If you would like to know more about how you might be able to participate in the weather spotting area of the NWA EmComm Group please contact Jonathan George. Just CLICK HERE

NW SKYWARN Procedures

The Northwest Arkansas SKYWARN program operates under a memorandum of understanding with the NWS and the Benton County Office of Emergency Communications. Spotters and net control operators of Benton County SKYWARN are licensed amateur radio operators.

Our SKYWARN nets are called up by the Director on duty of Emergency Communications at Benton County, when severe weather approaches the area of responsibility of the National Weather Service Tulsa office. This area is Benton, Carroll, Washington, Madison, Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian counties. At this time, our net and volunteer network is specifically focused on Benton County and it’s cities within. We plan to expand to the rest of the counties throughout Northwest Arkansas as soon as possible.

SKYWARN Frequencies

Primary Repeaters

The primary repeater system of the Benton County SKYWARN Weather Net is the KD5DMT repeater system. This repeater link is owned and maintained by Benton County Radio Operators.

West Benton County KD5DMT Centerton 145.2900 -0.6 MHz PL 110.9
East Benton County KD5DMT Mt. Whitney 443.0250 +5MHz PL 110.9

* In case of repeater failure, switch to 147.420 Simplex
Spotters can use 147.480 Simplex as a Talk-around frequency

SKYWARN Officers

Personnel Coordinator

Jonathan George – K0JWGk0jwg@arrl.net – (479) 657-0791
Our Personnel Coordinator has the task of contacting and filling net control positions in the moment of a crisis.

SKYWARN Net Controls

Our net control operators are required to attend the NWS Severe Storm Spotters’ Certification Course, MetEd Skywarn Spotter Training, and FEMA certification before they are eligible to lead our nets. Additionally they are trained regularly at the EOC in areas including traffic handling, net etiquette , repeater controls, EOC equipment familiarization, and acquaintance with EOC personnel. If you would like to become a net control, please contact one of the SKYWARN Officers.

Reportable Criteria

The National Weather Service has a specific list of reportable events which they request from spotters. Please note that rainfall amounts, and wind speeds are no longer reportable criteria. It is important that reports are timely and accurate. Our reports are used to verify radar images, and to facilitate the forecasters in issuing warnings for counties in Arkansas. The following is a list of events the NWS has requested from us:

  • Tornado
  • Funnel Cloud-(with direction of travel)
  • Wall Cloud
  • Flooding
  • Hail-(dime size or larger)
  • Wind Damage

Required Spotter Certifications

In order to participate in the Benton County SKYWARN program, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a licensed Amateur Radio Operator of at least Technician Class
  • Have the ability to communicate on 2m/70cm frequencies from your vehicle
  • Have the ability to transmit you GPS location via APRS (APRS-IS is okay, but RF is preferred)
  • Complete the NWS training (when available). Click on the NWS Spotter Training page, and scroll down for the training schedule.
  • Complete the MetEd Spotter Training Course.
  • Join the Spotter Network and complete the online training.
  • Attend at least one Benton County SKYWARN Net Training.

SKYWARN Net Protocols

When checking in to an activated SKYWARN net, please use the following format:

  1. Ensure you are properly sending APRS data.
  2. Call Net control followed by your callsign.
    1. Ex: “Benton County Weather, K0JWG”
  3. Wait for an acknowledgement from Net Control
  4. If you are not sure where you are needed, or would like to be assigned a spotting location, please request so now, otherwise standby for further instruction.
  5. When needing to report weather, call net control (Benton County Weather) followed by your call sign. Wait for an acknowledgement then provide your report following the criteria listed above.
  6. All communication during a directed net should be only between yourself and Benton County Weather, please utilize 147.480 simplex for spotter talk-around.

FAQ

Who can be a SKYWAN Spotter?

Anyone with an interest in public service and access to communication can join the SKYWARN® program. Volunteers include amateur radio operators, law enforcement and fire personnel, emergency medical services workers, dispatchers, postal workers, public utility workers, city or county workers, farmers, and other concerned private citizens. Individuals affiliated with hospitals, schools, churches, nursing homes or who have a responsibility for protecting others are encouraged to become a spotter.

Is there a minimum age requirement to become a Spotter?

Because of the complexity of severe thunderstorms and the potential dangers involved, spotting is recommended for adults (18 yrs or older). High school and middle school students are welcome to attend the classes with a parent or other adult.

Is there a cost for training?

Nope! Both National Weather Service (NWS) SKYWARN® classroom training and online courses are offered free of charge!

Will I get an official ID, Certificate, or Spotter number?

We do not issue Spotter IDs or collect any sort of membership dues. Some of the recommended training programs do issue certificates for completing the program.