NWS Wakefield SKYWARN
Amateur Radio Support Team
WX4AKQ Wakefield, VA
SKYWARN Net Activation Criteria
We use two different sets of criteria to determine when SKYWARN nets may activate, depending on the time of day.
During daylight hours - from 6 AM to 10 PM local time - the following criteria are used to determine the potential need for the SKYWARN ham radio team to activate:
When any of these conditions are met, SKYWARN nets will prepare to activate and will go on the air once severe or potentially severe weather is impacting or about to impact the area, provided such weather conditions are occurring between the hours of 6 AM and 10 PM local time. The team will activate anytime there is a formal request from the NWS.
The team may be placed in a "standby" status when there is a threat of severe weather but the criteria provided here are not met. For example, a Severe Thunderstorm Watch with a 15% Damaging Wind Risk, 15% Severe Hail Risk, and 2% Tornado risk may result in a "standby" status to ensure team members are ready to activate in the event of localized hazardous weather which may warrant activation of SKYWARN.
Generally, if the wind, hail, and/or tornado risks levels are met on the Day 1 Convective Outlook, this should place the team in a standby status, with the issuance of a Watch, or the presence of locally severe weather conditions, serving as the trigger for net activation.
More restrictive criteria apply to activations between 10 PM and 6 AM and can be found in the SKYWARN Operations Manual.
These criteria are designed to balance the needs of the National Weather Service with the needs and capabilities of the amateur radio community. We have designed these to ensure that we are on the air for significant weather events, avoiding excessive activations for the lower-impact events that historically have not generated enough traffic to even warrant having a net.
Regardless of how a weather scenario matches up with the criteria shown here, every trained Wakefield SKYWARN Net Controller has the authority to start a net any time they feel one may be needed. Likewise, the National Weather Service has the authority to request amateur radio support without regard for our own criteria.
Any questions about the criteria, or any suggestions can be directed to the Amateur Radio Coordinator.