NWS not believing a report...

Jason Boggs

Has anyone ever called in a report to the NWS and been told that it's a false report?

I called in a report to a NWS office one time about nickel size hail and was told by the meteorologist that he was not buying it. I told him that I was a skywarn trained spotter and was an experienced chaser for a tv station. He said that he just could not believe the report from looking at the radar. I kept trying to tell him about the hail size and he never did believe me. This incident really struck me as unprofessional and irresonsible. Wouldn't have it been easier for the meteorologist to just say something like "Thank you for the report" instead of basically calling me a liar? I really lost a lot of respect for that particular individual. Has anyone else had this happen to them?
 
They havn't ever called me a lier, I have had them take the report, then didn't put it in any LSR. There was dammage and my video made it on the TV, but it never was officially reported.

In your case, I don't think arguing with him would do any good. It would have been great to get the conversation on video, showing you talking to him and the tornado in the background, then send him a copy.
 
I didn't call in a tornado report. It was just a simple nickel size hail report.
 
They've never told me they didn't believe my report, but they have ignored it. On May 23, 2004 I got the first and only opportunity I've ever had to submit a report to the NWS when penny size (with a couple larger chunks) hail hit my house. I submitted a report to the NWSFO-MKX via their online report submit page, but they never put it in an LSR, nor Storm Data, nor the SPC Preliminary. So they basically told me they didn't believe it by ignoring it.

http://sphs.angeltowns.net/insanity/chases/052304.html
 
Doesn't this type of attitude defeat the purpose of having spotters in the first place? I mean it was my whole understanding that spotters exist for the simple purpose of relaying info not provided by weather instruments, thus providing a "ground truth".

Somehow, I think I'd trust the eyes of an experienced and respected chaser over equipment in many cases. Afterall, equipment and software can have glitches. It can break. Or it can give false readings.

It seems I have had mostly pleasant experiences when calling in reports. And my NWS office has always made me feel as if my reports are appreciated. But I'm afraid that a few of the people who treat spotters in this manner turn them off to reporting, simply because they feel they will be ridiculed or not taken seriously by the person who takes their report. So they just don't want to bother after an experience like this.

-George
 
In late July, we had severe winds that knocked down a bunch of trees near my house; the village had to come out with chain saws and clear them because they fell across the road. So I checked the LSR that was out and saw no report for it, so I submitted it with LOT's online report.

Nothing ever came of it.
 
Our NWS is quite the opposite... I could call them up right now and tell them that there is a giant wedge tornado wrapped in snow, and they would issue a warning :lol:

I had one incident many years ago where we had damaging winds of 70MPH, and the power went out. After about 25 minutes, power was back up, so I called the NWS and reported the situation, but forgot to mention that it happened 25 minutes ago. Next thing I know, I see the scroll across the bottom of the TWC screen, stating spotters at my location observed damaging winds in excess of 70MPH -- They cancelled it shortly after, however, LOL...

And, my final incident, is when I tried to call in and report a 60MPH wind gust to the NWS. Well, I called the number that I was given to call, and some guy answered the phone. I then told him I would like to report a wind gust to 60MPH at such and such location, and the guys repsonse was "so what do you want me to do about it?"... I was like "uhh... I don't know, do whatever your supposed to do...". He then told me that he wasn't the NWS :oops: . What happened, was the NWS changed their phone number, and this lucky dude got the old NWS phone number, so he went on to tell me about how he would get tons of calls for severe weather reports, LOL

But, Jason's story takes the cake! I agree, that is very rude and offensive. The least he could have done is said "okay", and then just never put it through, rather than saying "yeah, right, I'm not buying it", LOL -- I'm sure pranking the NWS with dime sized hail reports is on the top list for phone pranksters!
 
The most interesting report was a call to 911 by Matt Biddle. It was October, 8, 1997 near Billings, OK. The conversation when something like this:

Matt: I am a Trained Spotter. I am watching a tornado just west of I-35 at mile marker 102.
911: OK, I will send spotters out.
Matt: I AM a spotter, I am reporting a tornado on the ground!
911: OK, I will tell the spotters to look for a tornado.
Matt: NO! I am a spotter, and I am telling you that there is a tornado on the ground NOW!
911: OK.

Matt used 911 because he had a cell phone that was not activated, that is the only call he could make from it.
 
Originally posted by cedwards
The most interesting report was a call to 911 by Matt Biddle. It was October, 8, 1997 near Billings, OK. The conversation when something like this:

Matt: I am a Trained Spotter. I am watching a tornado just west of I-35 at mile marker 102.
911: OK, I will send spotters out.
Matt: I AM a spotter, I am reporting a tornado on the ground!
911: OK, I will tell the spotters to look for a tornado.
Matt: NO! I am a spotter, and I am telling you that there is a tornado on the ground NOW!
911: OK.

Matt used 911 because he had a cell phone that was not activated, that is the only call he could make from it.

LOL! :lol:

I'm sure that was rather amusing, at least from your perspective.
 
LOL, great stories all.

Jason, why didn't you collect some hail and bring it into the office. That would show him. :wink:
 
I should have but what if it melted and was only pea size when I showed it to him? :lol:
 
On 10/30/1996 I saw a funnel cloud in Keyes CA while driving home from school. When I arrived home in Turlock a few minutes later - we began to get 1/4 inch hail. So I called the NWS in Sacramento with my funnel cloud report and my hail report. They issued a special weather statement mentioning the hail - but didn't say anything about the funnel....not sure if they believed it since they usually list all the spotter reports they get in their spotter newsletter, but never said anything about the funnel in there either.

Nearly all my dealings with calling in reports to the Sacramento NWS were positive....even with the funnel cloud report mentioned above I never got any "yeah right" or "so what" type of responses on the other end of the line. There were a couple times though they actually took down the report wrong. Once I reported two funnel clouds east of Turlock....then the special weather statement came out saying "A WEATHER SPOTTER REPORTED SEVERAL FUNNEL CLOUDS EAST OF TURLOCK". Then there was another time I reported 1.50 inches of rain in 30 minutes...which came out in the special weather statement as "A SPOTTER IN TURLOCK REPORTED 1.75 INCHES OF RAIN IN 30 MINUTES"....but those were just two exceptions out of maybe 30 or 40 reports I made while a spotter there.
 
Originally posted by Jason Boggs
Has anyone ever called in a report to the NWS and been told that it's a false report?

I called in a report to a NWS office one time about nickel size hail and was told by the meteorologist that he was not buying it. I told him that I was a skywarn trained spotter and was an experienced chaser for a tv station. He said that he just could not believe the report from looking at the radar. I kept trying to tell him about the hail size and he never did believe me. This incident really struck me as unprofessional and irresonsible. Wouldn't have it been easier for the meteorologist to just say something like \"Thank you for the report\" instead of basically calling me a liar? I really lost a lot of respect for that particular individual. Has anyone else had this happen to them?

That is definitely not the way to go about it, and I'm disappointed that it happened. One should always treat spotters with the utmost respect. We need them, and they have no real obligation to spend their time for our needs.

I once had a guy call from a office tower in Indianapolis during a storm who said "there's not much of a dryline going on." I thanked him for his report, hung up, and then and only then did I bust out laughing. ;)

As far as reports not getting entered, the volume of reports received is often way too much to deal with. While every effort is made to enter all reports, some QC'ing is a applied to reports, weeding out those within a certain time and distance frame relative to other reports for brevity's sake (always ensuring that the climatological database is well-served, though). It is not practical to send an LSR well after an event, as it no longer has value to real-time application. It is better to enter it in storm data and let the QC folks have it if they wish.
 
I had this problem once a long time ago. I was on a storm near Channing (60NW of AMA) and had a nice tornado on the ground. I called it in to the NWS only to be blown off by some intern answering the phone. He said the storm wasnt even severe and I was looking at a dust devil or something. The next day I took the video to the NWS and talked with the warning coordinator who I knew well and told him what happened and showed it to him. He called the intern into the office and we showed him the video of the "dust devil". He was wide eyed and had nothing to say. I almost felt sorry for him but I never have had a report questioned from them again. Why they had an intern answering the phone I have no clue.

I dont know about other offices but in amarillo they now have cards with numbers on it assigned to spotters that have been through their training and when you call in a report they ask for your spotter number. Is this nationwide or is Amarillo the only one doint this. it is a good way for them to verify you know what your talking about.

Jason you need to introduce yourself to some of the guys out there during our wx workshop in March so they will know who you are and know you know what your doing.

P.S. Good to finally have you on ST. About time you got in here with us.
 
Originally posted by Jay McCoy
I had this problem once a long time ago. I was on a storm near Channing (60NW of AMA) and had a nice tornado on the ground. I called it in to the NWS only to be blown off by some intern answering the phone. He said the storm wasnt even severe and I was looking at a dust devil or something. The next day I took the video to the NWS and talked with the warning coordinator who I knew well and told him what happened and showed it to him. He called the intern into the office and we showed him the video of the \"dust devil\". He was wide eyed and had nothing to say. I almost felt sorry for him but I never have had a report questioned from them again. Why they had an intern answering the phone I have no clue.

I dont know about other offices but in amarillo they now have cards with numbers on it assigned to spotters that have been through their training and when you call in a report they ask for your spotter number. Is this nationwide or is Amarillo the only one doint this. it is a good way for them to verify you know what your talking about.

Jason you need to introduce yourself to some of the guys out there during our wx workshop in March so they will know who you are and know you know what your doing.

P.S. Good to finally have you on ST. About time you got in here with us.

Do you know when that is Jay? Might be good for Graham and I to get up there since we chase up there a lot. We all know the good tornadoes this year will be in the TX Panhandle!

Keep in mind out here, some of our LP storms can really look like crap on radar, especially the farther out from the site you are, yet doing some really interesting stuff in ground truth. I have seen them report a tornado or two over the years with pretty much NO precip, and they didn't believe the report, but when I saw the radar later, I wouldn't have believed it either.
 
NWS and storm spotters

I had one incident on 10/01/02, I was tracking a storm in southern Blackhawk, Northern Benton County, Iowa (middle of nowhere) south of Laporte City, Iowa and was told by local EOC that the storm was indicated to be capable of producing 3/4 inch hail and had 3D shear by there LOCAL radar, (Waterloo) then the storm strenghthened more and I soon was told that the storm now still had 3D shear and was capable of producing 1.25 inch diameter hail!, but there was still no warning by the local NWS, I called the NWS and the gentlemen said that there radar didn't indicate 3D shear or large hail and so frustrated, I continued to track the storm and soon found myself shooting video of a beautiful wallcloud, (which was seen on the 5 or 6pm news)I called that in but still no severe storm warning was issued; I think this was a case of the NWS radar being to far away (Desmoines) to pickup this small brief severe storm?? That is the only "problem" I have ever encountered.
 
Re: NWS and storm spotters

Originally posted by Craig Maire II
I had one incident on 10/01/02, I was tracking a storm in southern Blackhawk, Northern Benton County, Iowa (middle of nowhere) south of Laporte City, Iowa and was told by local EOC that the storm was indicated to be capable of producing 3/4 inch hail and had 3D shear by there LOCAL radar, (Waterloo) then the storm strenghthened more and I soon was told that the storm now still had 3D shear and was capable of producing 1.25 inch diameter hail!, but there was still no warning by the local NWS, I called the NWS and the gentlemen said that there radar didn't indicate 3D shear or large hail and so frustrated, I continued to track the storm and soon found myself shooting video of a beautiful wallcloud, (which was seen on the 5 or 6pm news)I called that in but still no severe storm warning was issued; I think this was a case of the NWS radar being to far away (Desmoines) to pickup this small brief severe storm?? That is the only \"problem\" I have ever encountered.

My dad lives in Cedar Rapids, which is why I know that the Linn/Benton County area is covered by DVN, so maybe thats where the discrepancy comes from. This brings up another question I had been meaning to ask: I'm skywarn trained through OKX (NYC area), but as this is my first year here in OK (OUN training later this month), I'm just wondering if you are given the phone numbers to adjacent offices when you're trained.
 
you can request them but all they usually do is tell you to call that office that you are planning on spotting for. Or what IWX said that if were in some other state and we spot something that we can call them (IWX northern IN) and they will relay it to Area office your responding for.
 
Never had anyone tell me I was a liar or my report was false, but have been met with pessimism many times on the other end of the line. My one main "huh??" moment from all my years chasing is my report of the May 4, 2001 tornado near Walters, OK

I took my video of this tornado to the NWS the next morning, where it was watched by a meteorologist. He actually acknowledged the tornado, saying "wow that's really well-developed." But since it was a Saturday morning, no one was really on-hand to take our official report on paper. Since we were chasing again that day, I blew it off until Monday.

Since that day, the report has never been listed, or even acknowledged. I've reported it a dozen times, via internet, phone, and in person. Each one was met with no reponse, or a "we'll have to look into that" and then no further response. It was a grungy, untypical set-up so you'd think they'd be interested. But I'd had a little tussle with OUN a few weeks before and I've always assumed they ignored the report because my name was attached to it. There's no other reason why they'd dismiss it.

One of these days I'm going to send the video to them with a note saying "you missed one."
 
Not exactly blown off, but: I've sent links to my site to both OAX and EAX in the past, and haven't even gotten a 'boo' in reply. OAX lotsa times, most recent was 22 May 2004. In fairness, I had nothing else to add that wasn't in the LSR, but still...

On 29 May 2004, I send photos and account to EAX, including vidcaps of what I'm pretty confident was a tornado which was DITORd and cop-reported, but nothing came of that, either--nothing in the LSR. Sent the same to Brian Busby at Channel 9, but nothing doing.
 
I want to stick up for the NWS a bit since I did a volunteer bit at a local office when I was an undergrad, and we had to deal with two issues concerning the accuracy of reports.

One is extreme amount of information that this office had coming in during severe weather events. I often was on the phone taking the reports myself, which was fine, I wrote them down on the LSR sheet without question, and we moved on. Primarily the information went into the severe weather statements. Sending LSRs to the SPC page was secondary. The office I was at would often compile lists that would be released individually with storm summaries - but these often would be on the individual web page, and could take days to compile if the weather pattern was particularly active. So the account very well may be written down and recorded, but it may not be on the prelim SPC reports or on the NCDC page. I believe each office has their own individual records.

The second issue is false alarms. On one particular evening in 2002 we got a call screaming about a tornado on the ground just north of a town of 25,000. The velocity data didn't support tornadic activity and it was the only report we had. Still, Hastings went with the report, and issued a tornado warning for the county which had to include the town because of the location of where the spotter said they were. The report turned out to be totally bogus, it was 50 mile an hour winds, and the supposed 'destroyed mobile home' turned out to be an overblown trailer. If the NWS didn't have to worry about false alarms, it would be a lot easier to blow the horn at every report. But they have to put bad reports onto their false alarm ledger.

And just remember, the NWS doesn't have the best data network possible to work with. The radars only see so much, and when you get a ways from the radar site, the velocity and reflectivity data become less refined and more elevated. You can have a beautiful wall cloud, for instance, but if the rotation isn't well organized or deep in the storm, how is the NWS supposed to see it on radar? You'll catch these guys and gals off guard once in a while. I had a hail report last May that caught the office completely off guard because it was a mini supercell day and the convection was extremely narrow, and the conditions of the day weren't favorable for severe weather. But it happened anyway. We caught a beautiful tornado on the day of the Aurora hailstone in Nebraska, and spent a year talking to the local NWS about the accuracy of the report, even with both of us being advanced meteorology students and both having photography. If it doesn't really show up on the survey (and when you get 4-5 inches of rain in the same area, hard to find weak tornado damage), it's really hard to verify that it existed.

Also remember that these guys are in a life/death situation when they are in severe weather mode, so they are under pressure. I guess (to end this little rant) what I'm saying is try to give the NWS a little bit of slack when you can. The best advice is to make yourself known personally to your local forecasters; let them know you are interested in the local weather and are doing what you can to help. You will be recognized when you call in reports, which makes things easier for you and adds credibility to your report, which makes things better for everybody. There was nothing like hearing a report of hail, rotation, or a tornado from somebody you know knows exactly what they are seeing and can accurately communicate exactly where they are at.
 
The OAX office has always taken MY reports seriously including the 6/13/04 tornado that was much too close to Lincoln and it's eastern suburb. My report quickly made it to the local TV with exact wording. A trust factor I guess. Be sure to get to know the folks in your local NWSFO.
I think if everyone knew how to properly place a report to the NWS than there would be less problems. This may be second nature to many here but I will post anyway.

- Be quick, clear, and calm

- Identify yourself and if you are a trained or untrained storm spotter/chaser

- What is the severe weather? (e.g. tornado on the ground, large hail, wind damage)

- Magnitude of event (e.g. baseball size hail, quarter mile wide tornado, etc.)

- Location of the severe weather (e.g. 4 miles NW of Aurora, NE)

- Brief desciption of damage if appicable (e.g. tree down blocking Hwy 36)

- Direction moving (if applicable)

- Provide any additional information that may be requested

- Submit additional reports should the situation worsen

What should be reported?

Tornadoes
Funnel Clouds
Rotating Wall Clouds
Hail > 0.75"
Wind > 58 mph
Other, with damage
Flash Floods

What should not be reported?

Scud or tornado look-a-likes
Small hail (e.g. pea size)
Gusty wind (< 58 mph) with no damage
"The sky looks bad"
"Um, uh, well..."
"There are lowerings everywhere!"
"Holy S---!"
"I would like a large supreme..."
 
lets say dime size hail, and the storm on radar doesn't show it capable of producing it, fine its severe and they should issure a warning. Now, what if during the time it takes for them to type up the warning, get it ready to be sent out, etc. a new radar frame appers showing the storm in a weakened state. Since it never showed up severe to start with and since the severe weather report was boarderline hail, they may make the choice not to issure the warning since in all likelyhood it was no longer severe.

IMO, its better to miss an event here/there, as long as its not major, then to have warnings flying everytime there is a thunderstorm or worse yet have warnings that last 10 mins. and then are cancelled.
 
Originally posted by Jay McCoy
Why they had an intern answering the phone I have no clue.

Why wouldn't they? They're just as likely to be working severe weather as the "regular" meteorologists.

At our office during especially large events during business hours, we've even had the electronics staff and the secretary taking reports. Granted, if the person on the phone asks for any kind of radar interpretation, they have to get someone else on the line, but it is helpful when the phone is ringing off the hook.

Having said that, we rarely get chasers or spotters calling us (ILX) directly. Usually it's the emergency managers calling us, as they insist on their spotters relaying data to them first. However, some of these EM's seem to have different definitions of what constitutes "severe" weather (i.e. "we only had some trees blown down, no big deal"). We also had one county EM (recently retired) who basically refused to talk to us and would intentionally hold back reports when we tried to call them.

Since Illinois is generally not a significant "chase" area, we usually don't get any real-time reports from chasers, especially since we don't include the 800 number in the warning text. If we do get calls, we'll take the information, but there is still a bit of question since we really don't know these people.

Chris G.
 
The only time I was doubted on a severe report was several years ago when a midnight storm rolled through dumping golf-ball hail. When I called the initial report, I wasn't beneath the hail core. The on duty dude I spoke with seemed hesitant as the radar wasn't showing anything too spectacular. He changed his mind when I called a second time BENEATH the core and he could easily hear the pounding my vehicle was taking. A SEVERE warning was issued within a couple minutes following that! :lol:
 
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