Skywarn Info – Weather Net Activation

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Warn is sending this out to clarify a couple of misconceptions about Skywarn and when our weather net is activated. With the severe weather season approaching, and one net already under our belts, now seems like a good time to explain the program.

First, WARN is the amateur radio section of the local chapter of the national organization known as Skywarn. This is a volunteer program officially organized and directed by the National Weather Service. By way of clarification, here are some things Skywarn is not:

  • For us HAMs, it’s not an ARRL program.
  • It is also not a program of any Emergency Management Agency.
  • It is not a storm chasing club.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t do more than one of the above, it’s just not an official act under the auspices of Skywarn. Local Skywarn spotters may have an affiliation with their local EMA, which probably works to everyone’s benefit too. Skywarn’s one and only task is to provide severe weather observations to the NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE office with WARNING RESPONSIBILITY for the area they operate in.

Each skywarn section is administered by the National Weather Service office. They are the ones that direct the activities of their program. If you want more information about how the local program works in your area, contact the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the NWS office that covers your area. The Wilmington, OH office covers southwest Ohio, northern Kentucky, and southeast Indiana. This area is broken down into 5 sub-sections. WARN is the Cincinnati section. This section covers the following counties:

In Ohio:


In Indiana:


In Kentucky:


We don’t get many reports from some of the counties remote from Cincinnati. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, there probably aren’t many ham’s comparatively speaking. Also, radio coverage may not be adequate from Cincinnati. Storm spotting is a great recruiting tool. WARN has been accompanying the NWS meteorologists to many of the non-ham spotting courses, giving a short introduction to ham radio. At some of the sessions, there has been a lot of interest. If you know of anyone in our remote counties that may be interested, please try to talk them into getting their ham ticket. Once they’re on the air they’ll be hooked and realize how much more hams can do than storm spotting. This will benefit everyone, Skywarn, RACES, ARES, etc. If we can get enough people active in the remote areas, they can run their own nets locally and someone with enough “ooomph” can send them to us for relay to Wilmington. Let’s face it, the terrain in our part of the country is awful for what we do with radios!

And now for our activation procedure:

The WARN net is activated on the 146.88 repeater at the request of the National Weather Service whenever the NWS needs information from field spotters in our 19 county area surrounding Cincinnati. Some areas distant from this repeater run local nets that in turn forward information to us. Many people think we are only a Hamilton County net. Not true. We in-turn forward the information to the NWS in Wilmington. Similar programs operate out of Dayton, OH, – Columbus, OH, – West Union, OH and Wilmington, OH. All forward their reports to the Wilmington office.

Also, some people seem upset when we don’t bring up a net when we are under a weather watch. Again, remember, we operate at the direction of the NWS. We activate when they instruct us to, and secure when they tell us to. We do not self-activate, or automatically activate when a watch is issued. The purpose of this is simple. A watch means severe weather is possible. It may not even happen. We can’t ask our people to sit around for hours for what might happen. When the NWS feels storm probability justifies a net, then they will activate us and we will bring up the net.

Hope this clarifies the Skywarn program and our net activation procedure. If you have any questions on how this works, please contact