The National Weather Service in Birmingham has requested ALERT activation starting at 11:40am into the evening.
I hope this finds everyone doing well.
Major changes have occurred within our sister group ARES. Hub Harvey, N4HUB has resigned asEmergency Coordinator for Jefferson County ARES, effective Thursday, March 29th. Hub is the new Supervisor of Emergency Management for Shelby County, Alabama. Hub will continue as ARES Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator for Central Alabama. It is good to know a familiar face (and a ham) will be in charge of the EMA of ALERT’s host county.
Congratulations Hub! It’s good to see an ALERT alumni rise to the top.
The new Emergency Coordinator for Jefferson County is JVann Martin, W4JVM. He, having been in Amateur radio for 20 years, is well versed in emergency communications. He has served as President of the Healthcare Community Amateur Radio Club (HCARC) and is very active in ARES operations.
Congratulations, JVann! We look forward to working with you, as ALERT and ARES prepare for and stand ready to help our community during times of need.
In our March Newsletter I spoke of the Spotterchat system, why it is considered an offsite resource and mentioned the possible scenario in which the Birmingham NWS office was put out of commission.
Three weeks later the following message was received:
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENTNATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BIRMINGHAM AL1155 AM CDT TUE MAR 20 2012
…WFO PEACHTREE CITY GA IS ISSUING ALL PRODUCTS FOR WFOBIRMINGHAM…
WFO PEACHTREE CITY GA IS PERFOMING SERVICE BACKUP FOR WFO BIRMINGHAMDUE TO THE LOSS OF COMMUNICATIONS AT THE BIRMINGHAM OFFICE.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT THE SOUTHERN REGION OPERATIONSCENTER AT TELEPHONE NUMBER 817-978-1100 EXT 147.
The Calera office had suffered a total communications failure – internet, telephone, everything. Even the NOAA All Hazard radio system was knocked out. While temporary emergency communications were established on the BMXEMAChat using a laptop and an air card, for all practical purposes the Birmingham WFO was dead in the water.
Severe weather was not an issue, fortunately but what if severe weather had been occurring? What would we do?
Well the answer is still ALERT. ALERT members – Johnny KJ4OPX, Ronnie WX4RON and myself were already monitoring the chat system (because we are weather junkies). We simply brought up the Peachtree City Chat up, just as if severe weather was in progress.
If this same situation were to occur during severe weather, we would simply post the stormspotter reports on the Peachtree City Chat and if they were to go down, then on the Huntsville Chat. This is nothing new. In past events if I received information that was in another WFO’s County Warning Area, I would just post the information on their chat. The last time I did this was in March & the Huntsville office indicated they were very appreciative of the reports.
This just goes to illustrate again why the Spotterchat’s are considered offsite operations. If everything was clustered at K4NWS and the Birmingham WFO went down, K4NWS would sink with it and then we would be in a very dismal situation. Hence the wisdom of having the chats monitored offsite, usually by multiple operators at different sites.
Another fact that reinforced itself that day is that you need multiple ways of obtaining severe weather information.
NOAA All Hazards radio is by far best method of receiving emergency information. But, always have a backup system, for any manmade system can and will fail.
I can recommend the two FREE backup systems which I use. The first are text and email Alerts from WBRC FOX6. These alerts include watches, warnings and advisories. They are timely and you can select which counties you wish information for. I selected Jefferson, Shelby and Tuscaloosa counties. This method, with a few occasional hiccups, has proven to be a reliable resource.
You may sign up for these at http://www.myfoxal.com/category/216843/preference-center
Teresa, KQ4JC, introduced me to the second backup method I use, which is the new Alabama SAF-T-Net, provided by Baron services. This is the company, which developed the VIPIR Radar system, which FOX6 uses. With SAF-T-Net you can receive alerts via phone, email or text messaging for up to four locations. The system provides enhanced location-based storm alerts to recipients. The Alabama SAF-T-Net is a multi-source site-specific network, which includes:
1. National Weather Service storm-based (polygon) tornado, severe thunderstorm, and flash flood warnings.2. Baron patented advisories for strong or dangerous twisting storms approaching designated locations3. Mitigation messaging from Emergency Management4. Breaking weather updates from media partners
One message I received stated: “SAF-T-Net Weather Alert: Dangerous storm approaching your home and your workplace, BTI:2.2 http://now.baronservices.com/01073”A few minutes after receiving this I received quarter sized hail.
A sample message for a possible tornadic storm is:
“SAF-T-Net Weather Alert: Twisting storm approaching your home, BTI: 5.6”
The “BTI” in the messages is the Baron Tornado Index, which determines the storm’s ability to produce the tornado. The color-coded legend for the BTI is:
Baron Tornado Index BTI or Vipir Tornado Index VTI
0 – 2 Minimal Risk2 – 4 Low Risk4 – 6 Moderate Risk6 – 7 Possible7 – 8 Probable8 – 10 Likely
To sign up for this service you may either do so with Fox6 at http://www.myfoxal.com/safeor directly with Baron Services at http://saftnet2.baronservices.com/alabama
These are resources well worth obtaining.
I did, and so should you.
Another thing you should do is send me some items for the newsletter so I won’t publish recipes. Or, should I say publish ANY MORE recipes, such as this month’s feature (which I found while visiting the rural church of a friend).
Southern Fried Rattlesnake!
INGREDIENTS:1 egg1 tsp. minced garlic1 tsp. seasoning salt mix¾ cup milk1 tsp. pepper1-cup flour1 rattlesnake carcass, preferably fresh, not road kill
DIRECTIONS:Cut snake meat into 4-inch lengths. Beat egg and milk. Mix spices with flour in a separate bowl. Preheat deep fryer with cooking oil. Dip snake into egg mixture and then in flour mixture and place it in hot oil. Cook until golden brown and crispy like fried fish. Salt to taste. Serve with French fries.
Tastes like chicken…
Mark’s Almanac The Romans called April “Aprilis”, probably from the word “aperire”, which means, “to open”. This being the time of year when buds open. It was originally the second month of the Roman calendar, before Roman King Numa Pompilius added January & February in 700 BC. April is less wet than March & rain becomes more localized and less widespread in nature. The sun heats the lower atmosphere near the ground and since the upper atmosphere is still cold, the warm air rises, reaches the dew point line, forms clouds & then it may rain. April is the first time in the Spring season that favors local convective activity, which is why you have “April Showers”.
While April is the beginning of the Spring season in the Northern Hemisphere, it is the beginning of Autumn season in the Southern Hemisphere, being their equivalent of October. April is peak tornado month, with wide scale outbreaks possible. There are 2 ½ times the number of tornadoes as in March. 25% of the year’s tornadoes will have occurred by April 28.
April 3 & 4 is the 38th anniversary of the 1974 “Super Outbreak”. This tornado outbreak produced at least eight tornadoes in Alabama, including four extremely intense and long-lived storms that swept the state killing eighty-six persons and injuring 949. The Huntsville area had an F3, F4 & an F5 tornado. The F4 tornado struck a half mile from where they were still digging out from an F3 tornado that had struck earlier in the day. Guin was literally wiped off the map, as was Xenia Ohio. The entire Eastern US and Southern Canada was affected during “The Day of 100 Tornadoes”, which in total produced 148 tornadoes including 30 F4 and 6 F5 tornadoes, killing 315 people and injuring over 5,000 people. This was considered the largest outbreak in recorded history. Then the April 25 – 28, 2011 super outbreak occurred, which produced 348 tornadoes, including the EF4 tornado, which swept through Tuscaloosa and Jefferson County on April 27. That day 62 tornados killed over 239 people in Alabama alone.
Other notable tornado dates include the April 4, 1977 “Smithfield Tornado”, an F5 tornado which left 22 dead 130 injured in North Jefferson County & the April 8, 1998 F5 “Oak Grove Tornado” which left 32 dead 259 injured in Tuscaloosa & Western Jefferson County. The sound of which is forever etched into my memory.
In between the clouds of April’s storms will be the stars of Aprils sky.
In early April as dusk settles into evening, Venus at magnitude –4.5 will be seen passing very close to the Pleiades star cluster & on the 3rd will be the closest it will be to the center, worthy of a look, especially with binoculars, a wide field telescope or a rich field telescope.
The Pleiades is one of my favorite objects. In a rich field telescope it appears as a field of blue diamonds scattered across the sky.
One of the interesting things about the object is its name “Pleiades” which means “Seven Sisters”.Only six stars are visible to the unaided eye today, which has given rise to the theory that at one time there was a seventh star visible, but, over the millennia its brightness has dimmed and is now indistinct in the background of stars. Long exposure photographs reveal a wispy blue nebula surrounds this cluster, which lies between 391–456 light-years away.
Summer has begun in the northern hemisphere of Mars. As temperatures there have risen for the last few months, amateur telescopes have been showing the Martian North Polar Cap dwindling to become a tiny patch. After sunset Mars is high in the south sitting by the bright star Regulus, 77.5 light-years away.
Jupiter is low in the western sky at sunset, sitting below Venus.
Saturn rises at the end of twilight and glows highest in the south around 1 or 2 a.m. Sitting nearby lies the star Spica, 260 light-years away and about half as bright at magnitude +1.0 and bluer. Steady-shining Saturn and twinkly Spica, illustrate how you tell planets from stars. Stars twinkle, planets usually don’t.
In a telescope Saturn’s rings are tilted 14° from our line of sight. The angle varies on a 15-year cycle, since Saturn’s axis is tilted much like Earth’s. Once during the cycle the rings become invisible, as they are edge on towards Earth, as occurred in 2009. In October 2017 the rings will be at their maximum angle, as summer reaches the Northern hemisphere of Saturn, and will be easily visible in small telescopes.
Uranus and Neptune are hidden in the sunlight.
Evenings in early April offer an excellent opportunity to view the zodiacal light. Zodiacal light is a faint, roughly triangular whitish glow seen in the night sky which appears to extend up from the vicinity of the sun along the eclipitcal plane. It is caused by sunlight scattered by space dust in the orbital plane of the Earth.
From the Northern Hemisphere, early spring is the best time of year to observe this elusive glow after sunset. It appears slightly fainter than the Milky Way, so you’ll need a clear moonless sky and an observing site located far from the city. Look for the cone-shaped glow, which points nearly straight up from the western horizon, after the last vestiges of twilight have faded away April’s Full Moon is “Pink Moon” in Native American folklore. This will occur April 6. ……………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………. This month’s meeting will be on April 10 at 7PM at the National Weather Service Forecast office at the Shelby County Airport. I hope to see you there! Mark / WD4NYLVice-PresidentALERT www.freewebs.com/weatherlynx/