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Severe Weather Spotting Preparation, Safety, and Communications. Steve Hilberg, N9XDC Debbie Fligor, N9DN Amateur Radio Emergency Service of Champaign County. Attitude and Frame of Mind. You are a storm SPOTTER, not a storm chaser!

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severe weather spotting preparation safety and communications
Severe Weather SpottingPreparation, Safety, and Communications

Steve Hilberg, N9XDC

Debbie Fligor, N9DN

Amateur Radio Emergency Service

of Champaign County

attitude and frame of mind
Attitude and Frame of Mind
  • You are a storm SPOTTER, not a storm chaser!
  • Your job is to provide factual, real-time information about weather conditions
  • We all work together in the interest of public safety
attitude and frame of mind4
Attitude and Frame of Mind

Severe thunderstorms can be deadly

To be an effective storm spotter you must also pay attention to your own safety!

  • Training
  • Awareness
awareness

Awareness

Know What’s Going On

awareness6
Awareness

“Some people are weatherwise but most are otherwise.”

Benjamin Franklin

awareness7
Awareness
  • Understand how the system operates
  • Know the terminology
    • Key to effective communication
awareness8
Awareness

Daily Convective Outlooks are issued by the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK

www.spc.noaa.gov

four levels of risk
Four Levels of Risk
  • APPROACHING
    • Strong thunderstorms are possible but little or no severe weather is expected
  • SLIGHT
    • Well-organized severe thunderstorms are expected, but in small numbers and/or low coverage
four levels of risk10
Four Levels of Risk
  • MODERATE
    • A greater concentration of severe thunderstorms, and often greater magnitude
  • HIGH
    • A major severe weather outbreak is expected
      • Usually “PDS” (Particularly Dangerous Situation) included in Public Severe Weather Outlooks (PWO) and watches
convective outlooks
Convective Outlooks
  • Day 1 issued five times a day
    • 01:00, 08:00, 11:30, 15:00, 20:00 CDT
  • Day 2 issued twice a day
    • 02:30 and 12:30 CDT
  • Day 3 issued once a day
    • 02:30 CDT
mesoscale convective discussions mcd
Mesoscale Convective Discussions (MCD)
  • Issued one-half to several hours before storms are expected to develop or move into an area
  • Information is intended for forecasters
  • Provide additional information on what action may be taken (e.g. issuing a watch)
mesoscale convective discussions mcd14
Mesoscale Convective Discussions (MCD)

MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0403

NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK

1134 AM CDT SUN APR 02 2006

AREAS AFFECTED...CNTRL THROUGH SW/S CNTRL MO

CONCERNING...SEVERE THUNDERSTORM POTENTIAL

VALID 021634Z - 021830Z

A TORNADO WW WILL PROBABLY BE NEEDED BY AROUND 18Z...OR SHORTLY THEREAFTER.

MOISTENING/HEATING OF BOUNDARY LAYER IS CONTRIBUTING TO INCREASING POTENTIAL INSTABILITY IN WARM SECTOR...EAST OF DRY LINE/COLD FRONT TRAILING FROM SLOWLY DEEPENING SURFACE LOW WHICH IS NOW WEST/NORTHWEST OF ST. JOSEPH MO.  LEADING EDGE OF STRONGER MID-LEVEL COOLING ALREADY APPEARS TO BE OVERSPREADING DEVELOPING INSTABILITY AXIS...AND INHIBITION IS WEAKENING.  THIS MAY BECOME SUPPORTIVE OF NEW BOUNDARY LAYER-BASED CONVECTIVE INITIATION AS EARLY AS 18-20Z SOUTHEAST OF THE KANSAS CITY INTO THE SPRINGFIELD AREA.

BROKEN SQUALL LINE SEEMS LIKELY TO QUICKLY EVOLVE...IN ENVIRONMENT WITH MIXED LAYER INCREASING IN EXCESS OF 2000 J/KG.  70 KT MID-LEVEL JET STREAK NOSING INTO THE OZARK PLATEAU WILL CONTRIBUTE TO DEEP LAYER SHEAR SUFFICIENT FOR SUPERCELLS. THOUGH LOW-LEVEL HODOGRAPHS MAY NOT POSSESS STRONG CLOCKWISE CURVATURE...SHEAR BENEATH 30 TO 40 TO WESTERLY 850 FLOW WILL STILL BE SUPPORTIVE OF TORNADIC ACTIVITY ...PARTICULARLY IN STRONGER/MORE ISOLATED CELLS WITHIN LINE.

.KERR.. 04/02/2006

watch
Watch
  • Means the conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms or tornadoes to develop
  • Issued for a period of 4 to 6 hours
  • Area covered may be as much as 20,000 to 40,00 square miles
  • May be trimmed, canceled, replaced, or re-issued as required
warnings
Warnings
  • Issued by local NWS office
  • Issued when severe weather detected by radar, observed by spotters, or observed by public safety officials
  • Typically for periods of 15 to 60 minutes
  • Area covered is usually one to three counties or parts of counties (polygons)
preparing for the season19
Preparing for the Season
  • Attend training
  • Be sure your vehicle is good operating order
  • Assemble necessary equipment - ready kit
ready kit

Ready Kit

Items to have with you for safe and effective spotting

required
Required
  • County or site map
  • Radio or other communications equipment
    • If using H-T, be sure to have extra batteries and/or auxiliary power cable
  • Clipboard, paper and pen
  • Identification – ARES or ESDA ID, drivers license, vehicle placards
strongly suggested
Strongly Suggested
  • Report forms or a micro cassette recorder to keep logs with
  • Wind gage, ruler, compass or GPS
  • Flashlight with extra batteries and bulbs
recommended
Recommended
  • Binoculars or small telescope
  • Rain coat that is bright colored or worn with orange vest
optional
Optional
  • Folding chair or lawn chair
  • Snacks, non-alcoholic drinks
  • Video or film camera, with extra tapes, batteries and film
  • Fire extinguisher and first aid kit
  • Spare fuses, paper towels, insect repellant
at the beginning of storm season and occasionally thereafter
At the Beginning of Storm Season, and Occasionally Thereafter
  • Make sure the lights all work: headlights, flashers, turn signal, break/backup
  • Check your fluid levels: oil, coolant, brake, battery and windshield cleaner
  • Inspect your radios, coax, power connectors, antenna and antenna connector
every time you go out
Every Time You Go Out
  • Fill the gas tank
  • Check your windshield wipers – it’s going to rain on you
  • Check your tires – tread, pressure, and spare
  • Put a fresh coat of Rain-X on the windshield if you have time
on the job

On the Job

Your Safety is Important!

spotter safety
Spotter Safety
  • Take a partner if possible
  • Driver concentrates on the road
  • Spotter concentrates on spotting and navigating
  • Always let net control know where you are
spotter safety30
Spotter Safety

Survey Your Spotting Location

  • Move completely out of traffic
  • Be visible - parking lights (not hazard flashers) or yellow caution light
  • Be sure you have a good field of view (at least 180o)
    • Important for spotting and safety
  • Are there power lines overhead?
spotter safety31
Spotter Safety

Survey Your Spotting Location

  • Too much mud?
  • Tall dry grass - a potential fire hazard near your exhaust
  • Avoid low spots or ditches that may flood quickly in heavy rain
  • Know your escape routes!
spotter safety32
Spotter Safety

Driving Safely

  • Rural intersections can have low visibility due to crops or weather
  • Heavy rain and hail=poor visibility and may mean you are in “wrong” part of storm!
  • Avoid water flowing over roads - six inches can float a moving car (hydroplaning)
  • Lightning can strike miles away - stay in your vehicle
communications35
Communications
  • Your job is to observe and communicate
  • CREDIBILITY is key!
  • Be objective in your reporting
    • Report what you observe or experience, despite what you may hear on the radio
    • Avoid subjective and personal descriptions
    • Observation should be communicated in something measurable or comparative
    • Distance, direction, and movement should be a part of every report where applicable
communications36
Communications
  • Give all reports with respect to your location
  • Estimate wind speeds or describe damage being caused
  • “When in doubt, don’t shout.”
    • If not sure of what you are seeing, take extra time to observe before you report
    • Report only what you see
communications37
Communications
  • Avoid using the words “tornado” and “funnel cloud” unless you actually observe one!
    • May cause unnecessary public panic
    • May confuse other spotters
  • Avoid mentioning specific towns or locations unless you are sure event is occurring there
communications38
Communications
  • Know WHAT to report
  • A thunderstorm is classified as severe if one or more of the following are observed:
      • tornado or funnel cloud
      • winds 58 mph or greater
      • hail 3/4 inch or greater in diameter (penny)
communications39
Communications

URGENT Priority

  • Tornado
  • Funnel cloud
  • Rotating wall cloud
  • Flash flooding
communications40
Communications

HIGH Priority

  • Hail 3/4 inch or greater in diameter
  • Winds speeds greater than 58 mph (or damaging winds)
  • Persistent non-rotating wall cloud
  • Rainfall 1 inch or more per hour
communications41
Communications

Lower Priority

  • Hail 1/4 inch or larger
  • Winds speeds greater than 40 mph
  • Cloud features suggesting storm organization (if you are familiar with these)
communications42
Communications
  • Use break tags if necessary to break into existing net traffic
    • PRIORITY – used to report important but non-life threatening info (such as damage)
    • EMERGENCY – used only for life or property threatening or damaging incident
communications43
Communications

Examples of reports we DON’T want to hear...

“I have light rain at my location”

“I can see lightning off in the distance!”

“It’s starting to brighten up here.”

“The clouds are really dark to the west.”

communications44
Communications
  • Log all of your reports
    • Note time, location, and what you observed
  • If you have something to report but cannot for some reason, LOG IT!
communications46
Communications

Keep your radio traffic...

BRIEF

CONCISE

ACCURATE

  • THINK
  • about what you are going to say before you say it!
communications47
Communications
  • Use proper radio procedures
    • “Hey you, It’s Me”
      • “Net control, this is N9XDC”
  • Repeat message back so person you are communicating with knows you understand
    • “I copy you want me to relocate to the intersection of 1200N and 500E”
    • “I copy your report of 1 inch hail at your location”
communications48

Communications

Network Operations & Procedures

network operations procedures
Network Operations & Procedures
  • Be sure to follow procedures for the particular net you participate in
    • This is critical to effective and efficient flow of information
  • Most nets are directed nets, i.e. all communications are directed to and through a net control station (NCS)
network operations procedures50
Network Operations & Procedures

Recommended General Procedures

  • Participating operators must check in with NCS by giving call sign and current location.
    • If you are not available, do NOT check in!
  • If you check in to the net, be sure to check out when you must leave
  • Remain at check-in location until dispatched or directed by NCS
network operations procedures51
Network Operations & Procedures

Recommended General Procedures

  • Notify NCS prior to any change in location, except in case of emergency or dangerous conditions
    • Get to safety. Report new location to NCS as soon as possible once situation is secure
  • Report significant events only!
champaign county ares net operations
Champaign County ARESNet Operations
  • A Champaign County severe weather net will be activated on request from Champaign County EMA, the National Weather Service, or may be activated by ARES when severe weather threatens without a formal request from EMA.
  • Two levels of nets
    • Resource/Information Net
    • Severe Weather Net
champaign county ares net operations53
Champaign County ARESNet Operations
  • A Resource/Information Net can activate at any time during the day with the potential for severe weather, and will always activate when a Tornado Watch is issued (if it has not already been activated).
    • Provide periodic updates of the current weather status
    • Take check-ins for ARES members available for spotting duty that day
champaign county ares net operations54
Champaign County ARESNet Operations
  • The Severe Weather Net is the tactical operations net
    • Will commence operation with activation of the EOC
    • May be initiated at the discretion of the EC if EC deems additional lead time may be needed.
slide56

April 2, 2006

6:57 pm CDT

slide57

50-64 kts

58-74 mph

April 2, 2006

6:52 pm CDT

Base Velocity

thanks

Thanks!

Good luck with your spotting this season!