The SKYWARN program at Weather Forecast Office (WFO) Romeoville/Chicago consists of spotters who watch the sky during threatening weather conditions. The spotters are emergency management, fire and police, amateur radio operators and trained citizens. They report severe weather such as tornadoes, flash floods and large hail to the WFO by radio or phone.
Our Amateur Radio program consists of amateur radio operators (Hams) who come to the WFO during severe weather and operate radios. They are the National Weather Service Ham Team. The Ham Team communicates with other amateur radio operators who run local networks of storm spotters across north central and northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana.
- An individual storm spotter reports his or her severe weather observation to a local radio network
- The network controller then relays the report to the National Weather Service using a liaison repeater.
If you are a ham radio operator and wish to report severe weather, attend a spotter training class. Then check with a local Amateur radio club to find out what local spotter networks are available at your location. The Ham Team passes the severe weather information from the spotter networks to the meteorologists.
If you are looking for some training material, you can download the Weather Spotter's Field Guide. There is also a version in Spanish version you can download as well.
We have an amateur radio station and we communicate on most of the amateur radio bands. We operate in the 70 cm Band and 2 meter Band most of the time. We have HF communications, as well. The Ham Team use 70 cm and 2 meter “liaison” repeaters for receiving weather information. Emergency Managers and local spotter network control operators may relay severe weather information via these liaison repeaters to the Ham Team, who are working along side the meteorologists monitoring radar and issuing warnings.
Use of radio communication is the preferred way of getting information to the NWS. However, the Ham Team may use Echolink as well. Our Station call sign is WX9LOT.
From time to time, the Ham Team will transmit information about the weather situation on the liaison repeater. This information, from a meteorologist, would be about weather affecting any of the 23 counties in the WFO Chicago warning area. For example, information may be the direction and speed and direction of thunderstorms producing very heavy rainfall or large hail.