Friday, August 6, 2010

August and HOT HOT HOT

If we hadn't had one of the coldest winters in decades, I'd worry about the seemingly forever climbing temps. I'm personally convinced that the sun is up to something - like putting out more energy. It's happened before. At present, Mr. Sol is just coming out of an unusually calm and long minimal period and just beginning the climb to the maximum in it's 22-year cycle. I've read recently that we've been in an unusually long calm sun period for most of this century. Whee. Just in time to get active and send out coronal mass ejections and charged particles that will fry all those lovely communications satellites - but create beautiful Northern Lights. Wish I lived where I could actually see them. July and August have been sort of slow volunteer wise.

  • 4th of July: Served as Net Control for several radio operators stationed along Arlington's 4th of July Parade route. Arrived at 6:15am at the UTA "South 40" parking lot where parade floats and participants soon began lining up for the 9am start. There was so much noise in the parking lot and along the route that it was very difficult to hear what was being said. Next time noise blocking headset! Didn't leave until after noon when parade was completed and participants had already gone home. Afterward had lunch with some of the operators at Jason's Deli. For a drastic change, the weather was cloudy and relatively "cool" in the mid- to upper-80's, but with extremely high humidity!
  • July 7th: Monthly Outdoor Warning Siren Test was canceled about 9am because of clouds and potential pop-up storms. Naturally by 1pm, it was clear with nary a storm anywhere around.
  • July 15th: A Lt. from the Arlington PD supervised a group consisting of Citizens on Patrol members (COPS) and radio operators in a neighborhood door-to-door canvas seeking information or tips about a woman who had been missing for over a week. It was the first such joint effort in Arlington and seemed to go very well. Sadly, though some new tips were generated, I don't believe the woman has been located. While 7 small teams went door-to-door, I stayed with the Lt. and his small command vehicle. Temps were at 100 and the vehicle put out even more heat as the engine had to be run to keep his computers up. We're looking forward to participating with the police department more in the future.
  • About a week later or so, a small but intense storm cell crossed over the NW corner of Tarrant County. When I turned my radio on, I discovered one of the National Weather Service employees was seeking direct information from the radio community although no weather alert had gone out. Since no one else had done so (and it was apparent the NWS employee couldn't handle taking reports and do his job) I offered to take reports so he could spend his time watching radar, etc. Only took a couple of inconsequential reports as the cell was already dying out. I've never heard a NWS employee so very informational and wordy over the radio. Perhaps he is new. Very odd situation which I'm not sure I handled exactly right. It won't happen that way again. I've been wanting to take Emergency Communications II, but there's still some apparent confusion as to how the ARRL is combining II & III.
  • August 2nd - The City of Arlington Monthly Outdoor Warning Siren Test (try saying that 3 times fast!) - the City is experimenting with a proposed "Adopt a Siren" program utilizing radio operators and civilians, who call in to a special line, as observers of specific or assigned sirens. It's new. It had a few kinks, but those will be worked out before next month. Two of the observed the sirens had had their grounding wires severed with sections missing. Vandalism or copper thieves? City employees will do a spot check on others in the same area. As lightning does strike sirens from time to time, those grounding wires are an absolute necessity.

Abbreviation Key

AARC - Arlington Amateur Radio Club
- Amateur Radio Emergency Service
- Community Emergency Response Team
EMST - Emergency Management Support Team
- Emergency Operations Center - part of the OEM
FEMA - Federal Emergency Management Agency
- National Weather Service
NWS FWD - National Weather Service - Fort Worth/Dallas
OEM - Office of Emergency Management
- Public Service Event - ARES Net
RACES - Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services
- TExas Severe Storm Associaton