing this crucial ground truth information, storm spotters play a vital role in helping to protect public safety during severe weather events. Whether you’re an amateur radio operator or simply a weather enthusiast, getting involved with Skywarn can be a rewarding way to contribute to emergency communications and make a difference in your community.