ALERT activation from midnight to noon.
The next ALERT meeting will be at the National Weather Service at 7:00 pm CST on Tuesday, November 9th, 2010.
If you are not able to make the meeting in person try the teleconference.
Every effort will be made to have teleconferencing available for each meeting, to participate:
Please call: (877) 951-0997 and enter participants code 741083.
After a very long dry spell October certainly proved to be an active one for ALERT with two callouts.
I want to thank and thank again the following members for their activities and contributions during the callouts:
Jamie N4RDX who drove in from Mississippi to participate (new record holder for response distance)
Stephanie KJ4NIH on her first callout
If there were others let me know…;-)
Also volunteering were Ed W4AGA, Terry KJ4KZR, Steven KB4FKN, Howard KJ4QJA, Johnnie KJ4OPZ & whoever my dusty brain is forgetting.
Thanks to you all. Keep up the good work! Just think, the season has just begun.
A Few Operational Tweaks
As we progress through the fall season it’s a good time to offer a few hints, kinks and guidelines for our operations.
The first concerns Tuscaloosa County. Tuscaloosa has a unique operation in that the Net Control site is located at the EMA EOC. The NCS passes the reports onsite to the EMA & the EMA then sends the reports directly to the NWS via 800 MHz, NAWAS or via Chatroom, either NWSchat or the Alabama EMA chat, which is a government only chat.
So this is a unique case where K4NWS doesn’t need to go the 146.82 Net seeking reports, as they are already passing the information directly using their system, which they have perfected. If these systems should go down and they want to contact us, they will call us on D-Star or other methods of their choosing.
Now as for the other 38 counties, which we cover, our outreach is still necessary. Over the years the county EC’s & Skywarn leaders I have talked to indicate that they do want and appreciate our help. Some want to talk to ALERT exclusively and not any other group. If fact occasionally I have gotten pummeled by email or other electronic means because they wanted to contact K4NWS, but couldn’t raise us, usually due to a callout having not been issued.
So don’t be “gun-shy” about contacting the other counties. They really do want our help.
Lets talk about the spotterchats for a moment.
ALERT and the NWS cover 39 counties. Some have a low Amateur Radio population, who may not even be interested is the Skywarn program. Some counties are outside the VHF/UHF range of K4NWS, or so very rarely in range, such as is the cases of the Tuscaloosa & Gadsden 82 repeater’s or the Montgomery 84 repeater, that except for occasional instances of Divine Intervention we usually cannot even hear them, let alone work them.
But, the internet and the Spotterchat system is always in range and has the potential to provide full 39 county coverage, which can be monitored remotely, freeing up the operators at K4NWS, and can be monitored with or without a callout.
So here is a little brush up on the spotter chat protocols.
If you don’t see K4NWS on the buddy list, don’t worry. If there is an Operational ALERT member on the chat, they will act as a liaison to the NWSchat and directly paste your information there. They will filter the information when needed, as any regular NCS should do, to insure that only necessary information is passed.
Here are some of the reports that we need and some that we don’t need from the Spotterchat reports which we relay to the NWS. This includes from both the BMXchat and the 33/40 chat, which James Spann has given ALERT permission to use & from which we “copy and paste” to the NWSchat when appropriate.
The first question to be asked is “is this report even usable for NWS purposes? “Clear sky”, “full moon”, “it’s thundering”, “the stars are out”, “it’s getting very dark out here” (especially at sunset) aka “leaf debris reports” are complete wastes of the operators time, energy and Internet bandwidth.
If it is a suitable report, then the “what, when and were rules apply”. What has or is happening, when did it happened and where? We will need a location. A location that is clearly defined with street/cross-street, mile marker, etc. Otherwise we have to waste time chasing down details in a fast pace, hectic, often hellacious situation. Remember that time is our greatest enemy.
We don’t need scanner reports or third hand reports. They are unverifiable and in the case of scanner reports, the EMA usually already knows about the call and will know whether it is a false alarm or not. If it’s the “real deal”; the EMA will pass the information directly to the NWS. Scanner reports are how false rumors are spread, which is something that we – ALERT, the NWS and the EMA’s all seek to avoid.
The BMXchats & NWSchats are for “weather and weather only” and not places for idle chit-chat.
As I recently discussed with a possible future member who thought it might be a good opportunity to hobnob, if you obtain approval for access to the NWSchat, remember that we don’t “chat with the guys at the NWS”. If the meteorologists ask us a question, we answer, but usually not the other way around.
Information & discussions seen on the NWSchat are NOT to be discussed on the air or on the other chats. The information is confidential and is to be treated as such. The only exceptions would be in cases where you see the forecaster saying something like “rotation is really tightening up over Hueytown”. Then simply say on the other chats or on the air that the “NWS is needing reports from the Hueytown area”.
All of these items and more will be discussed and subject to further tweaking at the next meeting.
You are doing a very good job and it is really appreciated.
With the arrival of November we enter our second tornado season. Alabama and the Southeast is “blessed” by being the only area on Earth with two tornado seasons. And, the cause of the second season is the same as the spring season – clashes of cold and warm air masses. The cold air of winter invading and trying to push the warmth of the summer back into the sea, which is the same process of springtime, just in reverse.
The second season is often more destructive than the spring season. So beware of a warm & muggy November day. Especially one with a south wind, as something may really be “in the air”.
The Hurricane threat greatly diminishes, with hurricane activity occurring mainly in the open Atlantic, threatening the Eastern Seaboard, but usually veering off into sea as cold fronts off the East Coast deflect them. Hurricanes can still form in the Caribbean, which usually visit the Yucatan, but can enter the Gulf.
Hurricane season ends November 30.
November welcomes the peak of fall colors. For Birmingham the peak occurs around November 15, but the date can vary depending on your elevation & latitude.
Indian Summer and Squaw Winter continue to battle it out, but the cool or cold weather will eventually win, with the first average frost being on November 11.
The usual fall effects occur in North America with Canada’s Hudson Bay becoming unnavigable due to pack ice & icebergs. Navigation in the Great Lakes becomes perilous due to storms bringing the “Gales Of November” made famous in song “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald”.
And, don’t be surprised if you hear ducks overhead & see wedges of Canadian geese heading south for the winter. Also don’t be surprised if you see strange birds appearing in your front yard, for to 336 species of birds Alabama IS south for the winter.
November’s Full Moon is “Beaver Moon” in Native American folklore.
This month’s meeting will be on November 9 at 7PM at the National Weather Service
Forecast office at the Shelby County Airport
I hope to see you there.
73 and take care.