APRS for severe weather spotting.
I am interested in adding new features to WUHU (or maybe even a new
application) that will allow the user to post NWS notices, alerts,
and warnings as well as other weather conditions via APRS.
I guess my intention would be to add features that would allow
various networks of Skywarn (and others) to keep others informed of
severe weather conditions over Internet based APRS.
I asked my Skywarn state representatives whether they monitor the
APRS network during watches and warnings, and they stated they do not
monitor the APRS. The director stated: "No APRS is up but we do not
respond (sic) to any messages nor do we monitor any weather
stations. It gets very hectic during a watch so we have all that we
can handle with the regular traffic."
During the last NWS warning, the NWS coordinator had great difficulty
understanding any of the individuals in the various counties. In
fact, I think that they were busy because they had to repeat
themselves over and over due to poor radio transmissions over a 17
county-wide area. The reliability of the communication was poor at
Here is another view point I found on the net that discusses this
subject in detail, he has some good points although I do not agree
with his conclusions. See: http://www.skywarn.ampr.org/aprs1.htm
It seems to me that many in the Ham community reject the value of
Internet based communications, for various reasons. I suppose that
some see it as a threat to their hobby as the Internet continues to
permeate nearly every form of communication (APRS Internet, Voip,
My opinion would be that the more people involved in severe weather
spotting the better. If people have the time and the needed equipment
(Computer and Internet connection), they should be able to
participate in severe weather spotting. Volunteer spotters should not
be forced in to investing in a Ham radio setup just to participate in
these programs when they already own a superior communication device,
a personal computer.
The NWS in Detroit now accepts severe weather reports via the Web
although the only major shortcoming I see is that this information is
not automatically shared with others in the field. Although this is
fine for one-way links to the NWS, the APRS network is superior in
this situation as the information is shared not only locally but
globally as well.
It seems inevitable (if it already hasn't happened) that Internet
based communication will ultimately become a primary means of
distributing all weather related data in real time. This is not only
true for automated weather station data but for severe weather
observations as well.
The number of PWS and spotters with broadband connections will only
continue to outpace the growth of the radio-based community. This is
especially true in areas where community wide WiFi installations are
Finally, I believe that there is room to accommodate all users in the
APRS real-time exchange of information (both Radio and Internet
users). With a few enhancements to the APRS specification, the
network would be ideal for sharing real-time observations especially
in severe weather situations.
If Skywarn as an organization flat out rejects the notion of using
APRS, maybe it is time to form a new organization that is more open
to changing technology and methods?
If you would like to weigh in on the subject I would appreciate your