Just like any well-maintained automotive engine, our communication networks require several working parts in order to function correctly, and perform our public service. The three key parties involved are: the National Weather Service, the Backbone Net, and the Local Nets.

Please bear in mind that the typical storm DOES NOT EXIST, therefore all storm situations will be uniquely different.

Beginning of the Typical Storm

Usually, some hints of severe weather exist several hours before the event builds. The National Weather Service may issue a Hazardous Weather Outlook for the CWA several hours before the event, with the computer model's best estimation of the situation. These outlooks tend to be issued around 6 AM, and are often updated around Noon and again around 3 PM. Another good source of information is the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) that issues Convective Outlooks and Mesoscale Discussions. Spotter groups and communication teams who are responsible for gathering information will examine these reports daily, and make preliminary plans.

As the storm complex develops, the SPC may issue a Watch for an area. A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means that conditions are favorable for damaging winds, large hail, significant lightning, and large volumes of rainfall in a specific area. A Tornado Watch means that severe thunderstorms that have the necessary dynamics to spawn tornadic activity are likely in an area.

When these Watches are issued, spotter groups, local nets, and the general public should be preparing for significant weather. This means that emergency power supplies are prepared, life schedules are adjusted, and communications network activation plans begin alerting staff to changing weather conditions.

Preparing for the Storm -- INFO State

After a Watch is issued, or the National Weather Service WFO MKX activates the Backbone Net, Sullivan Weather begins State Zero operations. Staff at the WFO MKX will contact administrators of the Backbone Net to activate our personnel. Sullivan Operators will then begin to report to the weather office for a situational briefing. Once the initial briefing is completed, Sullivan Operators will then place all backbone repeaters into an INFO state, meaning that updates will be provided to the Backbone frequencies, but the system will remain open to normal amateur traffic.

West in STANDBY, Central and East in INFO

As the storm moves eastwards and approaches a 20 mile / 20 minute range before entering the CWA, the Sullivan Operators will call a STANDBY NET on the West Backbone repeaters. At this time, Western Local Nets should be accepting checkins, and beginning their local programs. Western Relay Stations should be reporting to the Backbone on either Western or Central repeater. If time allows, the Sullivan Operators may allow users to make brief contact QSO calls.

The Eastern repeater will remain in an INFO state, at this time. Sullivan Operators will come on the air from time to time to update stations listening to 145.13 in Milwaukee, and update them on current conditions. Normal repeater use will continue. Eastern Local Nets should continue planning for the event.


West and Central FULL NET, East in STANDBY NET

As the storm continues tracking eastwards, the main storm system passes over the Western counties of the CWA.

At this time, the Western and Central Backbone repeaters have a FULL NET in operation on the 146.685 (PL 123.0) and 147.36 (PL 123.0) repeaters, meaning that the Sullivan operators have closed the machine for normal amateur use. Western Local Nets, represented with the Blue Circles, are funneling information that meets Severe Criteria to the Backbone Net, represented with Fuchsia Circles. The Sullivan Operators shift the Eastern Backbone Repeater to a STANDBY NET, and continue outbound updates. At this time, the Eastern systems should be completing pre-storm efforts.

West in INFO NET, Central and East in FULL NET

The storm system has now reached the middle part of the CWA. Western Local Nets continue reporting after-storm conditions. Central and Eastern Local Nets will soon experience the approaching storm system.

All Local Nets continue sending reports that meet severe criteria to the Backbone Net. Western local nets may be relaying traffic from Central counties, as the Central and East work directly with the storm. At this time, extreme Western local nets would be released from duty.

West, Central, and East INFO

At this stage, the immediate danger to the CWA has ended, and more than likely, most of the traffic concerning the storm has been sent. The Backbone Net will continue, however, to collect severe criteria weather data that has not been transmitted over the system.

After a period of wrap-up activities at the weather office, the Sullivan Operators will thank all Local Nets for their participation in the weather event, and then release the relay stations. Sullivan Weather will then sign off, and close down the station.

If additional reports are available after the shutdown, amateurs are encouraged to file them via email or packet radio. Please see our Digital section for more information.

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