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Amateur Radio Volunteers on Alert in Mammoth New York Snowfall’s Aftermath


Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) volunteers are themselves still digging out from several days of unprecedented snowfall in Upstate New York. The severe weather already has been blamed for at least a dozen deaths. Western New York Section Emergency Coordinator Joe Tedesco, KC2DKP, said ARES volunteers have activated a net and are on alert in case they’re needed. SKYWARN nets have been very active over the course of this week’s two snowfall events, and Amateur Radio has been credited with reporting weather conditions to the National Weather Service. Tedesco, who is also Assistant Erie County RACES Officer and a Military Auxiliary Radio Service (MARS) member, said he lives in a direct line from Lake Erie, where most lake-effect snow bands get started.


“Although we always do see heavy snows, I have never seen anything close to the amount we saw yesterday,” Tedesco said at mid-week. His area has received some 4 feet of snow. According to, Wales Center, New York, recorded the highest combined snowfall total from this week’s weather events, and has 85 inches of snow on the ground.

Tedesco told ARRL Headquarters that he is unaware of any communication issues as a result of the snow. He said that he and the RACES officer for Erie County are on alert, but had not been asked to activate any emergency communication resources. He said the county Emergency Operations Center is in a very hard-hit area, and travel bans are in place because of the extremely hazardous driving conditions.

As of mid-week, Lancaster ARES had a SKYWARN net up and running and taking a lot of check-ins. “They were very hard hit in Lancaster also,” Tedesco said, “and were one of the first towns to institute a state of emergency and driving ban.” Ham radio volunteers are keeping an ear on Erie County ARES/RACES repeaters. Tedesco said he was hearing of roof collapses in the town of Hamburg and elsewhere, and that EMS crews were finding it a challenge to respond to calls with so many roads and highways impassable. By and large, he said, town and county emergency services have been handling the situation.

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office was advising residents to be aware of any signs of roof collapse. “If you hear or see cracking, evacuate and call 911 immediately,” the sheriff’s alert said.

New York Gov Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency for 10 counties, including Erie County, most impacted by lake-effect snow. An army of more than 1000 transportation personnel and hundreds of snowplows and other snow-removal equipment have been deployed. Some 150 National Guardsmen into the Greater Buffalo area have been ordered up to assist with recovery efforts.

Authorities now are also concerned that rising temperatures may lead to flooding as a result of melting snow.




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