A few operational thoughts for SKYWARN spotters regarding the WX5FWD Radio Desk


Radio propagation physics and limited resources prevent the NWS radio desk from DIRECT access on many repeaters in the North Texas county warning area (CWA). With the CWA covering 46 counties, the radio desk has direct coverage for the nearest 8 to 12 county spotter repeaters from the Fort Worth office. Despite direct radio coverage limitations, the NWS is capable of receiving spotter reports from all 46 counties.

The NWS cooperates with county emergency management and other agencies in an "Integrated Warning Team", or IWT, to develop communications methods for warnings.

Contact your local county emergency management officials for information about assisting as a storm spotter. Cooperating with your local emergency management and other officials directly supports your community during severe weather and other emergency events. The NWS activates spotters during events through local emergency management officials.

Amateur radio organizations such as ARES and RACES, cooperate with and support local and other emergency management officials. The ARRL North Texas Section officials have contact information for leaders in these radio organizations. You may find one of these groups active in your county, providing storm spotter support for local emergency management.

The WX5FWD radio desk may use the following methods to take spotter reports in our CWA. Amateur radio spotters in all counties of the CWA could potentially relay reports to the radio desk using one or more of these methods.

  • Direct via local repeater for nearby counties - See above
  • Internet Repeater Linking Project (IRLP) - wx5fwd.org/roip
  • North Central Texas Connection linked repeater systems - nctc.info
  • EchoLink - wx5fwd.org/roip
  • Rosston wide area repeater - 145.490 MHz

The radio desk has D-Star, and potentially DMR, digital radio capabilities. No county has designated those radio protocols as a primary method of communications.

The NWS radio desk has limited resources. Only one spotter group and primary communications method per county, cooperating with local emergency management officials, please. The WX5FWD radio desk will attempt to access activated spotters using one of the methods above. If county emergency management has defined communication and reporting methods for their spotters, those communication methods will be used. This includes relaying spotter reports via your local emergency management or EOC.

Other spotter reporting methods, besides ham radio, may include:

For emergencies, always call 911

Attend local training regularly for current spotter information and methods.

Storm Spotter Checklist

Remember, goals of a storm spotter are to SAFELY observe, identify and report conditions.