ARES E-Letter for February 22, 2008
The ARES E-Letter February 22, 2008 ================= Rick Palm, K1CE, Editor <http://www.qrz.com/database?callsign=K1CE>, =================================== ARES reports, other related contributions, editorial questions or comments: <email@example.com>;; =================================== + The View from Flagler County Orlando Hamcation (the Disney World for hams) was a blast this year, with packed exhibit halls and forums, a good bellwether for Amateur Radio. Northern Florida Section Manager Rudy Hubbard, WA4PUP, hosted the ARES Forum with attending luminaries John Fleming, WD4FFX, and Kimo Montague, K4IMO, of the Florida State EOC staff in Tallahassee. These two guys are veteran war horses of emergency management, and are ARES' greatest supporters at the state level. SEC Joe Bushel, W2DWR, and East Central DEC Jay Musikar, AF2C, handed out certificates for new Assistant SEC and Assistant DEC appointments (recently authorized by the ARRL Board, see story below), and Bushel was honored with a plaque for distinguished service to the section. Discussion focused on ARES emergency operations in support of the State. The meeting was SRO. Hubbard is retiring as SM after 18 years of dedicated service. He was responsible for working with Fleming to integrate Amateur Radio in State emergency communications planning, and getting ARES back into the EOC after a long absence. Hubbard worked closely with the EOC during the Katrina disaster. Rudy has been a great friend to hundreds of radio amateurs throughout the southeast with his Dixie wit, warmth and charm. ---- It has been a terrible season for severe weather. January tornado responses are covered in this issue, while reports for February's storms were summarized in the ARRL Letter <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/08/0208/>. The story of the response to the January outbreak in the Ozarks is particularly gripping, and it leads this issue's storm reports. _______________ In This Issue: + The View from Flagler County + ARRL Board Adds Two New ARES Positions + Tornado Outbreak Response in the Ozarks + Caledonia, Mississippi Tornado Response + Wisconsin Tornado Response + Illinois Flooding Response + New England Nor'easter ARES/RACES/SKYWARN Response + California License Plate Debacle Resolved + Oregon Governor Allocates $250,000 For Digital Communications Network + New Emcomm Software For Windows Now Available For Beta Testing + LETTERS: Traditional Media Vs. New Media in an Emergency Situation + LETTERS: More on Certification + NEW PRODUCTS: WXSpots Software Freely Available! + EmComm East September 20, 2008 + K1CE For a Final _______________ + ARRL Board Adds Two New ARES Positions Last month, two new ARES positions were created by the ARRL Board of Directors at the recommendation of its Programs and Services Committee: Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator and Assistant District Emergency Coordinator. The Board authorized Dave Patton, NN1N, Manager of the Membership and Volunteer Services Department, to develop and implement terms of reference for these positions. Atlantic Division Director Bill Edgar, N3LLR, presented the final report of the Ad Hoc Background Investigation Committee. He reported that there is no Statement of Understanding with the American Red Cross (ARC) at this time, since the previous SOU expired in September 2007. The Committee has communicated to ARC that there are still conflicts with the ARC's background investigation policy as compared to the published statements of its online background investigation contractor. ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, has written to ARC, but as yet there has been no formal response. The remaining issues related to credentialing and to renewal of the expired SOU with the Red Cross were referred to the Programs and Services Committee and to staff. The Board decided to seek a Memorandum of Understanding with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The ARRL and the BSA have mutually supportive goals, such as education, development of skills, leadership, emergency preparedness and awareness. A resolution of support was adopted by the Board for AMSAT's initiative seeking access to an Intelsat platform in geostationary orbit. AMSAT is in consultation with Intelsat regarding an application of an Intelsat platform carrying amateur satellites into geostationary orbit, with potential benefits for emergency communications. AMSAT has been the principal initiator of projects in the Amateur Satellite Service and continues to play a key role in significantly advancing the state of the art in space science, space education and space technology. + Tornado Outbreak Response in the Ozarks SKYWARN operators tracked the largest outbreak of tornados ever experienced during the month of January in Missouri. Long-range forecast models had identified the weather pattern ten days ahead of the outbreak, which occurred January 7-8. Broadcasts of the hazardous weather outlook were made on NOAA weather radio, the Southwest Missouri Regional SKYWARN repeater N0NWS on 145.49 MHz, and other local SKYWARN repeaters throughout the National Weather Service (Springfield, Missouri office) warning area. ARES groups, emergency managers and SKYWARN spotter groups were well prepared. At 1:55 PM on January 7, the first tornado watch was issued and immediately transmitted on the N0NWS repeater, with the regional SKYWARN network placed in standby mode by NCS Jim Sellars, N0UAM. Bill Davis, KC0KQT, Meteorologist-in-Charge in Springfield, operated the N0NWS amateur station located at the NWS office and monitored emergency traffic and severe weather reports. By 5 PM, tornado warnings were in effect for several counties in the Missouri Ozarks and the full 37 county regional SKYWARN network was active. James Vroman, AC0BN, reported a tornado on the ground just southwest of Monett, Missouri, to the NWS via the 146.97 MHz Ozarks ARS club SKYWARN repeater. The EF-2 tornado struck a mobile home park there. Amateurs passed ground truths to the NWS, confirming what the RADAR operator saw. The NWS was able to provide increased warning times for people living along storm tracks. Scott Hilmes, KC0WTL, was also intercepting the storms along with professional storm chaser Randy Hicks, providing reports on wall clouds, funnels and tornadoes in the Lawrence, Christian and Greene county areas to the NWS. Randy Atkinson, KC0IQM, Terry Shoemaker, KE4LQW, and Christian County ARES EC/Deputy Regional SKYWARN Coordinator Pat Conway, WA6JGM, acted as net controls on the 145.23 MHz Highlandville ARES repeater in Christian County. They coordinated the efforts of 30 mobile intercept spotters as they tracked the repetitive storms crossing their area through the early evening. Greene County ARES/RACES EC Ken Baremore, W0KRB, monitored numerous repeaters and assisted the Red Cross and the Greene County EOC with staffing and response. After 6 PM, super cell thunderstorms were producing tornadoes in Lawrence, Greene and Webster counties simultaneously. Numerous mobile intercept and fixed SKYWARN spotters provided ground truth reports of wall clouds, funnels and at least 10 confirmed tornadoes in these counties. Mobile operators Jeff Johnson, K0NI, Ian Horton, KB0UTW, Doug Schumpert, K0DPS, and Bob Hessee, N0XJJ, intercepted an EF-3 tornado northeast of Springfield and reported on it until it was near Conway in Webster County where they were blocked by a poor highway network. They stopped and rendered aid along the damage path in the Strafford and Marshfield areas until other first responders arrived on the scene. John Jackson, WA0DFE, repeatedly crossed the tornado path relaying critical information to the Greene County EC, NWS and emergency responders. At the same time, mobile intercept and fixed spotters were reporting damages in southwest Greene County while continuing to track the super cells crossing the area, reporting wall clouds, funnels, baseball size hail and dangerous winds of more than 70 miles per hour. By 7 PM, Steve Palmer, KA0SPM, activated the damage assessment and information net on the 146.91 MHz W0EBE repeater and began relaying storm damage reports to the NWS and helping pre-stage spotters across the rest of the region. After a tornado would rip through an area, Amateur Radio mobile reports became damage reports as the hams metamorphosed from storm spotters to first responders. The Springfield NWS office itself became a target of two tornadoes, forcing meteorologists and liaison Rod Kittleman, K0ADI, to take cover in the NWS tornado bunker and relinquishing forecasting and warning responsibilities to the National Weather Forecasting office in Paducah, Kentucky. At 7:50 PM, the Storm Prediction Center issued tornado watch #5, with the designation of "This is a particularly dangerous situation," meaning that long track, strong to violent tornadoes were expected. By 8 PM, severe storms were moving northeast on a line from extreme southwest Missouri into central Missouri along the Interstate 44 corridor. These storms were "training," which means one storm was following another. McDonald County, Missouri, was under 6 to 8 separate tornado warnings within an eight-hour period. The regional SKYWARN net remained active until the threat of severe weather no longer existed, coinciding with the Tornado Watch expiration at 5 AM, Tuesday morning. Three people were killed and about 20 were injured during this tornado outbreak. Multiple repeater systems were used and hundreds of Amateur Radio emergency responders contributed thousands of man-hours to enhance the safety of the citizens of southwest Missouri and Kansas. -- Rod Kittleman, K0ADI, Southwest Missouri ARRL PIO + Caledonia, Mississippi Tornado Response January 10, 2008 -- An EF3 tornado hit Caledonia, Mississippi, causing major damage to the town. Before the storm, the Lowndes County EOC requested storm spotters to be activated. The Amateur Radio station at the EOC was activated and operators received weather reports from the field. After the stormed passed, the EOC deployed radio operators to the town of Caledonia, who then reported major damage to homes and buildings. The EOC set up a command post at the fire station there, and ARES was requested to handle traffic for the EOC and American Red Cross. The American Red Cross set up a shelter at a church outside of the disaster area. Hams set up portable lights and generators for the shelter. The Monroe County Amateur Radio Club set up their repeater for a secondary emergency contact frequency in Monroe County. The EOC ham radio station was manned from 1:20 PM until the scale-down time at 7 PM. Amateurs providing emergency communications were: Jacky Schwartz, KA1RBC (Monroe County Net Control); Diane Scallions, KD5HVF (Lowndes County Net Control); Dale Casterline, KM5MS; James Wells, KE5AID; Ken Campbell, AD5DO (Monroe County EC); John Rowe, KE5ECA; and Doug Scallions, KD5FUO (Lowndes County EC). -- Doug Scallions, KD5FUO, EC Lowndes County + Wisconsin Tornado Response January 7, 2008 -- A rare January EF3 tornado in Wisconsin destroyed houses and knocked out power, displacing about 160 people. The Red Cross activated Kenosha County and Racine County ARES groups to provide logistical communications at the two relief shelters in Kenosha County, as well as from a communications station at the Kenosha County EOC. Shadowing American Red Cross teams, ARES members helped relay damage assessments back to the Red Cross building in Racine. Racine Assistant EC Alex Voss, N9RGX, said "We set up a communications network at the American Red Cross in Racine, outside of the affected area. We were ready to go when activated. I couldn't be more proud of our volunteers. We will work with the responding agencies as long as they need us. We'll take what we've learned this time and use it to improve our response in the future." Wisconsin SEC William Niemuth, KB9ENO, reported "in Wheatland, 20 homes were destroyed. In Kenosha, six homes were destroyed." He thanked the 18 ARES and RACES members who responded. "I bet this morning that [the 18 responders] never thought they would be responding to help their community recover from an EF3 tornado by evening! But, the reality is emergency and disaster situations most always catch us by surprise. That is why we train and prepare." Sheriff Beth concurred: "It was heart-wrenching to see how most of these people are volunteers, and they just strap on their clothes, they leave their loved ones at home and they go running to help others. -- Racine County EC Jim Markstrom, KB9MMA; Racine County AEC Alexander Voss, N9RGX; Wisconsin SEC William Niemuth, KB9ENO; David Voss, WB9USI; in the ARRL Letter + Illinois Flooding Response January 10, 2008 -- Flooding of the Iroquois River and Sugar Creek in Iroquois County, Illinois, resulted in the Iroquois County Amateur Radio Club ARES Group supporting American Red Cross and the Iroquois emergency management agency with communications using agency radios. ARES members provided Red Cross with damage assessments and shelter support. There were 13 amateurs participating. Duration of the event was 12 days. The Iroquois County Amateur Radio SKYWARN Net was held on the 147.03 MHz (W9RWX), 444.625 MHz (W9QKF), and the 146.85 MHz (K9TA) repeaters. ARES members worked at the American Red Cross local chapter office, Red Cross Shelters set up for displaced persons, the Iroquois County EOC, and with Red Cross Damage Assessment Team members. Justin Kaiser, KC9GNH, provided emergency information via AM/FM Radio Station WGFA located in Watseka. This station was reachable only by boat. The W9QKF repeater site was also flooded but a quick thinking Kaiser put the repeater up on a table and kept it in operation. -- Roy Eades, KA9MZJ, EC Ford/Iroquois Counties <firstname.lastname@example.org> + New England Nor'easter ARES/RACES/SKYWARN Response January 14, 2008 -- A Nor'easter prompted an activation of ARES/RACES/SKYWARN groups across New England as the storm brought a heavy wet snow to the region causing damage to trees and power lines particularly in portions of Massachusetts, Northern Connecticut, and Northwest Rhode Island. The National Weather Service (NWS) Taunton, Massachusetts Amateur Radio station, WX1BOX, NWS Gray, Maine station WX1GYX, and the Massachusetts State EOC and Region 1 Headquarters covering northeast Massachusetts were active. SKYWARN nets were activated to report snowfall and storm related damage. Ray Weber, KA1JJM, and Eric Tuller, N1QKO, from Western Massachusetts SKYWARN were active gathering reports, with the hardest hit areas being in the Springfield area. Rob Macedo, KD1CY, Eastern Massachusetts SEC and ARES SKYWARN Coordinator for NWS Taunton, said "At the height of the storm, over 9,000 homes in the area lost power." The Mount Tom, 146.94 MHz repeater was used. In northern Connecticut, Roger Jeanfaivre, K1PAI, Hartford-Tolland County SKYWARN Coordinator relayed reports from the 146.79 MHz Vernon repeater, sponsored by the Pioneer Valley Radio Association (PVRA). The KB1AEV Connecticut linked repeater system was also used. In Rhode Island, ARES activated their snow desk providing reports on road conditions and snowfall reports and SKYWARN there also monitored the situation. John Buco, N1EGS, from Rhode Island SKYWARN, reported significant tree and power line damage. Rhode Island EMA Coordinator and ARES SEC Rick Andreano, K3OQH, and SKYWARN Coordinator Martin Mendelson, closely monitored the situation. The New England EchoLink/IRLP Reflector gateway system was active on Echolink conference *NEW-ENG* Node: 9123/IRLP 9123. This served as an interoperability hub between the Massachusetts State EOC, the Massachusetts Region 1 Headquarters, NWS Taunton, Massachusetts and NWS Gray, Maine. Snowfall and damage reports were received from over 20 connections that were attached to the system. In Central and Eastern Massachusetts, North Shore SKYWARN was active on the NSRA 145.47 MHz Danvers repeater with SKYWARN monitoring in Central Massachusetts on the 146.97 MHz Paxton repeater. The 146.895 MHz Walpole repeater operated under emergency power. "We had numerous trees and wires down with the weight of the snow," said Roger Turner, W1ZSA, Walpole EMA Director and Norfolk County SKYWARN Coordinator. Tom Kinahan, N1CPE, Massachusetts State RACES Radio Officer, relayed a report from Public Information Officer Peter Judge at Massachusetts Emergency Management HQ in Framingham that at the height of the storm 45,000 people were without power in the state. Kinahan did a shift at the State EOC and staffed the State EOC with ham operators starting at midnight Monday and securing at 4 PM Monday afternoon. -- Rob Macedo, KD1CY, Eastern Massachusetts SEC and ARES SKYWARN Coordinator for NWS Taunton, Massachusetts + California License Plate Debacle Resolved The California ham vehicle license plate debacle has reportedly been fixed. A link has been posted at the California DMV for hams to have their plates fixed if they received them with a space. Here is the direct link: <http://www.dmv.ca.gov/ham/ham_plate.htm> -- Mike Beckstrand, KG6IFV, Inland Region ACS Officer/SOCC Operations Officer, California Governor's Office of Emergency Service <email@example.com> + Oregon Governor Allocates $250,000 For Digital Communications Network The State of Oregon's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) received $250,000 from Governor Ted Kulongoski's Strategic Reserve Fund to further develop a statewide Amateur Radio digital communications network, said ARRL Oregon SM Bonnie Altus, AB7ZQ. "This network, the Oregon ARES Digital Network (OADN), already uses a combination of different radio equipment and spectrum segments, computers and the Internet to provide a robust backup communications system in times of disaster. With its enhancements, all Oregon counties will be able to communicate with the state OEM," she said. "In December, this system proved its usefulness in the storms and floods by utilizing Winlink stations in Lincoln and Clatsop Counties to communicate with OEM. Early in that activation, the OEM's Amateur Radio Unit found they were not able to keep up with maintaining a complete log of communications when using voice communications, but Winlink activities maintained an automatic log for them." According to Altus, the primary purpose of the OADN is to provide back-up digital communications capabilities between county Emergency Operations Centers and Oregon Emergency Management and other state agencies in Salem, in the event that normal communications systems fail in an emergency. Through an Intergovernmental Agreement between the individual county Emergency Managers and Oregon's Office of Emergency Management, ARES/RACES groups in each county will be responsible for installation, maintenance and operation of the network. + New Emcomm Software For Windows Now Available For Beta Testing The NarrowBand Emergency Messaging System (NBEMS) development team announced that a Windows NBEMS software suite is now available for beta testing. NBEMS for Windows is a suite of programs designed for point-to-point, error-free emergency messaging. According to developers Skip Teller, KH6TY, and Dave Freese, W1HKJ, the NBEMS system is designed primarily for use on VHF and up, or on HF with Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS) antennas. The system uses the computer soundcard as the modem. Other than a simple interface connection between the computer and transceiver, no additional hardware is needed. Composing and sending emergency messages on NBEMS is no more difficult than sending e-mail via the Internet. All forwarding is done by stations manned by live operators on both ends who can confirm that a frequency is clear locally, or negotiate a frequency change to avoid causing interference. The NBEMS software can also be used for daily casual communications on PSK31, PSK63, RTTY or MFSK16 and is capable of sending flawless, high resolution, passport photo-sized color images in less than 10 minutes over any path that can sustain PSK250 without excessive repeats, according to program authors. Radio amateurs are invited to participate in the beta test of the NBEMS. The NBEMS suite can be downloaded from the NBEMS Web site <http://w1hkj.com/NBEMS/>. Send comments and bug reports via e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>. [Jay Musikar, AF2C, DEC for East Central District of Northern Florida, wrote this about his experience with the suite: "It can be very useful as another tool for emcomm. The software enables the user the option of using any one of six digital modes "on the fly." The modes offer the opportunity to receive and transmit everything from simple text to graphics, all in narrow banded digital modes. Some of the main advantages: intuitive installation and usage, and choice of modes - PSK 31, PSK 62, PSK 125, PSK 250, MFSK and RTTY. Digital modes work well using low power and NVIS antennas during emergencies. Modes are narrowband. A minor disadvantage is that the Macros must utilize upper-case letters for commands <COMMAND>. The software is rather Spartan, but as an emcomm program it deserves consideration. It is simple and offers many options. Oh yes, and it's free!"] + LETTERS: Traditional Media Vs. New Media in an Emergency Situation There has been interesting discussion about the changing definition of "media," especially as it applies during emergency events. I read quite a bit about the use of Twittermapping during the recent California wildfires, and personally saw how tools like text messaging, Google maps, and Web based tools were used extensively in the Katrina response. <http://www.ddmcd.com/situation.html> Locally, our state EMA and other agencies like the National Weather Service have started making use of on-line "chat" room service where traditional media outlets, trained (and vetted) storm spotters, and EMA personnel can all exchange information. It's become a mixture of storm/damage reports, speculation about upcoming weather events, and real time collaboration. It works because everyone in the group is vetted, and responsible for their postings. If it were opened up to the general public, I imagine the flow of information would become chaotic. These tools offer increased situation awareness, but they also present new challenges regarding access, and information control. It's a brave new world. -- Les Rayburn, N1LF, Shelby County EC, Alabama + LETTERS: More on Certification Certification in the IT community has gotten to a point where it means very little to prospective employers. Certification testing has become a profitable business and does not validate a person's ability to carry out a specific task; it just proves that someone can pass a test. Yes, we all need to be on the same page and understand the jargon used and requirements of our served agencies. But, I would trade a certified ARES member who is "book smart" only, for anybody who was willing to come out in the cold for an activation or drill, knew how to program and fully use the radios he was using without looking at the manual, willing to take directions and orders from senior members, and knew the difference between a left, right and double mouse click on a compter. -- Steve Fleckenstein, N2UBP, EC/RO, Orange County, New York ARES/RACES Gee, isn't the answer obvious? Every year or two I am required to renew my CPR for the Professional Rescuer (or equivalent) card. I do this not by retaking the original course but by taking a refresher course. Same with my EMT cert, which requires 24 hours of refreshment plus skills testing. The refresher is actually more advanced than the original class and provides ample opportunity to update people on changes and remind them of skills they do use very often. I am not sure why people even need to discuss "repeating" classes when the answer is so darn obvious: Let's create refresher courses. -- David Coursey, N5FDL, Emergency Coordinator, San Joaquin County ARES, SJV Section, California <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org> + NEW PRODUCTS: WXSpots Software Freely Available! WXSpots, a new tool in the tool chest for SKYWARN operations and weather enthusiasts is now available. WXSpots is a free, Internet based system designed to quickly disseminate observed reports of severe weather to all connected users. It provides the means to help monitor local severe weather as it unfolds with many more observers able to communicate what they are seeing. WXSpots features include: - The ability to disseminate observations quickly and efficiently anywhere. - The ability to add the eyes of SKYWARN enthusiasts who aren't Amateur Radio operators. - The ability to instantly create message groups with other connected users on the fly. - The ability to monitor observations from all users, or only display observations for your state or county. - An automated, historical record of recent observations. - The ability to keep tabs on current observations without necessarily being near a radio. To download the software and learn more, please visit <http://www.wxspots.com/> + EmComm East: September 20, 2008 EmComm East will be held at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York, Saturday, September 20, 2008. EmComm East is an Amateur Radio emergency communications conference, where Amateur Radio operators involved in EmComm can attend training sessions on technical topics, purchase equipment and supplies from vendors, learn from served agencies, obtain VE testing for license upgrades, and interact with other EmComm operators from all over the area. The EmComm East Conference Committee encourages Amateur Radio operators, served agencies, and others involved in emergency communication to submit presentation proposals for general interest sessions. $30 pre-registration, continental breakfast and lunch included. For more information, please visit <http://www.emcommeast.org/>. Contact Jeff Wigal, WY7Q, at <email@example.com> + K1CE For a Final A number of readers wrote in response to "The View" in the last issue on the IPCC's report on climate change and implications for ARES, with many suggesting that the whole issue has no foundation, or is based on a political, as opposed to a scientific, agenda. I don't know, but it just seems to me that if you can't trust a large group of scientists with solid credentials from multiple disciplines and many countries and cultures, under the umbrella of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), vetted by the Nobel Prize Committee itself, then who can you trust? See you next month! 73, Rick K1CE Copyright American Radio Relay League 2008. All Rights Reserved.