SKYWARN

Download the Allen County SKYWARN net operations manual.

Many members of the Fort Wayne Radio Club participate in the National Weather Service (NWS) SKYWARN® program. The members serve as volunteer storm spotters, using their radios to relay reports of certain severe weather phenomena to the Northern Indiana NWS weather forecast office (WFO) near North Webster.

During periods of severe weather, the Allen County, Indiana SKYWARN ham radio net (formerly known as the IMO SKYWARN Quadrant Two Net) meets on the ACARTS 146.88 MHz repeater. The FWRC 146.76 MHz repeater serves as an alternate, should the 146.88 repeater be unavailable. Because of the wide coverage area of the Fort Wayne repeaters, spotters from locations outside Allen County, Indiana are welcome to use the Allen County SKYWARN net to relay their reports to the Northern Indiana WFO.

The net has two modes: Standby (watch) mode and Directed Net (warning) mode.

  • Standby Mode: Normal repeater use continues but operators should keep transmissions short and leave enough time between transmissions to allow spotters to break in. A net control station monitors for such reports. Stations should call "SKYWARN" to make a report or inquirty (e.g. "SKYWARN, ths is N9XAA") The repeater sends a Morse code "W" as a reset tone. The repeater controller occaisionally makes a "weather watch" voice announcement.
  • Directed Net Mode: Normal repeater use is suspended. A net control station directs all communications. Check-ins are accepted only from stations that have a spotter report to make at the time. Stations should remain off the air until and unless they have a report that conforms to NWS reporting criteria (e.g. tornado, funnel cloud, wall cloud, wind damage, flash flood). To check in with a report, stations should transmit their call signs phonetically, followed by the type of report, and then wait for acknowlegement before transmitting the deails (e.g. "November nine x-ray alpha alpha, funnel cloud."). Any appropriately licensed station, regardless of location, including visitors to the area, are welcome to check in to make reports following the procedure above. The repeater sends a Morse code "N" as a reset tone. The repeater controller occaisionally makes a "weather net" voice announcement.

For more detailed information, see the operations manual for the Allen County SKYWARN net.

Below is additional information and news about SKYWARN operations.

Local SKYWARN net changes name

Allen Co SKYWARN Net Operations Manual cover thumbnailThe amateur radio SKYWARN net based in Fort Wayne will undergo slight changes, effective Feb 1, 2017. Formerly known as the IMO SKYWARN Quadrant Two Net, it will now be referred to as the Allen County SKYWARN Net. The net will continue, however, to accept and relay reports from spotters outside Allen County, including stations in places like DeKalb and Defiance County, which were not officially part of the former quadrant net’s responsibility.

The de facto demise of the IMO SKYWARN organization led to the change. IMO SKYWARN’s fade from existence was symbolized by the recent disappearance of the organization’s website and further indicated by its board’s lack of activity for the past few years (a conference call in 2012 was the board’s most recent meeting).

IMO SKYWARN originally formed to implement an organized system to get reports from trained SKYWARN storm spotters to the Northern Indiana National Weather Service office via amateur radio. That system continues to exist. An amateur radio station at the NWS office (WX9IWX) can still simultaneously monitor four repeaters, including one in Fort Wayne, although recent difficulty staffing WX9IWX with volunteer hams has hampered the system. IMO SKYWARN also organized biennial advanced spotter training seminars in the past, but has not produced such an event since 2011.

Amateur radio continues to be an important resource to the NWS SKYWARN program as evidenced by a memorandum of understanding between the ARRL and the NWS. Spotter reports to many local ham radio nets, however, no longer travel all the way to the NWS via amateur radio. Instead, many local nets send their reports to the NWS via a private NWS internet chatroom known as NWSChat. In fact, our local net has used that method during several activations when WX9IWX was not on the air, including the August 24, 2016 tornado outbreak. Despite the popularity of NWSChat, the leadership of the Allen County SKYWARN Net intend for the net to remain a viable alternative in the event of internet failure, assuming WX9IWX can be staffed at such times.

Speaking of net leadership, it remains in the hands of the same people, with former IMO SKYWARN quadrant director Jay Farlow, W9LW, continuing the functional role of net manager, and the following experienced hams continuing as designated net control station (NCS) operators:

  • Rich, Andrew N9HRA
  • Chad Beach, W9GGA
  • Fred Gengnagel, KC9EZP
  • Steve Haxby, N9MEL
  • Bernie Holm, K9JDF
  • Brian Jenks, W9BGJ
  • Jim Moehring, KB9WWM, Allen County ARES Emergency Coordinator
  • Joel Tye, KB9RH
  • Woody Woodbury, KC9CGN

The net continues to seek additional NCS’s. Contact Farlow at the email address below for more information.

Other than the net name, the only change operators might notice is that the net repeater might enter “standby mode” less often. As a quadrant net, it entered standby mode for any severe thunderstorm watch or tornado watch that affected any of the 11 counties in its quadrant, if an NCS was available. NCS’s will continue to have discretion about when to enter standby mode, but revised net procedures will no longer require standby mode for watches that do not include Allen County. To repeat, however, the net will continue to accept reports from any station that can reach the net repeater, regardless of location. And spotter traffic from a nearby county may continue to prompt a directed net, even if severe weather isn’t threatening Allen County.

Anyone who’d like to see details of how the net will now operate may download an updated net operations manual from the FWRC website. Persons with questions about the net are encouraged to direct them to Farlow, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

IMO SKYWARN net activates for multiple tornadoes

Storm damage in Allen County, Indiana Aug. 24, 2016. W9SAN photo.
August 24, 2016 storm damage near the intersection of State Road 101 And Notestine Road in northeastern Allen County, Indiana. W9SAN photo.

A tornado outbreak occurred in Indiana and Ohio August 24, 2016. Storms did considerable damage in several of the 11 counties covered by the IMO SKYWARN quadrant two net on the Allen County Amateur Radio Technical Society 146.88 MHz repeater in Fort Wayne. Below is a log of the net's operations that day.

All Times EDT

1510 Began standby mode operation on IMO SKYWARN quadrant two ham radio frequency.

1713 K9RFZ reports 6 inches of standing water in Fort Wayne on Washington Center Road, east of N. Clinton St.

1714 Invoked directed net due to tornado warning in northeastern Allen County, Indiana (During a directed net, all stations remain off the air unless they have severe weather to report.)

1723 W9SAN confirms wall cloud, I-469 at State Road 37.

1729 KC9CGN confirms tornado, near intersection of Doty Rd. and Ricker Rd.

Read more: IMO SKYWARN net activates for multiple tornadoes

Fort Wayne hams help residents configure weather radios

Ham radio operators and SKYWARN storm spotters Howard Pletcher (N9ADS) (left) and Steve Haxby (N9MEL) configure NOAA Weather Radio receivers during a public event at a Fort Wayne Walgreens store April 11, 2016
Howard Pletcher (N9ADS) (left) and Steve Haxby (N9MEL) configure NOAA Weather Radio receivers during a public event at a Fort Wayne Walgreens store April 11, 2016.

Four Fort Wayne amateur radio operators who are also volunteer storm spotters in the National Weather Service (NWS) SKYWARN program spent several hours April 11 assisting residents with their NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) receivers.

Al Burke (WB9SSE), Steve Haxby (N9MEL), Howard Pletcher (N9ADS), and Jay Farlow (W9LW) worked alongside representatives of WANE TV, the Alllen County Office of Homeland Security, the National Weather Service and the Midland Radio Corporation at the Walgreens store on Stellhorn Road to configure NWR receivers.

The volunteers assured that the receivers' specific area message encoding (SAME) and receive frequency settings were correct, so users would receive warnings that the NWS issues for their home counties.

WANE TV had promoted the three-hour event, which was duplciated at other locations in the TV station's market area. The Walgreens store sold nearly 100 near NWR receivers during the event, which volunteers configured. Volunteers also assited other visitors who brought in their own equipment, some of which was not SAME-capable (and at least one of which was not even a receiver!).

More photos of the event are available in this website's photo gallery.

Operators sought for NWS special event station

The Fort Wayne Radio Club will be provide a special event station at the Northern Indiana National Weather Service (NWS) Office (KIWX), near North Webster, Ind. for SKYWARN Recognition Day.

The goal of the activation is to contact as many of the other NWS Offices as possible between the times of 1900 Local, December 4, 2015 (0000 UTC. December 5) and 1900 Local, Dec 5, 2015 (2400 UTC, December 5, 2015).

National Weather Service (NWS) northern Indiana weather forecast office (IWX) county warning area (CWA) mapThe FWRC is inviting all amateurs in the KIWX County Warning Area (lightly shaded counties on map at right) to participate in this event.

Please share this information with your teams and the radio clubs in your county and adjacent counties.

It is important to note that all amateurs who wish to participate in the event must pre-register with their desired times to operate.

Although it might have been possible in past years to "drop in" unexpected at the NWS office during the SKYWARN Recognition Day operations, current NWS policy prohibits access to the NWS facility by any operator who has not pre-registered. This is NWS policy over which FWRC has no control.

More information is available in a PDF file, a link to which appears below.

Any operator can pre-register by contacting me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please put "SRD" or "SKYWARN Recognition Day" in the subject line of your message.

Files:
2015 SKYWARN Recognitoin Day volunteer guidelines
Date 2015-11-16 Filesize 38.78 KB Download 1176

ACOHS publishes flyer for 2016 SKYWARN training

SKYWARN storm spotter training flyer - Allen County, Indiana - February 16 2016 - Public Safety Academy - National Weather Service training hosed by Allen County Office of Homeland SecurityThe Allen County (Ind.) Office of Homeland Security has published an 8.5 x 11 inch flyer as a PDF file that announces the date and location of SKYWARN storm spotter training scheduled for Feb. 16, 2016. You can download your own copy of the flyer using the link below.


SKYWARN training flyer 2016
Date 2015-10-20 Language  English Filesize 1.26 MB Download 1765

Save the date! 2016 SKYWARN storm spotter training

Skywarn LogoUpdate: The ACOHS has announced that the Allen County, Indiana training will take place in the auditorium of the Public Safety Academy of Northeastern Indiana, 7602 Patriot Crossing, Fort Wayne, Indiana

The northern Indiana office of the National Weather Service and the Allen County (Ind.) Office of Homeland Security have scheduled annual volunteer SKYWARN storm spotter training for 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 16, 2016.

The NWS office is also scheduling the training in other counties in its county warning area. The full list, when available, will eventually appear somewhere on the office's website.

IMO SKYWARN Quad 2 Activates July 13

IMO SKYWARN quadrant map including the entire Natiional Weather Service Northern Indiana (IWX) county warning area (CWA)
IMO SKYWARN quadrant map

On the evening of July 13, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a tornado watch that included Allen County, Ind. and all the other Indiana counties in IMO SKYWARN quadrant two (see map at right). The ACARTS 146.88 MHz repeater serves as a relay point for spotter reports from the entire quadrant to the NWS office in North Webster.

IMO SKYWARN put the repeater in SKYWARN "standby mode" shortly after the NWS issued the tornado watch. During standby mode, stations are welcome to use the repeater as they wish (although they are requested to keep transmissions short and leave enough time between transmissions to allow spotters to break in), and a SKYWARN net control station monitors the frequency to assist with any spotter reports.

Over the course of the evening, 37 stations checked in with the net control station to advise of their presence and availability to submit reports (see list below). Many were members of the Fort Wayne Radio Club. Net control stations accept such check-ins only during standby mode. When a directed net is in session, the net accepts check-ins only from stations that have spotter reports to make that comply with NWS reporting criteria.

Read more: IMO SKYWARN Quad 2 Activates July 13

Page 1 of 2