Actual warning times

calvinkaskey

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Feb 17, 2014
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I was wondering how long it takes for warnings to get out when they are issued. I was chasing a tornado in N.C. and I and a cop called 911 and it took like 7 or more minutes to get a warning out over cell phones and NOAA radio.
 

calvinkaskey

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Feb 17, 2014
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By the time the warning was heard over NOAA radio it looked like it had f-2 winds and did some pretty good tree damage and was near a school bus. The cell phone warning was a little quicker but still like 5 minutes I think.
 
Aug 2, 2009
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Cabot, AR
By the time the warning was heard over NOAA radio it looked like it had f-2 winds and did some pretty good tree damage and was near a school bus. The cell phone warning was a little quicker but still like 5 minutes I think.
How were you able to distinguish that it had "F-2 winds" just by looking at it? Just out of curiosity.
 
Last edited:
Jul 16, 2013
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Joplin, MO
I was wondering how long it takes for warnings to get out when they are issued. I was chasing a tornado in N.C. and I and a cop called 911 and it took like 7 or more minutes to get a warning out over cell phones and NOAA radio.
911 operators tend to have a lot going on, your best bet is to see if your NWS has a 800 hotline that you can call them directly so you don't have to go through 911 operators.
 

calvinkaskey

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Feb 17, 2014
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It snapped trees low to the ground and one tree had only one branch left near the ground and it was broken. It was probably at the time it tightened into a point.
How were you able to distinguish that it had "F-2 winds" just by looking at it? Just out of curiosity.
 

calvinkaskey

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Feb 17, 2014
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911 operators tend to have a lot going on, your best bet is to see if your NWS has a 800 hotline that you can call them directly so you don't have to go through 911 operators.
Is there a national number to call that will automatically transfer you to the nearest NWS station?
 

calvinkaskey

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Feb 17, 2014
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911 operators tend to have a lot going on, your best bet is to see if your NWS has a 800 hotline that you can call them directly so you don't have to go through 911 operators.
Is there a national number to call that will automatically transfer you to the nearest NWS station?
 
911 operators tend to have a lot going on, your best bet is to see if your NWS has a 800 hotline that you can call them directly so you don't have to go through 911 operators.
A compilation of spotter report numbers for each NWSFO is being worked on by myself and @Mike Cox. We also will eventually compile all of the amateur radio SKYWARN repeater frequencies.

Some NWSFOs list a number to call in reports on their website as well, but it's the minority.
 

calvinkaskey

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Feb 17, 2014
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Is it that difficult for a 911 operator to transfer calls to NWS, Police, Ambulance, and Highway Dept with the push of a button labeled for each?
 
Calvin,

Sounds like we need to clear up a few things:

1) In regards to 911 dispatchers transferring calls: (I work in public safety)
  • When a storm hits, the 911 centers are over whelmed with phone calls. Everything from fire alarms (funny how lightning makes them go off), to people wanting to know about the weather, to people calling in with actual emergencies, etc.
  • If you think transferring a call is as simple as "pushing a button", it's not. I'd be willing to bet 90% of the 911 centers do not have their local NWS programmed in their phone system.
  • The 911 center is not going to transfer you just because you say you're a spotter / chaser, etc. How are they supposed to know that? (Unless they know you personally)
  • Personally, I wouldn't call into 911 unless you needed to (car accident, actual emergency, etc). They get enough calls as it is.
2) There are much easier ways to report directly to the NWS:
  • Ham Radio is my #1 choice. It's simple to use, provides a wealth of information, and you don't tie up valuable phone line space.
  • If you must resort to calling in, do the best that you can to explain yourself and who you are. Unless you're working with your local office, other offices may not know you from Joe Blow on the street.
3) NWS issuing warnings:
  • Unless other factors support your report, the NWS isn't going to "pull the trigger" based upon 1 person / spotter's report. Please remember that. Just because you see a wall of water 200 feet high, doesn't mean they're going to issue a tsunami warning. There has to be more factors / reports as well.

I hope that clears up a few things. As hard as public safety dispatchers have to work in general, I don't think they should be bashed. Yes they do get busy and yes mistakes happen (hopefully none life threatening). Just remember, we're all human.

Mike Cox
www.iowachaser.com
 

calvinkaskey

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Feb 17, 2014
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Thing is NWS said they issued a tornado warning about at the time I called in but the warnings took over 5 minutes to get out over NOAA radio and cell phones.
 

calvinkaskey

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Feb 17, 2014
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I ran into a school bus with kids on it while chasing a tornado in North Carolina right near the damage path 7 minutes after me and a cop called 911 and supposedly the NWS issued a tornado warning at about the same time. ie. seven minutes ago.
 

John Wetter

SN President
Staff member
Dec 11, 2005
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Maple Grove, MN
www.WxChaser.com
I've said for years... Calling 911 to report a tornado (or any reportable condition) is a call of last resort for the unprepared spotter.

Use ham radio... Use the local reporting numbers, or, use the SN client which has that all built in. Calling 911 is the least efficient method you have for reporting an immediate event like a tornado.
 
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Here to beat a dead horse. Calling 911 should be a last-ditch effort to communicate ground truth. Dispatchers are not qualified to relay such information to the NWS. You're just adding an artificial delay by communicating with anyone other than the NWS.

As for the phone number list, one already exists. It is used within the Spotter Network Windows Client for displaying the proper NWS number for your location. The raw text can be found at http://www.spotternetwork.org/phone.txt. This list is updated by me personally in coordination with NWS Liaisons in all three regions. I hope that everyone finds this list useful.