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Last Updated: 10/31/13

New Decision Support Pages Available

National Weather Service La Crosse has been building decision support web pages to assist certain partner groups over the last few months. These pages are not intended to replace current services but give decision makers a tool where they can make better decision with more confidence. These tools make it far more easier to monitor weather conditions and expected hazards overall.

We urge groups to try these pages and see how well they can help. Feedback is always welcome and we'd like to learn how they are being used.

StormReady Program Update

WXOW Television (La Crosse/La Crescent, MN) has applied to be a StormReady Supporter.  This process should be completed by early 2014.  KAAL Television in Austin, MN is the only other television station who is recognized as a supporter at this time.

Olmsted County, MN - Many of the Olmsted County, MN communities will be applying for StormReady recognition going into 2014 as well.

If you have a community in your area that is very pro-active with weather, coordinates with the National Weather Service actively, and takes preparedness efforts very seriously, consider applying for the StormReady program.

For more information on the StormReady program, check:

2013 Severe Weather Season Summary

2013 had periods of busy severe weather, including the range from too much rain to drought.  Luckily the tornado count was very low. 

Here are the number of warnings issued by month and county in our area for 2013 (thru 10/31/13)...

February / March

Adams, WI
Allamakee, IA
Buffalo, WI
Chickasaw, IA
Clark, WI
Clayton, IA
Crawford, WI
Dodge, MN
Fayette, IA
Fillmore, MN
Floyd, IA
Grant, WI
Houston, MN
Howard, IA
Jackson, WI
Juneau, WI
La Crosse, WI
Mitchell, IA
Monroe, WI
Mower, MN
Olmsted, MN
Richland, WI
Taylor, WI
Trempealeau, WI
Vernon, WI
Wabasha, MN
Winneshiek, IA
Winona, MN

The La Crosse NWS greatly appreciates all the efforts by spotter groups and Emergency Management personnel to assist in the severe weather watch and warning process.

 New Online Storm Spotter Training Available

The COMET Program is pleased to announce the publication of the Role of the SKYWARN® Spotter. This 1-hour module provides baseline training for all spotters. An overview of the national program and its history is presented with an example of an event that greatly influenced the growth of the SKYWARN program. Through multiple scenarios, procedures for making spotter reports, including communication and storm report criteria, are modeled with best practices for maintaining personal safety outlined.

This module includes photographs, video, audio narration, and a companion print version. The intended audience for the Role of the SKYWARN Spotter is the general public interested in becoming storm spotters.

Online Storm Spotter Training Materials...

Most COMET modules use JavaScript and Adobe® Flash® for navigation, animation, and/or presentation of multimedia elements. Ensure that you have a browser updated to its latest version with JavaScript enabled and the latest version of the Adobe FlashPlayer installed.

Local spotter training that is presented by the La Crosse National Weather Service (NWS) is typically held each spring (March/April). A complete schedule can be tracked at weather.gov/lacrosse/?n=skywarn_schedule.

 Annual Lightning Fatality Numbers Down - 2013

An average of 55 people each year across the United States are killed by lightning. Luckily the fatality count in 2013 is down with only 23 deaths through 10/31/2013.  Last year (2012), a total of 28 people were killed by lightning.

You can always track the lightning fatalities including the circumstances behind them at:

 Using the Special Weather Statement

Over the past few years, the National Weather Service has begun using the Special Weather Statement more and more.  This is one of many National Weather Service informational statements that help keep people informed of significant weather.

The Special Weather Statement (SPS) is primarily used for...

  • Sub-severe thunderstorm activity, including...
    • Hail
    • Wind gusts of 40 mph or higher
    • Frequent Cloud-to-Ground lightning
  • Approaching Severe Storms
  • Other significant like dense fog, windy conditions, etc.

How Special Weather Statements are used by groups like dispatchers or county officials can vary. Ideally the information provides a "heads up".  If the information can be disseminated further, that is ideal.

 NWS use of Amateur Radio

As most of our storm spotters and partners know, we rely heavily on the assistance of amateur radio volunteers and associated real-time weather reports. We have a good working relationship with these radio operators and groups across the region.

During significant weather activity, we do our best to have an amateur radio operator at our office to touch base with different repeaters or towers in our various communities. During less dangerous weather, there are times when we are not staffed for monitoring or simply not expecting radio traffic. In those cases, the National Weather Service still appreciates the information being collected/relayed and can use it.

If the National Weather Service at La Crosse (WX9ARX) cannot be reached via amateur radio, please contact us via other methods (i.e. telephone, web page, etc.).

Spotter Situational Awareness

An important concept we have been focusing on in our training sessions each spring is for spotters to be self aware of the weather threats each day (if any) and take advantage of guidance that is available from the National Weather Service.

For example - -

  • Do you know if we are under a risk of severe weather?
  • What about in the next 3 days?
  • Is spotter activation recommended for your county?
  • Were any warnings issued for your area in the past 24 hours?

Do you know the answers to these every day?

Use these tools to stay ahead of the severe weather threat...

  • Outlooks

    Convective Outlooks are graphical forecasts that can give "heads up" on a severe weather potential in the upper Midwest several days in advance. They can easily be viewed on our Outlooks web page or via the Storm Prediction Center's web site. There are three levels of risk in the outlooks - Slight (SLGT), Moderate (MDT), and High (HIGH).

    Hazardous Weather Outlooks (HWO) are issued locally between 5-6 a.m. and updated as needed with details on any expected weather hazards over the next seven (7) days, including information about a possible need for storm spotters, Emergency Management conference calls, and timing. These usually mirror the convective outlook graphics mentioned in the previous paragraph and but give more local details and forecasts from our office.

    They can be viewed on our web site, heard on NOAA Weather Radio (around the top and bottom of each hour (H+00 / H+30), or Emailed to spotters.

  • Spotter Activation Notification System (SANS)

    The La Crosse NWS office also recommends county storm spotter activation (and deactivation). You can hear these activations over weather radio, receive Emails or text messages via your cell phone, or watch for activations on our public activation page - www.weather.gov/lacrosse/activation

  • Hazardous Weather Information Search

    A new Hazardous Weather Informatoin Search (HWIS) tool has been developed by NWS La Crosse to easily review what informational products were issued for a particular county over the past 3 days. This can be used to review information that was sent from the La Crosse NWS office and aid in post storm analysis.

    This new page can be found at: www.weather.gov/lacrosse/emNotify

Natural Hazard Assessments Available

NWS La Crosse has completed Natural Hazard Assessments for every county in our service area. These assessments examine hazardous weather history and potential, including tornadoes, flooding, severe winter weather, and heat, among other topics.

Each assessment is about 12 pages and in PDF format making it easy to print or use. You can browse for your county at:

If you have any comments or questions about these ssessments, contact Warning Coordination Meteorologist - Todd Shea, via Email at: todd.shea@noaa.gov.  This project was started in October 2008 and each county is updated at least once a year, typically in the fall or winter months.

Spotter Activation Notification System (SANS)

A new Spotter Activation Notification System (or SANS) was developed by NWS La Crosse staff members and tested in the 2008 season.  The goal of SANS was to provide guidance to spotters and spotter groups when activation is suggested by the La Crosse National Weather Service. Of course, local activation guidelines always apply and spotter groups should continue to monitor weather forecasts and conditions closely, deploying when strong to severe storms approach their area.

After review from the 2008 season and additional guidance to both NWS La Crosse staff members and spotters in our area, it was decided to keep this new system and enhance the use of it since.  It has become official and will continue to be used each season so we hope to sign up many more spotters at our training sessions.

SANS notified spotters using four methods:

  • Email to specific contacts
  • Text message via cell phone to specific contacts
  • Brief message over NOAA Weather Radio
  • Update a web page, including a map showing activation status

The web page can be monitored at:   www.weather.gov/lacrosse/activation

It will refresh automatically every 5 minutes.

Drop Warning Coordination Meteorologist - Todd Shea, an email for comments: todd.shea@noaa.gov.

Anticipating Hazardous Weather and Community Risk Course Available

A great on-line course is available from FEMA and the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET®) called "Anticipating Hazardous Weather and Community Risk". We recommend every Emergency Management director take this course if time allows, and spotters may also have an interest.

The on-line class can be found at the following link:

Weather Radio Monitors Needed

The La Crosse National Weather Service is looking for people that could monitor NOAA All Hazard Weather Radio for them when a problem develops with the transmitter. We would primarily use them to contact when a known problem develops just to confirm the signal is on or off the air. Of course if you ever hear of a problem with our radios or notice they are off the air, send our office an instant message or call as soon as possible.

The Instant Message Link is at: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/arx/scripts/instant_message_nws_arx.php

If you would like to be a monitor for us, email Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM) Todd Shea at todd.shea@noaa.gov.

Awareness Week Information

National Flood Safety Awareness Week - 2014

  • March 16-20, 2014

Severe Weather Awareness Week - 2014

  • Iowa - March 24-28 (TOR Drill Wed., March 26)
  • Minnesota - April 21 - 25, 2014 (TOR Drill Thu., Apr.24)
  • Wisconsin - April 21 - 25, 2014 (TOR Drill Thu., Apr.24)

NOAA All Hazard Radio Awareness Day - 2014

  • Wisconsin - May 7, 2014

Heat Awareness Day - 2014

  • Iowa - June 5, 2014
  • Wisconsin - June 12, 2014

National Lightning Safety Awareness Week - 2014

  • June 22 - 28, 2014

Winter Weather Awareness Day/Week - 2013

  • Iowa - November 7, 2013
  • Minnesota - November 4 - 8, 2013
  • Wisconsin - November 4 - 8, 2013

Hazardous Weather Outlooks

Feel free to drop a note to Todd Shea at todd.shea@noaa.gov if you want any spotters added to the HWO distribution e-mail system we have.

Click here for the latest HWO.

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