We monitor predictions and warnings of the National Weather Service and the Storm Prediction Center. As storms develop we analyze radar signatures and cell paths. We prepare for activation when cells are moving towards our area.
When severe cells threaten we activate Skywarn Net on 146.84 Mhz. Storm spotters go mobile to spot wall clouds, funnel clouds, tornadoes, and to relay critical information to the NWS. We are certified storm spotters and licensed amateur radio operators.
We run a weekly training net to practice disciplined emergency communications on the W4AP repeater 146.84 Mhz. We provide communications for many community events to sharpen our skills.
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.
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.
Our vehicles have warning lights in strict accordance with the laws of the State of Alabama. We use lights to warn motorists as needed in limited visibility. We assist with traffic control when requested.
We have watched with pleasure, interest, and excitement as Elmore County ARES is developing and responding to weather threats much as Skywarn does. We have set up a policy concerning Central Alabama Skywarn Nets and Elmore County ARES or Elmore County Skywarn: 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 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.
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.