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)

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