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January 21, 2018

Serving the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro Area

Metro Skywarn does not encourage storm chasing—that is, the constant movement of following of a storm to remain close to the severe core. As spotters, we recommend finding a safe location that has multiple escape routes that you can stop at and remain stationary while the storm moves through. This is expecially true if you are spotting alone. You may find it necessary to move from time to time as the storm system moves, but you are not in a constant "chase" of the storm movement. If you are mobile while spotting, we recommend spotting in pairs so the driver can focus on road safety, while the passenger can monitor the storm activity, and navigate around hazards.

You are first and foremost solely responsible for your personal safety in the field. Metro Skywarn will not direct you or assign you to a location for spotting.

Spotter Field Toolkit

When in the field, there are some tools that can assist in making better reports that help provide more pertinent and reliable information. Having these items in your field toolkit help you prepare for a variety of situations.

Printouts

Metro Skywarn Spotter Report Scripts

When you make reports to Net Control, these Spotter Report Scripts will help guide you through proper reporting procedures to ensure concise, accurate reports.

Severe Storm Spotter’s Reporting Guide

Carry a printout of the Severe Storm Spotter’s Reporting Guide as a reference of reporting guidelines.

Metro Skywarn Spotter ID Card

Your Metro Skywarn Spotter ID Card has a hail ruler, frequency reference chart (in case the net moves to a backup repeater, and you don't hear the announcement, perhaps the primary were struck by lightning, and an announcement could not be made), and it has your 3- or 4-digit MSW Spotter ID number.

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you need a replacement card before your next training. Your card expires after two years, and you must attend a recertification class in person to obtain a new card.

Tools and Utilities

Weather Notebook

Know what to say during your report on the radio by writing your observations on an all-weather notebook before you key up your radio. Bring an all-weather pen to write in the rain.

NOAA Weather Radio

NOAA Weather Radio will keep you updated with instant alerts directly from the NOAA NWS radio broadcasts. Emergency broadcast alerts for warnings will ensure you have instant safety information. Use a hand crank power supply, or bring plenty of batteries.

Lightning Detector

Ensure your safety is a priority with a lightning detector. If you can hear thunder, you can be struck by lightning. Lightning can strike up to 25 miles from the top of a thunderstorm.

Equipment

Calibrated Anemometer

A calibrated anemometer is a device with small fan blades that measure actual wind speed. A human cannot measure or estimate wind speed. Valid wind reports rely on an anemometer. The anemometer should be stationary; holding it out the car window while driving will skew the wind speed because of the speed of the car. A phone app alone cannot measure wind speed.

Dash Cams

Dash cams are useful to provide constant recording of storm events. You never know when a unique or rapidly developing situation may occur, so continuously recording the severe event ensures you capture any and all activies. Having a dash cam mounted to your windshield is a hands-free and safe way to record video.

Digital Action Cameras

Action cameras such as the GoPro series provide enhanced and advanced video recording capabilities when spectacular events happen, such as tornadoes or lightning.

D-SLR Cameras

Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras are high-end cameras with removeable lenses that take phenomenal high-quality photos. These are recommended for stills of storm and cloud structures, and can be used with tripods for timed exposures.

D-SLR Lightning Triggers

With a D-SLR Lightning Trigger, your camera on a tripod can capture instant photos of lightning fast lightning shots.

Outdoor Drones

Outdoor Drones can be used to capture unique views of storms, but also review storm path and damage once the threat has passed. Because they may be flying in storm winds, you could lose control or the drone itself. Drone use may require licensing and registration with the FAA and/or require an FCC amateur radio license.

Mobile Hotspot

A mobile hotspot with data service from a cellular provider can provide extra bandwidth for phones, laptops, tablets, and streaming cameras. Data charges and limits may apply. Service coverage may be limited in rural areas.

Webcams

Using a mobile hotspot and a tablet or laptop, a webcam will let you stream live video of your spotting experience.

GPS and Navigation

Various GPS (Global Positioning System) and Navigation devices help you determine and report your exact location. This is especially useful when reporting from rural locations where major crossroads are few and far between.

Support Metro Skywarn

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Metro Skywarn is on AmazonSmile. When you select Metro Skywarn, Amazon will donate a portion of all eligible purchases back to Metro Skywarn. Get great stuff to do the great stuff that you do, while supporting the great organization you do the great stuff for!

Metro Skywarn does not imply endorsement of any particular brand or product. If you have suggestions for the Spotter Field Toolkit, send your ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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  • MSW Board Meeting
    The Metro Skywarn Board will be meeting Saturday January 13th at Maple Grove Fire Station #1 starting at 10:00. The address is 6880 Hemlock Ln N, Maple Grove, MN 55369. Skywarn Spotters are invited to attend. Our space is limited, if you are interested in attending, please send an email to
  • January Social & May picnic
    Due to many of our partner agencies being tied up with Superbowl planning & emergency services, we have delayed our January social until later in 2018. Stay tuned for updates. Our picnic will be on May 19 (rain date = 20th) at the NWS. Thank you for all you do for our communities! Board of
  • Webite
    To all Metro Skywarn Spotters: You may have noticed the MetroSkywarn.org website is currently down. Please watch the following for updates: Email list: MSW...@googlegroups.com (announcements, training information, etc) Email list: MSWA...@googlegroups.com (activations) Facebook https://www.facebo
  • Special Weather Statement issued January 21 at 8:59AM CST by NWS
    ...Reduced Visibilities in Fog Continue This Morning... Areas of fog will persist into the late morning hours. The fog will be dense at times in some areas, with visibility reduced to as low as 1/4 mile. Gradual improvement is expected late this morning. If driving this morning, be alert for rapidly changing visibilities
  • Winter Storm Warning issued January 21 at 3:56AM CST until January 23 at 12:00AM CST by NWS
    ...Hazardous Travel Late This Evening Through Monday... .Travel will become hazardous late this evening through Monday evening as a strong winter storm impacts the area. Precipitation will initially fall as an icy wintry mix or snow, changing over to all snow by mid morning on Monday. Snow accumulations of 6 to locally 12 inches are expected, along with icing up to 2/10 of an
  • Winter Storm Warning issued January 21 at 3:56AM CST until January 23 at 12:00AM CST by NWS
    ...Hazardous Travel Late This Evening Through Monday... .Travel will become hazardous late this evening through Monday evening as a strong winter storm impacts the area. Precipitation will initially fall as an icy wintry mix or snow, changing over to all snow by mid morning on Monday. Snow accumulations of 6 to locally 12 inches are expected, along with icing up to 2/10 of an
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