Best method for communication of severe weather


Mar 1, 2004
Lansing, MI
There usually is only one sevwx reporting number (unless you happen to know other extensions on the office floor.) I think the concern is that if you're reporting 3/4" hail the same time that another spotter has a wedge on the ground - that's where the issue comes in to play.

Lou Ruh

May 17, 2007
One quick comment....I've read more than a few times that the perceived drawback of reporting via cell phone is that it ties up lines...if not to report severe weather, exactly what purpose are we trying to keep these lines freed up to serve?
I'm not sure about other offices, but, I know our local NWS office has one 800 number which maps to two incoming lines to the office. In a widespread event, getting through on those lines could be difficult. So, maybe not so much that you or I could be tying up the lines but that the lines are likely to be tied up with all the calls coming in.

John Wetter

SN President
Staff member
Dec 11, 2005
Maple Grove, MN
Chasing locally my preference is:
Ham Radio - locally this is set up to handle the most traffic
Phone Call - Swap SN and phone for tornadoes

Chasing non-locally:

For the 800-numbers, there are usually multiple lines for the number but yes, I usually reserve phone calls for higher end reports, eg. high-end damage or tornadoes.

I never use 911 except for local things like accidents or something like power lines down on a busy road in a town, etc. They almost never relay info to the NWS in a timely manner, especially in anything more than an isolated event.

Jesse Risley

Staff member
Apr 12, 2006
Macomb, IL
There probably isn't any one best method for every area.

I'm with those who advocate ham radio, but it does have its limitations as mentioned previously. The GRLevel3 Placefile feature is great, since you can simply use your mouse to locate repeaters in a given area. Once you become familiar with areas that you frequent on the plains, you can also program wide area repeater networks into the memory of your radio.

SN and cell reporting to the NWS is great, provided that you actually have service and the systems are not being overloaded.

CB radio is great for aformentioned reasons while traveling to and fro, but I've never heard of an organized CB radio network that, like SKYWARN nets utilizing ham radio, relays reliable reports to the NWS. Distance limitations and general on-air nonsense make CB radio virtually useless in most areas for that purpose.