ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments - 2017-03-19

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Emergency Communications' started by W.T. Jones, Mar 25, 2017.

  1. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient

    An ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments

    A Fun Week...
    - I'll have to say that I had enough operating on Tuesday to last for at least a week or so. There will be changes made to the Shack here at ARS WN3LIF just in case I get to do it again. Well, the enhancements will improve things even for contesting and general operating which are two things I do not get to do much of these days.

    What I did was pretty much collect reports during the day. I started out writing them down on paper but that got to the point where it was too messy to find the stations previous report. So I opened the good old spreadsheet program and started that up. Here is what it looked like:

    Call wn3lif
    Location duryea Location lehman twp
    Start 10:51:00 PM Start 11:45:00 PM
    Amount Trace Amount 1.5
    Duration 15 Duration 1
    Time 12:51:00 AM Time 08:00:00 AM
    Reading 1.1 Reading 11.5
    Duration 2 hours Duration 8.5
    Time 05:55:00 AM
    Reading 6.2 Time 10:00:00 AM
    Duration 5 Reading 16
    Time 08:00:00 AM Duration 2
    Reading 5
    Duration 2 hours Time

    ------------------- Reading
    Time 10:00:00 AM Duration
    Wasn't pretty but it got the job done.

    So when the time came I created an email that looked like this and sent it on its way to NWS Binghamton.

    All Reports are from Amateur Radio Operators
    Special Note: Per Luzerne County EMA - Wilkes-Barre City, Nanticoke City, and Hazleton City have issued traffic bans for all non-emergency traffic.
    WN3SIX Nanticoke 12:30 Total 20.5
    K3NDB Hazleton Total 20.5
    WB3BZQ Mountaintop 20 inches - reports that snow fall has lightened to almost nothing.
    N1ZZZ Pringle Total 22 inches
    W3DKS Wilkes-Barre Total 26 inches
    KC3FKW Dallas Township Total 20.5 inches - reports wind has picked up considerably
    KC3HZW (Columbia County) Bloomsburg Total 19.5 inches
    KB3FVF Wilkes-Barre Total 23.5 @ 1:30PM
    N3GTH (Lackawanna County) Dalton Total 24 inches @ 12:00PM
    WA3LWR (Lackawanna County) South Abington Township Total 24 inches @ 12:00PM
    KC3HWO Wilkes-Barre Total 21.3 at 1:30PM
    WB3DYE Foster Township Total 24 inches at 1:40PM
    KC3IDF Shavertown Total 25 inches @ 1:40PM
    So the report isn't exactly what the Skywarn Format should be but it was still useful.

    If you checked the NWS Binghamton web site you could see the reports coming in.

    Note the one from Alden!

    HANOVER 14.0 808 AM 3/14 FACEBOOK
    PITTSTON 14.0 842 AM 3/14 FACEBOOK
    5 SE WILKES-BARRE 13.5 730 AM 3/14 COCORAHS
    ALDEN 13.0 834 AM 3/14 AMATEUR RADIO
    HAZLETON 13.0 759 AM 3/14 FACEBOOK
    LARKSVILLE 12.0 800 AM 3/14 FACEBOOK
    LEHMAN 11.5 835 AM 3/14 AMATEUR RADIO
    NNE FORTY FORT 11.0 700 AM 3/14 COCORAHS
    Since there is only one Amateur Radio Operator reporting from Alden, PA, you can be sure that was WB3FKP's report!

    The official NWS summary of the storm can be found at this link:

    The Storm Operation was well done for the most part but there were places where it could have been improved. Here are some examples...

    Sequence of the information...
    Despite my best efforts to say "give me the time of the observation first" it was usually the other way around. "10 inches of snow at 10:41" which I took but again listening is as important as giving the observation. Remember I was the one that had to write it down or enter it into the spreadsheet. This is one reason we practice sending radiogram messages. The sequence of the preamble becomes rote and there is no issue with how it is sent and the receiving station knows what the order is as it arrives.

    Timing of the observations...
    I tried to get the observers to record their readings at the "top of the hour" and this reference might have been misunderstood. The "top of the hour" refers to the 12 position on an analog clock. I am sure that KB3VS and K3TOW would get the reference given their occupations in the broadcast industry. I guess with digital clocks that kind of reference isn't relative in this day and age. It was kind of a juggling task to get the emails ready for the NWS with the reports continually coming in through out the hour. Thanks to K3ZK for giving me some breathing room to get my own readings done.

    Lack of Winter Skywarn Training...
    This one perplexes me because Winter Skywarn Training has been done over and over again but doesn't seem to sink in. The report is Time of observation, amount, duration, total snowfall. That is why I had to put a spreadsheet together because I got the first and the last so instead of doing the subtract of time and total snowfall to get the amount and duration I let the spreadsheet do it. Still and all I am very grateful for the reports of total snowfall and Winter Storm Stella was not the time for education on the nuances' of measuring snow fall.

    Some where in that field is my snow reading board.
    Send it digitally...
    With all the training that we have done on Fldigi and the cool storm report in Flmsg no one used it. I was set up and ready to go but no one used it. My report to the NWS looked like this:

    'Flmsg' Storm Report

    County...................Luzerne (079)
    Snow total...............1.1"
    Snow duration............2 hours
    Observer name............ WT Jones WN3LIF
    Observer email...........
    Observer tele............ xxxxxxxxxx
    Observer profile......... NWS Storm Spotter, Amateur Radio Operator
    Additional Details:
    Total Accumulation 1.1"
    It was a simple copy and paste operation for me to do that. Has all the information that is needed by NWS. I cut some of the stuff that was for other types of wx out but that was just a second or two of work.

    And these reports could have been sent to me even while I was out and about doing my Taffi Bio Break Operations and reading my snow board.

    (LCARES Challenge - email the time NWS listed WB3FKP's report to

    And another digital mode...
    I guess APRS hasn't caught on or that empirical fact that Hams would rather talk is so overwhelmingly true that they shun something that is really useful. Again, the workload goes down on both ends because it is a "send it and forget it" mode. Heck, I can even automate the reception of that APRS messages, collect the data, put it in email, and send it without evening touching it. Maybe I could automate the snow reading too. That would be an interesting. project for a summer day. No, wait, I'd need snow to test it. Well, I could build it on a summer day and keep it until we have snow.

    And I know that at least 4 stations have used APRS messaging in the past 6 months so the capability is there.

    But the M&M capability always wins out over anything else.

    In the long run...
    It was an interesting exercise in any case and I am thrilled about the number of reports that came in and, of course, went out to NWS. Was the snow a big deal here at ARS WN3LIF? Not at all. The only frustrating time was during the March 15th EOC activation. Other than that it was more of a problem for Taffi than for me. At the height of the storm Taffi and I were out walking in it. It was fun! No cars, no interruptions, just the peaceful falling of the snow. Of course my neighbor, Dianna, thought I was a bit daft but everyone knows that I am. After that it was back to the shack, give Taffi a drink of water, grab a cup of coffee, and back to the radio till the next hourly interval to go find the snow board. Since the storm I have not gone any where. I just stayed home and did things in the shack or house. Got lots of things done that the Lady of the Jones Manor has been bugging me about. There is a lot to be said about being retired.

    EPA-ARRL Web site...
    If you have not done it yet then what are you waiting for? Get to the EPA-ARRL web site and either submit your email address or like it on Facebook. It is the place to get the information and news about the EPA Section.

    Ham Radio Links
    N3LLR's Ham Radio Forum
    ARRL Eastern PA Section Web Site
    Luzerne County ARESĀ©
    Harris County Texas ARES - A great training resource
    Lake County (OH) RACES Personal Go-Kit for Emergency Operations - KE7LHR
    MecklenBurg County ARES and RACES
    K0BG - The Website for Mobile Amateur Radio Operators (Perhaps the best web site on mobile operations I have found!)
    Origins of Ham Speak - Fact, Legends, and Myths??? - Compiled by AC6V from the Internet and other unreliable sources
    The Petite Prepper
    The VOA Radiogram
    Thank you for copying our weekly digital information Bulletin to all Amateur Radio Operators.

    Send reception reports and comments to

    Have a good week everyone!


    ARRL EPA Section Emergency Coordinator
    ARRL EPA District 3 District Emergency Coordinator
    ARRL ARES Emergency Coordinator
    Luzerne County ARES
    ARES and "Amateur Radio Emergency Services" are trademarks owned by the American Radio Relay League, The National Organization of Amateur Radio. Use of these trademarks is by permission only.

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