Introducing the NWS Gray SKYWARN Official Supporter Program

During our presentation for the Maine Virtual Hamfest last month, we mentioned the creation of a new program to encourage greater participation in SKYWARN. I’d like to personally invite your organization to consider becoming an Official Supporter of the NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team.

Due to the enormous size of the Weather Forecast Area that NWS Gray is responsible for, which includes most of western and southern Maine and the entire state of New Hampshire, the task of covering it for SKYWARN is challenging. The only way we can effectively cover all of it is to lean on the support of local nets spread out across the entire area. That’s where the Official Supporter program comes in.

Many hams are naturally weather enthusiasts and you may already know a few who are, but an interest in weather isn’t necessary to take part. When hams put their radio skills to use by volunteering as a SKYWARN radio operator, they practice one of the most important ways they can apply those communications skills. SKYWARN traffic occurs real time, during ongoing weather events, and forecasters use the information exchanged to create, update, and validate warnings, which can save lives.

Being part of the NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team is a meaningful way to experience the hobby while making a positive impact on our community.

As an Official Supporter, we recognize that your organization will embrace SKYWARN as a way to enhance the amateur radio experience, use it as a real-time training and preparedness tool to sharpen Emergency Communications skills, and to provide a vital service.

Thank you,

Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

Here’s how you can help:

Criteria to earn Official Supporter status:

  • Commit at least one (1) liaison to SKYWARN, and one (1) local Net Control operator (this can be the same person or different people within your organization.
  • Activate local nets as needed or as requested by NWS throughout the year.
  • Participate in regional drills and exercises throughout the year.
  • Maintain a list of trained SKYWARN Spotter ham radio operators within your organization.
  • Assist in hosting SKYWARN Spotter training in your area.
  • Actively support and promote the SKYWARN program within your organization and community.

What you’ll receive:

  • Guidance from NWS Gray SKYWARN leadership and support materials.
  • Access to the SKYWARN net reporting form.
  • Certificates and recognition for your team’s efforts throughout the year.
  • Official SKYWARN swag.
  • A special logo representing your team’s status as an Official NWS Gray SKYWARN Supporter.
  • Your organization will be listed on the NWS Gray SKYWARN website and in future press releases as an Official Supporter.

Click here for more information about the NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team.

2020 SKYWARN Recognition Day Review

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.

Here’s a picture of Eric N1RXR’s operating conditions Saturday evening!

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!

2020 SKYWARN Recognition Day

December 5, 2020 from 0000z to 2400z

SKYWARN™ Recognition Day was developed in 1999 by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League. It celebrates the contributions that volunteer SKYWARN™ radio operators make to the National Weather Service.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year we will not have access to the NWS Gray facility. Participants are encouraged to operate from their own homes.
If you’d like to use the WX1GYX call sign during the event, please click here to sign up for a time/band slot.

Participants are asked to log contacts in an electronic logging program and submit to kb1hnz@yahoo.com in an ADIF format.

During the periods that you’re not using the WX1GYX call sign, operators are encouraged to use their personal call signs and exchange their name, SRD number, and current weather conditions with other participating stations. The event website provides complete operating guidelines.

Radio amateurs may sign up for a SKYWARN Recognition Day number by completing a participant sign-up form.

73′

Tim Watson

KB1HNZ


SKYWARN Self-Activation Coordination Message 08/04/20

TROPICAL STORM ISAIAS UPDATE

Isaias is expected to track quickly through western New England early tonight. The majority of storm impacts will be felt in roughly a 6 hour period this evening.

Southerly winds are expected to increase in the early evening and gust to 40 to 60 mph at times as Isaias tracks near the Connecticut River Valley. This may be capable of downing some trees and power lines. In addition, there will be a threat for isolated tornadoes on the eastern side of Isaias. Winds will begin to diminish early Wednesday morning.

Rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches are expected, mainly in the Connecticut River Valley and White Mountains. This may lead to flash flooding in complex terrain or poor drainage areas, in addition to minor river flooding. Parts of the forecast area near the coast may see less than 1 inch of rainfall.

In general, the coastal flooding threat is low based on the forecast forward speed of Isaias, with any inundation likely less than a foot. Some splashover is expected tonight however. Rough surf and an increased risk for dangerous rip currents will be possible both ahead of Isaias this afternoon and behind it on Wednesday.

NEW INFORMATION

* CHANGES TO WATCHES AND WARNINGS:
– None

* CURRENT WATCHES AND WARNINGS:
– A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Central Somerset,
Interior Waldo, Kennebec, and Southern Somerset
– A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Androscoggin,
Belknap, Central Interior Cumberland, Cheshire, Coastal
Cumberland, Coastal Rockingham, Coastal Waldo, Coastal York,
Eastern Hillsborough, Interior Cumberland Highlands, Interior
Rockingham, Interior York, Knox, Lincoln, Merrimack, Northern
Carroll, Northern Coos, Northern Franklin, Northern Grafton,
Northern Oxford, Sagadahoc, Southern Carroll, Southern Coos,
Southern Franklin, Southern Grafton, Southern Oxford,
Strafford, Sullivan, and Western And Central Hillsborough
– A Tornado Watch is in effect for Cheshire, Hillsborough, Merrimack, Rockingham, Strafford, and Sullivan

* STORM INFORMATION:
– About 440 miles southwest of Portland ME or about 390 miles
southwest of Portsmouth NH
– 39.1N 76.1W
– Storm Intensity 70 mph
– Movement North-northeast or 20 degrees at 35 mph

SKYWARN Self-Activation will monitor Isaias for local impacts Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday morning. The rough time frame of worst conditions will be late Tuesday afternoon, into the early overnight hours of Wednesday, but some deteriorating conditions could start earlier, with lingering conditions lasting till around daybreak Wednesday morning depending on track, speed and intensity.

Weather spotters are encouraged to report significant weather conditions according to Standard Operating Procedures. Please activate local nets as necessary. Nets are expected to commence on the KQ1L link system and 147.090 repeater in Maine, beginning around 4:00 PM Tuesday afternoon, or as the storm dictates.

Reports may be emailed at any time to: gyx.skywarn@noaa.gov

Be alert and stay safe.

73′

Tim Watson
KB1HNZ