Resources for SKYWARN® storm spotters: Presentation notes

Title slide of Resources for SKYWARN Storm Spotters presentation

During the afternoon, advanced session of the Allen County Severe Weather Seminar March 28, 2020, Jay Farlow, W9LW, presented resources to help storm spotters plan their days and maintain situational awareness during severe weather. Below are descriptions of the resources he mentioned. Colored text indicates a clickable link.

NWS Information Products

SPC convective outlooks. Click the link at left and bookmark the page to which it takes you. From there, you can select the Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, or Day 4-8 outlooks. The Storm Prediction Center issues these outlooks daily, at approximately at following times (EDT, all times are one hour earlier during EST):

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Echolink, full power return to 146.91

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Thanks to FWRC members Larry Temenoff, KB9OS; Paul Prestia, KA3OPZ; and Tom Rupp, KU8T, Echolink services have returned to our 146.91 MHz repeater and it’s operating again at full power.

The repeater is on the Purdue Fort Wayne campus and uses an internet connection provided by the university for Echolink services. To protect the Echolink computer from cyber attack, the university required that we install a router between the university’s network and our computer. Larry donated a router and Paul configured and installed it.

Tom repaired and reinstalled the repeater’s power amplifier, which now puts out 80 watts.

ARES cancels severe weather seminar

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The Allen County Amateur Radio Emergency Service regrets to announce that it has cancelled the Allen County Severe Weather Seminar, originally scheduled for March 28, at the main branch of the Allen County Public Library.

ARES took the action after hearing an explanation this afternoon by Allen County health commissioner, Deborah McMahan, M.D. In a nutshell, she said it is important for people to avoid all unnecessary personal contact, to help keep hospitals and other parts of the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed or worse, closing. By canceling events and staying home, we probably won’t prevent eventual transmission of COVID-19 countywide, but we might be able to stagger transmission, so we don’t have everyone (including healthcare workers) ill at the same time.

It is in support of that tactic – staggered disease transmission – that ARES canceled the seminar.

ARES doesn’t know at this time whether it will be able to reschedule, because it depends on too many factors. These include when officials like McMahan stop recommending social distancing, speaker availability and venue availability. It is conceivable that if ARES reschedules, it won’t happen until a year from now.

While you’re practicing social distancing by staying home, ARES has some online resources to recommend.

The MetEd (Meteorology Education) website has an excellent, online, two-module course on storm spotting. It’s great for anyone who has never been to a storm spotter class, and it’s also a good refresher for those who have.

Everything on the MetEd website is free, including more advanced classes, such as:

  • Anticipating Hazardous Weather and Community Risk, 2nd Edition, a single module that provides background information about weather, natural hazards, and preparedness. Additional topics include risk communication, human behavior, and effective warning partnerships.
  • Weather Radar Fundamentals, a single module, presents the fundamental principles of Doppler weather radar operation and how to interpret common weather phenomena using radar imagery.
  • Summer Severe Weather, a seven-module course that covers the basic principles of warm-season convective (rising air) weather with the aim of improving the prediction of significant and severe convection.

Another good resource is Thunderstorms – An Introduction, offered on the website of Spotter Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the National Weather Service receive timely severe weather reports. You must join the organization to take the course, but there’ no fee to join and there are other benefits.

Finally, check out JetStream – An Online School for Weather, hosted by the National Weather Service itself.

Indiana ARRL section manager asks ham radio clubs to suspend activities


The elected Indiana leader of the ARRL, the national association for amateur radio, has requested that all Indiana amateur (ham) radio clubs suspend club activities in Indiana from March 12 through April 1, 2020. Indiana section manager Jimmy Merry, KC9RPX announced his request in an email message this morning. The full text of Merry’s message appears on the Indiana ARRL Facebook page.

ARRL web page lists events affected by pandemic

The ARRL has created a web page to list hamfests and conventions that organizers have canceled or postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, announced central division director Kermit Carlson, W9XA, via email.

Carlson also shared that the Federal Communications Commission has advised employees that “unless it is absolutely necessary for them to work from the office because they cannot otherwise accomplish their work, they should telework” beginning March 13, until further notice.”

March fox hides near huge hole

Fort Wayne Radio Club fox (hidden transmitter) hunters search for their “quarry.”

March 2, the Fort Wayne Radio Club once again prepared to hold its monthly fox (hidden transmitter) hunt, starting at 1:30 p.m. local time. Since the winner of the previous hunt, Don, K9LI, was not available to be the fox, the second-place team of W9LAN, W9SAN, and their grandson Alex Smith went off in search of a suitable hiding place somewhere in Allen County. Linda and Steve had been surveying sites for the previous two weekends and decided to reactivate a site that had been used many years ago, the Hanson Quarry observation tower on Sandpoint Road, not far from former Elmhurst High School site on the city’s southwest side. The weather was unusually warm, and the sun was shining; it was looking like that ground hog in Pennsylvania was right this year! The mood of the foxes was also unusually wacky, as the hunters were about to discover!

Back at the starting location, the veteran team of Al Burke, WB9SSE; Carol Burke, WB9RUS; Jim Pliett, K9OMA; and Muriel Pliett, KA9YYI were ready, along with Charles, KC9MUT and his young daughter. Then some newbies showed up. It was the OM and YL team of Adam and Meghan Warrix, KD9NRT and KD9ODP, along with new FWRC director Spencer Cassady, KD9NRS. The Pliett/Burke team took Spencer on board their vehicle, and Meghan and Adam joined KC9MUT and daughter as ride-alongs in his truck.

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FWRC offers certificate for centennial contacts with members

Example of a certificate available to hams who make 100 contacts with FWRC members during calendar year 2020.

The Fort Wayne Radio Club (FWRC) is celebrating its centennial by offering a commemorative certificate to any amateur radio station who logs at least 100 contacts with FWRC members between Jan. 1, 2020 and 0500 UTC Jan. 1, 2021.

The club is calling the event, “100 years, 100 Contacts.” Anyone who wishes to receive the operating award must make 100 contacts with FWRC members using any band, mode, or amateur equipment. Participants may count contacts with the same FWRC member multiple times per day, but only if each contact is on a different band, mode, or combination of both. Participants must make contact with minimum of 25 different FWRC members. During each contact, stations must exchange call signs, names, cities, signal report, rig description, antenna description, and state, province or country. “Rag chewing” (extended conversation) is encouraged.

A list of FWRC members (i.e., stations that can be counted toward the certificate) is available on the FWRC website.

Participants may create logs using any logging program. To receive a certificate, they must either send via email a file containing only the Fort Wayne Radio Club members contacted, including contact information, date, time, mode and band, to, or send paper logs (as done 100
years ago) via post to:

Clark Derbyshire, KG9FM
4107 North Drive
Fort Wayne, IN 46815

All certificates will be sent via email, so participants must provide a valid email address.