Category Archives: News

Hurricane Irma closing in on Florida Keys, coming into Tennessee next Tuesday

As of this posting, Hurricane Irma is back to a Category 5, with 160MPH sustained winds.

Overnight last night it moved on a more westerly track, putting its eye over the Florida Keys and the Gulf side of Florida’s peninsula.

Hurricane Irma (via The Weather Channel)

It is still projected to strike Florida as a Category 5, or a high Category 4 when it makes landfall.

As of 11PM EDT on 9/8/2017, LOCATION: 22.1°N, 77.7°W – 120 mi ESE of CAIBARIEN CUBA.

As it makes its way north through Florida over the weekend, East Tennesseans will want to pay attention early next week as forecast models have the remnants of Irma over northern Georgia and/or Alabama and into Tennessee late Monday through Tuesday. In some models, the center of Irma could come into Tennessee, drift West, then turn towards the East, possibly bringing tropical storm-force winds, and dumping torrential rainfall in the area and causing flooding issues as it changes directions.

Forecast models showing various possible paths of Irma (via weather Underground)

Irma’s death toll stands at 22 but it may climb as it makes partial landfall in Cuba before crossing into Florida.

Stay tuned to your local television and radio outlets, listen to NOAA Weather Radio for the latest, and listen to East Tennessee SKYWARN on 146.940 (alternate 146.625 MHz) as conditions warrant.

Amateur Radio Preparations Continue for Category 4 Hurricane Harvey; Flooding Most Significant Fear

As now-Category 4 Hurricane Harvey bears down on his state, ARRL South Texas Section Manager Lee Cooper, W5LHC, reports that all 97 South Texas counties are on alert, with many preparing to assist coastal areas as needed. The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) remains active in “Catastrophic Response Mode” on both 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz. The VoIP Hurricane Net activated today (connect at *WX_TALK* Echolink conference node: 7203/IRLP 9219. Stations on All-Star can connect to the Echolink side of the system by dialing *033007203). The Southern Territory SATERN Net will activate at least for one day on Saturday, from 0900 until 2000 CT on its regular frequency of 7.262 MHz. WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center activated at 2100 UTC on Friday.

“Our West Gulf Division Communications Task Forces (Rapid Response Teams) are preparing for possible activation into any devastated areas,” Cooper told ARRL. “Several emergency operations centers (EOCs) are activated, and most others are on alert and preparing to activate as needed. The state EOC is activated and fully operational. Army MARS is ramping up and getting ready to deploy to assist in evacuations.”

Read more:

via American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources http://ift.tt/2vxbA9s

Solar Eclipse Forecast UPDATE – 8/15/17 (Improving conditions)

With next Monday’s Solar Eclipse fast approaching, the weather continues to trend positively for good viewing in East Tennessee.

The 5AM briefing today shows temperatures in the upper 80s/lower 90s, and a decrease in expected precipitation. Cloud cover is trending down as well.

The Eclipse is scheduled to begin at about 1:30 PM EDT  for most of the East Tennessee region, with Totality coming just after 2:30 PM EDT for Blount, West Knox, McMinn, Morgan, Roane, Loudon, Bledsoe, Van Buren, Polk, Monroe, Meigs, Rhea, and Cumberland counties in the region, with the southern tips of Anderson and Sevier counties also experiencing totality.

Eclipse Path through East Tennessee (NWS Morristown)

If you plan to watch the Eclipse, be prepared for heavy traffic congestion along many major roadways along the path of totality. Also, be sure you use proper eye protection (Licensed goggles are selling out across the region) and prepare for lower temperatures as Totality approaches.

Clingman’s Dome will be closed off to only those who have purchased special passes to see the Eclipse from the highest spot east of the Mississippi River to experience Totality. Passes for the event sold out within minutes of becoming available months ago.

Many areas along the path (including Sweetwater) will have special events and festivals that lead up to the Eclipse. With millions of people expected to travel to locations within the path of totality across the US, expect heavy traffic and congestion along many roadways throughout the region. Plan to leave early if you are travelling to a location within the path.

Below is the PDF from the NWS Morristown for today.

2017-08-17_5AM_EclipseForecast

Net Control Stations NEEDED!

East Tennessee SKYWARN is in need of additional volunteers to call the nets as they occur.

If you are interested in becoming a Net Control Station (NCS), please contact Greg Williams, K4HSM.

The only requirements are:

  • A Technician class Ham Radio license or higher
  • SKYWARN Spotter training (or scheduled to take training)
  • Reliable radio setup that can reach the SKYWARN repeaters
  • Available to call a net if needed (we are looking particularly for stations to be available during daytime hours)
  • Ability to multitask
  • Ability to handle traffic and pass important information to the National Weather Service via phone, internet, or radio traffic.
  • Passion for weather

East Tennessee SKYWARN is a community service and is only affiliated with the National Weather Service. It is not an organization, club or LLC. We report directly to the NWS and operate on repeaters with the owner’s/trustee’s permission. Participants in the nets only need to be licensed and safely monitor weather in their area.

East Tennessee SKYWARN has served the ham radio community in the region for over 20 years. Our nets are monitored by scanner listeners and media outlets across the region.

Again, please contact Greg Williams, K4HSM if you would like to volunteer. Thanks!

Chuck Angel, K4KKH – SK

This is an overdue posting but one I really do NOT want to make.

Charles “Chuck” Angel, K4KKH passed away suddenly Thursday, August 3rd. He was 60.

Charles David Angel “K4KKH”, age 60 of Knoxville, Tennessee, passed away on August 3, 2017. He is survived and will always be missed by devoted wife Sandra Angel; children Amy (Jason) King and Kevin (Amanda) Angel; grandchildren Jordan (Mason), Erik, Brianna and Nathan; sisters Dana (Avery) Zachary and Tracey Green; Aunt Bonnie Shields; several nieces and nephew, extended family and friends.

Chuck was the Coordinator for District 5 here in East Tennessee (Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Knox, Loudon, and Union Counties) and he was a good friend.

He had been experiencing some health issues over the years but his passing was unexpected. I was working near his home QTH and was planning to run by his house since I had not seen him in a few weeks to drop off some souvenirs I picked up at the Dayton Hamvention to give to him. I received a call from his wife to tell me the news of his passing.

It was an honor and a privilege to call him a friend. He will be missed by the SKYWARN community and the National Weather Service in Morristown.

Tornadoes hit New Orleans

At least 6 tornadoes hit the New Orleans area in Louisiana on Tuesday. East New Orleans was especially hard hit as hundreds of buildings were damaged or destroyed and over 10,000 customers were without power.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency in the wake of the storms.

Videos of the tornadoes are being posted on social media:


 

 



The tornadoes also hit the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility as well:


 

Wildfires in Smokies engulf Gatlinburg, parts of Pigeon Forge (UPDATE 12/8)

The worst-case scenario for the drought mixed with wildfires has occurred, as 50+ MPH high winds in the mountains have fueled a wildfire near the Chimney Tops trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and spread into Gatlinburg ahead of a high-precip system.

Now, the rain may not even be enough to quell the fires that erupted Monday, forcing the entire city of Gatlinburg and parts of Pigeon Forge to evacuate. As of now, officially, 30+ buildings are engulfed, but social media images show much more damage is occurring.

The ominous sign of danger occurred this afternoon as dark skies obscured the Sun in an otherwise clear sky. As the prevailing winds carried the embers from the Chimney Tops along the forest downwind, officials began preparing and evacuating residents from some of the remote areas in the woods. However, the fire jumped the Newfound Gap Road and raged into the southern end of Gatlinburg, threatening the Park Vista Hotel. The winds continued to roar and spread the fire throughout the park, threatening areas such as Ober Gatlinburg and the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Power, telephone, and cell phone services are out in Gatlinburg.

With barely any rain falling in over a month, the ultra dry conditions fueled the wildfire and the wind spread the wildfire into Gatlinburg at sundown.

Live updates via Knoxville News-Sentinel

Emergency crews from around the region are responding to the wildfire with firefighting equipment, traffic and medical aid and shelter assistance.

As of now TEMA officials are requesting that evacuees not use their cell phones except in an emergency as the cellular networks are overburdened, due in part to several cellular towers offline.

2AM update from TEMA

UPDATE 12/8

It has been an extraordinary 10 days. As of now, 14 deaths have been reported, over 17,000 acres have burned, and 2 juveniles have been arrested in connection with the Chimney Tops 2 Fire that spread into Gatlinburg on November 28.

Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park have been closed since the wildfire, and opening on a day-to-day basis for residents and business owners to assess damages to their structures and homes.

As of now, 2,460 structures are damaged or destroyed. The city of Gatlinburg has set up a web site to assist with relief efforts and for volunteers to offer their time.

Several wildfires across East Tennessee

Wildfire smoke causing poor visibility, Air Quality Alerts

Over the past couple of weeks, several wildfires have occurred across East Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, and Georgia, and smoke from these fires has resulted in several Air Quality alerts.

Most recently, the Walland, TN community in Blount County was affected by a major wildfire, currently spread over 1000 acres in mountainous areas, closing the Elementary School for a couple of days as the threat of the wildfire got close.

In Grainger County, a wildfire on Clinch Mountain threatens several homes, as well as a tower that houses several communications systems, including the 147.030 / 443.450 Lakeway Amateur Radio Club repeater. The repeaters were removed from the site and is off the air indefinitely.

The smoggy conditions are the result from lack of rain, low winds, and several fires simultaneously occurring, sending smoke into the region, even from out of state.

The cause of many of these wildfires is unknown, however, arson is suspected in many of them. Arrests have been made in some instances.

With very little rain in the forecast, poor air quality conditions are likely to continue through the Thanksgiving holiday into the weekend.

FCC Approves New Emergency Alert System “Event Codes” for 2017 Hurricane Season

The FCC has added three new “event codes” to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) for the 2017 hurricane season. The new rules apply to EAS and NOAA Weather Radio (NWR). Two of the EAS codes correspond to a potential Storm Surge Watch/Warning. The National Weather Service (NWS) is still developing and seeking comments on a Storm Surge Watch/Warning for operational use in 2017. The new codes are:

Extreme Wind Warning (EWW): The EWW is an existing operational warning NWS uses for advance notice of sustained surface wind speeds of 115 MPH or greater during major hurricanes. All NWS Gulf and East Coast Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) issue the EWW.

Storm Surge Watch (SSA): The NWS may issue an SSA for the gulf and east coasts when life-threatening inundation is possible from rising water moving inland in the specified area, generally within 48 hours. Weather forecast offices could issue the SSA for tropical, subtropical, or post-tropical cyclones. A WFO may issue the watch even earlier, when conditions such as tropical storm-force winds might limit response time for evacuations or other action. A WFO may also issue the watch for locations that could be isolated by inundation in adjacent areas.

Storm Surge Warning (SSW): WFOs may issue an SSW for the gulf and east coasts when tropical inundation is more imminent — generally within 36 hours. NWS may issue a warning when other conditions, such as the onset of tropical storm-force winds, are expected to reduce the time available to evacuate or take other actions. Like the watch, NWS may issue the warning when an area could be isolated by inundation.

For all three new codes, NWS receivers that provide a limited, caption-like message display will likely show “UNKNOWN WARNING” or “UNKNOWN WATCH.” Receivers equipped with Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) will activate with SAME alarm tones. Receivers equipped with the 1,050 Hz Warning Alarm will activate a tone. The NWS Dissemination Team will work with receiver manufacturers to add the new codes to newly manufactured NWR SAME receivers.

Beginning with the 2017 hurricane season, NWS will request an EAS activation using the EWW event code. If the NWS decides to make the SSW operational in 2017, the NWS will request EAS activation for the Storm Surge Warning. In most jurisdictions, the NWS will notrequest EAS activation for the Storm Surge Watch. WFOs are now reaching out to state and local Emergency Communications Committees, state and local emergency management agencies, and broadcasters’ associations for help in implementing the new codes. Local WFOs may issue public information statements and update WFO web pages and air public service announcements over NWR. These service changes will be further discussed at outreach events and with seasonal hurricane program briefings.

The FCC order does not require an upgrade of existing equipment already in use. The FCC “will allow EAS participants to upgrade their existing equipment to include the new event codes” on a voluntary basis; however, EAS equipment manufacturers are required to “make necessary software upgrades to EAS participants” by March 12, 2017. In most cases, broadcasters only need to obtain and implement the manufacturer-provided software update.

For more information, see the Weather-Ready Nation information fact sheet summarizing these changes, and check the list of frequently asked questions. — Thanks to the National Weather Service

via HACKADAY: Better Tornado Warnings with Polygons and Pi

Everyone pays close attention to the weather, but for those who live where tornadoes are prevalent, watching the sky can be a matter of life and death. When the difference between making it to a shelter or getting caught in the open can be a matter of seconds, it might make sense to build an internet enabled Raspberry Pi weather alert system.

We know what you’re thinking – why not just buy an off-the-shelf weather alert radio with Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) reporting, or just rely on a smartphone app? As [Jim Scarborough] explains, living in the heart of Tornado Alley and having had a brush with tragedy as a kid teaches you not to be complacent with severe weather. He found a problem with the SAME system: lack of locational granularity below the county level, leading to a tendency to over-warn during tornado season. [Jim]’s build seeks to improve SAME by integrating National Weather Service polygon warnings, which define an area likely to see a severe weather event as a collection of geographic vertices rather than a political unit. He’s using a Raspberry Pi NOAA weather radio receiver with SAME decoding, and while details are sparse and the project is ongoing, the idea seems to be to use the Pi to scrape the NWS site for polygon data once a county-level warning is issued.