December 2009 Newsletter

The next SKYWARN meeting is 15-Dec @ 7:00 PM, the third Tuesday of the month.

About 11 members attended the 17-Nov meeting. The bulk of the meeting was a discussion on how Steele County SKYWARN can move forward as an effective group. Beyond spotting, there are many tasks that need to be done. Most of the tasks are being accomplished by a limited group of people. Specific tasks were accomplished when volunteers stepped up to the plate. Some tasks are not being completed at all or are being completed on a limited basis. Beyond severe weather spotting, the members developed a list of "behind the scene" activities:

  • Recruiting new members.
  • Training of new members.
  • Mentoring of new members.
  • Tracking skill sets of members.
  • Training material development.
  • Maintaining call out records.
  • Spotter tool development.
    (e.g. maps)
  • Standardize processes.
    How do we do things?
  • Miscellaneous record keeping.
  • Public relations - Media contact.
  • Public relations - Educational material.
  • Public outreach - Presentations
    to the general public.
  • Champion special events.
    (e.g. WX Radio programming)
  • Coordination with other groups.
    (e.g. CAER)
  • Finances (not that we have any).
  • Maintaining the web site.
  • Newsletter editor.

The group felt it was important to distribute some of these tasks. We have a fairly large number of volunteers for spotting. The thought is, with enough volunteers, the tasks can be brought down to "bite-size". With a large group taking small bites, all of the tasks can be accomplished without a large time commitment.

Moving toward a more structured format of officers was also discussed. The general feeling was it was more important to be sure tasks are being accomplished and keep a flat organization. The December and January SKYWARN meetings historically have been lightly attended. We hope to use those two meeting to refine the list presented above. The February meeting is being targeted as organizing everyone's thoughts, prior to the start of spotting season.

We hope to see individuals at the upcoming meetings to participate in the process and offer suggestions. If you can't come to the meeting, drop us a line.

SKYWARN Recognition Day
SKYWARN and Amateur Radio have a solid association. The National Weather Service (NWS) and ARRL co-sponsor an event to recognize the commitment made by Amateur Radio operators in helping to keep their communities safe. The 24-hour event is scheduled for 0000 UTC-2400 UTC on 05-Dec. The goal is to contact as many participating NWS offices as possible. Certificates are issued for making at least one contact. More information is available at the ARRL Web Site.

Mark your calendar for the MN SKYWARN Workshop on 10-Apr at St. Thomas University in St. Paul. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Chuck Doswell. Dr. Doswell authored what is known as the defining paper regarding storm spotting and Skywarn. More information regarding the workshop will become available in early January.

Storm Chasing Convention
The St. Cloud State Storm Chasing Club announed the 2010 Minnesota Storm Chasing Convention on 07-Feb. It is hosted by the St. Cloud State Storm Chase Club and St. Cloud State University. The evnt runs from 9:15-3PM, with a social hour from 2-3PM. Advance registration is $10, and at the door registration is $15. Current speakers include:

  • Peggy Willenberg and Melanie Metz
    "The Southern Minnesota Tornado Outbreak of 14 July 2003--A Case of Underrunning the Cap"
  • Michael Stanga and Brandon Bigelbach
    "August 8th, 2009 - A Storm Chasing Perspective"

Storm Chasers Video From Wired
Programming on the Discovery Channel includes a regular show on Sunday nights called . One of the recent hypes for the program is an episode where one team goes through a tornado in their armored vehicle. If you missed the episode, Wired has a first-hand account by one of researchers along with video.

Spotter Training
Anf on-line spotter training tool is available at There are three levels:

  • Basic Severe Weather Training Guide is for those with little or no knowledge of thunderstorm structure.
  • Advanced Severe Weather Training Guide is for those that have some basic thunderstorm structure knowledge and want to build upon that.
  • Storm Chasing is for those who can meet all of the above requirements for SKYWARN Storm Spotter Basic and Advanced Guides.
The Advanced Training Guide builds on the Basic Training Guide, and the Storm Chasing module builds on the knowledge presented in the Basic Training Guide and Advanced Training Guide.

NOAA WX Radio Cloning
The topic of cloning the Midland WR-100 All Hazard Radio has been mentioned several times in the Newsletters and at meetings. The process for setting up a master and cloning other radios is now documented (266KB pdf). The process was finalized after cloning 24 radios for city employees.

20/20 Rule From Minnesota WeatherTalk
The 20/20 rule is not a vision requirement for storm spotting. In MN weather, this rule suggests there is a high correlation between a high amount of snow and lowe temperatures. The 20/20 rule indicates a winter month that results in more that 20 inches of snow will also have a minimum temperature of -20 degrees F or colder on at least one night.

Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index From Minnesota WeatherTalk
REDTI is a government acronym. It stands for Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index and it was created by scientists at the National Climatic Data Center. It is based on a nationwide view of the population weighted heating and cooling degree days that relate so closely to residential energy use. Constructing this index allows those in the energy industry to examine long term climatic fluctuations and their impact on energy use in the United States. The REDTI values can be viewed for the most recent 3-month period, or for any other historical period at National Climatic Data Center web site.

Term For The Month From Minnesota WeatherTalk
As we migrate deeper into the fall season many Minnesota citizens begin to show symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and a very small minority may show signs of pagophobia, the irrational fear of ice and frost. This word is derived from the Greek word "paggos" for ice and "phobia" for fear. Most of this fear stems from concern over injuring oneself in a fall. It is so extreme in some cases that people will not go out of the house unless the sidewalk or ground is frost-free and dry.

Copyright 2009
All Rights Reserved
Steele County SKYWARN
Owatonna, MN