Saturday, December 5, 2009

NWS Charleston Skywarn Recognition Day

We had a great visit to the National Weather Service in Charleston this weekend to operate the amateur radio station WX4CHS for the Skywarn Recognition Day event. I picked up Mac-KF4LMT at about 1945 and we met Dan-KF4MND at the Cracker Barrell just after 2000. After we grabbed a late dinner we hit the road to Charleston around 2100. It rained the whole way. In fact it rained the whole time we were there and the whole way back. But we got to the NWS office near the airport just before 2300. Bobby-W4SKD met us at the front door and we signed in for the evening. We took a quick tour around the center and met the forecasters that were working the mid shift. Let me tell you, they are some weather watchin fools. All kinds of monitors and radars and such and they were constantly updating forecasts and other information throughout thier shift. It was good to spend some time with them and learn more about the NWS. Bobby then gave us a quick run down on the radio station and we began to operate right away. Dan setup some nice Echolink connectivity between a station in Summerville and our home station in Savannah. This allowed for us to talk from the NWS back to Savannah on 2 meters and coordinate with several of our buddies about where we would be operating on HF. I started out on 80 meters using the Icom-746 and quickly contacted several stations back in Savannah. Greg-N4VAD and Jerry-W4SGA among them. As Dan began making some VHF contacts on the South Carolina Linked Repeater System, I began to search for and make contact with several other National Weather Service Stations across the country. Some included:
- Morehead City, NC
- PeachTree City, GA
- DeMoines, IA
- Upton, NY
- Morristown, TN
During the course of the evening we all got a chance to operate the station and make quite a few contacts considering the time of day. Mac did a great job of leveraging his blog and Twitter to provide real time updates on our activities to include photos. The time really flew by and before we knew it it was already 0500. So we thanked the forecasters and our great HAM host Bobby and hit the road back to Savannah. We had a really great time there and have plans to strenghthen our relationship with the NWS and our radio friends in South Carolina. Even talks about figuring out how we can link one of the Savannah area repeaters into the South Carolina repeater system specifically for Skywarn purposes. We arrived back in Savannah about 0730 and met some of our other radio pals at breakfast. Overall a great "radio field trip". Already looking forward to next year.

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