Tag Archives: news

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.”

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

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.