Skywarn
About Skywarn™...
The National Weather Service modernized during the 1990s, with technological advances and employee training greatly improving the warning process.
 
While changes have taken place, some things have remained the same.  Skywarn™ has been around for several decades, and is valuable when severe weather threatens.
 
Each year, the value of this program is celebrated during Skywarn™ Recognition Day.
 
Skywarn™ Recognition Day
 
National Weather Service Logo The National Association for Amateur Radio Logo National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Logo
 

The National Weather Service, in cooperation with the Amateur Radio Relay League, sponsored Skywarn™ Recognition Day from 6 pm CST on December 4th to 6 pm CST on December 5th, 2015. The purpose of the event was to recognize the vital public service contribution that amateur radio operators make during National Weather Service severe weather warning operations. It is important to remember that these radio operators are volunteers. They give their time and use of their equipment as a public service.

HAM radio operators during Skywarn™ Recognition Day, 2015 included (clockwise from top) Greg Lindstrom (K5GSL), James Cope (AI5Z), and Rocky Weeks (AF5AF). This was the 17th year of the event (since 1999). Amateur radio operators, commonly known as HAMs, participated at over 90 National Weather Service (NWS) offices across the country.
In the picture: HAM radio operators during Skywarn™ Recognition Day, 2015 included (clockwise from top) Greg Lindstrom (K5GSL), James Cope (AI5Z), and Rocky Weeks (AF5AF). Click to enlarge.

In Arkansas, a special radio call sign...WX5LZK...was assigned to the HAMs at North Little Rock. The HAMs attempted to reach as many other weather offices as possible and other participating contacts around the world. During this event, the HAMs made 354 contacts in 41 states, with 6 contacts out of country. Weather conditions including sky condition and temperature were documented for each contact. 

In actual emergencies, the HAMs are often called upon for their radio skills. For example, during severe weather outbreaks, HAMs operate a base station at the National Weather Service to gather reports of severe weather across Arkansas. Watches, warnings, and statements are broadcast from the base station to HAMs around the state.

In addition to gathering severe weather reports in their areas, many HAMs have been certified as severe weather spotters. In fact, the names of several hundred HAMs are found in the spotter rolls. HAM radio operators during Skywarn™ Recognition Day, 2015 included (from left) Landon McCord (AF5OD), James Cope (AI5Z), and Michael Vaughan (KG5FUE).
In the picture: HAM radio operators during Skywarn™ Recognition Day, 2015 included (from left) Landon McCord (AF5OD), James Cope (AI5Z), and Michael Vaughan (KG5FUE). Click to enlarge.

In cases of widespread communications outages, the HAMs can also serve as a vital link between National Weather Service offices when normal communications circuits are out of service.

National Weather Service offices in Arkansas and surrrounding states that participated in Skywarn™ Recognition Day, 2015.
In the picture: National Weather Service offices in Arkansas and surrrounding states that participated in Skywarn™ Recognition Day, 2015.

For example, a large earthquake along the New Madrid fault (which runs from Illinois to Arkansas) could very well knock out most normal communications. In such a situation, HAMs would operate their radio equipment and serve to link National Weather Service offices.

This is a radio antenna erected just prior to Skywarn™ Recognition Day, 2015 and used by HAMs during the event. During the record-breaking hurricane season in 2005 (storms such as Katrina and Rita), HAMs provided such services to offices adjacent to the Gulf Coast.
In the picture: This is a radio antenna erected just prior to Skywarn™ Recognition Day, 2015 and used by HAMs during the event. Click to enlarge.

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For more about Skywarn™, visit our Skywarn™ page by clicking here.

For more information concerning Skywarn™ Recognition Day...visit the official event homepage by clicking here.


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