Spotters protect quadrant during July storms

A line of severe thunderstorms came through northeastern Indiana and northwestern Ohio July 10. When the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch at 12:31 p.m. EDT, IMO SKYWARN went into standby mode on the 146.88 MHz ACARTS repeater. By the time the operation ended at 3:28 p.m., 35 stations had participated in the operation, representing the following counties: Allen (Ind.), Allen (Ohio), Blackford, Huntington, Noble, Whitley and Van Wert. IMO SKYWARN received 12 reports, which were relayed via telephone to the National Weather Service office in North Webster.

In quadrant two, the system dropped some hail and did straight-line wind damage, including blowing down trees and power lines. Most of those reports came from Blackford, Jay and Van Wert Counties.

This is the same storm system that briefly dropped an EF1 tornado on Peru, which is in IMO SKYWARN quadrant three. What happened in Peru emphasized the value of the 35 stations who were involved in the quadrant two operation. The National Weather Service did not receive any reports of the Peru storm damage until hours after it occurred – and well after the same storm system had passed through quadrant two. With 35 stations available during a weekday, I’m confident that the NWS would have heard about such damage much sooner, had it been on our area. Keep up the good work!

Online training still available

Photo of a funnel cloud look alike over the Fort Wayne area in March, 2013.
This funnel cloud look-alike appeared over Fort Wayne in March, 2013. Training helps spotters tell the difference between rain shafts like this and true funnel clouds.

While we can be proud that so many hams show up and are ready to report when severe weather threatens, some of those well-meaning hams might not have recently received National Weather Service spotter training. Training is important for many reasons. It helps you know what to look for and how not to be fooled by “look-alike” phenomena that doesn’t represent danger. Most importantly, it helps you know how to remain safe while serving as a storm spotter.

Online independent study storm spotter training became available this year. It’s easy to use and very informative. In July, the National Weather Service informed me that 32 Allen County (Ind.) residents have completed the online training. Of those, 12 are licensed ham radio operators: K9JDF, KB9WWN, KA9IPA, KB9WWM, KC9CGN, KC9EZP, KC9HIY, KC9MUT, N9MEL, N9UKE, W9GGA and W9LW. If you’ve completed the online training but aren’t on that list, contact me at and I’ll put you in touch with the appropriate person at the National Weather Service. If you’re one of the hams who participate in SKYWARN operations but have not taken the new online spotter training course, I strongly urge you to complete the training. You can find it at this URL:

SKYWARN hams program weather radios

Photo of N9TB and KC9MUT programming weather radios at a Walgreens store
Tom Baker, N9TB (left) and Charles Ward, KC9MUT, help visitors to a Walgreens store program their new weather radio.

In my June and July columns for Allen County HamNews, I forgot to mention that several local hams provided a valuable public service in late May, by helping people program the Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) decoders on their NOAA Weather Radios. Properly configured radios reduce the incentive to turn off weather radios that would otherwise activate for warnings affecting distant areas. Several organizations hosted the weather radio programming events, including Walgreens, Kroger, WANE-TV and the Allen County Department of Homeland Security. One event occurred at a Walgreens on West Jefferson Blvd and the other happened a few days later at the Kroger on Dupont Road. The following hams volunteered their time at one or both of the events: Tom Baker, N9TB; Jim Moehring, KB9WWM; Joseph Lawrence, K9RFZ; Tom Rupp, KU8T; Charles Ward, KC9MUT; and Jay Farlow, W9LW. Together they programmed a total of more than 100 weather radios.