Friday, July 24, 2009

El NiƱo Arrives; Expected to Persist through Winter 2009-10

NOAA has released additional information about the most recent SST / El Nino Click on this link to read the entire story.

* 2009 Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 24th - May 30th 2009)

History teaches that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. By knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the affects of a hurricane disaster.

The goal of Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 24th - May 30th 2009) is to is to provide knowledge which can be used to take action and protect lives and property while at work or at home, whether on the road or on the water.

You should be able to answer the following questions before a tropical system threatens:

  • What are the hazards
  • How will this affect me
  • What actions should I take to be prepared

In order to assist you with decision making and common sense, each day this week the National Weather Service has highlighted a different topic relating to the history, affects, forecasts, preparedness and actions required when confronting land falling tropical systems such as hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions; these topics and their appropriate links are listed below:

Sunday - Hurricane History

Monday - Storm Surge

Tuesday - High Winds

Wednesday - Inland Flooding

Thursday - Forecast Process

Friday - Be Prepared

Saturday - Take Action

It is important for your family/work to have a plan that includes the potential hazards. Look carefully at the safety actions associated with each type of tropical system hazard and prepare your family/work disaster plan accordingly.

(More information can be found by visiting the following web site: National Hurricane Preparedness Week )


Lightning is one of the most deadly and damaging types of weather we face here in North Carolina and it typically does not receive enough attention.

In the United States, an average of 62 people are killed each year by lightning. Already in 2009, 15 people have died due to lightning strikes. In 2008, 28 people were struck and killed by lighting in the U.S.; hundreds of others were injured. Of the victims who were killed by lightning in 2008:

  • 100% were outside
  • 79% were male
  • 36% were males between the ages of 20-25
  • 32% were standing under a tree
  • 29% occurred on or near the water

For more information regarding lightning safety, please visit the following web page:

NOAA's Lightning Safety Website

The History of Triad SKYWARN

1980's - Our origins can be dated back prior to the 1984 "Carolina's Outbreak" of tornadoes which brought about an increased interest in the SKYWARN program across North Carolina.  Up until that time, the amateur radio effort out of the Greensboro National Weather Service Office was the only one in the state.

1991 - First formally organized as "Greensboro SKYWARN" through the former Greensboro National Weather Service Office.  This was the first effort to bring an existing amateur radio "Weather Net" that dated back to prior to 1984 into a formal NWS SKYWARN Organization.  During this time, NWS SKYWARN Protocols and formal Spotter Training Classes were initiated.

1994 - Became "Triad SKYWARN" after the National Weather Service re-organization which decommissioned the old Greensboro NWS Office at Piedmont Triad International Airport.  (Incidentally, NWS weather balloon launches continue out of PTI on a daily basis.)

1994 - With the re-organization of NWS Offices and their respective County Warning Areas (CWAs), Triad SKYWARN began serving the Raleigh National Weather Service Office, as well as a second National Weather Service Office in Blacksburg, VA due to the inclusion of the Virginia border counties of Surry, Stokes, Rockingham and Caswell into their newly defined CWA.

2002 - Triad SKYWARN moved its primary operating frequency from 145.250 mhz W4GG repeater to the newly commissioned 147.255 mhz K4ITL Asheboro repeater due to its ability to cover the entire 12 counties within the Triad SKYWARN area.

2003 - With the inactivity of the former "Sandhills SKYWARN Program", Triad SKYWARN expanded from 9 to 12 counties with the adoption of Stanly, Montgomery and Moore Counties by request from the NWS Raleigh Office.

Triad SKYWARN has a long history of volunteer public service to the National Weather Service over the past 35+ years, including many memorable severe and winter weather events which have had a significant impact on central North Carolina, and we look forward to continuing to enhance the NWS forecasts many years into the future by providing "ground truth" observations during inclement weather events.

(Historical data provided by the present and former Emergency Coordiantors of the Greensboro/Triad SKYWARN Progarm: Steve Marks - N4SCM, Bill Boyes - KB1G and John Hamilton - NC4JH)

What is Triad SKYWARN?

Triad SKYWARN is an organization of severe weather spotters trained by the National Weather Service. Many of our Spotters are amateur radio operators who make use of portable and mobile radios to report severe weather conditions to the National Weather Service Offices in Raleigh, NC and Blacksburg, VA. The NWS Office also utilizes a specific telephone number, email and social media outlets to collect reports of criteria severe weather. These reports are used to verify existing severe weather warnings and are often used to assist the meteorologists in determining when and where additional warnings should be issued. 

Our trained severe weather spotters volunteer many hours each year to support the SKYWARN program.  We are responsible for providing severe weather information to and from counties in and around the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina in cooperation with the National Weather Service Offices in Raleigh, NC and Blacksburg, VA.

Our served counties include Alamance, Caswell, Davidson, Forsyth, Guilford, Montgomery, Moore, Randolph, Rockingham, Stanly, Stokes, and Surry Counties in the state of North Carolina.

During severe weather events, and pending availability of a Net Control Operator (who are all volunteers with regular jobs/lives), Triad SKYWARN will be active on the 147.255 mhz K4ITL Asheboro repeater (or the subsequent back-up repeaters when a repeater is down - in descending order as listed on the home page) so that any reports of severe weather may be relayed to and from the National Weather Service.

Leadership Team

The leadership team is comprised of amateurs from around the Triad who coordinate the activities of Triad SKYWARN.  The team is made up of an Emergency Coordinator, an Assistant Emergency Coordinator (AEC) for Operations, a Net Manager, and an AEC for each of the coutnies in the Triad SKYWARN area.

Emergency Coordinator = John Hamilton - NC4JH
AEC Operations = Vacant
Net Manager = Vacant
AEC Alamance = Vacant
AEC Caswell = Vacant
AEC Davidson = Tim Hedrick - KI4QCN
AEC Forsyth = Vacant
AEC Guilford = Vacant
AEC Montgomery = Vacant
AEC Moore = Raymond Arnold - KG4CPM
AEC Randolph = Vacant
AEC Rockingham = Vacant
AEC Stanly = Vacant
AEC Stokes = Vacant
AEC Surry = Vacant

Weekly Information Nets

** The Triad SKYWARN Weekly Information Nets have been TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED due to the outage of both our Primary & Secondary Repeaters.  We will advise when the weekly nets will resume; this will be pending the infrastructure/resources returning to availability. **
Every Tuesday night at 8:30 Triad SKYWARN holds a Weekly Training Net on the primary 147.255 K4ITL Asheboro repeater. The net runs approximately 30 minutes and includes:
  • Local Amateur Check-Ins
  • Announcements from the Leadership Team
  • A Training Topic for Spotters (when applicable)

Net Control Stations (NCS)

Net Control Stations are volunteers who have gone through specific training to coordinate and manage the Severe Weather and Weekly Information Nets. The NCS will coordinate all traffic on the repeater when Triad SKYWARN is in either a Standby, Active, or Emergency Mode. If you have traffic for a net, please call the NCS station to relay pertinent information.

Triad SKYWARN is always looking for more qualified amateur radio stations who would like to volunteer to act as a NCS during Severe Weather Nets and Weekly Information Nets.

If you are interested in becoming a Net Control Operator, please contact the Emergency Coordinator.

Severe Weather Nets

The mission of SKYWARN is to provide time sensitive "ground truth" information to the National Weather Service on severe weather. The National Weather Service uses this information to issue or verify Watches and Warnings for specific areas. Triad SKYWARN will activate a Severe Weather Net at the request of the National Weather Service or at the discretion of the SKYWARN Leadership team to collect spotter reports throughout the Triad.

Net Procedures

Whenever severe weather threatens, spotters are requested to monitor the primary 147.255 K4ITL repeater to relay reports to the National Weather Service. If SKYWARN is active, you will hear a Net Control Station making announcements and/or the courtesy tone of the repeater will be changed to a CW "S" to signify that SKYWARN is active. SKYWARN has three activation modes depending on the current situation:
  • Standby - Severe weather is threatening but has not entered the area.
  • Active - Severe weather has entered the area and Skywarn Net Control Stations are taking and soliciting reports from the coverage area
  • Emergency - Severe weather is impacting a specific location and the NCS is soliciting specific reports from a certain location.
IMPORTANT - Spotter Reports are always wanted when severe weather threatens, however there is specific reporting Criteria that has been defined by the National Weather Service. If you do not have criteria reports, please do not provide a non-criteria report unless the NCS station specifically requests it.

Reporting Criteria for SKYWARN

Severe Weather Reporting Criteria
  • Rotating Wall clouds, Funnel clouds, Tornadoes
  • Hail any size initially, then the largest size (reference objects like coins, golf balls, etc.)
  • Winds that cause damage to large limbs and structures
  • Rains that flood areas that are not normally prone to flooding
  • Significant storm damage: downed trees or power lines

Rain Event Reporting Procedures
From time to time the National Weather Service requests information from spotters on rain amounts across the Triad. Please monitor this website, the yahoo group and the net frequency to get notified the time schedule for reporting. When it is requested, the net will activate to collect the following information:
  • Total amount of rain having fallen since Midnight
  • Amount of rain having fallen in the last hour
  • Amount of rain having fallen since the last report
  • Other variables requested by NWS

Winter Weather Reporting Procedures
Nets are regularly requested by the National Weather Service during times of Winter Weather events. Please monitor this webpage, the yahoo group and the net frequency to get notified of the time schedule for Winter Weather Nets. Below are the conditions that are normally requested by the National Weather Service in Raleigh. (Net Control Operators can use this form for reporting purposes)
  • Precipitation Type
  • Precipitation Rate (light, moderate, heavy)
  • Changes in Precipitation Type
  • Accumulation
  • Temperature
  • Wind Speed and Direction
  • Sustained Power Outages (not on and off blinks)