Friday, December 23, 2011

 * * * Merry Christmas * * *

To each and all who drop in now and then to see what's happening in my world, my family and I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, a wonderful holiday season and a safe and prosperous New Year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

CERT Pot Luck, AARC Christmas Party & Jingle Bell Run

CERT Christmas Pot-Luck - December 21st:  Held at the Fire Training Center. With Irish and Matt from the OEM, there were maybe 15 or 18 of us there. Nice camaraderie. Sincere thank yous and kudos from Irish Hancock, head of the OEM, who said it might not seem that important but CERT assistance with EOC activations, even if just to answer phones, set out food, was invaluable. A bit about the upcoming all day FEMA Damage Assessment course (once we're trained they are going to assign specific teams to specific areas of the city for immediate assessment for events such as flooding, weather, fires and others to report in to the OEM primarily via an IPad link to use to make more specific resource assignments, etc. Also in the works in POD training. Not sure how this is going to work with plans the Tarrant County Health Department already has in place. Pleasant if short gathering.

AACR party - December 8th: At the Black Eyed Pea in Lincoln Square in Arlington. About 25 attended. The person named Radio Operator of the Year wasn't present, so name wasn't announced. The ICOM raffle was won by one of the women in the club, and a few gifts were brought for an Exchange. Not far from the Ball Park and Cowboy Stadium.

Jingle Bell Run - December 3rd: After last year's disaster of slow runners/walkers having to finish the route in the dark (a handful made a wrong turn in the almost pitch black), this year's event started at 8:45 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.  It would be so helpful if whoever organized these things actually walked the route in advance. Some of the radio guys had to move cones that misdirected walkers and then had to find a key to open a gate that allowed walkers on to a certain section of the path. Radio operators needed to be there by 6:30. It was dark, a bit foggy with light rain. By the time participants began to arrive the rain had stopped, at least for a while. I'd not previously met the man serving as Net Control. As I stepped in the van Gerry introduced me to him. When I saw a braille writer in front of him I made the wholly unnecessary observation "Ah, you're blind." DUH !!! At least I didn't ask the obvious. Really nice guy with an incredible memory and sense of humor. He was the only person in the van with a watch and had the time, which was rather funny actually. I served as back-up but did practically nothing but warm the chair. At the end, the operator in the golf cart circled the route looking for any possible stragglers, picking up extra supplies, retrieving and folding banners, all of which was delivered back to the organizers. Then 16 or 20 or us went out for Mexican Food at La Familia. It has a good reputation and  atmosphere, but frankly I wasn't that impressed with the food. The soup was decidedly salty and the sour cream on enchiladas was decidedly sour. Rather than a scoop of beans, what I got was more like a smear. I'll eat pretty much whatever is put in front of me, but for the $$ I expected more. However, the freshly made salsa and tortilla chips were great.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Amateur Radio Operators Support Alzheimer's Walk, Fort Worth Trinity Park, Rangers Win ALCS

IF the World Series goes to game 5, I'm scheduled to monitor the EOC radios on the 24th.

Alzeimer's Walk Route Map through Trinity Park.

I met Gerry, RACES liason for the Fort Worth Joint EOC, outside of it at 6 this morning. He'd had to first fetch the smaller of the 2 RACES vans (located far elsewhere), but we managed to arrive less than a minute apart. From there it's a short ride to Trinity Park. The weather was perfect with temps from 58 to 77 by the time we left apx 11:40. This year Registration and Start/Finish were set up inside the walk route on the drive that bisects the double loops. The RACES van parked off-street directly across the road - where that little notch appears ENE of where the red marker is. MedStar's ambulance was parked nearby, at least two paramedics riding bikes loaded with their equipment. Police officers were on location as well, friendly and unobtrusive. Participant parking was in the large lot east of Farrington Field. Volunteers were told to park at some lot the other side of the Lancaster Bridge - both a considerable hike to Registration - the reason I met Gerry at the EOC. However, it looked to me that many, if not most, parked along park roadways instead.

Fourteen radio operators assisted. 4 individually assigned to certain Walk officials; 1 at each of 5 water stations to relay requests for water or emergency aid; 2 operated golf carts to ferry extra supplies and pickup walkers who needed a ride back to Registration or to the Parking lot;  Gerry and I were inside van where I served as primary Net Control. We used 146.76, one of the back-up repeaters. Gerry monitored the van's police/fire radios and jumped in when he (with his tens of years of considerable professional and volunteer experience doing this sort of thing rather than my 18 months of sporadic involvement) when he deemed it best that he quickly handled the matter. Not that I couldn't have if I'd had more experience and knew what I could tell the radio guys to do and/or given time enough to cogitate a moment. He reminded me I needed to keep the big picture in my head as Net Control and take control. I sat and learned. As participants finished, one of the assisted living center's resident buses was utilized as a Sag to transport those who weren't able to get back to the parking lot using a radio guy who'd completed his first assignment. At the end of the Walk the carts circled the route 2 or 3 times to make sure no one was left on the course and to retrieve left-over supplies, route signs and banners to assist the Alzheimer's organization clean up and clear out faster. Not in our job description, but ham radio operators are friendly, helpful folk and happy to assist. I took a few photos and IF I ever get those d/l to my computer, I'll post.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Texas Rangers & the ALCS Playoffs - OEM Gearing up for World Series

I am at best a barely nominal baseball fan. I didn't even realize the Rangers were going to the playoffs until they were IN the playoffs. But who can ignore the local excitement when the Rangers go into the ALCS for the second year in a row at The Ballpark? [An abrupt aside: I don't know anyone around here, except those required to do so for political or commercial reasons, who calls it "Ameriquest Field." It was originally officially and shall always be known as "The Ballpark" regardless of who next purchases the naming rights. Just who or what is Ameriquest anyway? Don't these entities realize no one cares and other than a poor attempt to aggrandize some corporate whatever, what advertizing purpose does it actually serve? Who has ever gone out and purchased an item or a bit of stock just because some ballpark or arena was named for some corporate one thing or another? Since I was forced to help pay for both The Ballpark and Cowboy Stadium through a many multi-year increase in special local sales taxes, why don't *I* or the majority of citizens get to name them? I call it a fraud upon the stockholders and/or citizens .... never mind.]

ALCS Game #1. Despite a couple of short rain delays, and after the magnificent display of choreographed grounds keepers who emerged from nowhere and covered the infield with a protective tarp in 60 or less seconds (wish I had seen them remove it as well) the game was completed and the Rangers WON. The rain eventually started falling at my house about 4 miles from The Ballpark and overnight I received 2.35". My Dad, who lives between here and there, got a much needed and greatly appreciated 2.9". Officially, however, DFW Airport only got 1.37". Game #2 on Sunday - postponed. Yes, it was a cloudy, humid mid-morning but that was clearing out so when I heard the game had been postponed due to possible rain later in the day,  I checked the current weather map and radar - the flume or plume of Gulf moisture that triggered the desperately needed heavy rains on Saturday night had already moved well east of the Metroplex. "Game postponed? HUH?"  Yep. No rain. Game #2 on Monday. Beautiful day ending with a record setting GRAND SLAM walk off (I had to ask about that term). I managed to tune in just in the nick of time to see Cruz at bat in the bottom of the 11th, some 4+ hours into the game. Looking at his face and seeing that long barely foul ball he walloped into the stands in left field, no way was he NOT going to hit a home run! Then I heard he'd already hit a home run in an earlier inning. Good job, Nelly!! GO RANGERS! So far the OEM/EOC has managed to operate without volunteer assistance this year.

However, with all the hopes of every baseball fan (even the nonfans) in this part of Texas fully expecting the Rangers to win the ALCS (sorry Detroit fans), the OEM is gearing up in advance of a possible second World Series. CERT members received an email yesterday indicating OEM needs and available shifts should that come to pass. As of now they are only asking for 2 CERT volunteers plus one radio operator for each of two 4-hour-shifts for each of the 3 days the Series would be in Arlington: October 22, 23 and 24th. I responded with my availability. If, nay WHEN, the World Series comes back to the Ballpark we'll be notified of a specific date and shift. The Arlington EOC isn't the only one which will be open and operational during that time. Other radio groups will also be up and ready to respond, including the area-wide hospital net and as well as other Metroplex OEM's - should the need arise. After both the World Series and Super Bowl in the past year, we volunteers have the routine down pat: check credentials for admittance to the EOC, make coffee, set out any food, maybe answer phones. Are 2 volunteers really enough? The ham radio person on duty, located in the radio room adjacent to the EOC, sits and gets really bored doing pretty much nothing. Getting really bored is a good thing. Perhaps the Joint EOC will fully activate and I can volunteer over there as well and see that in operation, which would be a different thus interesting experience for me.

Another line of storms has moved through starting about 0425 with continuing periods of  heavy rain. According to the online Personal Weather Station not far from my residence, we've already had another inch. GREAT! I'll check my own rain gauge later. Update: 1.2" of rain overnight.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Walk to End Alzheimers 2011 - Fort Worth

Date: October 15, 2011 - 8:00 a.m.

Location: Trinity Park (a beautiful walk through the trees and along the Trinity River just west of downtown Fort Worth)

Parking: In the Farrington Field Parking Lot, a couple of blocks east of the University Drive / Lancaster intersection.

Length:  apx. 2.5 miles

For additional information on the FW walk and others in the North Texas area click here. Trinity Park is a beautiful venue. The Walk is a great way to spend a fall Saturday morning with family and friends of all ages. Join the Walk!

I'll be acting as Net Control for this ARES public service event. Last year the RACES van was located in the Farrington Field parking lot. I think we'll be using the white box truck/van with "RACES" on the side - or look for the antennas. If you're around and spot us, walk by and wave or say hello! Since the map appears to show that the start finish is now in the MIDDLE of the course, we may park closer to that - don't know yet.  The Walk to End Alzheimer's logo is a trademark of the Alzheimer's Association.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Rest of the Story: Joplin Tornado Survivors

From Esquire magazine: the incredible and moving individual and combined stories of the persons who survived by seeking shelter at the Fasttrip and the amazing video from inside that was quickly aired by US news outlets and has been viewed on YouTube from around the world. Thanks to Meteorological Musings blog for posting this link.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

>100 AGAIN / 2012 SKYWARN Training Schedule Posted

DFW hit record high 101 this afternoon breaking old record of 99 in 1953, 16 degrees ABOVE average temps for this date. This makes Day 71 of 100+ so far this year.  Waco @ 101.

Dates for 2012 SKYWARN training in North Central Texas was posted today. Most are 2-hour sessions held on weeknights or the occasional Saturday morning from January 9th through March 29th. All-day sessions, which include both beginner AND Advanced Spotter Training - necessary to maintain SKYWARN/RACES membership, are scheduled on Saturdays (except as noted):
  • January 21 - Collin County
  • January 28 - Tarrant County
  • February 4 - McLennan County
  • February 11 - Bell County
  • February 18 - Dallas County
  • February 21 - Denton County (Tuesday)
  • March 15 - Montague County (Thursday)
  • March 24 - Tarrant County (abbreviated 3-hour session including Advanced)
Check the NWS site for other training locations along with specific dates and times. SKYWARN sessions are free and open to the public at large, regardless of age, whoever has any interest in basic or severe weather information and/or spotter training.

At the request of Tarrant County RACES, the FWD NWS office is scheduling an onsite discussion and training exercise for Net Controllers in October. One of the purposes is for Net Controllers to get a look at and better understand what's going on at the NWS office during severe weather events and find out exactly what information they want and need at any given time. This information will be incorporated into the new RACES training classes as well. Should be really interesting and informative.

UPDATE: NWS issued a Severe Weather Warning for Denton Co at 2034, Tarrant County at 2052; then Dallas County at 2113, followed later by warnings for counties south of the Metroplex. A rapidly developing W to E line of storms formed along the cold front just north of Metroplex.  Biggest threat was high winds, potential for microbursts with winds over 60 and up to 1" hail. Spotters were specifically asked to watch for signs of a rain or dust foot indicating a microburst. Very difficult to see in the dark. DFW Airport delayed landings and take-offs for about 45 minutes. Microburst in Irving just east of DFW, also possible microburst just east of Cockrell Hill, winds 60 to 70 in So Dallas County. Little rainfall and very limited pea-size hail. Email and phone notice to Tarrant County RACES members went out at 2059. Tarrant County RACES activated just after 2100 and closed as the cores of the high risk cells moved out of the County at 2213. This is TERRIFIC!! The cold front has moved through the night BEFORE the Rangers host the Rays at the Ball Park tomorrow afternoon!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tutorial on Emergency Power

Battery and other backup power for Ham radio equipment was discussed at the AARC meeting last Friday. Sunday night's very brief storm knocked out power to my neighborhood for almost 5 hours. It was flashlight, a candle and car battery charger for cell phone for the duration. Emergency power was also discussed Monday night at the RACES Leadership meeting. So it was fortuitous to run across Wednesday's article from Mike Smith's Meteorological Musings blog about back-up power:  Tutorial on Emergency Power

Also check out the excerpt from a NYT's article, More on the Joplin Tornado, citing stats showing the unusually high number and percentage of casualties that occurred in business premises.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Calm Chaos Following Air Show Crash

Article from AP - Discusses the response from First Responders and civilians alike.

RACES Leadership last night to finalize content and program for newly required Tarrant County RACES training for new or renewed RACES membership. One more discussion then initial group of 20 starts in October. Keeping it small to see what needs tweaking before expanded to entire membership and new applicants.  CERT tonight.

Quick pop-up & fast moving storm Sunday night. I'd been checking radar while on line. Nothing there then 10 minutes later a line of severe storms was moving in. I'd just checked in as a back-up Net Control for an ARES Weather Net when a very loud WHUAMP! Blackness! A nearby transformer (possibly the one in my back yard) had blown or more likely arched in the short burst of high winds. Two more WHUMPS as Oncor quickly tried to restore power over the next few minutes, after which it was almost 5 hours before electricity came back. Using just the mag mount, my HT wouldn't reach the repeater to transmit and in the dark with my small LED flashlight I couldn't locate the small box in which my BNC connecter resides so I couldn't connect it to my outdoor antennae. I ended up calling Radio Dave, who lives across town, to ask him to contact Net Control for me. He'd been standing in his front yard watching the storm come in and had seen the 3 power flashes. Thankfully, at the time it was momentarily pouring rain and sparking lines that run through our back yards didn't start a fire in this heavily wooded and VERY DRY neighborhood. I got .3 inches of rain in under 10 minutes. YEAH!!

I've edited and added some new links and updated upcoming Special Events.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Official HOTTEST SUMMER - New SKYWARN Training Modules & Spotters Field Guide

  • September 13th - Record High 107; Set new record for # of days 100 and above at 70. Officially Hottest Summer on Record taking over 1st spot from 1980. Hopefully the horrendously hot summer is OVER.
  • September 7th - Not as many outdoor siren test observers as in August when it was 20 degrees hotter.
  • September 16th - Radio Club meeting. Membership is GROWING!! Signed up another radio guy for the Siren Test. IT FINALLY RAINED. My gauge shows .90 but it was sitting a bit sideways so it actually was a bit more. MORE RAIN PLEASE!
Online SKYWARN Spotter Training Modules
This course covers the basics of being a SKYWARN Spotter. The goal of the course is to provide baseline training for all spotters through multiple modules covering the procedures for spotting (including communication and spotter report criteria) and safety considerations for all hazards. You can access the two modules here -

New! Weather Spotters Field Guide    This is the brand new storm spotters guide that was recently released. This guide replaces the old basic and advanced printed guides. Feel free to share/print/copy the guide as you see fit. (72 pages)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

At the break of dawn

Taken from and by the NWS FWD staff.
I saw this at a distance. The NWS reported UFO's at their office. (Unidentified Falling Obejcts). I HEARD thunder, but no UFO's again at my house. After an unexpectedly cool morning around 80, it still got to 103 today and will continue at that pace for the next week or more. Looks like we ARE going to exceed the record number of days >100 of 69 set in 1980. Only 11 more days and we'll become officially the HOTTEST SUMMER ON RECORD. : (  I write that in the hopes that it will jinx the record and ...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Second Hottest Summer on Record : (

As of tomorrow we will have had 57 days over 100 this year. 1980, the hottest summer, had 69. Someone, PLEASE ABSOLUTELY PROMISE ME we are NOT going to break that record in 2011. : (  Unless some popup storm skews DFW Aairport's official thermometer reading while most everyone else still roasts, and since it's supposed to continue over 100 for AT LEAST the next 7 days .... NOOOOOO!!  I suffered A/C emergency #3 Friday evening, after another high of 107. The A/C company owner told me today they've replaced over 500 capacitors just this summer. Guess that explains why there was at least one in the truck Now I've also got to replace leaking coils, but not until it get cooler - say next January?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Freak Wind" "Fluke" Really? Who Ignored Severe Weather Warning?

Follow meteorologist Mike Smith's blog, Meteorologic Musings, for his ongoing comments re the tragedy at the Indiana State Fair. Smith is the Senior VP of AccuWeather's Enterprise Solutions.

Tuesday's CERT Continuing Education class happened to be on Incident Command. I had emailed Matt at the OEM the link (see previous post) to the live dispatch recording which he then used as a basis to chart out the various aspects of their Incident Command / Mass casualty structure (as it came into being), changing Incident Commander, etc. Disturbing but very interesting.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Indiana Stage Collapse: Fire Dept. Scanner, Incident Command Set Up, etc

Recording of live scanner starting with initial dispatch of emergency FD vehicles and services immediately following stage collapse, incident command set up, some confusion, need for far more medical response, triage, etc. Entire recording is over an hour.  Also, series of photographs showing shelf cloud moving overhead (source of high wind gusts) from Facebook.

Also view tape of collapse on Meteorologic Musings blog and read his comments: The Horror in Indianapolis

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Personalized KnoWhat2Do Pocket Emergency Plan

This handy online app was created under the auspices of Homeland Security.  Except for a couple of phone numbers, this app will apply to any individual and family world wide. Freely share this link with everyone you know.

KnoWhat2Do Pocket Emergency Plan

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

More Record Heat!

High Temps So Far Today Across the Area:

DFW:  109
Waco: 108

NWS Office (Fort Worth): 109
Dallas Love Field:       108
Mineral Wells:           110
Denton:                  108
Fort Worth Meacham:      108
Fort Worth Alliance:     110
McKinney:                108
Corsicana:               108
Arlington:               108

Monthly Outdoor Warning Siren Test tomorrow at 1p. Very happy I'LL be inside!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Radar Image of Purple Martins Spreading out at Dawn

Summer Sucks / Favicon Added

Just for the record, the highs the coming week are predicted to be up to 108 or 110. NOOOO!! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Quick Catch-Up and Cartoon

Very sad personal news. My mother unexpectedly passed away on June 27th at the age of 84. The Arlington Amateur Radio Club (AARC) kindly sent a lovely arrangement for which the family has extended its appreciation and sincere thank yous. No choice but to just move on. It probably sounds strange, but I served as Net Control for the Arlington Monthly Siren Test Net the day after her funeral, which was a week after she died. Doing something else helped distract me for that short while. (Check out my other blog if you'd like to read more about what a wonderful woman Mother was, see a photo of Mom and one of my brother and young great-nephews playing a brass trio tribute at graveside services, etc.)

Weatherwise in DFW: Second warmest June on record, but highest low temps on record (trend continues!) Yesterday was #17 consecutive day >100 and  #24 or 25 for summer so far. No relief in sight  To quote NWS: "we will need several more weeks of 100 degree temperatures to rival the impressive heat waves of 1980, 1998, and 2006." It will likely take a tropical storm in the Gulf to break the high pressure system that is stuck on top of us. The 9-month period from September to end of June driest on record. Can't even get any pop-up showers!

Last night RACES Leadership Council meeting: Gerry (Tarrant County RACES liason), is putting together a soon-to-be required Training Class for new RACES members and those needing to renew membership. Also in the works for this fall is a special meeting between RACES Council, Net Controllers and Mark Fox (possibly others) from the NWS FWD to discuss communications between them and RACES. They issued many more "potential for severe weather" warnings this spring that produced little if any actual severe weather than they've done since I've been involved. Don't know if that is due to new criteria, out of an abundance of caution, or CYA, but between midnight and dawn  there's not many (if any) spotters going to get out unless something really bad is about to hit us. We ran those as ARES Nets so ANYONE with any storm report could do so. Except for requests for reports, between 3am and dawn it was mostly dead air. Needless to say, as Net Control I didn't get any sleep at all.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

RACES / ARES Nets So Far This Year

• 04/04/11 RACES Net Control 0345 to 0630
• 04/10/11 RACES Net activation
• 04/14/11 RACES Net activation – Net Control for a bit: 2150 to 2320
• 04/19/11 RACES activation – Net Control 1630 to 1915
• 04/23/11 RACES activation – Back-up & Net Control 1803 – 0004
• 04/24/11 RACES activation – Net Control & Back-Up 1924 – 0019
• 04/25/11 3 RACES activations – Net Control & Back-Up 0324–0513; 1153–1209; 1510 – 1557
• 05/01/11 3 RACES activations – Net Control, etc. #1 0305 – 0435; #2 ARES: 0858-0957; #3 1725 – 1835
• 05/10/11 RACES activation 1327 – 1418
• 05/19/11 RACES Net Control Back-Up 1426 – 1703; ARES Net Control 1704 – 1730
• 05/22/11 ACES activation Net Control & Back-Up 1912 – 2107
• 05/24/11 At Arlington EOC as EOC Net Control for 3 lines of severe thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes 1615 to 2315

I'm pretty sure this number already exceeds the total number of RACES activations in all of 2009 and 2010.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Be Smart, Not Tough, About Tornadoes

Professional stormchaser Jenna Blum's OpEd in the Boston Globe commenting on the recent Springfield, MA tornado and others. Jenna gave an interesting and entertaining accoun of how she became a stormchaser at TESSA in March. She's also the author of NY Times bestseller, "Those Who Save Us," and "The Stormchasers." Her website is: I would love to be able to join her in a chase!

Friday, June 3, 2011

FEMA Head Describes Amateur Radio as "Our Last Line of Defense."

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate described the Amateur Radio operator as “the ultimate backup, the originators of what we call social media.”  Because of the resiliences of our wired and wireless infrastructure and public safety and public safety communications systems, FEMA has tended to dismiss the role of Amateur Radio but‘When Everything Else Fails.’ Amateur Radio oftentimes is our last line of defense.” But he also states that they do, have and will fail. "I think a strong Amateur Radio community [needs to be] plugged into these plans. Yes, most of the time they’re going be bored, because a lot of the time, there’s not a lot they’re going to be doing that other people aren’t doing with Twitter and Facebook and everything else. But when you need Amateur Radio, you really need them.”

Original AARL article 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wild and Very Wicked Weather

I'll perhaps edit and be a LOT more specific, but suffice it to say that this year has been horrible weather wise with as many RACES activations so far as we've had total in the previous couple of years, and it's not even June. Everyone I know in the emergency community has been stunned and horrified by the death and destruction tornadoes have wrought throughout the country. With large tornadoes in OK, and Joplin still searching for survivors and the missing, we very much dreaded similar here. We knew 3 or 4 days in advance Tuesday, May 24 was going to be bad. How bad, was the question. I was called in to serve as radio operator for the Arlington EOC at 3:45, well in advance of rotating cells moving into northern Tarrant County.  Those had numerous wall clous and dropped a couple of small tornadoes, exploding in size. We breathed a quick breath of relief, only to a second line of even stronger and more dangerous storms start moving in. Those produced more small tornadoes, produced golf ball to baseball size hail, and had brief 70mph wind gusts and sirens sounded all over the country. A small cell popped up in East Fort Worth, exploded in growth and was dropped golf balls as it moved into Arlington. It was also rotating. The EOC was immediately on the phone ordering the authorities at The Ball Park to immediately evacuate fans to shelter. Portions of that cell went over my house and I leaned later than 1/2" hail covered the laws and that something strange caused the tress in the back to blow in opposite directions at the same time. I asked Bill Bunting at NWS if it was a possible small spin up twister, and he replied that it couldn't be ruled out, but it was more likely since many of the storms were rotating and with the hail had rear flank downdrafts, it was a brief RFD. Thankfully no damage here. Officials at DFW Airport evacuated all passengers from planes and from the terminal to safe locations due to an approaching tornado and large hail. I got a text from DD that "lrgr than golf ball hail here." Her car is a mess. Early on I'd called my sister to call my nephew who lives only 1 mile east of a location where a wall cloudo with developing funnel was spotted. They watched it go over. When the Arlington cell started moving in she called my other nephew and told them to take shelter immediately. They were at the Ball Park. That particular cell moved into Dallas County and did drop a tornado in Lancaster / DeSoto. Then a 3rd line of storms popped up in a matter of a couple of radar sweeps and moved through the country and over Arlington as well. Thankfully the second line had drained much of the energy out of the atmosphere and they were the least severe. The last vestige of storms exited Tarrant County just before 11p.m. The Tornado Watch was cancelled and we all went home to destress and eat. I hadn't even had breakfast, but did grab a bag of animal crackers from a vending machine.

Officially there were 8 NWS confirmed tornadoes in the DFW area. The only death was from electrocution when a power pole was blown over on top of someone outside.  Thankfully, I was NOT Net Control for this 8 hours period. Instead at the EOC I was monitoring 2 radio frequencies, watching radar, monitoring NWS Chat, trying to see the TV screen with local news reports way to far above my head, pass critical information to or have staff standing behind me asking questions, AND take copious notes. To say it was really more than 1 person can handle is ... well, it's practically all a blur now.  With so many people affected, it is really petty of me to grouse (but only a teeny-weenie bit and only in hindsight),  however I sat in a windowless office for 8 hours, saw almost nothing of news broadcasts and totally nothing of what was going on outside. Those storms, as bad and dangerous as they were, I would liked to have seen. Star-Telegram article here.

Tuscaloosa, Joplin, El Reno and other communities were all but wiped off the map. We had some bad weather.  My prayers for all of you affected by the storms and flooding this year. What is going on???

Sunday, May 22, 2011

With yet another line of severe storms moving toward DFW, need to switch attention from ongoing process of changing look of blog.. It's been a VERY ACTIVE YEAR!  I'm now an official Back-Up Net Control for Tarrant County RACES and an unofficial member but invited guest of the Leadership Council that meets at the Fort Worth/Tarrant County Joint EOC. Other than still conducting the ham portion of the monthly Arlington OEM outdoor warning siren tests, so far this year they've not requested radio operators to be onsite during severe weather events that impact Arlington and are monitoring the radios themselves.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hams Provide Communications Support During West Texas Wildfires

"We also sent hams to assist at the Alpine Police Department and the dispatch in Brewster County, as well as at the radio stations. Due to the fire, there was no electricity or phone service, so hams at the police department and dispatch handled traffic. The ham at the radio station received messages from the Emergency Operations Center in Brewster County concerning public safety, highway closures and evacuations to be broadcast over the air.”  Click for full article. I was not involved, but this highlights the necessity and versatility of volunteer amateur radio operators providing communications for governmental agencies during emergencies.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Yes, more hail!!

RACES Net Control. Primarily a hail event with sizes ranging from pea-size to golfballs and some 2" hail as well. Two plus solid hours of non-stop hail reports across Tarrant County. As a result I missed the CERT continuing education class about the city's emergency radio "Go Kits. Who knows. Maybe they listened to the RACES Net. Thankfully no hail at my house so baby tomatoes were safe.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Local Severe Weather & Tushka, OK Tornado

Served as initial Net Control for Tarrant County RACES SKYWARN activation: 9:59p to 11:19p. Line of severe storms producing up to golf-ball size hail moved east across far north Tarrant into Dallas Co and E. Texas. Was part of the same system stretching up through OK & KS. My cousin reports 2 family member's houses were destroyed by the large tornado in Tushka, OK yesterday. All are safe. See video of the tornado taken by the Texas Storm Chasers, who stopped to help rescue victims and render aid. Thanks guys!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Since I'm still up

Yay, RAIN!! A line of severe thunderstorms moved through overnight triggering 3 RACES Net activations in Tarrant County. 2 tornadoes in counties just south and further east of here. After our net closed, I listened to the Dallas County RACES Net. Their Net Control talks twice as fast as I even can! She must take notes twice as fast as well! Either that or has an eidetic memory. Or a voice-activated recorder. I use a legal pad and pencil. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

MVP Awards

Gerry Dalton received a Volunteer of the Year award from the City of Arlington for his many years of volunteerism with the Office of Emergency Management. He put in 90 hours organizing and assigning volunteers at the OEM/EOC during Super Bowl Week. I and 3 others received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Office of Emergency Management for our work with the OEM and CERT. This is my second. All attending AFD and OEM Super Bowl volunteers were called to stage and thanked in a an humbling speech by Fire Chief Don Crowson (far right in photo). City website article. Beautiful morning topped off when I won a Gift Basket from Arlington Animal Services full of very nice doggie items. I have cats. After discovering what was inside, I'll probably return all but the stuffed plus puppy that sings "I'm Crazy (about  you)" back to the Shelter volunteers for their use. Or maybe I'll give in after 3 years and adopt another dog.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

SuperBowl debrief, SKYWARN, TESSA and so forth

"I really should update more often." How often do you read these words? Must be a lot of us lax bloggers.

The Super Bowl has come and gone - thankfully with the only issues of any particular and immediate concern turning out to be the worst winter weather in 25 or 40 years and understandably upset fans due to stadium seating problems. The unusually cold and icy winter weather moved back north substituting 10 to 15 degrees ABOVE normal within a week or two. A continuing significant drought has led to fire hazard warnings, burn bans, and wild fires throughout North Central Texas and Oklahoma. Rainfall in March was only .06" , the second driest on record. It did finally rain (and hail and blow) on April 4th. I'll take it! The rest of spring is reported to remain unusually dry. We've been on year-round watering restrictions for 2 or 3 years - no sprinkler watering between 10am and 6pm. Hand watering still okay. My neighbor and I both xeriscape (ok, she xeriscapes and I have let the native plants take over as they will). But still she runs a sprinkler every few days and last summer I only watered the front yard a couple of times. My yard benefits from her wind-blown moist spray and my other neighbors frequent watering as well. The back yard, an urban native growth "forest," is on its own.

Hi Ben!!

Well, on to it then. Volunteer activities since last October (that long?  Yikes!) Because it turned out to be so long, comments re volunteering re the Super Bowl have been moved to a separate stand-alone Page. See above.
  • November - RACES Check-in and Training Net; Monthly Warning Siren Test cancelled, CERT Continuing Education; AARC
  • December 1 - Siren Test
  • December 4 - Saturday - Attended the Fort Worth National Weather Service Office's Open House in NW Fort Worth; later served as Net Control for Fort Worth's Jingle Bell Run held in Trinity Park for the first time. The RACES van was instructed to set up in a small parking lot a couple of blocks away from the staging area. That turned out to be inside the course meaning a couple of blocks from the porta-potties and unable to exit the location until after the Start/Finish Gate had been dismantled - some 30 minutes after the end race span - well after dark. The later-than-before start time meant some participants had to finish the unlit 5K course and walk back to their cars in almost total darkness. Really bad idea.
  • December 7 - AARC Christmas dinner at The Black Eyed Pea. Yum! Chicken fried steak, mashed red taters with skins & peppery white gravy, and their yellow squash casserole.
  • December 16 - CERT Christmas Pot-Luck at the EOC. I was surprised so few attended. With the OEM so focused on the Super Bowl, particularly the several months, CERT activities have been let slide and far too many members no longer participate .
  • January 3 - RACES Net cancelled
  • January 5 - OEM Siren Test
  • January 7 - Served as a CERT volunteer at the EOC preceding and during the first 1/2 of the Cotton Bowl Game - now held in Cowboy Stadium. We used it as a practice drill for the upcoming Super Bowl. Answered one phone call, set out some food, cleaned up and took out some trash, then came home and watched the rest of the game.
  • January 18 - CERT ConEd - class held in the EOC as introduction to the EOC and what was expected of OEM volunteers before and during the upcoming Super Bowl event. Attendance required  for those wishing to participate. As I recall 32 of us were there.
  • January 28 - Friday - At the OEM for 6 hours but at this point I can't remember what it was about. Super Bowl related I'm sure.
  • January 29 to February 7 - info and comments re Super Bowl volunteer experience have been moved to a separate Page due to length
  • February 7 - RACES Net
  • February 26 - Saturday - Day 1 THE COWTOWN marathon - Net Control for RACES assisting with radio communication between officials, various vehicles on the course, requests for resupply at water stations, etc. This year the events were held over a period of 2 days and the Start/Finish moved from downtown Fort Worth to the "Museum District." This day the Kids 5K and Adult 5K and 10K took place. Arrived in down right chilly temps at 4:30 a.m. The van wasn't heated. All races were concluded and awards handed out before 11:00. Then several of us went to Pulido's for lunch.
  • February 27 - Sunday - THE COWTOWN 1/2, full and ultra marathon. 4:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Net Control for Medical frequency and back-up for main Net Control. Another RACES member kept up with supply issues. Each of us kept a hand-written log. Mine is 11 pages long. Weather very windy, somewhat dusty, and a bit warm for running. A few medical issues required transport to hospital. Most were addressed by interns located along the route at various water stations, others at the Finish Line facility. I had to use the car a/c on the way home.
  • March 5 - Saturday - all day  - NWS SKYWARN basic and advanced training in Fort Worth at the Convention Center - This is usually held the end of January, but because of the Super Bowl and venue scheduling conflicts it came rather later. Over 400 attended.
  • March 7 - RACES Net
  • March 11 - Saturday - all day - annual TESSA (TExas Severe Storm Assn) Conference in Colleyville. SUPER STORM SPOTTER training. Not sure why, but I didn't find it quite as interesting as I did in the past. Bought a RACES patch to sew on to my CERT shirt and a decal for the car. 450 in attendance.
  • March 25 - Friday - Late evening 2-1/2 hour  ride-along with a member of COPs - Citizens on Patrol - as part of a saturation sweep. We heard a shot. Determined it to be a starting pistol then realized that the activity at the near by high school stadium was in fact a track meet.
  • March 26 - Participated in a Tarrant County Radio Drill - purpose was to make sure the numerous local EOCs and a couple of local hospitals could access all of the repeater frequencies in Tarrant County; Dave spent time after the drill familiarizing me with radios that I had not yet used at the EOC. Then I had to contact the COP driver and drive across town to pick up something that had fallen out of my backpack and left in his car the night before.
  • APRIL 4 - Initial Net Control during severe weather event beginning at 3:52 a.m., but only because I was awakened by distant rumbles. The storm spotter activation notification system initially malfunctioned. Frankly I rely on a phone call to wake me up rather than turn on my weather radio. Need to rethink that. At 5:12 Gerry (primary Net Control), woken by his truck alarm set off by 3/4" hail, activated RACES. I handed over Net Control shortly thereafter.
  • April 4 - RACES Net - Net control for one quadrant of Tarrant County in a "scatter net" exercise. That entails the radio operators initially tuning to the main RACES frequency then being directed to another frequency handling traffic in the quadrant in which they reside.
  • April 6 - today - first Wednesday - Siren Test;  Irish Hancock handled the assignments and radio reports in my stead. I did radio in a report for the siren I can hear from home. He advised me next month I'm doing it. For this being his first time to run the siren test net, he did very very well. My concern always is that if the staff figure out those of them with amateur radio licenses can do it then perhaps they won't want nor need outside volunteers - and I rather enjoy having some access to location and staff at the OEM/EOC from time to time. The reality is that in the event of an emergency, we need to be familiar with them and the equipment and they equally with us. They won't have the time to keep up with amateur radio communications.
  • April 9 - There is a Municipal Volunteer Program (MVP) Recognition Fair to which I, and I assume other CERT members, were invited to attend. Not sure what it's about. In the past CERT and EOC volunteers were not considered part of the general City volunteer programs. Will be interesting to see if we're being integrated into that system or if the OEM isn't going to have a separate recognition lunch this year.
I pat myself on the back for having the chutzpah to belatedly dive head first into something I was only marginally familiar with. I am also very fortunate and thankful that I've been continually mentored upward and onward during this very interesting ride. Always good to be needed and appreciated some where by some one.


Monday, January 31, 2011

FREE Game Day Parking at Lincoln Square with $75 in Merchants' Receipts!!

Note:  The bit about only being 1 block from the Stadium is WRONG. It's at least .4 mile from the closest parking spot and could be almost twice that distance. But HEY, IT'S FREE!! Free Lincoln Square Game Day Parking

Monday, January 24, 2011

Coming to Super Bowl XLV? Important Info

A personal welcome to Arlington!! We're delighted to have you! Here's some of the latest important info:

WARNING: Don't bother with most online maps and turn off your GPS.  Due to massive road construction projects on and along I-30 and around the Stadium site in the past few years (some only barely completed in time) most of those services have not been updated and are wrong. Arlington City Officials worry visitors may get lost. 1/23/11 WFAA TV newsstory:

Road Closures: Some roads around the Stadium have already been closed and others will divert or limit traffic for the next couple of weeks, on game day some will be one-way only or closed entirely. See:

Information from the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau A good site with comprehensive Arlington and Cowboy Stadium info separate from the official NFL SuperBowl site. Be sure to read the Game Day Security info, particularly about the very tight security measures that will prohibit entering the stadium with items generally otherwise allowed, such as camcorders, baby strollers, food or beverages (those'll be EXPENSIVE!), horns, cushions, etc. Don't even bring them with you from wherever you arrive. They won't let them in and security officials won't watch after them for you. So it's back to the car (if you arrived in one) or I assume they'll end up in the trash. See the surprising list!!

Regional Transportation on Super Bowl Sunday:

The TRE (Trinity Railway Express) station at Centreport is just south of DFW Airport (buses from airport to station if you fly in that morning - but why would you risk that??) where you'll be tranfering to a bus for the apx 9 mile drive to the Stadium, subject to the whims of what is going to be very heavy traffic. Arrive EARLY!! As I understand it, the drop off point will be about 1/2 mile from the Stadium. Same for taxis and limos. Be aware if you're flying in that Arlington does not have public transportation other than taxis. Good luck. Ask your hotel about ground transportation from that location to as close as possible to the Stadium. If a 1/2 to 3/4 mile one-way hike doesn't bother you, the Sheraton and Mariott Courtyard are within walking distance and your best (and perhaps only) bet. Not sure what they are doing for those with mobility issues.

Official Stadium Parking:  The wide security perimeter has taken up much of the official Stadium Parking.

Other Nearby Parking - Don't feel like a long hike? The closer you park in these privates lots the more you pay. How about $990 for .1 mile? Others within 1/2 mile as low as $110.  Feel like a 1.2 mile stroll? Only $60 bucks. Looking at the list apparently every business and some churches around there is selling parking space (might as well, the businesses will pretty much have to closed due to Stadium traffic patterns). Lists of parking venues, including official lots, prices and loction map here.  Here's a Star Telegram article with comment by an owner of one of the private lots.

Other Info:
  • Official NFL Parking Opens at 10a.m.
  • No recreational vehicles or motor homes allowed in official lots
  • NO TAILGATING  in official lots
  • Taxis will be allowed to drop-off and pick-up on Road to Six Flags located North and West of Rangers Ballpark. (That's almost 1/2 mile)
  • There are no bus, limousine, sedan or shuttle drop-off or pick-up areas at Cowboys Stadium - wherever they drop off, you'll have a hike
  • NO SCALPING POLICY is STRICTLY enforced - there are eyes in the sky, the transaction will most likely be seen and if so, someone will be arrested, your tickets will almost certainly be forgeries, they will be confiscated and you will end up at the police station (if you can get there) filing a complaint hoping to get your money back instead of watching the game. Because of very sophisticated fake tickets, don't trust anyone offering you any ticket at any price.
Food and Beverage Choices and $$$ inside the Stadium: It ain't cheap, but hopefully better than your typical stadium fare. Maybe. Food & Beverage

Other NFL Events:  All the other events in the DFW area, where, how much, directions, etc.  

CAUTION: You are on candid camera. There are numerous public safety cameras around and inside the Stadium. This is true of every major sports venue and is a really good thing.

JUST ANNOUNCED this morning: In addition to the Black Eyed Peas at half-time, Keith Urban and Maroon 5 have been added to the Super Bowl XLV Fox Pregame Lineup (I foresee the older generations changing channels en masse)
The NFL took possession of the Stadium right after the Cotton Bowl on January 7th and is adding all of  it's special touches, including additional interior and exterior seating. Cowboy season ticket holders were advised Friday or Saturday that they may purchase tickets at $200 each (minimum 4) to stand outside and watch on the Jumbo Tron (now WHY would anyone spend an inordinate amount of time in traffic and waste their $$ to do that?? Go to a local Sports Bar if  you don't want to watch SB45 alone at home, for goodness sake!)
I've lived in Arlington for decades. If you have any questions or would like additional info about Arlington, the Stadium (yes, I've been inside - twice - even on the field) or Fort Worth (such as Sundance Square that ESPN is going to be Broadcasting from or really interesting things to do), post your questions in the comment section and I'll try to answer them.  I might even accurately respond to questions about the Mid-Cities or Dallas.

See an interesting but not entirely accurate composite of what the Fort Worth ESPN Sundance Square site will look something  like and read the Star Telegram article.

- Linda

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