We monitor the Storm Prediction Center and the NWS, analyze radar signatures and cell paths, and activate as needed.
We report observations to the NWS and to the WSFA weather team alongside the certified storm spotters of the WSFA Storm Squad
Simply complete the basic online storm spotter course offered regularly by the NWS online and have an amateur radio license (also easy to get)
We run a weekly training net and provide communications to community events to practice disciplined and effective procedures.
When we activate, storm spotters go mobile to spot wall clouds, funnel clouds, tornadoes, and ground damage.
K4NWS is the ham radio station at the offices of the National Weather Service in Birmingham. Ham radio operators relay observations directly to the NWS meteorologists.
Three radar sites serve Central Alabama: KBMX near the Shelby County airport just south of Birmingham; KMXX about 30 miles east of Montgomery near the Macon and Tallapoosa county line; and KEOX east of Ozark in Dale County.
In Autauga County even the closest radar site has beams that are 4,000 feet high, which means that radar cannot see what happens below 4,000 feet. In some areas of Lowndes County radar beams are 5,000 feet and higher.
Trained storm spotters are needed to spot and confirm the development of wall clouds and funnels and to provide reliable and accurate real-time reports to the National Weather Service. This allows for timely warning of the population.
Whenever Central Alabama Skywarn is operating a net on the 146.84 repeater, all members of Elmore County ARES and Elmore County Skywarn have full privileges to pass traffic and to coordinate with us and among themselves. Net controllers will promptly recognize members of Central Alabama Skywarn, Elmore County ARES, or Elmore County Skywarn for the purpose of making contacts, passing traffic, or other coordination. In the same vein, Elmore County ARES or Elmore County Skywarn operators have full privileges to call nets on the 146.84 repeater and to serve as net controls to address possible weather threats.
KA9MVA, Steve, and KV4UZ, Trent, operating during an exercise at the Elmore County EOC in Wetumpka.
We are not storm chasers. We observe severe storms from a safe distance to observe for wall clouds, funnel clouds, tornadoes, and damage on the ground. Our priority is safety for all.
Our main objective is to observe the behavior of severe thunderstorm cells and to relay critical information to the National Weather Service by means of amateur radio and any other appropriate means of communications.
Skywarn Net Controllers take turns running the Thursday evening training net.
Here is the schedule:
This is the script for the Thursday Night Training Net.
Suggested script and guidelines for the activation of the Skywarn Net when the National Weather Service issues a severe weather warning for one of our counties.
Description of general Skywarn Net procedures. The primary objective for Skywarn Net is to keep the frequency clear of chatter for possible severe weather observations and reports. Check-ins are only taken at certain times when net control calls for them. This is a directed net.
A discussion of Skywarn Net procedures for new controllers.
Spotters need to know the geography of our area so they can assess where to position themselves and where people need to be warned. Here is a detailed map of the Central Alabama Skywarn area.