(daily during severe weather season or as requested by NWS at other times)
Net control operators are assigned weekly duty during severe weather season and at other times when requested by NWS. Success of the SKYWARN program lays almost entirely on good planning and simple, pro-active measures. The group must be ready for action before it is called out by the NWS.
Daily duties for assigned NCOs are as follows:
- Check the HWO (Hazardous Weather Outlook) for entire forecast area each morning no later than 10:00 a.m. This outlook is usually issued between 4:00 and 6:00 am and will be emailed by the NWS each day.
- If the HWO states that spotters may be needed, the primary NCO should call the National Weather Service office at 263-9750, ask to speak with the “Lead forecaster,” introduce himself as the SKYWARN net control operator, and request a weather briefing. Leave the contact phone #s of both primary and secondary NCOs with the forecaster (the coordinator is secondary if nobody has signed up).
- Call the other NCO to report on the briefing, and finalize plans for operations in forecast areas of active weather. Review the radio frequencies used in those areas (see page 3), and coordinate the net coverage schedule and needed assignments.
- Determine timing and value of County net operations, travel to the NWS office for station use, or involvement in adjacent nets, and make contact with the SKYWARN coordinators in those areas to discuss participation.
- Inform the coordinator of net plans by phone or email.
- Memory channel presets for both VHF and UHF on the Yaesu FT5100 radio at NWS correspond to the ARES/RACES frequency chart shortcut identifiers, and are listed on the included operations chart.
- Log all activities, weather reports and relays. With local nets, an assistant or available non-spotter operator can be assigned to non-control tasks as available, letting the NCO focus on control and coordination.
- Obtain both general area and specific location of any reports. The NWS forecast area is busy and noisy, and will often need a spotter report repeated. In particular, forecasters may miss the location, or the given location may lack detail that will be needed by one unfamiliar with the area. “Downtown”, “South Summerlin” or “11 miles southeast of Baker” may be a better location descriptor than an intersection or mile-marker, though having both is good.
- Request and log the spotter # for all reports.
For adjacent counties or other local nets in forecast area:
Clark County/Las Vegas Metro area, Henderson, Boulder City
- Assigned Relay Operators (RO) monitor and check into adjacent county nets. This is likely an on-duty local NCO but may be assigned to any available operator familiar with SKYWARN net operations. RO may be assigned a tactical callsign by the operation’s NCO.
- If needed, RO relays or repeats reports to NWS forecasters. Most reports are called in by spotters or the area NCO. NWS should already be monitoring the frequency used in the area(s) if at all possible.
- RO relays questions from NWS forecasters into adjacent county net control as requested.
- NCO conducts net operations.
- Log all pre-net check-ins including spotter #.
- Use the spotter # as a tactical callsign, and “Net Control” as your tactical callsign (see page 4 for more on use of tactical callsigns).
- On conclusion of any SKYWARN activity (including outlying area support), the NCO should submit a brief written report of activity to the SKYWARN Coordinator (email preferred, phone ok).
Watch issued/Severe weather possible
This is an informal discussion net led by the NCO. Operational plans are announced occasionally but there is no controlled net. Use this to prepare spotters and net operations for escalation to Level 2 or Level 1 net.
- NCO announces SKYWARN traffic on frequency following the Level 3 SCRIPT .
- HWO or watch statements are read over the air to inform and activate spotters.
- Spotter callout via LVAlert scenario activation (see page 5) or other means is appropriate.
- Travel to NWS office should begin here if determined by NCO/Coordinator or requested by NWS.
- Initial tactical assignments are made (monitoring locations, radar watch, relay operators, etc.).
- NCO or assigned operator monitors reports for elevation of watches to warnings, and changes the net to Level 2 or Level 3.
- Repeater links to watch areas may be established
Warning issued/Severe weather imminent
This is an informal but controlled net. Gathering spotter reports is the main objective. Other traffic on frequency is allowed but should go through the NCO
- Developing storm conditions
- Repeater links to warning area are established if not done previously
- NCO announces SKYWARN traffic on frequency following Level 2 SCRIPT
- Spotter check-ins are taken, with spotter #s
- Tactical assignments given as needed for the situation
- NWS issued warnings are read over the air every 5-10 minutes
- Radar statement is given every 5-10 minutes if appropriate
- Initial spotter reports are relayed by telephone or radio (this may trigger Level 1 escalation)
Severe weather occurring
This is a formal, controlled net. No other traffic should occur on frequency.
- Use the Level I SCRIPT .
- Gathering spotter reports is the main objective.
- Traffic on frequency limited to stations checked into the net, all radio traffic goes through or is approved by NCO
- NCO or assigned operator forwards received weather reports to NWS
Use of Tactical Callsigns
The use of tactical callsigns helps clarify the function of individual stations. These tactical callsigns should be used in lieu of Amateur callsigns for all initial calls and for subsequent exchanges of traffic. However, all station operators must still follow all FCC rules when operating the station. An Amateur callsign must be used at the end of an exchange or every ten minutes to satisfy FCC regulation 97.119. This is easily satisfied by terminating an exchange with your tactical callsign plus your FCC-assigned Amateur callsign.
For example: "Watchpoint 1 Clear, KZØZZZ"
If at all possible, tactical callsigns should be defined in advance of an event and distributed to participating stations for reference. Otherwise, Net Control should announce the tactical callsign assignments as a station assumes a particular function. Using tacticals allows for smoother net operations as stations assigned to a specific station come and go there is no reason to know who is at the location, only what the tactical for that station is.
As an example, weather nets could use the following tactical callsigns, or something of the net control operator’s choosing:
- Net Control
- Weather service
- LV-33 (spotter#)
- Relay – Mojave
- Relay – San Bernardino