Why ATS cares about Storm Tracking
Each year about a thousand tornadoes touch down in the US. Only a small percentage actually strike occupied buildings, but every year a number of people are killed or injured. The chances that a tornado will strike a building that you are in are very small, however, and you can greatly reduce the chance of injury by doing a few simple things.

One of the most important things you can do to prevent being injured in a tornado is to be ALERT to the onset of severe weather. Most deaths and injuries happen to people who are unaware and uninformed. Young children or the mentally challenged may not recognize a dangerous situation. The ill, elderly, or invalid may not be able to reach shelter in time. Those who ignore the weather because of indifference or overconfidence may not perceive the danger. Stay aware, and you will stay alive!

Additionally, the Red Cross suggests that you assemble a "disaster supplies kit" that you keep in your shelter area. It should contain:

  • A first aid kit with essential medication in addition to the usual items.
  • A battery powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Canned and other non-perishable food and a hand operated can opener.
  • Bottled water.
  • Sturdy shoes and work gloves.
  • Written instructions on how to turn off your homes utilities.

Additionally, there are a number of other safety kitsthat you can prepare that will assist in your survival.

Go to the top...

What ATS Members Do

Storm spotters play a critical role in National Weather Service, severe weather operations. In addition to serving as a community's first line of defense against dangerous storms, stormtrackers and spotters provide important information to warning forecasters who must make critical warning decisions. The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Norman uses amateur radio as one method of communicating with spotter groups and emergency management organizations. The National Weather Service, in cooperation with local emergency management and amateur radio groups, has developed a network of frequencies to assist in the dissemination and collection of severe weather information. The Southern Oklahoma Amateur Radio Emergency Service and Scientific Society, in conjunction with the Southern Oklahoma SKYWARN group, act in this first line defense system through trained mobile stormtrackers and stationary spotters at strategic areas of our community. HAM radio operators all, these individuals intercept and track severe storm cells, monitoring strength and meteorological events and anomalies, and radio these observations into pertinent emergency management centers. The Southern Oklahoma SKYWARN Group is made up of members (predominantly from S.O.A.R.E.S.S.S.) with keen insight into these severe thunderstorm systems and the processes in which they develop. They have a healthy respect for the ominous power, nature displays in super cell storms, and will tell you...stormtracking is not for the weak at heart.

Again, using our ham radios, in conjunction with a technology called Automatic Position Reporting System (used in conjunction with Global Position System, or GPS, receivers on our vehicles) we are able to tell the NWS exactly where we are, and what we see. This is called providing "Ground Truth" back to NWS. The NWS uses this to refine their computer models for what their radar units are reporting.

If you are interested in helping save lives, this is a very real way to GET INVOLVED.

Go to the top...

There are a number of various weather maps and services available. Just click on the link below to see any of these (they will all pop up in a new browser):

Go to the top...

Who Is Interested?
Specific traits for storm trackers are hard to write in just a few words. But there are a few that stand out:
  • You are interested in saving lives.
  • You have a healthy respect for the sound and sights associated with a tornado.
  • You understand (or are at least interested in) local weather patterns.

Additionally, there are a few things you should NOT be:

  • You should not be a thrill seeker. Storm tracking is serious business. Tornados, in all their awe inspiring glory, are unpredictable, and very, very deadly.
  • You should not scare easily. Violent storms can be quite scary, between the hail, wind, and lightning.

Go to the top...

What Does It Take?
So you fit the model of a good storm tracker. Great. Now, what kinds of skills do you need? Some of our storm trackers have taken the classes necessary to have the following certifications: For more information, please visit the Southern Oklahoma SKYWARNpage on Yahoo!Groups.