News and Announcements

2019 Cloud Cowboy Reference Manual Released

posted Feb 15, 2019, 7:47 PM by Pat Hykkonen

The Dallas Area RACES Council announces the release of the 2019 Cloud Cowboy Reference Manual. This is the 29th year in production for the primary reference manual used by storm spotters in Dallas County. This year's thought Learn Something New. Do Something New.

As always, a hearty thanks to the SKYWARN storm spotters for your continued efforts in training and service to our communities!

2018 Cloud Cowboy Reference Manual Released

posted Feb 16, 2018, 5:40 PM by Pat Hykkonen   [ updated Feb 16, 2018, 5:41 PM ]

The Dallas County RACES Council announces the release of the 2018 Cloud Cowboy Reference Manual. This is the 28th year in production for the primary reference manual used by storm spotters in Dallas County. This year's thought is PTT -- Pause. Think. Transmit. The emphasis will be on Net procedure to ensure excellent radio circuit discipline.

As always, a hearty thanks to the SKYWARN storm spotters for your continued efforts in training and service to our communities!

2016 RACES Conclave

posted Aug 17, 2016, 7:26 PM by Pat Hykkonen

A symposium for RACES members, served agencies, emergency incident coordinators and neighboring communities. Introduction to resources, capabilities, agencies’ needs, and tools.

Saturday September 10, 2016
9:00 AM to 3:00 PM

No Charge to Attend
Sponsored by the City of Richardson

Location: Richardson Civic Center ­­ Richardson, TX
14S QB 12052 49087
RACES Grid 1045
Talk In K5RWK/R (147.120+ no tone)

For further information and to register early please visit the 2016 RACES Conclave Information and Registration site. Registration is not required but encouraged.

2016 Cloud Cowboy Released

posted Feb 19, 2016, 7:25 PM by Pat Hykkonen   [ updated Feb 19, 2016, 7:26 PM ]

The Dallas County RACES Council announces the release of the 2016 Cloud Cowboy Reference Manual. This is the 26th year in production for the primary reference manual used by storm spotters in Dallas County. The significant change this year is the complete deprecation of the use of Mapsco for location reporting. Mapsco should no longer be used for any reporting purposes and all reports should be via US National Grid and/or major thoroughfare intersections that are readily identifiable to residents of Dallas County without referring to a mapping resource.

As always, a hearty thanks to the SKYWARN storm spotters for your continued efforts in training and service to our communities!

Net Control Stations and The Bad Thing™

posted Jan 4, 2016, 8:38 AM by Pat Hykkonen   [ updated Feb 19, 2016, 7:26 PM ]

NCS Operator Guidlines 

A few reminders of how we operate on the City of Dallas RACES and county­ wide Net on 146.880/442.075. These guidelines are meant to harmonize our operations. They are not intended to remove your personality or style as an NCS operator.

A large number of people depend upon our professionalism to ensure radio circuit discipline. The better we become, the better and more professionally we perform our duties as Net Control Stations; the better the participants in our Nets will become.

We are the calm, cool, and collected voice of reason. We are the professionals that set the tone and rhythm of the Net. Your voice, your personality, your quiet confidence and professionalism will be what Net participants, served agencies and other consumers will come to rely upon when Bad Things™ occur.
  • While in the chair, your judgement is your guide.
    • I stand behind each and every one of you. I have your back.
    • I trust you or I wouldn’t have hired you.
    • I hold you responsible for enforcement of radio circuit discipline.
  • Maintain unquestionable professionalism.
  • Strive for situational awareness.
  • Rotate NCS at the top and bottom of the hour, if possible.
    • Obviously, if you’re involved in a situation keep NCS until you are clear of the issue then transition to another NCS.
    • Active listening is work. You must rest, even if you feel you can go on.
  • When you rest, get away from your radio for, at minimum, 15 minutes. Do not continue to sit and shadow the Net.
  • Keep your transmissions short!
    • Think before you press the PTT key. Thinking while transmitting is a Bad Idea™.
    • 90% of your transmissions should be well under 15 seconds in length.
    • The remaining 10% should rarely exceed 30 seconds in length.
    • If you are transmitting, someone else with an emergency cannot.
    • Try to work full­duplex if possible.
      • 146.880 and 442.075 are linked in RACES mode.
      • Transmit on 442.075 and use another receiver on 146.880 with headphones to listen to your transmission.
  • Reduce redundancy.
    • When acknowledging stations say only the callsign.
      • Repeating the calling stations call in phonetics is redundant. Unless you are unsure of the callsign, in which case you should be clear about requiring a fill.
      • The same is true for unit numbers.
    • Be aware of the definitions and use of lingo and jargon. E.G. “tornado on the ground" is redundant and an incorrect use. By definition all tornadoes are in contact with the ground, did you mean funnel?
    • Repeating a report is redundant, but encouraged.
      • Allows the reporting station a chance to verify the report was copied correctly.When acknowledging a report through repetition, ensure the report is repeated in the correct format to reinforce proper reporting procedures.
      • Allows served agencies and others to retrieve fill words.
    • Redundancy is good for reinforcing procedure or to highlight pertinent information. However, it should be used sparingly.
  • NO editorializtion!
  • NO readings of watches or warnings!
    • If NWS reads watch/warning information, summarize the highlights.
    • NWS is not our personal information source. Do not ask NWS for updates, they are extremely busy!
  • NO RADAR interpretation!
  • NO training items to be read on the air, even while the Net is quiet.
  • Observe and use reporting criteria.
    • Minimum, Modified, and Elevated.
    • You or our served agencies may cause the net to move to differing reporting criteria. On rare occasions you may want to announce the minimum criteria, but only on very rare occasions.
  • RACES Appointees should know our criteria from the CCRM and other training.
  • No need to explain the reason for the Net.
    • Obviously an announcement that we are in a SKYWARN or other type of Net is useful.
    • Explaining repeater state or tones is unnecessary.
    • If stations are listening they should be able to figure out that the repeater and other operators are engaged in an event.
  • If ANY station reports an imminent threat to life or property.
    • It does not matter if they have a RACES unit number or not we take that report!
    • You are not responsible if another operator has not read Part 97 or does not understand it.
    • If it becomes obvious that the station is not reporting an emergency and is not a RACES appointee then note their callsign and ask them to stand by.
    • At the end of the Net return to this station and invite them to join RACES.
    • Use this as a filter, not a bludgeon.
Characteristics of a good NCS

There are several characteristics that comprise a good Net Control Station. Often, we don’t think
about these things at a conscious level. It is amazing when we hear and experience them. Allow
these characteristics to rise to the level of consciousness in your operations.
  • Highly skilled at active listening.
  • Calm, cool, collected and generally unflappable.
  • A voice and demeanor that commands attention. Houston voice.
  • Capable of developing situation awareness based solely on radio reports.
  • Skilled in time management.
  • Quick at making the distinction between important facts and trivial information.
  • Strong technical knowledge. Especially in the operation of their station.
  • Very aware of the social dynamics of the Amateur Radio hobby.
  • Exercises good judgement.
  • A strong personality as evidenced by the willingness to assume responsibility.
  • Ability to understand and manage resource constraints.
  • No apparent ego while on the air.
Calm, Cool, Collected Operators

We are the metaphorical calm, lone voice in the literal storm. Our thoughtfulness, preparation, dedication, and training will be what ensures we continue to operate at a professional level when the Bad Thing™ occurs. It is imperative we maintain an even tone and level head while others in our community may be suffering greatly.

D-STAR in EmComm

posted May 4, 2014, 5:21 PM by Pat Hykkonen   [ updated Feb 20, 2015, 6:57 AM ]

D-STAR in EmComm training slide deck for Dallas County RACES

US National Grid Training

posted Feb 16, 2014, 5:47 PM by Pat Hykkonen   [ updated Feb 20, 2015, 6:57 AM ]

As of 2014 Dallas County RACES is switching to use of the US National Grid as our location reporting grid. USNG and Mapsco will be accepted during the 2014 season. USNG will become primary in 2015 with Mapsco use discouraged.

Please click USNG Training Deck for the US National Grid training browser-based slide deck for the training occurring on February 15th, 2014.

2014 Cloud Cowboy Released

posted Feb 14, 2014, 4:32 PM by Pat Hykkonen   [ updated Feb 20, 2015, 6:56 AM ]

The 2014 Cloud Cowboy Reference Manual is now available. The significant change this year is a change to use the US National Grid for location reports. This years' CCRM contains the USNG 5K map necessary to determine a spotter's location and a description of how to understand and employ the USNG. Updates are also included for the Mapsco overview and the North Texas SKYWARN repeater maps. The repeater map now also includes offset and tone information as well.

US National Grid and Mapsco Maps Available

posted Feb 14, 2014, 4:25 PM by Pat Hykkonen

Dallas County RACES will begin using the US National Grid to report locations beginning in the 2014 season. A five kilometer grid overlaid on the county is available US National Grid 5K. Mapsco reports will be accepted in 2014 and discouraged in 2015. The current Mapsco overview map is Mapsco Overview Map.

2014 Texas Severe Storms Association

posted Feb 2, 2014, 5:59 PM by Pat Hykkonen   [ updated Feb 6, 2014, 1:55 PM ]

ARLINGTON, Texas -The Texas Severe Storms Association (TESSA) will host the National Storm Conference on Saturday, February 8, 2014 in the Bluebonnet Room at the University of Texas at Arlington. Speakers will deliver presentations on severe weather safety, storm spotter training and in-depth discussions on supercell and tornado meteorology.

One of the event's major elements, the annual Super Storm Spotter Session, will provide the highest level of training available to storm spotters anywhere in the country.

"As the largest metropolitan area in Tornado Alley, the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex is the perfect place for the National Storm Conference," said Martin Lisius, TESSA chairman. "DFW sees it's share of dangerous weather each year and over time has established itself as a center for severe weather education that benefits communities across the country."

This years event is expected to draw nearly 500 attendees, including storm spotters, storm chasers, emergency managers, forecasters, researchers, educators, and others from across the US.

The Texas Severe Storms Association is a 501(c)3 national non-profit organization dedicated to severe weather education. The group was founded in 1993 and is based in Arlington, Texas. It is the largest organization of its kind in the nation.

Bluebonnet Room in E. H. Hereford University Center USNG 14S PB 77047 23134.
Parking in Lot F11 USNG 14S PB 7706 2319, or Lot F12 USNG 14S PB 7695 2323

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