NWS Wakefield SKYWARN
Amateur Radio Support Team
WX4AKQ Wakefield, VA
This page attempts to answer many of the frequently asked questions about our team and the SKYWARN program. If there's something you'd like to know that's not listed here, take a look at our Other Q&A Topics, check the SKYWARN Operations Manual, SKYWARN Training Portal, or send us an e-mail.
Why is SKYWARN broken up into different Areas?
The SKYWARN team is divided into several Operating Areas to enable us to better manage our pool of Net Control Operators (NCO's). The team is structured such that each Area roughly follows the coverage area of the Primary SKYWARN repeater in that Area, and each Area is under the direction of an appointed Area Manager.
This structure makes it easy to manage activation of a net by placing a single individual in charge of local SKYWARN operations. The Area Manager also serves as the primary point of contact for his or her assigned Area and coordinates outreach, recruiting, and training activities at the local level.
Who do I contact about SKYWARN in my area?
For amateur radio related SKYWARN questions, your Area Manager is the best point of contact. You can find your Area Manager on the Leadership Team page.
For non-amateur radio related SKYWARN questions, you should contact the National Weather Service directly. NWS contact information can be found on the NWS Wakefield web site.
How does SKYWARN fit into the ARES/RACES program?
Nationally, there are a number of different ways amateur radio operations are set up in support of SKYWARN which vary from one Weather Forecast Office (WFO) to the next.
The Wakefield SKYWARN Amateur Radio Support Team operates as a direct extension of the SKYWARN Spotter program in the Wakefield WFO, and as such it is under the direct control of the National Weather Service. It is not specifically an ARES/RACES function within the 66 counties and independent cities which are a part of the Wakefield County Warning Area (CWA), however we do enjoy a good relationship with our ARES/RACES partners.
ARES/RACES teams throughout our CWA are welcome and encouraged to support SKYWARN by providing Net Control Operator (NCO) volunteers. ARES/RACES team members trained as SKYWARN NCOs operate SKYWARN nets as a part of the Wakefield SKYWARN program and in accordance with our training and procedures. This ensures consistent operation throughout all 66 counties, making it easier to share NCO resources across SKYWARN Area boundaries.
In exchange for this support, Wakefield SKYWARN provides support for ARES/RACES by participating in training and exercises either directly or by providing access to the WX4AKQ station at the Wakefield WFO.
Can I join SKYWARN if I am already an ARES/RACES member?
Absolutely. We do ask that you consider all of your existing service obligations before committing to SKYWARN, and talk about your decision with leadership contacts within the organizations you are already committed to, in order to ensure you can continue to adequately serve those groups while also supporting SKYWARN.
For more information, see our Full Disclosure Policy.
The only restriction is that existing leadership personnel of other Emergency Communications teams cannot hold an Area Manager (or higher) role on the SKYWARN team. This is out of fairness to both organizations, in order to ensure the required level of engagement. Exceptions exist for temporary appointments and for SKYWARN team members who held these positions prior to the implementation of this policy in early 2014.