Cook County ARES Net--Training Segment--28 March 2007

Good evening and welcome to the Cook County ARES Net.

Spring is here, and so is the severe weather season.

The National Weather Service has been giving Severe Weather Spotter training presentations throughout the Chicago Metropolitan Area. For those who have not yet taken a severe weather spotter training course this year, I encourage you to take one. There are still at least ten more of these presentations scheduled through early May in various locations. Most or all of the spotter presentations are available to the public, and there is no charge for the basic presentations from the National Weather Service. You can find the schedule of spotter presentations planned by the National Weather Service's Chicago forecast office on their web site:  .
You can find a link to the schedule on the Cook County ARES web site at Click on the "Cook County ARES Net" link and look for the text of the 28 March 2007 training session. Other weather service offices, including the Milwaukee office, also give these presentations. Check the web page of the particular weather forecast office that serves your area for more information.

Most of those interested in severe weather spotting will be aware of this, but it bears repeating: the National Weather Service forecast office produces a Hazardous Weather Outlook which is updated at least daily to advise those in the forecast office's county warning area of the likelihood of hazardous weather within the next couple of days. It's a good idea to check the hazardous weather outlook at least daily to make yourself aware of the severe weather threats expected. This information is available on the weather service's web site:∏uct=HWO&issuedby=lot  .

I won't read the link now, but you can find it by going to the forecast office's web page, and you can also find it in the text of tonight's training segment on the Cook County ARES web site at

Those interested in weather spotting may be interested in participating in weather spotting nets. Weather spotting nets are sometimes called "Skywarn Nets", but not always. These nets provide a way for trained spotters to report a severe weather observation which will be forwarded to the National Weather Service, or a municipal or county EOC, or both.

The National Weather Service has announced criteria for the types of severe weather observations which should be reported. Various nets may have different criteria, especially if they serve an agency other than the National Weather Service. Examples of observations which meet the reporting criteria of most severe weather spotter nets include:

  • Tornadoes (touching the ground)

  • Funnel clouds (not touching the ground)

  • Rotating wall clouds

  • Flash flooding

  • Damage to vegetation or structures

  • Severe weather related deaths

  • Hail larger than 1/2 inch in diameter

  • Wind speed greater than 58 mph

  • Persistent wall clouds

  • Rainfall 1 inch or more per hour

Thses criteria are explained in much greater detail in the severe weather spotter training courses given by the National Weather Service. More information is also available on the web.  .

A link to a spotter reference guide is available in the text of the training segment on our web page.

Many nets that operate to collect and forward spotter reports during severe weather also have a periodic routine net so that participants can exercise their equipment and antennas, to familiarize the participants with the Net's procedures, and to familiarize net control stations with the participants.

There are a number of severe weather nets that cover Cook County. I'm going to review these nets here, but you can find a more detailed list of the nets, including nets that cover counties other than Cook, on our web site.

First, though, a note about the structure of local, wide-area, and liaison nets. Many people are in an area covered by a local net that will accept a severe weather report and forward it on to the National Weather Service and other agencies. Those who are not in an area covered by a local net can use one of the wide area nets, such as the severe weather net on the Fishfar repeater system. There are a large number of local nets--perhaps more than 30--in the counties covered by the National Weather Service forecast office. The team of amateur radio operators who volunteer at the National Weather Service to collect reports from radio nets can monitor only a few nets at one time. Obviously, it would be impractical for them to poll each local net, especially when severe weather events require that warnings be issued on a timely basis in order to save lives. Accordingly, the National Weather Service worked in cooperation with repeater owners to define several repeater frequencies to be "Liaison Nets."

The intent of the Liaison Nets is to allow the NWS amateur radio team to collect reports from local nets without separately visiting each local net. This scheme creates a division of labor. The local nets can handle local check-ins, receive initial reports, and determine that they meet the reporting criteria. A liaison station participating in the local net then forwards the reports to the NWS on one of the liaison frequencies. This keeps the liaison frequencies clear so that high-priority reports can be conveyed to the NWS.

Now, let's briefly review several local and wide-area severe weather nets that cover Cook County:

Local Nets

  1. Southeast -- Tri-Town ARC -- 146.805 -- 107.2 -- Sundays at 2000

  2. Northwest -- Schaumburg ARC -- 145.23 -- 107.2 -- First Thursday at 2030

  3. Northeast -- Maine Twp EMA -- 147.09 -- 107.2 -- Sundays at 1900

Wide Area Net on the FishFAR Repeater System

The FishFAR repeaters are distributed in several locations, and all of them are linked. This means that you can access the repeater system using any of the input frequencies, and the transmission will be repeated from all of the transmitters. There is a routine Skywarn net each monday evening at 2000 local time.

  1. Gilberts -- 146.925 -- 100.0

  2. Schaumburg -- 442.900 -- 114.8

  3. Malta -- 442.925 -- 114.8

  4. Chicago -- 442.975 -- 114.8

Don't worry if you weren't able to write all that down. There is a list of these nets, and nets covering many of the surrounding counties, on the Cook County ARES web site at Click on the "Cook County ARES Net" link and then select the text of the 28 March 2007 training segment. There's also a handy map.



That's it for tonight's training segment. Thanks for listening.