Monitoring Severe Weather
Watch - Get Ready
A Watch (tornado, severe thunderstorm, etc.) means a particular hazard is possible and conditions are more favorable than usual for its occurrence. A watch is a recommendation for planning, preparation, increased awareness, and to be alert for changing weather, listen for further information, and think about what to do if the danger materializes.
Warning - Take Action
A Warning (tornado, severe thunderstorm, etc.) means a particular weather hazard is either imminent or has been reported. A warning indicates the need to take action to protect life and property. The type of hazard is reflected in the type of warning (tornado warning, blizzard warning, thunderstorm warning, etc.).
Weather Monitoring in Hamilton County
The National Weather Service has recognized Hamilton County as being a "Storm Ready County" due to its capabilities of monitoring and informing the public of severe weather. We maintain this important distinction to be the best we can be for those who live and work in Hamilton County.
When severe weather threatens, Emergency Management 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 their offices are the weather authority. They are the only organization that can issue watches and warnings. They are not driven by viewership, clicks, or followers. They are public servants who staff centers across the country and stand ready 24/7/365.
When severe weather threatens Hamilton County, Emergency Management activates Storm Operations in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
Trained volunteers staff four positions, including:
- Public Safety Communications - Communicate will 911 Dispatch Center, police, fire, and all users of the Hamilton County Public Safety Communications radio system users.
- Weather/Sirens - We are fortunate to have meteorologists who volunteer with us Emergency Management. They monitor radar, scientific weather data, and NWSChat. This position will also sounds the outdoor warning sirens if a trained weather spotter or public safety reports a funnel cloud or tornado. They also sound the sirens if a tornado warning is issued by the National Weather Service.
- Local Amateur Radio - Licensed amateur radio operators establish a communication network using radio repeaters that cover the entire county. They communicate with other licensed amateur radio operations in the field who are trained storm spotters.
- State Amateur Radio - Licensed amateur radio operator who communicates with via a state network in communication 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 a number of other activities.
- Amateur Radio volunteers staff the EOC, provide field communications, staff emergency facilities such as shelters, and assist with a number of other activities.
Weather spotter training is offered annually to citizens and public safety personnel by the National Weather Service. This training is conducted in March and is free to the public. Registration is required. Monitor our social media pages for more information.