Callout from noon until 10PM.
The National Weather Service in Birmingham requests ALERT activation at midnight (CST) through Mon morning. Call Nathan if available.
This month’s newsletter may be shorter than most, due to a long lasting, but, temporary increase in workload, extra shifts and some very weird hours at my “real job”.
The first thing I want to do is say a big THANKS to Stephanie KJ4NIH, Johnnie KJ4OPX & Russell KV4S for manning K4NWS during the recent SET. If there were others who responded to K4NWS make sure to let me know. This was a great turnout & your ALERT appreciates it.
The SET was a success for ALERT & several things were learned or rediscovered, which will be discussed at Tuesdays meeting.
The next thing I want to say, as we approach our secondary severe weather season – “ALERT’s Second Prime Time” is thanks to everyone who has stayed with ALERT during this long dry summer.
ALERT’s interest/growth cycle normally peaks near the end of the severe weather seasons. Hams either first learn about ALERT or are reminded by the tornado sirens that ALERT is still here – 14 years and counting & not going away.
New members join, are excited, get exposed to the setup, maybe getting a callout or two “under their belt” & we in the “leadership positions” naturally start thinking “here is our next generation. Those who maybe will want to take the reigns of ALERT in a year or so” (the realistic minimum time necessary to learn the systems, what has and hasn’t worked in the past, and the intricacies of the NWS / ALERT relationship).
Then summer & winter hits, and we enter a drought of rain and callouts, with three or four months passing with tumbleweeds or snow in the NWS parking lot. The only reminder that ALERT is still in business being our monthly meetings and this SPAM newsletter.
During the long drought of callouts sometimes interest wanes and drifts toward other activities and other organizations. Good, decent organizations, by the way. I’m not criticizing anyone. It is a situation that every Amateur EMCOMM organization faces.
The dilemma that we, the Amateur EMCOMM Community as a whole faces, is that we have a limited pool of volunteers out there, and we are already spread thin. Sometimes we discover only by the lack of callout response, that our pool of new eager responders and even some of our “vets” now have moved on & our pool of available operators has already been largely evaporated long before the first raindrop falls.
As I said, each and every organization faces this same problem thinking that “they’ll be there” and “they” usually are there, but exactly where they are and for which organization becomes the question.
There are so many good organizations out there. ALERT, ARES, CERT, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, SATERN, Red Cross & countless others. But, how many available hams are really out there & how many organizations can one really be an active “responder” to? After all, you can only be at one place at a time.
I’m a member of ALERT, ARES & CERT. I would very much like to be a member of the Vulcan Trail Association for SAR activities. But, if I’m already pulling my hair out because I can’t do more for the organizations which I already belong to, does it really make sense for me to add yet another commitment to try to juggle & squeeze in?
Plus, as I harshly found in my younger days, the dozen dangling ID badges (also called Plastic Bling Bling), and, the old line “Sugar Pie, Apple Blossom, Yours Truly has been certified by passing FEMA ICS courses ICS 100, 200, 700 & 800 & I’m with the Alabama Emergency Response Team and am here to rescue yew” just never did seem to impress.
But, that’s beside the point….
Now when I retire, assuming I’m not too “ate up with old age”, hopefully there will be many more things I can do – both for ALERT, ARES, CERT & VTA. But for right now my prime focus is and has to be ALERT. Not because I don’t like other groups, far from it. But, right now ALERT is my focus. It guess it better be…since I was able to schmooze you into electing me again for the fourth year in a row.
In the season ahead callout opportunities will arise. With some callouts arising very suddenly. Please remember ALERT and that we need you. We will need operators at K4NWS to receive reports. Calling the callout number and saying you will be helping ALERT out by deploying elsewhere with another emergency group really doesn’t help very much, if at all. Almost as helpful as an igloo in Arizona. Why? Because we needed your help at K4NWS.
If the catcher decides to help the team by playing right field instead of home plate, who is going to catch or “receive” the ball at home plate? You are ALERT’s “catcher”. We receive the calls from the other nets, organizations and entities. Catch my drift?
It has been said that in many cases ALERT has been a “stepping stone” organization. With folk joining ALERT, getting a “taste of the action” with a callout, maybe two & then moving on to other groups. We never know they’ve lost interest in ALERT & think that they will be there, until after the third callout we find our “troops” are located everywhere except at the National Weather Service.
Now I’m not suggesting that ALERT activity should be a life sentence. But, we need the Next Generation to hang in there with us, step up to the plate, assuming active callout roles and when opportunity comes (each Spring election) assume active leadership roles.
In other words vote me out of office & let some younger whippersnapper take over.
I realize that work, family, illness and many other things often prevent us from being able to respond to callouts and take on other roles and, I realize that, even then you are “there in spirit”. Which is appreciated
To you, our ALERT members, and I know that perhaps we don’t say it often enough, but, we really do appreciate your commitment to ALERT.
THANK YOU for much for what you do.
To the part of “our family” who once was active, but, now have drifted away. I invite you to come home to your ALERT. We are still in business and we still need and welcome you.
Now, bring on the storms….
The tenth Month, October is so named because it is the eighth month on the Roman calendar. To the Slavs of Eastern Europe it is called “yellow month,” from the fading of the leaf, while to the Anglo-Saxons it was known as Winterfylleth, because at this full moon (fylleth) winter was supposed to begin.
By whichever name you call it, October is a mild and dry month, the driest of the year, in fact. And, it is a sunny month with the amount of possible sunshine reaching the ground in the 60% or greater range.
Weather shifts from autumn pattern to revisiting the summer pattern and back again. The Azores-Bermuda High shifts Eastward into the Atlantic, but, leaves weaken high pressure centers over the Virginias, which still try to block out approaching fronts.
October is usually a quite month for tornadoes, with a 40% decrease in activity. Nationwide an average of 28 tornadoes occur in October and those tornadoes are usually weak.
Our Hurricane threat continues, with hurricane activity increasing during the first half of the month, concentrating in the Caribbean, both from formation in the Caribbean and from the long track Cape Verde hurricanes, which enter the Caribbean. And, we still have the little “gifts” that the Gulf of Mexico occasionally will provide. But after the second half of the month the activity will begin a steady decrease.
28% of the year’s hurricanes occur in October.
This is the month for Alabama’s version of “Indian Summer’s” arrival.
Technically speaking Indian Summer doesn’t occur until “Squaw Winter” or the first frost arrives, but exact date when Indian Summer arrives varies with latitude.
We live in Alabama, and while the earliest frosts have been know to occur by October 17, they usually wait until November. So, we, in our milder climate call the first warm up after the first cool down “Indian Summer”.
The Yellow Giant Sulphur Butterflies are very noticeable as they drift South-Southeast on their migration towards Florida. They prefer red things & if you have red flowers they will zero in on them.
The Monarchs also will be seen gliding by in their migration towards Central America.
Fall colors will become prominent & by late October & Early November the leaves will be reaching their peak fall colors.
October’s Full Moon is “Hunters Moon” in Native American folklore.
Don’t, too worried about Indians though; think more on the line of hobgoblins and hoodlums as Halloween arrives.
Feel you heart with cheer, doesn’t it?
Well, I thought it would be a “short” newsletter.
This month’s meeting will be on October 12 at 7PM at the National Weather Service
Forecast Office at the Shelby County Airport.
I hope to see you there.
73 and take care.
On Saturday ALERT and several ARES/SKYWARN groups across multiple states participated in a Simulated Emergency Test or SET for short.
The rest of this post is a summary of the event from the Birmingham, AL perspective. (Material from SCARC, BARC, and ALERT)
THIS IS A TEST (SET Exercise)!
Attention all ham operators,
The following information from the National Hurricane Center has been released. All operators should watch this storm carefully. We recommend that you check your radio station and to-go kit for possible ARES activation.
Tom Appleby, W4TCA
Shelby County ARES Emergency Coordinator
Sunday, 1000Z. The National Hurricane Center reports a tropical disturbance just north of Cuba. Warm water and favorable winds could lead to a tropical storm in the next 24 hours.
Monday, 1000Z. Tropical Storm Jay has formed 30 miles north of Havana, Cuba. Slight northwesterly movement is expected over the next 24 hours. Conditions are very favorable for rapid intensification of Jay into a Category 1 hurricane over the next 12 – 24 hours.
Tuesday, 1000Z update Hurricane Jay. Hurricane Jay is presently located 75 miles northwest of Havana, Cuba. This Category 1 storm has maximum sustained winds of 80 MPH and is expected to track to the west, northwest then begin a turn to the north and intensify as it encounters favorable conditions for strengthening. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Florida Keys.
We will hold ARES training this Thursday night, Sept. 30th, at 6:30pm at the Shelby County Red Cross office. Directions can be found here: www.w4shl.com. David Gillespie, W4LHQ, will speak on EMCOMM and SET.
ARE YOU READY?
Is your radio programmed?
Jump kit ready to go?
In case of emergency, please check into your local ARES net and await further instructions:
Primary: 146.880-, 88.5 tone
Backup: 146.760-, Main: 88.5 tone, 114.8
if East of Jefferson County, 94.8 Western area.
Primary: 146.980-, no tone
Backup: 145.290-, no tone
Stay tuned and get prepared!
Hub Harvey, N4HUB
Amateur Radio Emergency Service:
Jefferson County Emergency Coordinator
All SCARC members,
The Shelby County ARES Emergency Net is activated on 146.98. All stations are requested to check in now and participate.
Tom Appleby, W4TCA
Shelby County ARES Emergency Coordinator
From one of our ALERT volunteers:
All in all thing went good. When I arrived and turned on the station. The computer had been turned off and when we put in the login and password on the bottom of key board the password had expired. Si with help from the staff we made a new password which is attached to the bottom of the keyboard and was able to get the computer up and running.
I was able to get the chat boards and radar but unable to get wxwarn or the weather warn chat to work. The dsatr radio I could not get to work on dstar.
Several contacts was made and 880 and shelby nets was checked into. Was able to test with shelby simplex to clanton on 222 freq.
Also checked into walker ema net.
was able to chat with them on chat board.
Several relays was made of information from the area and from the hospitals. When Russell arived to relieve me he said he knew what was wrong with the dstar and would fixit.
the drill was very good I only wish we would have had a better script to follow instead of making it up as we went.
W4AGA / NNN0BFG Participation in the 2010 Simulated Emergency Test (ARRL SET).
I participated in this SET in several roles:
1. As an ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League) OO (Official Observer) and OES (Official Emergency Station).
2. As an ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) Operator and AEC (Assistant Emergency Coordinator for Jefferson County Alabama) I was involved in the planning and operation of the SET.
3. As an ARES Liaison to the ARC (American Red Cross) I passed VHF voice and digital traffic between the organizations, including operator deployment and station-keeping traffic for ARC Shelters opened for the SET.
4. As a NAVMARCORMARS (Navy-Marine Corps Military Auxiliary Service) Operator and the Central Alabama ARES-MARS Liaison I stood ready to pass traffic between organizations.
5. As a SATERN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network) Operator I stood ready to pass traffic between organizations.
6. As an SBDR (Southern Baptist Disaster Relief) Operator and Disaster Relief Chaplain I passed traffic between organizations and stood ready to deploy should CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management) skills be needed.
7. As an Emergency Coordinator for the Cahaba Radio Club I was involved in the planning and operations of this SET, communicating with base and mobile operators including our ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle).
8. As a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) member and ARES Operator I stood ready to liaison between ARES and the Irondale CERT.
9. As the ARES NCO (Net Control Operator) for VHF Simplex.
10. As an ALERT (Alabama Emergency Response Team) Operator for the NWS (National Weather Service) and an NWS-ALERT-ARES VHF-HF Liaison I stood ready to pass traffic since their HF radio was not operable.
For this SET I performed both voice and/or digital communications on two HF amateur bands (3.965 and 28.405) and on one MARS band (4038.5), operated as the NCO on VHF 146.520 Simplex, ran an APRS Digipeater, and interacted with operators of ARES and served agencies on the W4CUE BARC (Birmingham Amateur Radio Club), W4SHL SCARC (Shelby County Amateur Radio Club) and WB4TJX UAB (University of Alabama at Birmingham) Amateur Radio Club repeaters, on cell phone and via internet email.
When I could not contact any central Alabama station on 3.965 due to antenna selection and propagation I moved the HF net to 10m 28.405 and the HARES (Hospital ARES) net was moved to VHF Simplex where several contacts were made. All HF HARES hospital stations reported difficulties with near-field (0-100 miles) communications on 80m but several were able to communicate on 10m and all of them established communications with Net Control on VHF Simplex. 80m near-field under this day’s conditions pretty much required NVIS antennas and very few amateurs (and none of the HARES hospitals, EMA, EOCs or NWS) are so equipped.
I operated both on mains power and on mobile power in my car. My base station for this SET consisted of a Kenwood TM-D710 VHF/UHF/APRS Digipeater, a Kenwood TM-D700 VHF/UHF, and a Personal Computer linked to an ICOM 7000 using Ham Radio Deluxe for remote control on a B&W NVIS Broadband Folded Dipole and a Butternut HF-5 Beam. My Mobile station was equipped with a GPS-enabled Laptop Computer, Kenwood TM-D710 VHF/UHF/APRS Digipeater, Wouxun VHF/UHF HT and Citizen Band radios.
Planning. preparation and interoperability between all involved operators and organizations was excellent, with a SET scenario and injects which were very similar to real-life emergency communications. What few issues arose were dealt with quickly and in a professional manner and all traffic was delivered in an accurate and timely fashion. While I do not have the actual numbers I believe that participation by operators and agencies was at an all-time high, making this SET both an important training event and an excellent display of the value and capabilities of ARES to our served agencies.
Thank you to all who participated,
W4AGA / NNN0BFG
ALERT member’s comments:
I enjoyed it. I thought that net control on the BARC repeater did an excellent job. I did not hear anyone on the Shelby county machine. I know that d-star was up and the hospitals were quite active.
The most important note I can make is that it was very orderly. In the face of a real emergency radio confusion must be avoided. This made it a suitable test session