Clash between Chasers and Spotters
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?
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.
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.
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.
Originally Posted by Brian Davidson
EDIT: Anyone that shuns you away and treats you like that isn't worth the time!
but they pretty much are the NWS. There net control sits at the NWS office. The best way to send reports into the NWS is through this net.
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.
I use spotter network too but when I'm driving its a lot easier to talk to someone. I might just have to only use SN =)
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.
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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).
Last edited by Steve Miller; 04-04-2011 at 12:25 AM.
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.
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!