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Old 06-14-2014, 9:07 AM
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Default NJ Skywarn/weather spotters?

With the thunderstorm season already here, I was wondering if there are any skywarn nets that still run in NJ, especially in the Union County/ Essex/Middlesex County area? I was monitoring the HAM bands yesterday evening and was surprised not hearing any formal skywarn net occuring. Even the NYC skywarn repeater was silent. Am I missing something?
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Old 06-14-2014, 9:50 PM
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When I took my recertification class in North Caldwell earlier this year I found it interesting that amateur radio was barely discussed as a resource, although there were a number of hams in the class.

The Skywarn repeater for the area is 146.415 with a 1 MHz positive offset (the only 2m repeater with a non-standard offset I've ever encountered in the US/Canada). Whether or not it's ever activated I can't say since I just phone my reports into Upton from my landline or cell.

With NJ's population densities I have to wonder what the effectiveness of putting all this on the ham bands would be. It's not like we're in the midwest with miles and miles of miles and miles (and the occasional cow), and in which supercell thunderstorms and tornadoes are frequent. I could see it being useful in long-lasting/wide-area events like Irene or Sandy, but probably not so much for summer squall lines.
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Old 06-16-2014, 8:10 AM
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Thanks for your input W2IRT. I normally get weather alert emails sent to me from the Weather Channel's website whenever there is a big storm heading into my area. I did notice the email stated that "trained weather spotters have stated..............." Therefore, I assumed that these weather spotters were Ham operators, like myself. I never heard of 146.615 being a repeater for skywarn. Where is that repeater located? I did find the one for the NYC area is on 147.360 according to this link. NYC-Skywarn Net | NYC-SKYWARN

This site also mentions a few repeaters, which I will try and monitor this week for the weekly net...IF this information is still current. SKYWARN
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Old 06-16-2014, 9:09 AM
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The repeater is in West Orange, and this is the group's Web page:
Essex County Skywarn.

When a person takes Skywarn training (a 3-hour class, usually re-taken every 3 years to remain "current"), spotters receive an ID number and are given a hotline number to the National Weather Service forecast office; in the case of NE NJ, that office is in Upton, NY on Long Island. Given the urban density of the area it makes far more sense to pick up the phone and speak directly with a trained meteorologist and give him or her your report first-hand, rather than to go via a 2m/440 net, with message relays and a time lag, etc.

I can see the need for amateur radio Skywarn nets for catastrophic weather scenarios and in preparation for same, but for the relatively-benign weather we experience here, it really seems like overkill to me. The only events we usually get here that require a notification to Upton are a couple of severe thunderstorms, heavy, flooding rains and winter storms. Only extremely rarely will we get things like a wall cloud, small tornadoes or waterspouts, hail over 0.25" or tropical systems with sustained high winds and heavy rains. And with the exception of a major system like Irene or Sandy (or that freak October snowstorm a few years ago), telecommunications lines will likely remain up and functional so the cell phone is still the best way to report, IMHO.
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Old 06-16-2014, 10:04 AM
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I agree that in populated areas Skywarn activation and nets have declined in recent decades. That certainly has been the case around here.

Certainly in the wide open plain states, as discussed above, and areas of less dense population, Skywarn can be helpful.

Improved satellite and radar technology has made tornado and storm track alerts more accurate.

The NSSL collects violent and severe and storm reports via a smartphone app called mPing. Interesting information and rapid feedback.

In Mt Holly NJ the NWS is very active on Twitter. Snow, rain, storm reports incoming and outgoing, and very responsive to questions. (Kudos) I also watch the accounts of New York and Baltimore.

Our county EOC and township officials also alert by Twitter and telephone; it was often used during the near-record snowfall this past winter.
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Old 06-16-2014, 10:43 AM
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I have noticed that a lot of the reports are now going through social media. Although Warren County does have a repeater plan in place, we generally use a groupme chat now since everyone these days has a smart phone and not all my spotters are hams.

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Old 06-16-2014, 11:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trsundstrom View Post

Certainly in the wide open plain states, as discussed above, and areas of less dense population, Skywarn can be helpful.
Just a point of clarification: Skywarn is not an amateur radio term; Skywarn is the name of the spotter training program administered by the NWS. Hams have Skywarn nets (trained spotters using the medium of amateur radio), but the program is not restricted to ham ops.

Quote:
Originally Posted by trsundstrom View Post
Improved satellite and radar technology has made tornado and storm track alerts more accurate.
While this is absolutely true (dual-polarization radar is an amazing tool), the need for spotters in the field is very much there. Spotters report "ground truth" to the meteorologists, which will confirm or potentially disprove what the radar beams see.

Remember, there are only a handful of radar stations covering any geographic area, and due to the curvature of the Earth, the further you get away from the beam, the higher its angle. As such, a highly-localized area--especially one in a dead spot to one WSR-88 location--can always use the extra eyes of trained spotters to relay ground truth to the NWS. I call in for things like extensive street flooding, downed trees into hydro lines in a heavy storm (often heard on the scanner, but I"ll go out for a look to confirm in some cases) and stuff like that. If a microburst hits, it won't necessarily show on radar or might be in the wrong location for the beams to hit it.

And yeah, I'm definitely a Weathergeek™: W2IRT Weather | Personal Weather Station: KNJWESTC2 by Wunderground.com | Weather Underground
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Old 06-16-2014, 1:47 PM
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This is all very good/useful information. Thank you. I have been away from the hobby for a while, but hoping to finally get a working Ham radio again soon. (I have been off the air for over 6 years ever since my old radio broke). I probably should've posted this in the Amateur Radio thread, but since I was only interested in information for NJ, I posted it here. I guess it's faster to notify the NWS via landline as long as their lines don't get jammed up. I realize that normally, weather conditions in this area aren't too extreme, but there has been several times that tornadoes have popped up without warning and it is my opinion that there should be designated HAM radio repeaters for operators to report conditions, IF they arise suddenly. I'm not even referring to trained weather spotters, but just a way to warn other HAMS or those non-HAMS monitoring on the scanner that a really bad storm is coming. Tornadoes definitely occur more often in the mid-west, but we get our share of damaging winds associated with bad thunderstorms in this area too. Social media only works until the power gets knocked out. If I happen to catch any skywarn or RACES nets, I will post them here. Hopefully others can do the same. Even if Ham radio is not needed in most circumstances these days, I would think, if anything, it would be fun to still run "nets" and play with our radios a little bit from time to time.

After doing a little research, I found that in Union County, the RACES repeater is 147.255. Skywarn, at least at one time, was on 445.025 and 449.975, Springfield OEM (according to RR) is 446.375.
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Old 06-16-2014, 1:49 PM
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I forgot to mention that back in 2000, I became I trained weather spotter for skywarn when everything was done over HAM radio. I don't recall ever getting an ID number back then though. Things have definitely changed since then.
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Old 06-16-2014, 3:39 PM
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Just to clarify -- I started college to be a meteorologist back when -- my comments were focused on Skywarn observing/reporting and not ARES/RACES activities that come into play during regional disasters. At least in NJ the cellular tower infrastructure has been improved with backup power systems. It's been my experience that on-air Skywarn activities have greatly declined since I got onto FM repeaters in the late 1970s, especially in urban and and suburban areas, as technology -- smartphones, text messages, Twitter-like messaging -- have come to the foreground. Boots on the ground -- storm chasers et al -- obviously are a great help in the wide-open areas. BTW, having a home weather station in the heavy woods makes little sense for me with 4 other Weather Underground reporting stations within 2 miles of me, I've been a WU subscriber for (I think) more than 12 years.

http://w2xq.com/bm-weather.html
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Old 06-17-2014, 1:10 AM
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In Mercer County we use amateur radio along with Facebook and email to alert and report for Skywarn. We try to embrace spotters who are hams along with those who are not, and we get a good response from both. NWS Mt. Holly is actively seeking spotter reports on their Facebook page.

The Skywarn repeater here is operated by the David Sarnoff Radio Club N2RE on 146.460 (+1MHz) PL 131.8. [W2IRT note, there are quite a few 1MHz-split repeaters around the country, and several in the NJ/NY area.] We are 'self-activating' which means that if a weather condition is spotted or a warning is issued then any ham who is available can call a net to take reports for the NWS. If no one is around to call a net, you might not hear any activity; in that case it's up to the individual to call in his/her report to NWS.

73, John WJ3P
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Old 06-17-2014, 12:35 PM
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Try this site

The BergenSkywarn Website - SKYWARN and Weather Information for Bergen County NJ

The site is run by George Sabbi, George is a the assigned county Skywarn coordinator for the
Bergen County assigned by the National Weather Service, Upton, NY.

The Bergen County freq does not come alive unless they are doing there weekly Skywarn
net or there is a severe weather event in progress.

Hope this helps.

Tony
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Old 06-17-2014, 1:52 PM
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George was present in the Essex County training class this year. He really knows his stuff.
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Old 07-03-2014, 1:35 PM
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Middlesex County Skywarn uses the K2GE repeater in Sayreville on 146.76 and 443.200 MHz, PL 156.7 and 141.3 respectively. Announcements are often made around the 8 PM nightly traffic net or frequently during periods of severe weather or Skywarn activiation. The county coordinator is a ham, KB2ZLA.
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Old 07-03-2014, 3:18 PM
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Thanks for the info. I programmed all these repeaters into my ham radio.
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Old 07-07-2014, 6:50 AM
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I can confirm that the 443.200 skywarn was activated for Middlesex County last Thursday. However, it appears that the Essex County (w. Orange) 146.415 repeater is currently down.
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Old 07-10-2014, 12:39 PM
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Update: 146.415 is back up again
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Old 07-16-2014, 6:20 AM
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The Green Brook repeater, 442.250, had a guy on yesterday giving constant updates on severe weather warnings for the entire state/region. He repeated every alert from NOAA and even gave untrained Skywarn individual stations a chance to report the current conditions at their location. I found this to be the best one and the most informative.
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