The ARES E-Letter for January 20, 2016


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January 20,
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE

ARES E-Letter Archive



In This Issue:


Answering The Call To Serve In Historic Missouri Flooding

ARES® Supports Major Flood Response in Pacific

GlobalSET 2015 is a Wrap, with Lessons

West Central Florida ARES/ACS Group Learns in

Winter Field Day at End of Month

Northern Indiana Hams Activate NWS Office for
SKYWARN™ Recognition Day

Letters: HOA Embraces Amateur Radio for

Tips for Beginning Net Control Operators

Sacramento EC Recognized for Past Service

See Something, Say Something

ARES in 2015

ARES Briefs, Links

First Geosynchronous
Orbit Amateur Radio Payload Could Aid Disaster Communication
(12/24/2015) — AMSAT figure and Virginia Tech researcher Bob McGwier, N4HY, reports
the Amateur Radio payload planned to go into geosynchronous orbit in 2017
will be like “a new ham band” for the Americas, available every hour of every
day. McGwier said the satellite’s geosynchronous orbit also makes it
viable for emergency and disaster communication. AMSAT-NA announced in
April that Amateur Radio would be a “hosted payload” on the geosynchronous
satellite that Millennium Space Systems (MSS) of California is under
contract to design, launch, and operate for the US government. More here.


Answering The Call To Serve In Historic Missouri Flooding

Amateur Radio operators put their skills to work during historic flooding
in the greater St. Louis area earlier this month. ARES® volunteers
from three counties contributed extensive time, talent and equipment to
emergency efforts. According to Bill Grimsbo, N0PNP, District C Emergency
Coordinator, “More than one hundred and seventy hours of volunteer service on the
part of Amateur Radio volunteers working with response agencies were
invested in District C during this emergency. These people commit their personal
time as well as working regular hours at jobs that represent a cross
section of America’s workforce for the greater good of the community.”

[According to the National Weather Service, a prolonged period
of rainfall occurred from December 26 to December 28, with the heaviest
rainfall occurring in a 50 to 75 mile wide swath from southwest Missouri
through the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan area and into central Illinois. Storm
total rainfall for this range was six to 12 inches. The heavy rainfall led
to life threatening flash flooding and historic river flooding. The rain in
this event capped off the wettest year on record for St. Louis at 61.24″.
(The old record was 57.96″ in 2008). – ed.]

More than
26 radio amateurs from St. Louis Metro ARES, St. Charles County ARES,
Illinois Section ARES, and St. Louis and suburban radio club members worked with
the American Red Cross in serving in excess of 19,400 meals and
coordinating more than 640 overnight stays. ARES and club operators were asked to help
coordinate communications among shelters in four counties and Red Cross
headquarters. On average, the volunteers worked six to eight hour shifts
using personal radio equipment while employing local repeaters maintained by
area radio clubs to pass messages. They worked with shelter staff to fulfill
the needs of hundreds displaced by severe flooding in the St. Louis area.

Much of the radio traffic was handled on a repeater
maintained by the Monsanto Amateur Radio Association, a repeater that had been
damaged by a lightning strike in August. Repairs were completed just weeks
prior to the onset of flooding in the area.

Amateur Radio operators in the greater St. Louis area have

Christopher Barber, WX5CW, remotely configuring repeaters to link via the Internet.
Jim Hart, KD0EUX, (standing) and Bob Rowland, K0RWR, operating at the Red
Cross HQ. (photo courtesy N0MTI)

knowledge and equipment to connect any agency to another when in
times of need,” Steve Wooten, KC0QMU, St. Louis Metro ARES Emergency
Coordinator said. “We can set up and be connected within an hour of responding to
the call for assistance.”

St. Charles County Division of
Emergency Management also called on ARES in that county to execute road
closure reconnaissance for emergency services. Volunteers also performed
“windshield” damage assessments where they drove by hundreds of homes, surveying
them for minor to catastrophic damage.

In a
demonstration of solidarity in this disaster, St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve County
ARES organizations worked together, assisting the Ste. Genevieve County
Emergency Management Agency with 24 hour walks to assess the condition of the
critical levees that protect lives and property in Ste. Genevieve County.

More than 20 people died in the historic flooding.
Hundreds were displaced from their homes as rivers, streams and lakes overflowed
banks and levees. Wastewater treatment facilities were overwhelmed and
some drinking water treatment facilities were shut down. President Obama
issued a Federal Disaster Declaration and the Federal Highway Administration
pledged $1 million for emergency highway repairs. — Janelle Haible, N0MTI,
St. Louis (Missouri) Metro ARES, Public Information Officer

ARES® Supports Major Flood
Response in Pacific Northwest

Once again, the Centralia
area in southwest Washington State was on Mother Nature’s target list for
December rains and local flooding. The week of December 2-8 brought
continuous rain to the Pacific Northwest with very heavy rains on Monday, December
7th. Three major rivers — the Chehalis, the Skookumchuck and the Newaukum
— quickly reached flood stage. The City of Centralia opened its Emergency
Operations Center (EOC) on Tuesday, December 9, to get ahead of the
potentially devastating flood waters. By 5 PM Tuesday, the Centralia ARES team was
activated on a 24 hour basis. During hours of darkness, team members
monitored the EOC Amateur Radio systems and helped set up the remainder of the
EOC for a full scale response on Wednesday.

During the
early morning hours of Wednesday, December 9th, two local creeks — China
Creek and Salzer Creek — overflowed their banks and inundated the Centralia
downtown area with water, before the major rivers had reached flood stage.
As a result of the Incident Action Plan issued at 8 AM Wednesday, ARES

Flooding in southwestern Washington State prompted ARES
response. (KD7OWN photo)

members began the second phase of their response duties, performing “windshield
surveys” to determine the extent and depth of water in each residential
area in the city. Additionally, teams monitored selected high water points to
provide eyes on the scene information on how fast flood waters were rising.
Throughout the day, hams reported conditions block by block, response area
by response area to the EOC and Incident Commanders.

Late in the day on Wednesday, the area caught a break when the rains slowed
and then stopped. By late Wednesday evening, even though the rivers were
still climbing to flood stage, emergency managers could breathe a sigh of
relief as it was clear the local flooding was not going to be the disaster
we’ve experienced before when Interstate 5 was closed for days due to water
over its roadway. Area wide, several dangerous landslides occurred and the
Hwy 12 over White Pass to Eastern Washington was closed as the road was
washed away in four locations. This pass will potentially remain closed for
weeks or even months as snow on the pass hinders roadway repairs.

In all, the ARES team deployed 75% of its members totaling just over
70 volunteer hours for the community. Each flood is different from the
last. Centralia ARES has worked through four major floods since 2007 and with
localized flooding almost every November or December. The ARES team
continues to refine its response techniques, drill on flood responses and work
with its served agencies to shape the way it provides disaster information to
the EOC. Flexibility has allowed the ARES team to be useful in several
different directions as we continue to serve our small community. — Bob
Willey, KD7OWN, Emergency Coordinator, Centralia Amateur Radio Emergency

2015 is a Wrap, with Lessons Learned

More than
three dozen countries took part in the 2015 Global Simulated Emergency Test
(GlobalSET) last month, organized by IARU Region 1 and designed in part to measure the disaster
readiness of Amateur Radio. IARU Region 1 Emergency Communications Coordinator
Greg Mossop, G0DUB, pointed out that the 2015 event differed from other
GlobalSETs held since 2006, which emphasized message handling and setting up
stations in the field.

“The IARU emergency
communications coordinators decided that the best way to achieve this would be to have
an availability or ‘call-out’ exercise,” Mossop said. “It asked all
countries with emergency communications groups to contact their members and ask
them how quickly they could get on the air if required.” The start of the
exercise was not announced in advance but propagated via a variety of
channels, including e-mail and social media. IARU regional coordinators chose
December 18 as being clear of most social and cultural events. A time limit of
up to 48 hours was set for potential responding organizations to complete
the local callout exercise and submit results via a web form.

The survey results covered an estimated 8466 members worldwide, of
which 2048 reported they could be available in less than 1 hour.

“This exercise occurred on a normal business day in many countries,”
Mossop said. “An availability rate of 20-30 percent of stations is very
good and does seem reasonable as a planning assumption for future

Mossop said the exercise identified a need to revise
or improve alerting procedures. “Where possible a mixture of methods should
be used for alerting members with automatic feedback of message delivery or
the response,” he said, adding that reliance on any single system, such as
e-mail, was not the best approach. Read more. — Thanks to Jim Linton, VK3PC; ARRL Letter

West Central Florida ARES/ACS Group Learns in

Largo, Florida – Private
citizens, amateur operators and CERT team members gathered last month at the new
Pinellas County EOC for a SKYWARN training class. Pinellas County is west of
Tampa, Florida, with a population of almost a million, exposed to severe
tropical weather on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Its county seat is
Clearwater, and its largest city is St. Petersburg. The class was hosted by the
Pinellas County ACS/ARES unit, along with their sponsoring agency, the
Pinellas County Emergency Management agency. The Pinellas County ARES and ACS
(Auxiliary Communications Service) are comprised of Amateur Radio operators
who provide support to government and other agencies as needed.

The class boasted 100 attendees, and was taught by Dan Noah, NOAA
Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the Ruskin, Florida National Weather
Service office. The class was welcomed to the new Pinellas County EOC by
Emergency Manager Sally Bishop, who said in part, “This effort on the part
of our ACS group netted the largest Spotter training class that Ruskin
National Weather Service has ever had. We are grateful for the community service
provided by the Spotters as it is a vital piece of the process that takes
place between the Weather Service and Emergency Management to ensure the
community is warned and as ready as possible for weather events.”

Noah said “SKYWARN is a program sponsored by your National Weather
Service (NWS) consisting of trained weather spotters who provide reports
of hazardous weather to help in the warning process. SKYWARN spotter reports
provide vital ‘ground truth’ to the NWS. These reports serve the NWS
mission of protecting life and property from the adverse impacts of severe
weather. Each year our Spotters donate their time and/or equipment to help the
NWS in the severe weather warning process.”

Parrott, KJ4RUS, Pinellas County ARES/ACS Radio Officer and Emergency
Coordinator said “We are helping our citizens become more aware of weather related
events such as tornados, lightning, and now the threat of El Nino by
providing them with preparedness tools such as this SKYWARN training. In doing
this, we help them to be better prepared for severe weather related events in
their communities.”

There are no prerequisites to
become a SKYWARN spotter, but spotters must be 18 years of age or older to
receive a SKYWARN certification and a spotter ID number.

Training included what to look for when reporting weather, what to report, how
to estimate hail size, wind speed and the format to use, i.e., “TEL,”
which means Time, Event, Location. Since El Nino will be a major weather factor
weather for the next few months, Noah detailed some of the added risks for

When asked about the effect of El Nino on
weather in Florida, Noah replied “El Nino, the warming of the waters in the
tropical Pacific, naturally occurs every 2 to 7 years. During an El Nino,
Florida has an increased risk of severe weather and flooding from January
through April as the upper level jet stream changes its path from north of
Florida to crossing central Florida. This allows environmental conditions to
become more favorable for severe weather more often. There will be about
seven or so nights this winter and spring where people will want to pay extra
attention to the weather as it moves through their area.” Noah suggested
having multiple ways to receive tornado warnings, including NOAA Weather Radio
and smart phone Apps. — Kevin Poorman, KC4VT, Public Information
Officer, Pinellas County, Florida, ARES/ACS Public Service

Winter Field
Day at End of Month

Winter Field Day is
held annually on the last full weekend of January. This month, it will be
held January 30-31, 1700Z-1700Z. The Winter Field Day Association (WFDA) is a
group of amateurs who sponsor this event. From their website, they believe
that emergency communications skills, practice and training in a winter
environment is as important as the preparations and exercising performed in
the more benign seasons. Winter conditions pose special environmental
challenges to operators in the field. WFDA’s stated goal is to “help enhance your
skills and ready you for all environmental conditions found in the US and
Canada during the spring, summer, fall, and winter.” For rules, click
here. Contact WFDA here. — Winter Field Day Association

Northern Indiana Hams Activate NWS Office for
SKYWARN™ Recognition Day

Fourteen operators from
various northern Indiana Amateur Radio clubs collaborated to activate the
National Weather Service office in North Webster for the 17th annual SKYWARN
Recognition Day (SRD) on December 5, 2015. When Michael Lewis, Warning
Coordination Meteorologist for the Northern Indiana NWS office, asked for a radio
club to organize the event, the Fort Wayne Radio Club accepted the task.
Jim Moehring, KB9WWM, District 3 ARES DEC, served as the point of contact for
volunteers to register. For security purposes at the NWS office, all
volunteer operators were required to pre-register for operating time slots to
gain access to the facility.

Setup began at 2030 UTC on
December 4. The set up team installed a custom made bracket to one of the
parking lot light poles, which served as the common mounting point for three
end-fed antenna matching boxes. The end-fed antennas have demonstrated
their effectiveness and ease of installation in several other field operations.
20-meter and 40-meter tuned end-fed wires were stretched to conveniently
located 30 foot tall light poles. Ropes were lifted over the light poles
using an extended painter’s pole. This avoided the hassles that are associated
with air cannons and slingshot projectiles for such placements. A
multiband Chameleon EMCOMM II end-fed
antenna was placed over a third light pole using the same technique. A
dual-band aluminum J-pole was placed 20 feet in the air on a telescoping aluminum
mast mounted in a heavy-duty tripod base. Coax was run from the four
antennas to a 4″ diameter pipe pass-through in the wall of the NWS office
directly into the operations conference room.

The entire four
antenna setup was completed before dusk at 2215 UTC. Three HF stations and
one VHF station were quickly connected to the coax with time to spare
before the 0000 UTC December 5 SKYWARN Recognition Day start time. The Northern
Indiana NWS was activated for the full 24 hour period of the event. HF
propagation ebbed and flowed during the event, but didn’t dampen the spirit of
the operators. Many contacts were made using IRLP via the K9DEW repeater
outside Warsaw. The repeater owner/trustee, Dewey Thrasher, K9DEW,
graciously permitted extended operation on his 145.13 MHz repeater IRLP node. Many
NWS offices were connected to the IRLP Eastern Reflector during the event.

The final QSO count of 181 total contacts included 46
other NWS offices. Some offices were contacted on multiple bands.
Approximately 2/3 of the QSOs were with individual hams not affiliated with NWS

The Northern Indiana NWS SKYWARN Recognition Day
operation succeeded with both goals: (1) Demonstrate communications continuity
between NWS offices when usual means are overloaded or non-functioning in
a disaster; and (2) Promote goodwill and positive public relations between
amateur operators and the National Weather Service. Following the event,
Michael Lewis sent congratulations to all the operators who supported the
Northern Indiana operation along with a certificate of appreciation from the
NWS. – ARRL Indiana Section Newsletter, December 2015

Letters: HOA Embraces Amateur
Radio for Emergencies

A new club has formed in
Gainesville, Virginia — the Heritage Hunt Hams. Heritage Hunt is a gated, 55
plus community of 1800 homes near the intersection of Highway 66 and
Highway 29, about 30 miles west of Washington DC. Two dozen amateurs participate
in an annual emergency exercise for the community. Eighty trained emergency
volunteers (many of whom are doctors, nurses, firemen, policemen, and
military officers) participate in the same exercise. The hams are the primary
source of communication. The HOA has purchased radios, power supplies and 2
meter/440 MHz antennas for four locations, supported by emergency power.
The group’s amateurs offer support to the Prince William ARES organization
for emergencies at the western end of the county. — Dr. Tim Tatum,
K6SLK/4, Gainesville, Virginia

Tips for Beginning Net Control Operators

Here in
northwest Ohio, we have acquired many new hams and encourage them to
operate as net control station (NCS) for various routine nets to gain them
experience, providing us with a pool of competent net controllers in the event of
an emergency/disaster. Here are some of the basic tips we convey to our
novice net control stations for a smoothly running net:

· Get a glass of water or something to drink.

· Make yourself comfortable. Sit in a good location with plenty of room
on a desk or table to write.

· Have a good writing
instrument and a back-up along with an extra piece of paper in case you
need to jot down notes.

· Take your time; go at your
own pace. Remember, you are in control of the net and the frequency.

· Don’t worry about making mistakes; there are no
mistakes to be made.

· To handle the crowd that is
trying to check in, you will develop your own way.

Stop stations from checking in (“Let’s hold it for a minute”) until you are
caught up.

· Weak stations and stations who give
their call signs too fast, are always a problem — skip them at first. Go
back later for repeats.

· Write your log as you see
fit. You are the one that has to read it.

Headphones are a good idea — they help you focus on what you are hearing and
help keep you from getting distracted.

As I mentioned
before, there are no mistakes, only experience. When you’ve finished the net
that is what you will have. — Steve Bellner, W8TER, Maumee, Ohio

Sacramento EC Recognized for
Past Service

At the January 9, 2016, Sacramento
County (California) ARES Training Class held at Metro Fire District Station
106, past Sacramento County ARES Emergency Coordinator John Staples, KI6ZWW,
received a plaque “in appreciation for all of his time and hard work spent
to improve Sacramento County ARES and RACES during 2012-2015.” District 3 EC
Greg Kruckewitt, KG6SJT, and Sacramento County Assistant EC Vince
Cracchiolo, KI6NHP, presented the award on behalf of all members of Sacramento
County ARES/RACES and the Sacramento County Office of Emergency Services.

Sacramento County ARES officials held its first training
meeting for 2016 on January 9, at the Metro Fire Training Center Station 106
in Sacramento. Training was based on an Emergency Communications course,
which is part of the Disaster Deployment Core Training. For more information,
and course materials, click here. — ARRL Sacramento Section News

See Something, Say Something

Amateur Radio plays a significant role in communication before, during and
after local crisis but we are always communicating so we may be the
first to see and hear things of a suspicious nature. The nature of our
community outreaches and partnerships allow us to quickly communicate as a
team. Let’s help keep our nation safe and secure by keeping a watchful eye and
ear for potential threats. Find additional information on the Homeland
Security website at and
contact local law enforcement authorities directly to report suspicious
activities. To learn more about identifying suspicious activities, see the DHS
website. Be Safe and Help Protect Our Safety. – ARRL Maryland-DC Section


Based on reports submitted by ARRL Section Emergency
Coordinators, with 33 out of 71 sections reporting in, here’s what we know about
the state of ARES in 2015:

Total ARES Members:
2015 — 17,756 2014 — 10,471