As was the case with many of this year’s activities, the pandemic decided to throw a wrench into SKYWARN™ Recognition Day, a 20-plus year old tradition that was jointly developed by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League to celebrate the contributions that volunteer SKYWARN™ radio operators make to the National Weather Service.
Since 2014, WSSM volunteers have visited the National Weather Service Forecast Office, in Gray, Maine, to spend long hours operating the WX1GYX station during the round the clock event.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year, we had no access to the NWS Gray facility, so in order to get WX1GYX on the air, we needed to get creative.
Back in the summer, WSSM celebrated its 10th Anniversary with a special event call sign, W1V. To encourage club members to operate with the call sign from their own homes, or portable, a we created a Google Sheet as a signup form. The sheet was divided, in that case into the days that the call sign was active and featured 2-hour operating blocks in each bands and mode. One simply entered their call sign in the band and time slot of their choice and got on the air. We decided to use a similar method to encourage SKYWARN volunteers, who normally participate during SRD, to get on the air.
It worked out very well! For SRD this year, WX1GYX made a total of 198 QSOs, working 42 different states, contacting 7 other NWS stations and 35 SRD volunteers during the 24 hour period. The call sign was active on the 80, 40, 15, 12, and 2 meter bands, using SSB, FM, D-STAR, DMR, FT8, and Echolink for modes.
This isn’t bad considering by late Saturday morning, a real SKYWARN Activation took precedence, as a Nor’easter began to impact the area. The storm brought heavy snow and wind, and caused widespread damage and power outages across the forecast area, that even effected some of our SRD participants. On Saturday night alone, we gathered 35 reports of damage, and dozens more the next day.
2020 SRD participants included: Eric N1RXR, Jerry K1WTX, Mark KG1Q, Tim KB1HNZ, and Stefania K1GJY.
During periods that they weren’t using the WX1GYX call sign, many of these same participants used their personal call signs and exchanged their names, SRD numbers, and current weather conditions with other participating stations.
Thanks to everyone who helped make this year’s SRD a success!