SN SpotterNetwork Reports and NWS use

Jesse Risley

Staff member
Apr 12, 2006
1,955
248
11
39
Macomb, IL
www.tornadoguys.com
I'm just curious if there has been any formal NWS offices that have issued notices that they aren't particularly inclined to use SN reports for their formal reporting purposes? I know that there was at least one office for which the reports were no longer going into their chat client. I'm assuming that is something their WCM can disable? Also, in discussing this with another veteran chaser at the convention two weekends ago in Wichita, there are several offices in the central Illinois region that don't seem to be acknowledging those reports or otherwise choosing to use them as they have in the past, e.g., LSRs and such. Is this more a case by case basis?
 
May 18, 2013
374
291
11
I would be shocked to hear any WFO say the where not inclined to use SN reports because NWS instruction 10-1807 says that "WCMs are encouraged to integrate Spotter Network reports into their WFO operations": http://www.nws.noaa.gov/directives/sym/pd01018007curr.pdf

Of course, saying and doing are different things. Every WFO office has their own favorite ways of reporting. SN reports come in on NWSChat. Some offices use NWSChat a lot and others hardly use it. It can also depended on staffing. I will also note that regardless of method of reporting, not every report makes it to the LSR log. I asked a MIC today and he said they still use SN reports in his office.
 

Lou Ruh

EF2
May 17, 2007
137
24
11
SE PA
I am not sure about anything official ... but, the WCM at my local office still dislikes using them (mostly based on the early days when some bogus reports were made using SpotterNetwork ... not really as much of an issue nowadays). They do, at least, have them showing up in NWSChat ... but, I am not sure if they really use them.

Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Stormtrack mobile app
 
May 28, 2009
12
14
1
We know most NWS offices use SN reports, but of course some local decisions can be different given the situation.
John, thanks for jumping in FWDCHAT Sunday evening (3/24). I was working the amateur radio desk. We were discussing if there was a way to report bad reports when you posted in chat.
 

John Wetter

SN President
Staff member
Dec 11, 2005
851
45
11
Maple Grove, MN
www.WxChaser.com
John, thanks for jumping in FWDCHAT Sunday evening (3/24). I was working the amateur radio desk. We were discussing if there was a way to report bad reports when you posted in chat.
You're welcome! Always feel free to tag us on Social media or elsewhere if needed. On bigger days I also try to stop in to the different NWS Chat rooms as well, I'm glad we were able to take care of that, sorry for the frustration I'm sure those reports caused.
 

ChrisP

Enthusiast
May 8, 2019
5
0
0
Cedar Park, Texas
You're welcome! Always feel free to tag us on Social media or elsewhere if needed. On bigger days I also try to stop in to the different NWS Chat rooms as well, I'm glad we were able to take care of that, sorry for the frustration I'm sure those reports caused.
My account seems to be locked until September. Says I made a low quality report. I have never sent a report ever. How can I correct this and reinstate my account ?
 

Kevin M. Smith

Enthusiast
May 12, 2019
4
1
1
Pocatello, ID
As an NWS employee (speaking here unofficially), I can tell you that NWS use of Spotter Network (SN) reports across the country will vary for several reasons:

1) The primary way most NWS offices receive/see SN reports is via NWSChat. Some offices use NWSChat extensively and will see the SN reports right away, while other offices do not extensively use NWSChat and thus may not notice SN reports.

2) Nearly every NWSChat chatroom nationwide is subscribed to automatically ingest SN reports for that county warning area. However, this subscription can be modified (turned on and off) by the local office, so it is possible an office here or there has decided to turn these off. (I did notice that NWS Salt Lake City (SLC) just recently turned this subscription ON in their chatroom.)

3) In my experience storm chasing, some NWS offices will consistently issue Local Storm Reports (LSRs) based off of SN reports within minutes of them appearing in NWSChat. Other offices seem to do so rarely. I suspect this merely comes down to how familiar the staff of that office is with SN, and how much they trust the SN reports. The NWS office I work at is located in an area that sees relatively little severe weather compared to most, so the staff at my office actually had no idea what SN reports were (which I found out when I submitted one on my day off!). I have since educated them. :)

4) Staffing and workload during severe weather can be a factor as well.

Bottom line, keep reporting! More NWS offices than not ARE using your valuable reports, and other entities and chasers/spotters are benefiting from them as well.
 
  • Like
Reactions: David Petri

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
6,942
468
21
49
Lansing, MI
skywatch.org
...and as noted in the other thread - even if the NWS doesn't use your report, the media is and can pass that information along by issuing their own alerts if the NWS does not. Emergency Managers also can utilized those reports directly without awaiting a formal LSR.
 

Jesse Risley

Staff member
Apr 12, 2006
1,955
248
11
39
Macomb, IL
www.tornadoguys.com
I just now saw these last two replies. I guess they got buried in notifications or I need to get my reading glasses fixed. So if I am chasing out of my home area (I'm a trained spotter by and work most closely with DVN), what is the best way to make sure that local NWS office also gets the reports? Use Twitter?

I have a handful of the nearby offices in my phone, but there have been situations (e.g., TUE near TOP/EAX) where in hindsight those reports didn't appear to go into chat and they may not have been aware of them (I had EAXs # in my contacts, but not TOPs). I can always call 911, but sometimes those get facilitated as "public," or the calls get rerouted if the local center is overloaded with calls and wastes valuable time. I don't necessarily care whether or not they choose to use them for an LSR, since that's their decision, but I do also want to ensure that someone at the office is aware that I passed along what I felt was necessary to report.

I do have an NWS Chat account, though it has been aberrant as of late, and if you lose cell signal, the program makes you go all the way back through the Live log-in to find the office. As of right now I've been essentially using SN exclusively, unless I cannot get any cell data yet still have signal, in which case I'll just call 911 if it's a tornado or wind damage.
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
6,942
468
21
49
Lansing, MI
skywatch.org
SN would be the best way to at least make sure the report gets noticed by the people who need to see it in that area :) Other avenues work, but media mets / EMs / etc. aren't monitoring Twitter to see who is sending info to the WFO.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jesse Risley
A long time meteorologist at PUB retired last year. When his replacement stepped in, the way PUB receives reports changed a little. The avenues are the same, but the priority has shifted. The old priority placed SN reports at the top of the list, since people reporting had to pass a test to be able to report. But now SN has dropped to #2 priority. The top spot is now Twitter. The reason is because on Twitter, the NWS office can see photos to back up what is being reported. I suppose if SN allowed photos to be included in reports, it could regain its #1 spot.
 

Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
2,499
2,163
21
St. Louis
stormhighway.com
One of the main reasons I still use Twitter is because it's the fastest and simplest way to send a report to a specific WFO, and the report tweets are also publicly visible to all of my followers which include a lot of TV mets in the areas I chase in. It basically is a one stop shop to get a report out to multiple outlets. I have never sent a Twitter report that wasn't acknowledged by the WFO within minutes, and the tornado ones are usually immediately RTed by mets in the area.

I don't like the idea of broadcasting/logging my location publicly all day on SN, so I will probably never use it unless they introduce some type of private location option visible only to the NWS.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jesse Risley