Monitoring Severe Weather
Watch - Time to Get Ready
A Watch (tornado, severe thunderstorm, etc.) means a particular hazard is possible, and conditions are more favorable than usual for its occurrence. You should review your safety plans and ensure you and your family can take immediate action if a warning is issued.
Learn about severe weather before it strikes. Visit https://www.weather.gov/safety/ to learn more about what you and your family can do now to be ready.
Warning - Take Action Now!
A Warning (tornado, severe thunderstorm, etc.) means a particular weather hazard is imminent or occurring. A warning indicates the need to take immediate action to ensure your safety. For example, if a tornado warning is issued, go to your safe place immediately. Do not wait to see what will happen.
Weather Monitoring in Hamilton County
The National Weather Service has recognized Hamilton County as a Storm Ready County because of our capabilities to monitor severe weather and inform the public. We maintain this critical distinction to be the best we can be for those living and working in Hamilton County.
When severe weather threatens, HCEM is in constant communication with our partners at the National Weather Service. We also monitor other partner organizations such as the Storm Prediction Center and Weather Prediction Center.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its offices are the weather authority. They are the only organization that can issue watches and warnings. Viewership, clicks, or followers do not drive them. They are public servants who staff centers across the country and stand ready 24/7/365.
When severe weather threatens Hamilton County, HCEM activates Storm Operations in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). By activating Storm Operations, we ensure we trained personnel are in the EOC to monitor hazards, sound the outdoor warning sirens, and maintain awareness of the weather impacts to our community. This ensures we can better serve public safety and others by sharing information, provide resource support, and consequence management.
During Storm Operations, trained dedicated volunteers staff four critical positions, including:
- Public Safety Communications - Communicate will 911 Dispatch Center, police, fire, and all Hamilton County Public Safety Communications radio system users.
- Weather/Sirens - We are fortunate to have meteorologists who volunteer with us HCEM. They monitor radar, scientific weather data, and the National Weather Service chat tool called NWSChat. This position will also sound the outdoor warning sirens if a trained weather spotter or public safety personnel reports a funnel cloud or tornado or a tornado warning is issued by the National Weather Service.
- Local Amateur Radio - Licensed amateur radio operators establish a communication network using radio repeaters covering the entire county. They communicate with other licensed amateur radio operations in the field who are trained storm spotters. The information assists HCEM and the National Weather Service to confirm what is seen on radar and the hazardous weather impacts.
- State Amateur Radio - A licensed amateur radio operator communicates via a state network in coordination with the National Weather Service. They process requests from the National Weather Service if they need ground truth from trained weather spotters in the field. The request is sent to the Local Amateur Radio position to coordinate on the local radio network.
- Emergency Operations Center volunteers are ready to activate the Emergency Operations Center if there is a significant impact to the community.
- Community Emergency Response Team volunteers are activated to help in their neighborhoods until help arrives. They then help public safety, including Emergency Management, with several other activities.
- Amateur Radio volunteers staff, the EOC, provide field communications, staff emergency facilities such as shelters, and assist with many other activities.
- We are extremely grateful to our dedicated volunteers. To learn more about our volunteer programs, check out the Get Involved page.
The National Weather Services offers annual storm spotter training in the spring. The free training is open to the public visit https://www.weather.gov/ind/spotter_talks for more information.