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The Weather Channel Cites “Old School Tech” Amateur Radio as Storm Resource

09/30/2019

Julio Ripoll, WD4R, Amateur Radio Assistant Coordinator of WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) explained Amateur Radio’s role during severe weather situations to interviewers from The Weather Channel (TWC). In a September 16 segment headlined as “Using Old School Tech During a Storm,” Ripoll — seated at WX4NHC — told Weather Channel interviewers Rick Knabb and Mike Bettes, that information NHC forecasters receive via Amateur Radio volunteers and spotters “sometimes fills in gaps they can’t get from satellites or reconnaissance.”

Knabb recounted an occasion when he was trying to pin down information about a storm system in Central America. “The only way I was able to accurately document what happened with that system in Central America was because of data through the ham radio operators that relayed it,” he told Ripoll.

Ripoll cited the WX4NHC volunteer staff of approximately 30 radio amateurs who gather and essentially screen information gathered via Amateur Radio for weather data that may be of use to forecasters.

Pointing to the continued use of analog technology in a digital world, Bettes said Amateur Radio “may be a dinosaur, but you’re not extinct.”

For his own part, Ripoll over the weekend expressed appreciation to WX4NHC, Hurricane Watch Net, and VoIP Hurricane Net volunteers for the time they donate during hurricanes and the reports they send to WX4NHC.

“Sometimes, we sit for hours listening to static. Sometimes, we receive many reports that are unremarkable. Sometimes, we receive very few reports. But then there are those times that one or two reports make a difference,” Ripoll said. He noted that NHC Hurricane Specialist Stacy Stewart cited Amateur Radio in a Hurricane Humberto advisory.

The advisory noted, “An Amateur Radio operator at Ports Island near the southern end of Bermuda reported a sustained wind of 75 MPH and a gust to 104 MPH during the past hour. An Amateur Radio operator in Somerset Village recently reported a sustained wind of 70 MPH and a gust to 89 MPH.” — Thanks to Julio Ripoll, WD4R

 



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