Clash between Chasers and Spotters

Apr 1, 2010
157
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Kansas City Area
So I went chasing today and we have a local net that has a station at the local NWS office. Every time we have an event near my home town I check in and I pretty much get chastised every time. The net operator always tells me "This net doesn't send people out, go find another net that does"

WTF? I'm 23 and he talks to me like I'm a kid. Who cares if I'm mobile! I still consider it spotting if I stay within my City Limits and when I go out of the City then its chasing.

This has happened several times and I really don't know what to make of it. I like the repeater and the net because the net talks directly to the NWS office but I feel like I'm being pushed away.

What should I do?
 

John Wetter

SN President
Staff member
Dec 11, 2005
878
69
11
Maple Grove, MN
www.WxChaser.com
Well, you could see if they have formal procedures for how they handle traffic and what exactly is meant or inferred by the statement of 'sending people'. Though there are way better ways to handle this on a net than this operator did, many spotter organizations are scared to death of the liability of anything having to do with 'sending' spotters somewhere. Instead, most nets merely report on where the radar is showing features and then asking for reports. They don't want to know, nor do they care if you are mobile, they just don't want to get involved in that whole liability mess.

Again, it could be handled better on the air, but I guess my fast answer to you is to get involved in the organization that you're talking to so you know what they are wanting/not wanting/expecting. If you're a local and monitor often, that seems to be the logical next move.
 
Apr 1, 2010
157
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Kansas City Area
The biggest thing was I was sitting at the end of KCI Runway. The net was asking for anyone in Leavenworth, KS as Leavenworth was about to get hit. I said I could head over as it was about a 15min drive for me. That's when he chastized me. Its like, really? I'm just trying to help. I put over $6000 worth of gear into my car so I can be mobile and give solid reports and images. I was treated like a kid.
 

Jason Boggs

So I went chasing today and we have a local net that has a station at the local NWS office. Every time we have an event near my home town I check in and I pretty much get chastised every time. The net operator always tells me "This net doesn't send people out, go find another net that does"

WTF? I'm 23 and he talks to me like I'm a kid. Who cares if I'm mobile! I still consider it spotting if I stay within my City Limits and when I go out of the City then its chasing.

This has happened several times and I really don't know what to make of it. I like the repeater and the net because the net talks directly to the NWS office but I feel like I'm being pushed away.

What should I do?
I'd stay away from them if I were you. Take your reports to someone who won't push you away. Just do what you do and call the NWS directly with your reports. Take those guys that push you away completely out of the equation.

EDIT: Anyone that shuns you away and treats you like that isn't worth the time!
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
7,145
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skywatch.org
A better way is to use SpotterNetwork... That not only pushes it to the NWS without the middleman, it plots it on their screen right at your location. And sends it at the same time to EMA, media, and other spotters.
 

Steve Miller

Owner Emeritus
Staff member
Supporter
Jun 14, 2004
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It's a power struggle that's as old as Amateur Radio's association through SKYWARN with NWS offices. They are placing a normal (not always) person in a position of power and we all know power can sometimes translate to problems. Regardless, this power entails arranging spotters in locations and telling them when to be there and when to move. Their sole purpose is to know where their volunteer spotters are and gain reports from them as needed or offered. They are good at what they do (in most cases) but can sometimes keep to a very narrow personal perception of protocol.

So, you come in and are likely considered a disruption because you are moving from point to point within the CWA. Perhaps the net controller considers you rogue or maybe he/she had a bad experience with a chaser in the past. After many, many hours of spotter training the net control likely endured over the years, he/she might consider chasing an unsafe practice because of the various extreme weather shows on TV that feature "chasers". You never know. What I CAN tell you is the NCO is responsible for ensuring spotters with nothing in their car but a radio and two eyes, are safe. He/she does not want to keep up with you.

I ran net control and the OKARK SKYWARN group for the NWS in Tulsa for a few of my early weather weenie years. We never had a problem with chasers popping into the net. Rarely did they follow protocol because they did not attend local meetings. Regardless, they get the report through and it is always important and appreciated; never discounted. That said, we had a few NCO's who would get behind the mic and try to take way too much control; even applying a certain tone to those outside of the "group". I have talked with several SKYWARN and emergency operations groups then and since, that have similar issues. Whether this is your issue or not is beside the point. You simply need to get involved at the spotter level.

My recommendation is if you are in the immediate area and wish to be included, go to the local club/SKYWARN meeting and get to know the NCO(s) and other spotters. Attend the local spotter training every year regardless of your weather education level. You need to have your name out there as Amateur Radio can be a good ol' boys club in some instances. Shoot an email to the NCO and let him/her know who you are, what you do, when you're available, and your contact info.

# # #
I wonder how much longer a physical net control operator will really be needed on site at a weather office? In the early 90's when I was involved, technology as we know it was beginning to take over. Now we have SN, NWSChat, live streaming, social media, etc. It could never replace amateur radio for true emergency communications but Net Controller positions have surly become more of a supplementary role. My Amateur Radio peers will likely not be thrilled with my questioning the NCO role. My technologically inclined peers will probably agree there are many ways NWS can acquire information without a warm body and radio equipment in their office.

I'd be interested in the thoughts on this (perhaps a different thread).
 
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rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
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With the increasing role of communications systems (800MHz statewide radios, social network, etc.) a dedicated "ham-only NCS" could be replaced by a "communications officer" taking on more roles. But I can't imagine a day without a warm body doing comm stuff only.
 
Apr 1, 2010
157
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Kansas City Area
Thanks for the reply. I do stream live video/gps location. So the net operator could know exactly where I am at all times. I do get the feeling that he has a bias opinion of chasers and does not want the liability. Frankly, I would never go out unless I had my laptop and GRlevel3. I can't see how people spot from a mobile location without radar. I know, trust your eye but when hits the fan and your are in blinding rain, it would be nice to know whats around you.

Also, when does hit the fan HAM radios will always work. I don't think NWS offices will get rid of HAM radios or operators.

Thanks again for the replys!
 

Jason Foster

--Go directly to the WCM with a complaint.

--Don't disclose to the net control you are "chasing". If they ask, just say you were "running errands".

--Just give the min. amount of necessary data/report information. Condition, Location, Time (if not immediate). Just like an SN report. Use the KISS rule.

--Report by other means if necessary.

The "clash" is old news and varies as SM mentioned in his post. You probably aren't going to get much sympathy here either. Not that we don't think you have a legitimate reason to complain, but as chasers...it's nothing new. I've told of similar issues here (DC area...at LWX NWS WFO).

Add:
I personally avoid ham radio skywarn nets these days. Poor public image, growing nets with attitudes, slow reporting (depending on ham nets, and WFOs systems for accepting reports) it's quickly making ham obsolete. And before long...mobile internet will be more reliable than ham radio.
 

Steven Kays

Before 2005 how many people had mobile internet? A decided minority I suspect, much the same way technology augments RACES/SKYWARN operations at the WFOs mobile internet and gibson ridge augment chasers/spotters in the field. When TSHTF all you will be left with is your eyes and ears, and your radio.

I look for HAM radio to be a vital and primary means of information from the field getting to the WFO long into the future, more-so given the budget cuts NWS is facing.

I find the NCO at one particular WFO very near to me to be.... obtuse, in personal as well as RF dealings I must say I have found a duel standard exists, more of a matter of elite "pets" vs those not in favor. This elite mentality does not just show up against chasers, but spotters and in some cases EOCs as well.
 

Steve Miller

Owner Emeritus
Staff member
Supporter
Jun 14, 2004
1,792
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www.stevemillerok.com
Sounds to me like you're screwed. Take rdale's advice and use SN since you have the equipment to do so. Your report will get through to the appropriate people. You'll avoid having to deal with that mean ol' NCO too.

(I wish I had just said this in the first place.)
 
Apr 10, 2008
387
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Wisconsin
www.proalert.us
First off I think the title of this thread "Clash between Chasers and Spotters" is a little misleading as I see no "clash" between the two here.

Terms can also be turned around depending on the person.

Static Spotter (sits and watches things go by)
Mobile Spotter (Tracker) (Stays in their state or home area)
Chaser (has camera will travel)

Many WFO's do not and will not put themselves in the position of liability for mobile spotters or chasers. They prefer the static spotter, thus they
will turn you away. I have actually heard of WFO's de-recognizing a spotter group because they have mobile spotters.

I would recommend talking to the Warnings Coordinator Met at that WFO and find out what is what. The Warning Met should be the person
overseeing the group running the ham side of things within their office.

Some how I think there is more here then is meeting the eye.

Tim
 

Jason Foster

Many WFO's do not and will not put themselves in the position of liability for mobile spotters or chasers. They prefer the static spotter, thus they
will turn you away. I have actually heard of WFO's de-recognizing a spotter group because they have mobile spotters.
Now I could be wrong, but this doesn't sound like the NWS making the decision not to allow reports from chasers/mobile spotters. It sounds more like a ham radio operator acting as net control (or a committee prior) that has made the decision. If they accept the LSR via other means (800 number, SN, eSpotter, whatever) than the issue does sound like a clash to me. It 100% the issue between hams/spotters here versus chasers. The WCM has no issues with taking reports via ham radio from chasers...but the hams have decided not to accept it. And going by the IM traffic (that I had a chance to secretly see) that goes on "behind the scenes" there is real issues. I doubt my area is the only one.
 
Apr 10, 2008
387
1
5
61
Wisconsin
www.proalert.us
Now I could be wrong, but this doesn't sound like the NWS making the decision not to allow reports from chasers/mobile spotters. It sounds more like a ham radio operator acting as net control (or a committee prior) that has made the decision. If they accept the LSR via other means (800 number, SN, eSpotter, whatever) than the issue does sound like a clash to me. It 100% the issue between hams/spotters here versus chasers. The WCM has no issues with taking reports via ham radio from chasers...but the hams have decided not to accept it. And going by the IM traffic (that I had a chance to secretly see) that goes on "behind the scenes" there is real issues. I doubt my area is the only one.
I would guess it could depend on the WFO, but around here the WCM oversees the groups running the radios. Nothing is final until the WCM indicates so.

To assume it is a spotter vs chaser may or may not be correct. It may be more of a liability issue as he indicated he would go out into the storm and have a look see.

Please refer to this webpage for more information on what the NWS thinks of mobile spotting/chasing.

You will find this: "NOTE: The National Weather Service does not condone, endorse or recommend storm chasing. It is a dangerous practice and should not be attempted."

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/?n=stormspotting-safety



Tim
 
Jan 27, 2011
421
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Russell, KS
Mobile spotting and chasing are two entirely different things. I don't spot from my back yard, I don't have a good view. If I'm not going out to chase, I have a spot that I go to where I sit and watch and take pictures. There's a lake right there so I occasionally go fishing too. That hardly constitutes chasing. When I check into the net, it's as KD0TAZ MOBILE. I have never been told that my reports were not welcome because I am MOBILE.

I assume this is the Topeka office we're talking about. They are one that I haven't received a reply about their ham program, so I can't give you anything useful except that their WCM is Chad.Omitt (at) noaaDOTgov. Did you happen to get the NCO's call?
 
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Jun 2, 2010
69
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Napoleon Ohio
I am the net control for 2 counties, and a good many of our spotters are mobile even have a couple that are regional truck drivers. As far as chasers go, myself and my boss the EMA director appreciate chasers because many times they will be in an area where we ado not have any spotters in the field, I can follow them on SN and "see" what they are seeing. This is really nice when they are streaming live video. So if any of you are ever chasing in NW Ohio you'll never hear anything negative from us. And if you are a ham, feel free to give a shout on 147.315 + or 147.195 +, both open repeaters with no PL.

I've traveled a lot over the last 20 years on disaster response/relief (hurricanes/floods/tornados) and have run into situations like the original poster described, In these cases if they do not wish to take my report if I have the toll free NWS spotter hotline I report that way, if not I'll call the local dispatch and inform them of what I am seeing and they can/will pass it through to the NWS.
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
7,145
693
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Lansing, MI
skywatch.org
I would guess it could depend on the WFO, but around here the WCM oversees the groups running the radios. Nothing is final until the WCM indicates so.
That doesn't make sense... Are you saying that there are WCMs who tell Skywarn groups to not accept report from mobile spotters?

It may be more of a liability issue as he indicated he would go out into the storm and have a look see.
Educate me... What liability could there be for a NCS accepting reports from a spotter who goes mobile?

Please refer to this webpage for more information on what the NWS thinks of mobile spotting/chasing.
Bad link - that refers to chasing. 1) That's common sense, as NWS will not tell people to chase. 2) It only refers to chasing, not mobile spotting. Those are two very different venues.
 

Rob H

EF5
Mar 11, 2009
825
5
0
Twin Cities, MN
Can we please stop that quote from being trotted out in any discussion even remotely related to chasing and mobile spotting? What do you expect the NWS to say? "Please, everyone go out and try to drive into a tornado... FOR SCIENCE!"
 
Wait until FEMA / NHC start "encouraging" hurricane chaser reports. Then the arm chair liability lawyers are going to come out in droves.

Ask the proper question and you'll get a proper answer.

Q: Will you accept a report from someone who is putting themselves in danger and doing something you wouldn't personally do?
A: Yes

Q: Would you advise/encourage/train/expect said person to be doing what he/she is doing?
A: No

Depending on your opinion of X activity you can justify or condemn said activity by picking and choosing which question/answer you use as evidence.

-Tyler
 
Apr 10, 2008
387
1
5
61
Wisconsin
www.proalert.us
That doesn't make sense... Are you saying that there are WCMs who tell Skywarn groups to not accept report from mobile spotters?



Educate me... What liability could there be for a NCS accepting reports from a spotter who goes mobile?



Bad link - that refers to chasing. 1) That's common sense, as NWS will not tell people to chase. 2) It only refers to chasing, not mobile spotting. Those are two very different venues.
1. Can't help it if you did not understand it rdale.
2. Ask a lawyer.
3. Didnt say that, read it again slowly.

Tim
 
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rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
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Lansing, MI
skywatch.org
Sheez - I forgot who I was replying to! I did make a casual check with MKX and they do accept mobile spotter reports, so check with your supervisor again and he'll set you straight.

2) I did ask a lawyer. I'm married to one. She says no liability, so the burden is on you to back up what you said.

3) I read it again. It still doesn't refer to mobile spotters. Could you put it in italics for people like me? Or are you making that up too?