Major Northeast Winter Storm Prompts ARES, SKYWARN Activations

From ARRL Web:

02/04/2022 – Volunteer radio amateurs across New England got down to business over the final weekend in January, as a major winter storm and blizzard dropped up to several feet of snow in the face of hurricane-force wind gusts along the coast. The combination of wet snow and damaging winds felled trees and power lines in coastal portions of eastern Massachusetts, particularly in Cape Cod and the Islands, and caused minor-to-moderate coastal flooding at high tide. The record-breaking blizzard made the top 10 list of major snow events in the cities of Boston and Providence.  [Full story]

NE-ECAPS Kickoff Meeting, February 19, 2022

Assistant Director Cory Golob, KU1U, writes on the ne-ecaps list:

Thank you all for joining [the New England EmComm And Public Service list]. Looking forward to having a meeting to get to know those in our division who are passionate about EMCOMM. I am looking at having our first meeting on Saturday, February 19th via Zoom. Would a 10 AM start time seem sufficient? I would like to keep these meetings between 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, beyond that, interest can be lost.

I will send out a Zoom link as the time approaches. Would like to give folks a chance to see if it works for their schedule and allow time for more people to start joining this groups.io.

73 DE KU1U
-Cory

[Note: an earlier version of this post stated a meeting date of February 25, 2022. The meeting has been moved forward by one week to avoid a conflict with another event.  -KU1U]

SKYWARN Recognition Day, December 3-4, 2021

SKYWARN logoRob Macedo, KD1CY, writes on WX1BOX.org:

SKYWARN Recognition Day 2021 (SRD’21) will occur this year but modified due to COVID19 and the fact NWS offices are not allowed to have volunteer Amateur Radio Operators at any NWS office due to COVID. Similar to last year, a social media component will be added to engage non-Amateur Radio SKYWARN Spotters more with 2021’SRD. An additional update on SRD’2021 will be posted Friday Morning 12/3/21.

Due to COVID19, typical WX1BOX Amateur Radio Operations will not occur at NWS Boston/Norton. There is a possibility similar to last year through the efforts of employees at NWS Norton who have Amateur Radio licenses, the WX1BOX station will be on the air for a few hours during SRD. Otherwise, the WX1BOX Amateur Radio team will be operating remotely via their home stations. The NWS Gray Maine office cannot be active at the office due to the same restrictions on volunteers at NWS offices nationwide but will have remote SRD operation for 2021.

For WX1BOX Amateur Radio operations, we will cover the typical SKYWARN repeaters on VHF/UHF as well as simplex and be on HF via the various remote home stations along with our WX1BOX social media pages. In addition, contacts with other Amateur Radio SKYWARN stations will count towards NWS certificates. Similar to 2020, there will be a social media component to engage non-Amateur Radio and Amateur Radio SKYWARN spotters alike. The current set of information is available and additional information will be made available on the SKYWARN Recognition Day (SRD) web site via the following link:
https://www.weather.gov/crh/skywarnrecognition.

Also, all participants are welcome to register on the SRD web site. They can obtain a SRD number. The SRD Number for this year is part of the QSO exchange but is not a requirement. It is something new since 2020’SRD so as always there will likely be some glitches and delays in getting the SRD number but if you register and obtain your SRD number, please feel free to add that to your exchange.

[Full story]

 

EmComm Nets in New England

Ed Feustel, AI1R, writes on the Connecticut Valley FM Association mailing list:

There are at least three groups that practice preparing for emergency communications: two every Saturday morning and one every Wednesday. You are welcome to join any or all.

The first is the NH Digital Training Net. It uses the FLDIGI suite of tools to pass or relay messages. We learn how to use the tools so we are prepared to communicate in the event of an emergency. The net has participants from all New England States as well as NY, NJ, and PA. Typical participation include 20-30. Currently we use THOR22 or MFSK32 to transmit messages or images. However we have used ODFM(?) and other modes experimentally. The net has a checkin session on 3.582 MHz USB with an offset of 1500 Hz each Saturday at 0700 local time. The net runs from 7:30 to 8:00. You will need FLDIGI, FLMSG, and FLAMP at a minimum. These are available for free at sourceforge.net under an FLDIGI search. The group will be happy to help you get configured properly.

The second is a NH ARES section voice net. It meets weekly Saturday at 0830 to 0900 on 3.976 MHz and conducts practice of sending and receiving short voice messages. For more information on NH ARES, see nhradio.org for information on its organization, frequencies, plans, etc. Consider joining it particularly since you are in the Upper Valley area.

The third is a WinLink “net.” WinLink consists of a number of store and forward stations (s&f) or gateways that rely on a central internet hub. WinLink serves as a pickup place for mail consisting of text, images, etc. It relies on gateway stations that still have power and internet connectivity. A station in an emergency area without communications sends their e-mail via radio to one of the gateway stations that it can contact somewhere in the world. That station will either send the e-mail via the internet (if directed) or store the message in a “cloud” so that it can be picked up by a calling station. Accounts last for 90 days from last access, so it is important to check in frequently to be have a usable account in the event of an emergency. gateway stations are available on HF, VHF, and satellite with higher bandwidth being available on higher frequencies. A special program, WinLink Express, is used via telnet or one of a variety of radio modems.  Most gateways now use the VARA modem in one of its three forms in either free or licensed forms. The WinLink Net has us send a special WinLink formatted message to a NCS once a week: Wednesday from 6AM to 6PM. We get a reply message indicating who has checked in.

NH encourages it ARES participants to join a SKYWARN net on DMR (VHF/UHF) on Thursday evening on the SKYWARN Talk Group for more detail see nhradio.org.

VT had/has a RACES net. I believe it was on a weekday evening.  I have forgotten its frequency and time.

I participate in the NHDN group weekly and once every 5 weeks as NCS. If you have further questions about it, please feel free to contact myself or George, N1GB (a VT ham), organizer of its activity.

NH 2021 Simulated Emergency Test After Action Report

ARES logoWayne Santos, N1CKM, writes on NEDivisionSEC list:

Thanks to all stations and leadership for a well run and successful SET.

I know that there were issues with HF signals and some operators had problems with digital but you found a way to work around them.
 
Here is a brief report:
 
All local groups active except COOS.
 
Over 25 stations checked into HF Net and more importantly all local groups provided a liaison except COOS.
 
7 ARESMAT requests submitted to ARRL for sourcing.  Thanks to W8ZY for staffing this.
 
A full report will be forthcoming after receiving AAR comments from you.
 
Operators please submit your AAR comments to your ECs for consolidation.
 
ECs consolidate your AAR and submit to me.
 
State staff can submit comments directly.
 
All AAR comments need to be to me by the end of the day on Tuesday.
 
73 and thanks for your energy and effort.
 
Wayne
Wayne W. Santos
N1CKM
SEC
NH ARES
n1ckm@arrl.net

Amateur Radio Emergency Service and SKYWARN Respond to Major Nor’easter

ARES logoFrom ARRL:

10/28/2021–A major nor’easter struck eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island this week, with ferocious winds stronger than those that Tropical Storm Henri brought to the region in August.

Starting on the evening of October 26, eastern Massachusetts amateur radio operators on the Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) and National Weather Service (NWS) SKYWARN™ storm spotter teams joined forces to help emergency services provide a focused and effective response as the powerful nor’easter caused widespread damage. Tree and wire damage, trees falling on homes and cars, and a few cases of direct structural damage to weakened structures have been reported. ARES and SKYWARN operations will continue until the impact of the weather system subsides.

“We have handled several hundred reports of damage, and photos of damage are streaming in from ARES and SKYWARN operators to support damage assessment efforts and to keep the NWS in Norton apprised of the severe weather conditions affecting the region,” said Rob Macedo, KD1CY, Eastern Massachusetts ARES Section Emergency Coordinator and ARES-SKYWARN Coordinator for NWS Boston/Norton.

ARES-SKYWARN operators relayed reports of hurricane-force wind gusts reaching 94 MPH in Edgartown, Massachusetts, at Chappy Ferry Point; 84 MPH in Dennis, Massachusetts; 79 MPH in Sandwich, Massachusetts, and 78 MPH in Rockport, Massachusetts. Amateur operators with WX1BOX, the amateur radio station at NWS Boston/Norton; Cape Cod ARES and SKYWARN, and South Coast SKYWARN completed overnight operations, when the peak winds occurred.

“The dedication of our volunteers to provide this critical information in a major storm like this one to the NWS, media, and emergency managers during such a grueling stretch is very critical to inform people what is happening during such a significant storm when they wake up in the morning, so they will hopefully make safe decisions to avoid being out in a significant severe wind situation,” Macedo said.

Cape Cod ARES was activated by the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee (BCREPC) to staff the Multi-agency Coordination Center (MACC) at the Barnstable County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The damages, power outages, and intermittent cell service from some providers could mean an extended activation for ARES members in Cape Cod and the Islands, Macedo explained.

According to the Cape Cod and Islands ARES District Emergency Coordinator Frank O’Laughlin, WQ1O, “Damage assessments in the region will give us a better sense of how long it will take to restore power and in some cases communication service to the Cape [Cod] and Islands area, and that will determine how long Cape Cod ARES will be needed, and if additional support from Eastern Massachusetts ARES will be needed.”

Macedo called the nor’easter “one of our more extraordinary weather systems within the last few years, and the most severe of several other major SKYWARN/ARES activations in this past year.”

As many as 500,000 customers lost power in the ARRL Eastern Massachusetts Section, with hardest-hit areas in southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands, and the Cape Ann area north of Boston, where hurricane-force wind gusts pummeled the region for several hours. Maximum sustained winds were 50 and 65 MPH. Rhode Island reported nearly 93,000 customers without power at the peak. These outages were an order of magnitude greater than during Tropical Storm Henri in Rhode Island, and about five orders of magnitude more severe than Henri in Massachusetts.

Storm conditions wound down toward the evening of October 27, allowing the process of more widespread power restoration to begin.

 

Greater Bridgeport (CT) ARC Combined SET, JOTA & POTA for Fun-Filled Weekend

Greater Bridgeport ARC loogo

Members of the Greater Bridgeport Amateur Radio Club combined the best of a Simulated Emergency Test (SET), Jamboree On The Air (JOTA), and Parks On The Air (POTA), while operating from three state parks on October 16, 2021: 

  • Sherwood Island SP (Park K-1715)
  • Silver Sands SP (Park K-1716)
  • West Rock SP (Park K-1727) (2 stations)

“Our goal [was] to provide community outreach for ham radio, and to help train our new operators,” explained GBARC president Emily Clarke, N1DID.   

During the POTA Event the groups also participated in the CT ARES SET using simplex VHF/UHF as well as DMR.

“I wanted to do the SET from a distance away from our ARES region (Region 1)  so we could simulate simplex communications outside our region.   I was in Region 2, and all our other stations were in CT State Parks in Region 1 or were mobile enroute.  After the SET we turned our attention to our main reason for being in the park, our POTA event,” says Clarke.
 
According to N1DID, the JOTA contact wasn’t actually planned. 
 
“We were doing HF communications for POTA when a huge troop of Scouts walked by.  We asked, ‘Does anyone want to learn about ham radio?’ and they all ran and formed a very disciplined semi-circle around us.  I gave them an explanation about HF communications, then gave a short talk explaining how we and other radio amateurs were active on the air promoting our beautiful state parks.”
 
“We gave additional information about emergency communications. how parents and even scouts can get their technician licenses, and about how they can reach out to local clubs for help with their radio merit badge.  
 
Clarke and her group took  questions from the kids and parents and got a big thank you.  Clarke encouraged them to reach out to the club in the future. “Afterwards the Scout leader came up and took my email address and said ‘I always wanted to do this.’”
 
Although N1DID and the other GBARC members got to interact with the public at the other parks “The 40+ Scouts and parents we met  was the icing on the cake of a wonderful day in the park.”
 
Scouts at GBARC POTA event
Scouts visiting Greater Bridgeport ARC Parks On The Air event

The 2021 ARRL Simulated Emergency Test (SET) is Just Ahead

ARES logoARRL Bulletin 24  ARLB024
From ARRL Headquarters 
Newington CT  September 23, 2021
To all radio amateurs

SB QST ARL ARLB024
ARLB024 The 2021 ARRL Simulated Emergency Test (SET) is Just Ahead

The weekend of October 2 – 3 is designated for holding the annual ARRL Simulated Emergency Test (SET), although local and Section-level exercises may take place throughout the Fall. The SET is ARRL’s primary national emergency exercise and is designed to assess the skills and preparedness of Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers, as well as those affiliated with other organizations involved in emergency and disaster response.

The SET encourages maximum participation by all radio amateurs, partner organizations, and national, state, and local officials who typically engage in emergency or disaster response. In addition to ARES volunteers, those active in the National Traffic System (NTS), Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), National Weather Service (NWS) SKYWARN, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and a variety of other allied groups and public service-oriented radio amateurs are needed to fulfill important roles in this nationwide exercise.

The SET offers volunteers an opportunity to test equipment, modes, and skills under simulated emergency conditions and scenarios. Individuals can use the time to update a “go-kit” for use during deployments and to ensure their home station’s operational capability in an emergency or disaster. To get involved, contact your local ARRL Emergency Coordinator or Net Manager.

NNNN

George Lillenstein, AB1GL, Appointed New Connecticut Section Emergency Coordinator

CT ARES logoCongratulations to George Lillenstein, AB1GL, who has been appointed Section Emergency Coordinator for the Connecticut Section.  Lillenstein was formerly the District Emergency Coordinator for District 3 in Connecticut. He replaces outgoing SEC Mike Walters, W8ZY, who resigned the post after accepting employment at ARRL Headquarters.