What Does Joining SpotterNetwork Get You?

Feb 19, 2007
181
87
11
Austin, Texas
www.randydenzer.com
I have never joined SN. The main reason is that I really don’t want to see where everybody else is going: I don’t want to have confirmation bias, or second-guess my own target, or avoid a good one just because of the number of chasers heading there, or have yet one more thing to look at and consider while chasing (e.g., what roads might have more or fewer chasers).

I know it’s intended as a reporting tool and the above applications are just byproducts; feel free to admonish me if you think I’m wrong, but I never thought it was that important for me to add myself to the hundreds of “dots” already out there. With all the chasers and spotters, and as a chase vacationer, the chance that I am ever going to be the first one or only one to see and report a tornado is slim to none.
You can hide your dot and still report while on SN
 
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Aug 9, 2012
524
1,145
21
Macomb, IL
stormoptics.smugmug.com
Most of our local NWS offices don't even take Spotter Network seriously anymore or have it turned off in NWS Chat due to the poor quality of reports. Honestly even some of my own reports which IMO were detailed enough and fit guidelines for reporting I've been issued warnings for not being detailed enough. For example, I got a warning for reporting 2.75" hail this last spring because I estimated it based on the comparison of a baseball and had photos to back it up on twitter. I've also got warnings for estimating tornado distance from myself using a map, which makes no sense at all how that would even matter when again...in real time I had posted photos to twitter and exact lat lon coordinates.

I'm at the point now, I don't even bother to report anything anymore on there. It's a complete waste of time for me. I just contact NWS directly via phone or twitter.

I also leave my icon off anymore as well. I’ve had people follow me based on my icon or track down my location and follow our group. In 2014 I had a group of people from Utah track down my Facebook, look me up on spotter network, and then came up to us in a Wendy’s parking lot in Nebraska and try to follow us (creepy much?). I get people wanting to see weather and experience it, that is cool and all, but following other people without them knowing, is really sketchy. I’d suggest taking a chase tour before anyone does that.
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
7,439
1,001
21
52
Lansing, MI
skywatch.org
As a reminder - SpotterNetwork is still heavily utilized by WFOs, broadcast mets, and EMs. There's no more effective way to hit all aspects at once these days.

If by "warnings" then you mean a bad report - that's pretty rare these days. I think a little exaggeration may be going on with your stories :)
 

W R Howell

Enthusiast
Jan 17, 2022
1
0
1
Canton, Texas
Your wrong.
You don't have to be just another dot on the scope.
If you think seeing other dots grouped together may sway you to go somewhere else to that group, then where is your confidence in your decision making? Go where you think, helps you learn.
How many Youtubes have watched where that chaser was the only there? Quite a few have been.
You never know when your report may be the only one that NWS needs to forewarn a town.

May 30, Canton Tx. A DPS vehicle and I were the only around that saw the 3rd tornado touch down maybe 100 yards away from me.
Actually the DPS did not show up till some minutes after.
Everyone else was up on Hwy 80.

You do report more than just tornadoes....
Your wrong.
You don't have to be just another dot on the scope.
If you think seeing other dots grouped together may sway you to go somewhere else to that group, then where is your confidence in your decision making? Go where you think, helps you learn.
How many Youtubes have watched where that chaser was the only there? Quite a few have been.
You never know when your report may be the only one that NWS needs to forewarn a town.

May 30, Canton Tx. A DPS vehicle and I were the only around that saw the 3rd tornado touch down maybe 100 yards away from me.
Actually the DPS did not show up till some minutes after.
Everyone else was up on Hwy 80.

You do report more than just tornadoes....
Contrary to most popular belief you were not the only one that happen to be near where it Touched down in Canton that day, and you were correct in saying that DPS didn't show up for minutes later. Not all of our storm spotters were up on Highway 80. We never move all our spotters to one area....for that reason. You never know what might creep up on you from the rear while spotting what's in front of you... Thanks though for being in our area on that day, communities can never have too many spotters available and our group certainly welcome those willing to come and help.
 

Randy Jennings

Supporter
May 18, 2013
641
684
11
A few thoughts on this thread. First - you don't have to display dots to make spotter network reports. Second - if you are worried about people following your dot, you don't have to always beacon, you can turn it on just to report then turn it off (although that will prevent NWS Mets from calling and asking you questions which actually happened this year to my chase partner and I).

I listened in on a Skywarn training session last Saturday. Someone asked the MET what he thought of the various reporting methods and what was the best way to report. He said he hated MPING (because it was anonymous and they get way too many bad reports) and he hated Facebook (never gets their in real time). He liked people calling the office (chances are if they have the number they are a trained spotter) and he loved Twitter with pics (he can look at the pic and verify that the report was what it said it was). Interestingly he didn't mention ham radio (which that office has a big ham radio presence) nor SpotterNetwork (which wasn't even on the slides as a way to report). Granted this is just one NWS METs view and other view will vary - but I found it interesting. I do think many offices still use Spotter Network and consider it a reliable form of reporting, but it does suffer from the issue of just because one makes a report in "good" format doesn't mean they know what they are seeing despite being taking a short course and passing a test. It takes time in the field to become good at knowing what you are looking at -as the real world is rarely the prefect examples you see in training. I will say that overtime I think that individual METs get to recognizing names and trusting their reports and as I noted they will even call them if they have time and have specific questions.
 
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