Amateur Radio Emergency Services Association (ARES)


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There are multiple NWS Office in Florida which are shown on the map to the right.  The three that impact us are Jacksonville (purple), Melbourne (tan), and Ruskin (pale yellow) where Marion County is purple, Lake is tan, and Sumter is pale yellow. 

There are some procedural differences from region to region; so the link for each office is provided to get details.




Since most of our area is within the Ruskin area, the following information is specific to the West Central region. 

The NWS Ruskin Weather Forecase Office (WFO) utilizes two methods of operating SKYWARN amateur radio net.  They consist of local county-based SKYWARN net and a regional SKYWARN net.  Both support the Ruskin WFO in local early weather warning and emergency communications functions, and assist with SKYWARN severe weather spotter operations.  This guide is intended to serve as a tool to provide direction as to the role of the various amateur radio volunteer SKYWARN groups that serve the Ruskin WFO.

Local SKYWARN Nets

Many of the 15 counties in the Ruskin County Warning Area (CWA) operate their own SKYWARN™ amateur radio nets during severe weather events. Some of the counties operate SKYWARN™ net activations under the support or direction of county emergency management, ARRL ARES, or ACS affiliation, while others are volunteer groups or clubs with no particular affiliations.

County Nets will be responsible for SKYWARN™ activation and will be recognized as the official SKYWARN™ nets for routine or day-to-day severe weather events. This includes warm season sea breeze thunderstorm activity, as well as convective watches (tornado and severe thunderstorm watches). County nets will activate upon request from the Ruskin WFO or will self-activate as needed (typically, county nets self activate most of the time). County nets will relay severe weather reports and communicate 
directly with the Ruskin WFO via phone, IEM chat, or eSpotter. Since the aforementioned weather events typically affect only small groups of counties at any one time, net activation and duration will be dependent on the timing of the weather event itself, and will be determined by the net control. When it appears that the severe weather is about to enter a given county, that county's net control will establish and activate a directed net. When the severe weather threat has exited an activated county, the net control may close the net at their discretion.

Modes of Activation
Standby Mode
  • This mode means the repeater is free for normal use; however, a Net Control Operator will be standing by to receive criteria severe weather reports.
  • NCO will make frequent announcements regarding the SKYWARN™ net being in standby mode (usually once every 15 minutes)
  • This is not a directed net.
  • Typically this mode will be utilized before warnings are issued.
Active Mode
  • This mode means the repeater is now under a directed net, and all traffic should be directed through the Net Control Operator.
  • Severe weather is occurring and/or warnings have been issued, and Net Control is receiving multiple severe weather reports.


Regional Nets

The West Central Florida Group, Inc (WCFG) NI4CE repeater system ( will be utilized for NWS Ruskin amateur radio SKYWARN™ nets during large scale natural disasters or large scale weather events such as tropical cyclones, during which the majority of Ruskin WFO's CWA is affected at the same time. During regional net activations, WX4TOR will be the assigned Net Control Station and will be operated by licensed, well-trained and dedicated Amateur Radio operators fluent in SKYWARN™ and emergency Net procedures. During such activations, all County-level Amateur Radio SKYWARN™ Nets will utilize the Regional Net to funnel their SKYWARN™ traffic to the National Weather Service whenever possible. 

The NWS Ruskin SKYWARN™ weekly practice and outreach net meets every Tuesday evening at 9 pm on the NI4CE repeater system (see net frequencies for regional net). This net is operated directly from the National Weather Service forecast office in Ruskin each week. The purpose of this net is to provide limited SKYWARN™ training, make announcements of interest to SKYWARN™ personnel, provide local weather information (especially if severe weather is expected in the next few days), and to provide net participants the opportunity to interact with the staff of their local NWS weather forecast office.

The question and answer portion of the net has become quite popular over the past few years. During this portion of the net each week, a National Weather Service forecaster will stand by with net control to answer any questions net participants may have about the National Weather Service, or about up coming west central Florida weather. As such, this weekly net serves as your direct connection to your local National Weather Service office. When joining us for the net, feel free to bring along your questions for the NWS forecasters!

The repeaters of the NI4CE system include

City County Frequency (Mhz)

South Verna


145.430 - PL 100.0

South Verna


442.950 + PL 100.0

Port Richey


443.450 + PL 100.0

St. Petersburg


145.290 - PL 100.0

St. Petersburg


443.450 + PL 100.0

East Pebbledale


442.825 + PL 100.0

Central Riverview


442.550 + PL 100.0

High Point


145.290 - PL 100.0

North Holiday


443.450 + PL 100.0

WX4TOR is the amateur radio station at the national Weather Service in Ruskin.  This station is utilized during major weather events or disasters such as tropical cyclones or other national disasters.  When WX4TOR is activated, a local amateur radio operator/SKYWARN volunteer will come to the Ruskin WFO and communicate with the Net Control and other SKYWARN spotters who are on the Net frequency.  On Tuesday at 9:00 PM WX$TOR is utilized for a practice net, which is conducted on the NI4CE linked repeater system.  This Net serves as practice for real SKYWARN Net activations, but mainly as a method of reaching out and providing useful information to the local SKYWARN volunteers.


The table below summarizes the roles of both the county and regional SKYWARN™ nets:

  • Responsible for conducting Skywarn™ net operations for all day-to-day events, such as sea breeze thunderstorm events and convective watches (SVR/TOR Watches).
  • Reports sent directly to NWS via phone, IEM chat, or eSpotter to expedite reporting process.
  • Can optionally activate for large scale or regional events (those handled on NI4CE), however NI4CE will be recognized as the official Skywarn™ activation frequency for such events.
  • WX4TOR will not be staffed.
  • NI4CE will be used for conducting Skywarn™ net operations for tropical cyclones and large scale natural disasters where the majority of the County Warning Area for the Weather Forecast Office (WFO), Tampa bay Area is affected at the same time.
  • During regional activation:
  • Net control is done by WX4TOR using licensed, well-trained and dedicated Amateur Radio operators fluent in SKYWARN™ and emergency Net procedures.
  • The weekly NWS outreach net is conducted on NI4CE every Tuesday at 9 Pm.
  • The weekly NWS SKYWARN™ net is conducted on NI4CE every Tuesday at 9 PM. Normal Net procedures may be pre-empted during severe weather events to disseminate severe weather event information and take spotter reports.
  • Informal "severe weather nets" conducted on NI4CE during limited coverage events may be conducted by NWS approved SKYWARN™ Net Control operators.


Backup to County and Regional SKYWARN™ Nets
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Backup to Local Nets:
  • If any of our local county nets go down during limited coverage events, SKYWARN™ volunteers in that county are expected to pass along reports to NWS via the 1-800 spotter hotline, or a neighboring activated county net .
  • Spotters in counties that do not have a local SKYWARN™ net should report weather events to NWS via the 1-800 spotter hotline.
  • All regional reports sent through The Spotter Network ( are automatically sent to NWS Ruskin.
Backup to Regional Nets:
  • The W4FLG (146.640 Mhz) repeater will serve as backup to the NI4CE repeater system for wide-area or regional net coverage in the event that the NI4CE system goes down.


SKYWARN Net Preambles
Local net preambles are developed and maintained by the various county-based SKYWARN™ groups. Preambles for regional nets are attached. These are subject to frequent changes and are updated often, so be sure to check back for new releases.

The following are preambles for SKYWARN™ nets conducted outside of the NWS Ruskin office (remote nets):The following are preambles for SKYWARN™ nets conducted at the NWS Ruskin office at WX4TOR:


 Last Update:  09/12/2016    © Copyright Sumter County ARES. All Rights Reserved.