After a quiet May, we had a couple of SKYWARN activations in IMO SKYWARN’s quadrant two in June.
June 12 activation
At about 5 p.m. on June 12, the National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center issued a rare “particularly dangerous situation” thunderstorm watch. IMO SKYWARN went into standby mode shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, the ACARTS 146.88 MHz repeater, which serves as the primary repeater for IMO SKYWARN’s quadrant two net, began having issues. A net control station quickly moved the operation to the FWRC 146.76 repeater.
That evening, the NWS issued a tornado warning for northern Allen County. Several stations from the area provided important visual confirmation that the warned storm was not producing a tornado. At various times during the evening, other stations provided reports of hail. At 12:24 a.m., the IMO SKYWARN operation ended. Forty-four stations participated in the June 12 operation, including WX9IWX at the NWS northern Indiana office and stations representing several counties in the quadrant.
June 27 activation
June 27, severe thunderstorms again threatened the area. IMO SKYWARN quadrant two began standby mode at 8:22 p.m. Eight stations made reports, including hail and rainfall totals, which were relayed via telephone to the northern Indiana NWS office because WX9IWX was not staffed. An additional 14 stations checked in near the end of the operation when a net control station invited all on-air stations to identify themselves.
As was the case June 12, net control stations never deemed it necessary to activate a directed net, due to the relatively low volume of reports. Nonetheless, during the height of the storm in Fort Wayne, the frequency remained mostly silent except for spotter reports and weather statement transmissions. Operators should be proud of the discipline they demonstrated. Standby mode ended at 9:58 EDT.
As a reminder, during standby mode, a SKYWARN net control station monitors the frequency, transmits weather updates and assists with inquiries and the relay of reports to the NWS. During standby mode, stations are welcome to use the repeater as they wish, including discussing weather phenomena that doesn’t meet normal reporting criteria. If the repeater gets busy with reports, a net control station may begin a directed net, during which stations should transmit only with the permission of the net control station. You can find detailed descriptions of both modes in the IMO SKYWARN quadrant two on the FWRC website.
Finding the net
June’s activations provided an opportunity to test our plan to switch to an alternate repeater when necessary. Unfortunately, when the primary 146.88 MHz repeater fails, it won’t always be possible for all stations to hear an announcement that SKYWARN is changing to the 146.76 MHz repeater. You might just have to check each frequency. Because, as you read above, stations often remain silent during periods of severe weather, it will sometimes be the case that the only way to determine if SKYWARN is on frequency is to transmit your call sign and see what happens. Net control stations understand that, so don’t hesitate to do so.
As you have probably noticed, the amateur radio station at the NWS office is not always staffed during periods of severe weather. That’s because there just aren’t enough trained ham volunteers to staff the station during every severe weather event. There’s not much we in the Fort Wayne area can do to help, because of the time it would take to travel to the office. When WX9IWX is not on the air, we must use other means to get reports to the office, such as telephone or various Internet services. As a spotter, you may either ask a net control station to relay your report or call it in yourself and then transmit it on the air so other spotters will know what you reported.