Here’s the plan for tomorrow’s Emergency Communications exercise, that takes place from 9:00AM – 11:00AM (prior to Winter Field Day):
Chris Wheeler (CCEMA) offered the following scenario (and request):
“Let’s say we had a large subsidence on the Presumpscot river below the Sappi Paper Mill that caused the foundations to some of their buildings to buckle and potentially fail. In this type of scenario we would be looking for:”
Request to MEMA for assistance (ICS-213RR via Winlink):
Structural Engineers (5)
Type One Large Backhoes (2)
Water Pumps (8)
Railroad Ties (500)
Manual and Hydraulic Building Jacks (25)
Large Type 1 Dump Trucks (4)
During the exercise, we’ll be looking for a simulated storm update from NWS Gray to determine likelihood of continuing flood risk, simulated weather reports from individual check-ins that we can forward to NWS so they can issue, update, or confirm warnings, and also simulated reports of road washouts, etc., to forward to CCEMA, so they can dispatch DOT crews. Be sure to preface each message with THIS IS A DRILL or EXERCISE MESSAGE.
We will be starting our county wide net on the 449.225 repeater at or around 9:00 AM to take check-ins and take any traffic (weather reports or SITREPS) from participants.
At around the same time, we will also check into the Maine Emergency Net on 3940 kHz.
At 9:30 AM, we will take check-ins on simplex to test comms from the trailer. For obvious reasons, it won’t have the same coverage as the station at the EOC, but we’ll see who can hear us.
At 10:00 AM we will be sending our Winlink traffic, most likely via PACKET.
From 10:30 – 11:00 AM, we will check back into and monitor the Maine Emergency Net to see if there’s any traffic waiting for us, and handle as needed.
Please join us this weekend, January 28-29, at the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency (CCEMA) bunker, (located at 22 High Street, Windham, ME) for Winter Field Day!
We will be operating in the 1O category (club station with 1 full time HF transmitter), plus we’ll also be participating in a statewide Emergency Communications Exercise Saturday morning, from 9AM – 11 AM.
THURSDAY – 7:00 PM – Setup begins during the ECT Meeting, with antennas and trailer prep.
SATURDAY – 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM – Statewide Emergency Communications Exercise (similar to the SET, but shorter in duration).
SATURDAY – 2:00 PM – SUNDAY – 1:59 PM – Winter Field Day on-air ops.
SUNDAY – 2:00 PM – On-air activities end, followed by breakdown of equipment and site cleanup.
We need lots of help to make this a success! Please click here to sign up for WFD Setup/Breakdown, Saturday’s EmComm Exercise, WFD On-Air ops, and Food!
Winter Field Day (WFD), which has taken place annually on the last full weekend in January, since 2007, has continued to grow in popularity each year. In 2022, the Winter Field Day Association processed over 2500 logs. This year’s Winter Field Day takes place January 28th – 29th.
Clubs and individuals from around the world activate for the event, many using it as an opportunity to practice portable emergency communications in winter environments, since the potential for freezing temperatures, snow, ice, and other hazards present unique operational concerns. Winter Field Day is formatted to help radio amateurs develop a higher level of preparedness for disasters and improve operational skills in subpar conditions.
Winter Field Day is a communications exercise that can be worked from the comfort of your home or in a remote location. Amateur radio operators may use any mode that can faithfully transmit the required exchange, on HF, VHF, or UHF bands. Like the ARRL Field Day, bonus points are earned in several ways, including for using non-commercial power sources, operating from remote locations, making satellite contacts, and more.
Complete rules can be found here. Combining this with the ARRL’s ongoing Volunteers On the Air operation is a great way to make contacts and get new operators on the air.
On the weekend of July 28-29, the Wireless Society of Southern Maine Emergency Communications Team will take part in their fifth Winter Field Day, operating as an outdoor station from the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency (CCEMA) communications trailer. We’ll be setting up portable antennas, and run the entire 24 hours on emergency power.
Prior to the event, on Saturday, the WSSM-ECT will also be taking part in an emergency communications exercise, checking into the Maine Emergency Net, and exchanging simulated emergency traffic with adjacent counties and the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), in Augusta.
In 2022, the NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team gathered a record 518 reports.
The year 2022 started out with three SKYWARN activations on January 7th, 17th – 18th, and 29th – 30th, the most memorable for a nor’easter that tracked near the Gulf of Maine on January 29th. The nor’easter accounted for 13.2 inches of the 13.6 inches total snowfall for the month in Portland, and produced 86 SKYWARN reports. January featured several temperature swings through the first three weeks of the month, followed by persistent cold through the end of the month. On the whole, the average temperature for January was well below normal and it was the coldest January since 2009.
Observed snowfall totals from the January 29-30 nor’easter
February was quieter, with only two SKYWARN activations on the 4th and 25th – 26th, as the upper-level jet stream took on a traditional La Nina pattern, with a ridge in the Northeast Pacific and another over the Southeastern U.S. The persistent ridge over the Southeast dominated weather in the Portland area, bringing several warm spells during the month. The warmest period came during the last week of the month, when the high temperature reached 66 degrees on February 23rd. A sharp cold front crossed the area causing temperatures to drop 25 degrees by midnight and resulted in a record temperature range of 41 degrees for the date. The most significant event occurred on February 3-4 when waves of low pressure tracked along a cold front that slowly sank south through New England and then stalled near Portland. This setup a period of rain that changed over to sleet, with the Portland area receiving 2 to 3 inches of sleet before precipitation ended as light snow. Smaller systems in the second half of the month were primarily rain producers, until a storm finally tracked across southern New England with enough cold air to bring 5.8” of snow on the 25th.
Frequent light precipitation events with measurable precipitation occurred during March, with only two SKYWARN activations on the 12th and 30th. While snowfall did eclipse the dismal 0.1” recorded in March of 2021, total snowfall finished well below normal with only 3 inches and no days of an inch or greater of snow.
Only a single SKYWARN activation occurred in April for a wind and rain event on the 19th. A 28 mph wind gust was recorded in New Harbor, and we received multiple reports of wind damage in the Waldoboro area. A total of 5.0 inches of precipitation fell in Portland, which was 0.59 inches above normal.
The month of May was warm and dry in the Portland area. The primary feature that dominated the weather pattern was a ridge of high pressure that started to develop during the second week of the month and remained centered over Northern New England through the end of the month. Only one SKYWARN activation occurred, on May 16 for damaging thunderstorms that effected mostly Southwestern New Hampshire and the Connecticut River Valley. The storm produced 21 reports, which were mostly for wind damage. A total of 1.12 inches of precipitation fell in the Portland area, which was 2.55 inches below normal.
The month of June was cooler and drier than normal. An anomalous trough of low pressure that started to develop during the second week of the month remained through the third week of the month. Two SKYWARN activations occurred for thunderstorms, with quarter size hail reported in Conway, NH on the 4th and heavy rain and ponding in the roadway reported in Scarborough on the 17th. A total of 2.62 inches of precipitation fell in the Portland area, which was 1.53 inches below normal. The heaviest precipitation fell on June 17th, when 0.76” was recorded.
July was warmer and much drier than normal. It was also the third month in a row with below normal precipitation, leading to an expansion of moderate drought conditions early in the month. Despite the lack of precipitation, there were five SKYWARN activations during the month for thunderstorms, on July 12, 14, 21, 25, and 28. We received 26 reports on the 21st, mostly for wind damage, from Antrim, Stoddard, Hancock, Sullivan, Harrisville, and Moultonborough, NH, and the same cell produced a microbust on Frye Island and Raymond, ME. On the 25th, we received reports of trees and wires down in Swanzey, and Exeter, NH. A total of 1.28 inches of precipitation fell in July, which was 2.15 inches below normal. The heaviest precipitation fell on July 5th into the 6th, when 0.38” was recorded.
Wind damage from the July 25th storm, in Sebago, ME
August was much wetter and warmer than normal. By the end of the first week of the month, a broad ridge, that started to develop in the mid-levels of atmosphere, shifted east, with the center of the ridge settling over New England. The ridge persisted into the second week of August and was responsible for the hottest stretch of weather during the summer months. From August 5 to 7, the temperature did not drop below 70 degrees for three days in a row, along with high temperatures climbing above 90 degrees for three days in a row between the 7th and 9th. A cold front then crossed into New England the night of August 9th, bringing much cooler air. It was during this period that a series of upper troughs pushed across Southeastern Canada with frontal systems bringing bouts of heavy rain on the 22nd, 26th, and 31st. SKYWARN activations occurred on the 8th and 26th. We received multiple reports on the 26th for wind damage in Marlborough and Newport, NH, and heavy rain, wind, and hail across Southern Maine.
September was cooler and wetter than normal and two SKYWARN activations occurred on the 13th and 23rd. A cold front crossed New England to start the month followed by high pressure settling over the area through the 4th. This allowed for warm sunny days and cool crisp nights. Another cold front dropped south into the area the night of the 4th and stalled over New England through the 6th. Waves of low pressure tracked along the frontal boundary bringing a soaking rain on the 5th – 6th. Unseasonably warm days followed, until a cold front crossed on the 15th, causing temps to average below normal through the end of the month.
October was warmer and much wetter than normal, with only one SKYWARN activation occurring during the month, as a severe thunderstorm produced 13 reports of mostly wind damage in Dixfield, Scarborough, Saco, and Buckfield, ME, and street flooding in Scarborough. The middle of the month was particularly active with one system bringing 3.27 inches of rain the night of the 13th through the 14th, and another system bringing 2.76 inches of rain on the 17th – 18th. The storm system that crossed the morning of the 14th brought strong south to southeast winds that caused tree damage in York County with the peak wind measured at 45 mph in Portland. The first freeze of the fall occurred on October 9th.
November was exceptionally warm in the Portland area through the first half of the month, followed by temperatures averaging below normal through the second half. During the first 12 days, the average temperature was 54.1 degrees and exceeded the 70-degree mark 3 times. A new all time record high was set on the 5th when the high temperature reached 75 degrees! The jet stream configuration, which consisted of a ridge of high pressure centered over New England, limited precipitation early in the month, although the remnants of Tropical System Nicole moved up the eastern seaboard, bringing a bout of heavy rain on the 11th. The ridge broke down during the middle of the month, giving way to a trough of low pressure. This pattern allowed for a couple of frontal systems to cross New England, and temperatures to trend below normal. SKYWARN activations occurred on the 16th, bringing the first reports of freezing precipitation of the season, followed by another activation on the 30th, for a strong cold front that generated reports of snow, heavy rain, and wind damage. The peak gust at Portland topped out at 47 mph. A total of 5.24 inches of precipitation fell in November, which was 0.99 inches above normal. The heaviest precipitation in fell on the 15th – 16th when 1.32 inches of rain was recorded.
Four SKYWARN activations took place in December, on the 1st, 12th, 15th – 17th, and 23rd. A cold front crossed the region to start the month followed by a brief high pressure. A period of relatively active weather ensued through the winter solstice as several mid latitude cyclones of Pacific origin tracked eastward and brought bouts of precipitation to New England. Towards the middle of the month, high latitude blocking became pronounced over Alaska and Eastern Canada. The blocking over Alaska helped funnel arctic air into the Continental U.S. and the blocking over Eastern Canada helped suppress low pressure systems from tracking west of New England. This pattern ultimately led to a coastal low pressure system to develop near the Mid Atlantic on the 15th, which tracked into the Gulf of Maine on the 17th. This system brought significant moisture into New England, and while the Portland area did see prolonged snowfall, temperatures were near or slightly above freezing, limiting the ability for the snow to accumulate. The system brought the heaviest precipitation of the month with rain and melted snow amounting to 1.45 inches, with 4.1 inches of heavy wet snow. Further inland, this system brought significant heavy wet snow leading to power outages across the interior with the mountains seeing upwards of two feet.
After a few days of dry weather, another significant system took shape over the Central Plains on the 22nd and tracked over the Great Lakes on the 23rd and into Quebec on the 24th. The system brought significant southerly to southeasterly winds into Maine and New Hampshire with the peak gust in Portland reaching 65 mph. These very strong onshore winds combined with a period of high astronomical tides led to the 4th highest tide on record at Portland at 13.72 feet, on the 23rd, which resulted in significant coastal flooding. Much cooler weather followed over the holiday weekend, with temperatures climbing well above normal to close out the month.
Satellite image of Winter Storm “Elliott”
A total of 3.98 inches of precipitation fell, which was 0.52 inches below normal. A total of 4.7 inches of snow fell, which was 9.9 inches below normal. The majority of this snow fell on the 16th – 17th when 4.2 inches of heavy wet snow was measured.
December was a busy month for SKYWARN, as we collected 144 reports, 61 of which were for the December 23rd storm. Many of these were for wind damage and flooding.
Coastal flooding in York, ME during the December 23rd storm
During the year, the NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team helped gather a record 518 SKYWARN reports, which is 75 more than our previous record of 443, set in 2020. Thanks to all of our Net Control operators, SKYWARN Spotters, and volunteers, who helped us throughout the year. Keep up the good work!
The NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team is a group of volunteers who support the National Weather Service Forecast Office, in Gray, ME. Click here to learn more about the team and how you can help.
Despite some challenges, the 2022 Simulated Emergency Test was a big success for our team!
Since early Spring, the communications room at the Cumberland County EMA was undergoing various phases of renovation, and getting the gear setup in time for the SET was a huge undertaking. Our team also acquired, through grants, some new deployable equipment, which had just been taken out of the box a few days before the Saturday of the test! But, our team pulled it all together and did a great job demonstrating their skills once again, to make us one of the top performing groups in the state.
Despite this, there were some minor hiccups. Our primary deployed team, consisting of Brad Brown KC1JMH and Peter Hatem KC1HBM, was sent to Scarborough High School having never setup a Buddipole antenna before and with a brand new Icom IC-7100. Somehow, they managed to get the antenna setup and the radio on the air, although they did miss a couple of early tasks.
Things went smooth at the EOC, despite getting the gear setup the Thursday evening before the test. This consisted of more than just plugging in the equipment, but required the installation of a new PC for the HF station, including all necessary software, setting up two new work stations, routing coax through the ceiling and down the walls to the workstations, grounding, setting up a LAN, and more! The team of Tim Watson KB1HNZ and CJ Carlsson W1CJC, took turns manning the HF, V/U, and DMR stations, and performed all the necessary tasks.
Meanwhile, Waylon McDonald KC1HJN was deployed to multiple shelter locations throughout the county and successfully completed all of his objectives, and Eric Emery N1RXR, operating remote from New Gloucester, acted as a key station, performing relays when needed, and handled traffic for the National Weather Service, in Gray, ME.
Here’s what the 2022 SET consisted of:
Name of exercise: 2022 Maine Simulated Emergency Test Date of activity: October 22, 2022 Duration of activity: 08:00 – 12:00
Type: Multi-mode communication exercise between State and County EMAs, as well as other agencies, including Red Cross and the National Weather Service.
Served agency(s): Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency (CCEMA) National Weather Service, Gray, ME
WSSM-ECT: Participants will operate from the EOC, home, at deployed stations, and mobile from shelters.
Purpose: Test ability to communicate inter-county and between counties, using various modes: UHF FM repeater, VHF FM Simplex, HF SSB, VHF Packet, HF Digital, and Winlink via VHF Packet and HF.
Objectives: Perform Amateur Radio Tasks as outlined in the 2022 Maine SET Plan:
Digital data with other Counties on Amateur VHF repeater systems and packet network.
Voice with other Counties on Amateur VHF using simplex.
Voice with other Counties on Amateur HF systems
Retrieve a text file using Packet
Digital data via Amateur Packet and Winlink systems
TASK 1 – Perform voice radio checks inter-county via Amateur UHF repeater TASK 2 – Perform voice radio checks inter-county via Amateur HF TASK 3 – Establish communications with Statewide Emergency Net and perform voice radio checks with other Counties via Amateur HF TASK 4 – Perform voice radio checks inter-county via Amateur VHF Simplex TASK 5 – Perform voice radio checks with nearby Counties via Amateur VHF simplex TASK 6 – Exchange ICS-213 messages via voice, digital, Winlink, and Packet TASK 7 – Retrieve a text file via PACKET TASK 8 – Send Digital Data through the Maine Packet Network
Although highly successful, the 2022 SET highlighted some areas that can be more fine tuned. One of these is more hands-on training with deployable equipment, and another is, as always, traffic handling. Having more time to spend with our new gear, we’ll easily remedy the first concern, but the latter is more a widespread problem, not isolated to our team. In fact, having handled something like 32 messages during the SET (mostly within the county), we do very well with it, but I’ve found a lack of continuity on the statewide level, that can only be fixed with a unified acceptance of modes, forms, and protocol. I have no doubt this will get better with time, as we do more exercises, and hopefully, by next year, we’ll all be on the same page.
Click here to download our 2022 SET After Action Review.
The 13th Annual Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge takes place Saturday, March 25th, from 12PM – 4PM!
Contacts are limited to FM Simplex on the 2 meter band.
Participants may be entered as either fixed or mobile, (but not as both).
Exchange – Exchange items include your call sign, the name of the city, village, town, or township you are operating from, and your power level. Rovers and mobiles must be within the city limits of whatever city they claim to be operating from. If you are operating from a served agency station, you should also include this with your exchange. Specify which agency you serve, for example, “SKYWARN,” “EOC,” or “Red Cross.” On the log sheets, however, there will only be a place to notate whether or not the station is operating from a served agency.
City or Town – This is simply the name of the city or town you are operating from. If you do not live within the city limits, use the name of the town or municipality to which mail or a package would be addressed. For mobile entries, use the name of the city or town you are in, or the closest city or town.
Power levels are defined as follows: • QRP – 5 watts or less • Medium Power – greater than 5 watts, but less than 100 • High Power – 100 watts or more
Enter as either Fixed (either at home or portable) or Mobile (roving).
Click here for complete rules and details, including Entry Forms and Log Sheets, for the 2023 Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge.
Congratulations to the multi-op team of Stefania Watson (K1GJY), Tim Watson (KB1HNZ) and Rick Fickett (K1OT), who operated as WS1SM from Windham, ME. They became the first Multi-Op team to win the contest overall, scoring a total of 334,915 points, and 1352 QSO’s!
For 2022, we received a record 309 logs from 6 different countries, 31 U.S. States, 4 Canadian Provinces, and 9 Maine Counties. Thanks to everyone who participated!
Michael Snook W7LG, from Lewiston, PA, captured the Single Operator QRP (SOQRP) category with 4,335 points. Jose Douglas KB1TCD, from Round Pond, ME, won the Single Operator Low Power (SOLP) category with 10,840 points. Kevin Thomas W1DED, who operated portable from Van Buren, ME, won the Single Operator High Power (SOHP) category with 254,277 points. N1TN won the Multi-Operator Low Power Category with 6,265 points, and this year’s overall winner, WS1SM, won the Multi-Operator High Power (MOHP) category with 334,915 points.
In the Club Competition, the Wireless Society of Southern Maine took the top spot, with 1 log entry totaling 334,915 points. The Yankee Clipper Contest Club came in second with 5 logs totaling 224,989 points, and the Heartland DX Association came in third with 1 log totaling 134,912 points.
For complete results, including State, Province, National, and Maine County winners, click here.
The 2023 Maine QSO Party will take place the last full weekend of September, (9/23 – 9/24). Click here for complete rules and details.
On Sunday, August 21st, members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine activated Squirrel Point Lighthouse, in Arrowsick, Maine, for 2022 International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW). This was the twelfth different lighthouse activated by the team during an ILLW weekend, and the fourteenth altogether.
Squirrel Point Lighthouse is located at the end of a 1.4 mile out-and-back trail, which is an easy hike, but the mosquitoes were particularly vicious, probably due to the time of day being morning and its location along the Kennebec River. Once out of the wooded area, though, and in the clear of the lighthouse property, the bugs subsided.
The team, consisting of Stefania (K1GJY) and Tim (KB1HNZ) Watson, along with their son Elliot, and Brad Brown Jr., (KC1JMH) and his son Jordan, setup two HF radios – a Yaesu FT-991A, connected to a Buddipole tuned to 20 meters, and a Yaesu FT-817, connected to an end-fed tuned to 40 meters. Being a Sunday, we also checked into the Dirigo Net on DMR. All radios used battery power.
The lighthouse is very secluded, and the hike out and back made it one of the more interesting ones we’ve visited.
“The property had a home and a barn to the right side, as one approaches,” Brad Brown said, describing the scene. “The lighthouse sat across from the trail on the water, and a utility shed down by the water far to the left that appears to be fed by a solar panel array. Everything was interconnected by boardwalk.”
Throughout the day, other hikers arrived and asked about what we were doing, and we were also visited by a drone that flew over from across the river. There was steady boat traffic as well, so there was always something to see.
At the end of the day, the team made nearly 40 QSOs, including with other lighthouses up and down the East Coast, and on the Great Lakes. Our location, being a small lighthouse along the Kennebec river, was unique, and it drew a lot of attention on the air.
On Saturday, July 23rd, members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine and New England Radio Discussion Society, participated in a joint Parks on the Air (POTA) and Summits on the Air (SOTA) activation from Mt. Agamenticus, in York, ME.
Mt. Agamenticus has the designation W1/AM-381 for SOTA and the Mt. Agamenticus Wildlife Management Area, which includes the summit, is designated K-8448 for POTA.
The WSSM team, consisting of Stefania (K1GJY) and Tim (KB1HNZ) Watson, along with their son Elliot, and Brad Brown Jr., (KC1JMH), setup two HF radios and one for the 1.25 meter band. The first they did upon arrival was to locate some shaded areas, because it was expected to be a very hot day. Temperatures were already in the low 90’s by 10:00 AM!
Tim and Stefania setup a Buddipole and a Yaesu FT-857D on 20 meters, and also a TYT TH-900D and J-Pole for 220 MHz.
Brad KC1JMH and Rob Sylvester AA1BS took turns making contacts on 40 meters, using Brad’s Yaesu FT-991A and an end fed that was tossed in a tree. They were later joined by Jim Oliver KC1NIC and Paul Klebauer W1BIU from the New England Radio Discussion Society. Thanks to Susan Bloomfield WB2UQP for sharing our notice with their newsgroup!
Conditions were very good, allowing for several Park-to-Park and DX contacts, and even some long-distance simplex QSOs on 220 MHz!
At various times, Tim, Stefania, and Brad took breaks from the radios to explore the summit trails and take in the views, which are quite expansive in spots. At the summit, there’s an educational center, located in the old “Big A” ski lodge, an observation deck, and several of the trails have scenic overlooks. Some of them cross former ski trails and contain relics of an old T-bar lift.
Typically 2 meters is hampered by intermod on Mt. Aggie, so it wasn’t attempted until much later in the afternoon, but right before packing up, Tim and Brad made several contacts on 146.520 FM Simplex, including one with a maritime mobile station in Portsmouth Harbor.