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Stark County Skywarn


   The Skywarn networks take many different forms in different parts of the country. Typically, trained volunteer spotters report into a local operations center, and these reports are relayed to the National Weather Service. Reports are delivered to this local center by many means including Amateur Radio.

   Stark County falls under the careful watch of the Cleveland National Weather Service, who is responsible for a 30 county area covering northern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Each county has an established Skywarn program involving amateur radio operators who act as spotters for reporting critical weather information to the National Weather Service.

   In the event the NWS issues a watch or warning for our county, you are advised to listen to the 147.12 repeater. This repeater serves Stark County for emergency purposes, and is used for all Skywarn nets. Here you will be able to obtain current weather information, and relay relevant information to net control, using your skills as a spotter. In the event the 147.12 repeaters is down or deemed unusable, all Skywarn operations will switch to the back-up repeater which is the 147.18 repeater owned and operated by the Massillon Amateur Radio Club. 

   Stark  County serves under the direction of our Emergency Coordinator, Terry Russ, N8ATZ, with assistance our Skywarn Coordinator Mike Lackney - KB8MIB our Assistant EC for Skywarn Operations. If you have any questions about the Skywarn Program here in Stark County or if you have any comments, we invite your call.

MARC & Stark Co ARES Activate During Tornado Touchdown

  Stark County Skywarn activated as they normally do on Sunday, April 28th when the National Weather Service projected a severe weather front would quickly pass through the area. Little did we know it would become a full blown disaster when the storm spawned an F-2 tornado that cut a five-mile-long path of destruction along several area neighborhoods, blowing over trees, destroying trees and knocking out power to thousands of homes, several businesses and a local high school.

David Beltz, WD8AYE, Stark County ARES Emergency Coordinator quickly activated an ARES net on the 147.12 repeater and summoned volunteers for what was to become a full week of activities for area amateurs.

Amateurs were dispatched to the county Emergency Operations Center, area hospitals and the county 911 center. Township fire officials also requested assistance when it became clear that a multi-agency effort would soon commence. The 911 centers phone lines quickly became jammed with concerned callers and at one point Amateur Radio was utilized to dispatch public safety forces to several serious incidents that resulted from the storms fury.

Amateur operations also involved the Western Stark County Chapter of the American Red Cross when a relief center was established at John Knox Presbyterian Church in Jackson Township.

Operations shifted on Monday morning as amateurs active with the Red Cross sent Disaster Assessment Teams into the effected areas to determine the extent of the damage. Amateurs also rode with Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVís) providing meals and assistance to both area residents hit hardest by the storm and clean-up crews. Operations continued throughout the week until Thursday afternoon.

Stark County ARES Assistant EC Terry Russ, N8ATZ indicated this was the worst disaster to hit this area on record and involved more than 50 local amateurs.

Township officials also praised amateurs efforts during this crisis and are already revising their local disaster plans to increase the involvement of amateur radio operators.

The History of Northeast Ohio Skywarn

   The National Weather Service developed the Skywarn program out of a need for quick, reliable information to augment the remote sensing tools they already had in place. Through the training of civilians, they achieved part of their goal. Spotters used telephones to relay reports of severe weather to their regional NWS Office. However, a problem arose during large outbreaks of severe weather. When many spotters tried to call in at the same time, the telephones were always busy. As a result, the information didn't come in as quickly as desired.

   The idea of using amateur radio to relay the reports came into play. It was a great idea at first, reports came in as quickly as they could be radioed in. However, as Skywarn gained rapid popularity with hams, it became less efficient, and relationships among those involved deteriorated. Suddenly, it seemed as though it was a status symbol to have been heard on the local weather net. A clear need for structure, organization became apparent. This led to the development of controlled nets for amateur radio Skywarn.

   During 1993, this need for structure and organization was deepened by the modernization of the National Weather Service. The strategy was to consolidate the regional NWS Offices, as well as their warning areas. In northern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania, NWS Offices in Toledo, Mansfield, Akron-Canton, Youngstown and Erie were closed. Most of the County Warning Areas (CWA's) of these offices were combined into the current, large CWA that is now served by NWS Cleveland. The combining of these CWA's threw a huge wrench into the Skywarn machine. However, instead of complaining about it, a solution was started to solve the problem.

   The Backbone was the solution to the problem. Through the generosity of the Six-Meter Amateur Repeater Team, the use of a wide-area repeater on the six-meter amateur band was donated to the NWS Cleveland Skywarn program as the primary means to connect the old weather offices' CWA's. This worked sufficiently until the popularity of the Backbone increased. This resulted in a clear need for increased structure and organization.

   As Skywarn continues to gain popularity and evolve in structure, remember that NWS Cleveland Skywarn serves thirty primary counties and an additional sixty-one counties containing over fifteen million people across four states. There are numerous local and district level groups within this area, each with a different set of operating procedures.

   Here in Stark County, we are part of District 4, South Central  which is comprised of Ashland, Wayne, Holmes, Summit and Stark Counties. Each county holds its own local weather net in the event of a NWS issued "Watch" or "Warning". Ours is of course held on the 147.12 repeater. We report to a "District Net". District Nets act as data collection points for local nets. They collect the most significant information from their local nets via their local liaison stations. The district nets also provide warning and watch information as well as other information from the NWS and other public safety agencies back to the local nets. In some cases, the district net and local net are one in the same.

   Once weather traffic reaches the point where it is ready to be passed on the Backbone, Cleveland Weather Skywarn takes over and determines how the information gets to the forecasters. Cleveland Weather Skywarn operates the Backbone and staffs the NWS radio station.

   The Backbone is the final data collection point, serving the district nets. It collects the mot significant data from the district nets. This information is then passed on to the weather forecasters, who use the information in issuing and verifying warnings and preparing forecasts.

   This is a brief explanation of how Northeast Ohio Skywarn operates, but it still depends on accurate, well trained spotters in order to be a success. You are encouraged to become part of this important effort. Contact your local coordinators if you would like additional information.

    There are 30 counties under the jurisdiction of the Cleveland National Weather Service Forecast Office. Click here to see a map showing the county warning area and the 2 meter frequency of each counties' local Skywarn net. Weather traffic is then passed between the district net and the Cleveland National Weather Service on a wide area 6 meter repeater on 52.68 Mhz. 

Trained Severe Storm Amateur Radio Spotters are located throughout Northeastern Ohio but many areas are still seriously understaffed. The map below shows in green stars where the heaviest concentration of spotters are located. Please review the map below and consider joining this important program if you live in one of the sparsely populated areas.

CLICK HERE to view the map.

Do You Have Something To Report Directly To The National Weather Service ?

Stark County Skywarn Opens 2004 Season
Terry Russ, N8ATZ - Assistant Emergency Coordinator

(Apr 1, 2004) -- Wednesday, March 24th Stark County ARES officially opened the 2004 severe weather season by participating in Severe Weather Awareness Week. Each year local amateurs involved in the Skywarn Spotter program provide countless hours of community service by providing severe weather spotter reports to the National Weather Service. During this week amateurs are involved in several exercises concerning the Skywarn Program.

On the morning of the 24th local communities tested their early warning sirens in conjunction with the Stark County Emergency Operations Center. Amateur radio operators also tested their response by checking into a Simulated Weather Net on our 147.12 ARES Repeater.

Net Control Lori Miller - KC8ONY logged in 37 local check-ins with an additional 10 from the Alliance Radio Club Weather Net. In general warning sirens were heard throughout the county with important reports received from amateurs near all area hospitals and several from local businesses. Results of the net were forwared to new Stark County EMA Director Richard Alatorre who was very pleased with the results. Emergency Coordinator David Beltz - WD8AYE thanks everyone who took time from their day to participate in the drill especially net control Lori Miller.

Severe Weather Awareness Week concluded Wednesday night as Stark State College of Technology again hosted this years Skywarn Spotter Training Meeting.

This year's attendance exceeded 150 with many first time attendees. As usual nearly 50% of the crowd was comprised of area amateur radio operators. This was no surprise to EOC director Rick Alatorre who is well aware of local ham operators support to both the Skywarn program as well as assisting the EOC during local emergencies.

"This is a terrific turnout", said Rick, host of this years annual training meeting, "ham operators have always been counted upon to assist local public service agencies whenever they were needed." Rick continued, "I'm very grateful to all the local ham operators for their assistance."

Cleveland Weather Coordinating Meteorologist Gary Garnet - KC8TJI returning for his fifth year was also impressed, The amateurs of Stark County have always been strong supporters of the Skywarn program", said Gary, "They are always doing a great job down here in Stark County and have for many years."

Gary's program covered the fundamental aspects of predicting severe weather and how spotters play a vital role in determining when to issue watches and warnings. New this year were video clips that helped to show cloud patterns that spawn severe weather. Proper reporting procedures were also reviewed and how our visual conformations help forecasters decide when, where and to what degree watches and warnings are issued here and in other counties.

Marvin Secrest of M & K Engraving was again in attendance taking orders for official Skywarn ID badges and reported good sales again this year.

"The training meeting was another great success", said local Skywarn Coordinator Paul Burke - KB8VAS who thanked Gary Garnet for his excellent training program as well as the tremendous outpouring of support from area public safety officials and the amateur radio community who assist with this vital community program.

A multi page brochure was handed out during the program that provides tips on severe weather spotting. Supplies ran short during the meeting, if you didn't get a copy you can download one by clicking here.

A more advanced color basic basic spotter's field guide is also available from the National Weather Service. Click Here to download this 22 page pdf guide from their website.

Spotter's Guide Now Available

      After many requests for copies of the official Severe Storm Spotter's Guide, we have made it available as an Adobe pdf document. Click on the button below to download your copy !

Special Feature Story

Doppler Radar : How Does It Work ?

    We constantly hear about the importance of Doppler radar in the forecasting and monitoring of weather conditions. We hear about the Doppler radar on TV every day, and it's truly a life-saving weather surveillance tool. But how do Doppler radars really work?

To explain, let's use the example of the most powerful coast-to-coast Doppler radar network, operated by the National Weather Service (NWS). These radars make up the WSR-88D network that stretches across the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. territories. The Doppler radar is named as such because it employs the Doppler effect. This effect, takes its name from the man who discovered it, Austrian physicist Christian Johann Doppler. It states that an object moving away from a certain point gives off a different "frequency" than an object moving towards that same point. This can be best illustrated by the sound a car makes as it approaches blowing its horn. As the car comes toward you, a higher horn pitch is heard than when it moves away. Listen for this the next time you are stuck in traffic.

In the past, older radars sent out radio waves into the atmosphere. The radar would measure the time between pulses and the amount of time it took these radio echoes to bounce back from precipitation. The radar then calculates the distance of the raindrops falling from the clouds. What sets the new Doppler radar apart is that by using the Doppler principle, the speed and direction of these drops can be determined. This allows Doppler radars to determine if storms contain dangerously strong winds and even tornadoes. The power of these radars enables them to determine the size of the droplets, potential flooding and even the presence of hail in a storm.

Together, The NWS radar network and local Doppler radars create a powerful tool for meteorologists to understand and forecast local weather conditions. It allows them to see severe weather before it happens and warn the public of the threat of everything from hail to flooding and heavy snow to tornadoes. We're proud to include the national NWS radar network, (and often even the best local television station radars!) as a part of WeatherBug. Make sure you have the latest version of WeatherBug (Click here to download version 2.7.) so you can track all the rain and snow this year. Now you know that WeatherBug's Doppler radar is truly powerful and accurate!

The above story is courtesy of September 2001 "BUGBYTES" from !


For the latest news on the Skywarn Program here in Stark County look to the Stark County ARES Website at





 This page was last updated on  06/17/18

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