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.

More Amateur Radio Upgrades In Savannah

Congratulations to the following operators on thier license class upgrades today. Great job guys!

Bill Taylor-KC4HXJ, upgrade to Amateur Extra
Kirk Meals-KJ4PTP, upgrade to General

Appreciate the VEs who administered the exams today, especially Bob-W4WTO for the use of his facility, and Steve-K4SDJ for his expertise in the administration process.

We've had a great year for new licensees and upgrades. Here are the totals

Technicians - 14
General - 5
Extra - 6

Friday, December 4, 2009

Skywarn Recognition Day

This Saturday, Dec 5th is Skywarn Recognition Day. Amateur Radio operators across the country will be operating radio stations at NWS offices trying to make contact with other NWS offices and as many hams as possible to celebrate the contributions that volunteer Skywarn radio operators make to the National Weather Service. This year, Amateur Radio Operators from Savannah have been asked to operate a shift at the NWS Charleston amateur radio station. I will be heading up to Charleston tonight with Mac-KF4LMT and Dan-KF4MND to work the midnight to 0530 local shift at the NWS Charleston station. We'll be active on HF and VHF using the callsign WX4CHS, so listen out for us. As part of the special event operation, the contact exchange will consist of call sign, signal report, location, and a one or two word description of the weather. Mac-KF4LMT will be making blog posts and Twitter updates from the station. Will update again tomorrow with some pictures from the station.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chatham County EOC Activated Today

As many of you know, the CEMA EOC activated today to be ready to deal with possible impact of the severe weather that we had in the area today. We have a HAM station (N4CEM) at both EOC locations and CEMA considers us a valuable part of thier backup communications plan. Consequently, we were asked to man the station during the activation. I arrived at the station at about 3:00pm and stay until the event was terminated at about 8:00pm. Things went pretty well from our perspective. Got good radio checks and great participation from our local HAM community. Although the weather proved to be uneventfull for us, it was still a great opportunity to practice our procedures. I discovered a few shortcomings with the station that we'll address. But hey, that's why we go through the motions. Each activation provides us with valuable information that'll make us even better for the next one. Special thanks to the following operators.....hope I don't leave anyone out.


"When all else fails......amateur radio."