2021 SKYWARN Recognition Day Review

On Saturday, December 4th, members of the NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team activated WX1GYX for SKYWARN Recognition Day, an annual event that celebrates the contributions that SKYWARN volunteers across the country make to their communities.

Radio operations began at 0000 UTC on December 4th and continued for 24 hours, with either a weather report or SRD number being exchanged. SRD isn’t a contest, but a fun on-air activity with many different participants, including SKYWARN Net Control operators, SKYWARN spotters, regular hams, ARES volunteers, and even DX stations, taking part.

SRD isn’t just for radio operators, either! SKYWARN is a national network of volunteer severe weather spotters, many of whom are not hams. Over 4,500 spotters took part in the SRD National Spotter Check-In, which mapped their locations across the country.

Similar to last year, the NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team could not activate from the National Weather Service Forecast Office, due to COVID-19 restrictions, so they created a shared Google Sheet and encouraged radio volunteers to choose a time and band slot to operate as WX1GYX, either from a portable location, or their own homes. The effort was successful in giving NWS Gray an on-air presence during the event.

Special thanks to: Eric N1RXR (D-STAR, Echolink, and FM), Tom N1KTA (Echolink), Tim KB1HNZ (HF SSB, HF Digital, and DMR), Stefania K1GJY (HF SSB), Susan WB2UQP (HF SSB), and Jason W1SFS (HF SSB)., for contributing logs! WX1GYX logged 45 different states, 7 different NWS Offices, and 59 SKYWARN Spotters, for a total of 195 QSOs during the event. Great job, everyone!

Click here to view the SRD Check-in map and learn more about SKYWARN Recognition Day.

2021 SKYWARN Recognition Day Nationwide Check-In

A new feature for 2021 SKYWARN Recognition Day is the Nationwide Check-in.

SRD organizers and the NWS want to see where all of our SKYWARN Spotters are across the country! Check in using this simple form and represent your community.

All SKYWARN spotters are encouraged to participate! This is a fun way that SKYWARN Spotters who aren’t ham radio operators can also take part in the SRD activities.

73′

Tim Watson
KB1HNZ

2021 SKYWARN Recognition Day is December 4th!

2021 SKYWARN Recognition Day is December 4, from 0000Z – 2359Z

For 22 years, SKYWARN™ Recognition Day, developed jointly by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League, celebrates the contributions that volunteer SKYWARN™ radio operators make to the National Weather Service.

Similar to last year, because of COVID-19 restrictions, ham operators will not have access to the NWS Gray facility, but we encourage you to take turns activating the WX1GYX call sign, either from your home stations, portable, or mobile, during the event.

If you’d like to use the WX1GYX call sign during SRD, please click here to sign up for a time/band slot. We hope to have at least one operator from each of the counties in the NWS Gray Weather Forecast area, so spread the word!

Participants are asked to log contacts in an electronic logging program, such as N1MM, and submit to kb1hnz@yahoo.com in an ADIF format.

During the periods that you’re not using the WX1GYX call sign, operators may also use their personal call signs to exchange their name, SRD number (which can be obtained here) and current weather conditions with other participating stations.

The event website provides complete operating guidelines, including the suggested exchange. SRD is a fun on-air activity that feels very much like a contest, but its informal. There’s no rules or band limitations. You can even use repeaters!


73′

Tim Watson
KB1HNZ

Cumberland County ECT Training Net Tonight at 7:00 PM

Please join us TONIGHT at 7:00 PM on the W1QUI 147.090 (+ / 100) repeater, for our monthly Emergency Communications Training. This will be our first hybrid in-person and on-air drill, in which we’ll be testing out radios and equipment at the CCEMA Bunker, so your participation from home will be important.

We’ll first meet on the repeater, where we can exchange traffic and share announcements, and once everyone’s checked-in, we’ll move over to 146.580 simplex for a roll call. On simplex, we’ll exchange signal reports with each other and note how well everyone can copy each other, and the station at the bunker.

The training portion will include sending radiogram replies to messages as part of an ongoing Amateur Radio / MARS Interoperability exercise.

Over the next two months, we’ll be making use of other modes and bands, focusing on developing skills, such as familiarity with message forms, traffic handling, using modes like FM Simplex, Winlink, Packet, and the FLDigi suite, to prepare for the upcoming Simulated Emergency Test (SET), which takes place in October.

Catch you on the air!

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

SKYWARN Spotter Training and Business Meeting this Thursday!

Please join us this Thursday, May 13th, from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM, at 200 U.S. Route 1, Suite 210, Scarborough, ME, for virtual SKYWARN Spotter Training, followed by our monthly business meeting.

From 6:00 to 7:15, we’ll log into NWS Gray’s virtual SKYWARN Spotter Training, which will focus on spring and summer storms, including thunderstorm development. The direct link to the SKYWARN training, if you’d like to join from home can be found here (click on the Training tab):

https://www.weather.gov/gyx/skywarn

Once the SKYWARN training is complete, we’ll begin our monthly business meeting. On the agenda, we’ll be previewing 2021 ARRL Field Day, which takes place June 26-27. We’ll also talk about new membership outreach and development processes that were voted on last session, and an upcoming EmComm drill that will take place this Saturday.

If you’d like to join us remotely, here’s the dial-in instructions:

Dial-in number (US): (425) 436-6366
Access code: 2618168#
International dial-in numbers: https://fccdl.in/i/kb1hnz
Online meeting ID: kb1hnz
Join the online meeting: https://join.freeconferencecall.com/kb1hnz

For additional assistance connecting to the meeting, text ‘Call Me’ to the Dial-in number above and you will be called into the conference. Message and data rates may apply.

See you there!

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

WSSM-ECT Training Net 04/22/21 Net Report

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the WSSM-ECT Training Net for Thursday, April 22nd! We had 12 check-ins on the repeater and 2 on DMR. The net started on time, at 7:00PM. Tim KB1HNZ served as moderator.

One announcement was made by Dave KB1FGF, who mentioned having a 4-way coax switch available for free to anyone who needed one, and he was also looking to sell his Connect Systems CS801 DMR radio.

The topic for the evening was SKYWARN, which focused on some of the things that a new Net Control station should be aware of, including where to find information about approaching hazardous weather, when and how to activate a net, on which frequency to operate, what to ask for, and how to log reports.

Tim KB1HNZ talked about the new SKYWARN Official Supporter program that was rolled out on Tuesday, which is designed to encourage more participation in SKYWARN from the ham radio club and EmComm group level.

Eric N1RXR talked about some of his experiences operating as Net Control for SKYWARN, and stressed the importance of good listening and asking for a specific location when taking reports.

Following the net on the repeater, we took call-ups for weather reports on the DMR SKYWARN Talk Group (759) to help familiarize participants with the SKYWARN talk group.

Net Participants:

  • KB1FGF Dave, Scarborough, ME (FM)
  • KB1IIR Luke, Madison, NH (FM)
  • K5RN Frank, Planto, TX (Echolink)
  • KC1OLX Tom, Gorham, ME (FM)
  • KC1JMH Brad, Waterboro, ME (FM & DMR)
  • KC1OER Norris, Portland, ME (FM)
  • N1RXR Eric, New Gloucester, ME (FM)
  • KC1NZD Rick, Peaks Island, ME (FM)
  • KC1HBL Ben, Buxton, ME (FM)
  • WX1D B.J., Kennebunk, ME (FM & DMR)
  • KU1U, Corey, Sabattus, ME (Echolink)
  • W1QUI, George, Auburn, ME (FM)

This was a fun training. SKYWARN is an important topic that we’ll be revisiting again in the future, and we’ll also work on getting more involvement on the DMR side of things, by helping to update code plugs and programming radios if needed.

73′

Tim

KB1HNZ

WSSM-ECT Net – Tonight at 7PM!

Please join us this evening, at 7:00 PM on the W1QUI 147.090 (+ / 100) repeater, for our monthly ECT Training!

We’ll first meet on the repeater, where we’ll exchange traffic and share announcements, and introduce our topic for the evening, which will be SKYWARN. We’ll talk about the SKYWARN activation process, how a typical net occurs, and answer any questions that come up.

After that, we’ll move over the the DMR SKYWARN Talk Group (759), where we’ll take do a call up for weather reports (which may be real or simulated).

Catch you on the air!

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

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.

NWS Gray Announces Virtual SKYWARN Weather Spotter Training

Help your National Weather Service by becoming a SKYWARN storm spotter! Storm spotters report large hail, damaging wind, tornadoes and flooding. Spotter training will teach you how to identify and report severe weather as well as how to maintain awareness, which will help keep you and your loved ones safe, and may even save the lives of others!

Where: Your Home

When: Monday, May 3rd, at 6:00 PM, Thursday, May 13th, at 6:00 PM, & Tuesday, May 18th, at 6:00 PM.

Cost: FREE to all those interested in weather!

Please visit: https://www.weather.gov/gyx/skywarn to register. You can also contact Donald Dumont: donald.dumont@noaa.gov for additional information on this training.

The 2021 Maine Virtual Hamfest

Thanks to the efforts of Joe Grace W1SK and Cory Golob KU1U, who put in countless hours to make it a reality, hams around the state, and elsewhere, gathered for the Maine Virtual Hamfest, on Saturday, March 6th! With in-person events still being cancelled due to the pandemic, this was the perfect opportunity to get caught up on all things ham radio in Maine.

The Maine Virtual Hamfest offered many of the same features you’d expect to see at a regular hamfest, including presentations, club meetings and talks, a place to socialize and make “eyeball QSOs” and even a virtual flea market.

The highlight of the event were the presentations, and the most anticipated of those was “Optimizing Your Audio,” by Bob Heil K9EID. There were also presentations on FT8, antennas, SKYWARN, and an ARRL forum, where attendees could learn about what was going on around the state and at the New England and national level at ARRL.

Bob Heil K9EID presenting “Optimizing Your Audio” during the 2021 Maine Virtual Hamfest

The Wireless Society of Southern Maine was represented by Eric Emery N1RXR and Tim Watson KB1HNZ, who gave a presentation at 9:30 Saturday morning, about the NWS Gray Amateur Radio SKYWARN program. Click here to view the recorded presentation.

“From our perspective, the Maine Virtual Hamfest was a huge success, and we were proud to be a part of it,” said Eric Emery. “Hopefully, we can all meet in person next year, but if not, this is a fantastic model to go by if it needs to be done this way again.”

If you were busy on the 6th and didn’t have a chance to attend any of the presentations, they were all recorded and are available on the Maine ARRL YouTube page.

Click here to visit the Maine Virtual Hamfest website.