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Storm spotting got me to where I am at. Chasing storms, acting as a lightning detector and hovering over the scanner for years, I ended up in the lower edge of tornado alley.

I have a wife (KE5BYS), two dogs and a closet and garage full of stuff.

If HAM offers it, it is here. Surrounded by eager HAMS willing not to let you get your feet wet, but entirely soaked.

Now a General. Much time is spent in public service and helping others. D-Star, Winlink and APRS are hot on my plate. I've dabbled on 6m SSB, but I can't sit long enough to yell CQ.

Fellow Hams, thanks for the opportunities and the empty pocket book.

International newspaper article...(No call sign)

Margot Texans Turn to Old Technology of Ham Radio in Modern Disasters 2006-07-06 00:06 (New York)

By Margot Habiby

July 6 (Bloomberg) -- Chadwick Stelzl unrolled the window of his Dodge Dakota pickup truck and stuck his head outside just in time to see a creamy gray funnel cloud bearing down from the Texas sky.

``It looked like the bottom of an ice-cream cone coming out of the clouds,'' said Stelzl, 34, an amateur storm spotter for the National Weather Service. Before getting out of the way, he had a job to do: alert the weather service on his ham radio.

Ham radios and volunteers like Stelzl are an important resource in Texas, which is vulnerable to both tornadoes and hurricanes across its 267,000 square miles (692,000 square kilometers) and 367 miles (591 kilometers) of coastline. In times of disaster, the century-old, two-way radio technology can be more reliable and efficient than wired or wireless phones.


``There's never a busy signal,'' said William F. Bunting, meteorologist in charge of the weather service's forecast office in Fort Worth. ``Anyone involved in the warning system can listen in -- hospitals, school districts, emergency management officials.''

On May 9, minutes after seeing the tornado by his truck, Stelzl was one of three hams to report a second, bigger twister near Anna, a town 45 miles north of Dallas. It went on to kill three people in nearby Westminster and injure 10.

Texas Amateurs

Stelzl, a product-development specialist for an industrial design firm in Plano, is among 61,000 amateur radio operators in Texas. The U.S. has about 728,000 hams, according to the Federal Communications Commission, which licenses them. The hams use special equipment that allows them to transmit and receive on bands not used for commercial radio. Police scanners can pick up ham signals, too.


Helping Red Cross

Ham operators rushed to Cross Plains in December after a wildfire destroyed the only cellular tower in the community of 1,000 people, 150 miles southwest of Dallas. As 300 residents took shelter in a church with only one phone line, 15 ham volunteers in the area coordinated delivery of Red Cross supplies and private donations of food and clothing.

``Obviously, with as many people as there were coming in for aid and assistance, ham radio provided a pretty big role,'' said Bill Shaw, 52, a ham-radio volunteer coordinator who works for a regional planning agency in Abilene.

Ham-radio operators assisted NASA after the space shuttle Columbia exploded over Texas in 2003. Some searched for debris spread across hundreds of square miles, and others helped federal, state and local officials stay in touch in remote areas.

Communications breakdowns after Katrina struck in August, the 2003 blackout in the Northeast and the Sept. 11 attacks have underscored the value of ham radio in cities, too. Many volunteers have home generators and ham radios in their cars, so they're on the air even when power failures knock out cell towers or land-line networks are jammed with calls.

Radio-Based E-Mail

Technological advances have extended ham radio's capabilities. Operators can bounce signals off satellites, allowing them to use smaller, portable antennas, and send text e- mails and even files with attachments via the Internet.

``It's not your father's amateur radio,'' said Jerry Reimer, 53, of Spring, a Halliburton Co. manufacturing engineer who coordinates 1,100 ham-radio volunteers for the American Radio Relay League in southern Texas.

His group, which spans 97 of Texas's 254 counties, used radio-based e-mail to help the Salvation Army organize meals for 25,000 Katrina evacuees at Houston's Reliant Astrodome.

In Dallas, Tenet Healthcare Corp. relied on ham radio to stay in contact with its Meadowcrest Hospital in Gretna, Louisiana, when Katrina knocked out phone lines. A nurse's husband used his ham radio to transmit from the hospital roof, and a North Carolina amateur heard the broadcasts and contacted Tenet.

`The One That's Safe'

``With all the types of communication out there, this seems to be the one that's safe,'' said Michael Arvin, a regional business-development director for Tenet who coordinated the company's disaster response. A few weeks later, Tenet placed ham radios and operators at its facilities in the path of Hurricane Rita on the Gulf of Mexico coast.

Being in harm's way isn't new for the storm spotters. As the weather service advised residents to seek refuge from the Dallas- area tornado, Stelzl and fellow volunteers stayed on duty, scanning the sky and watching for telltale flashes of bluish- green light as the twister snapped power lines.

``They were literally providing a play-by-play, blow-by-blow report,'' said Gary Woodall, a weather service meteorologist in Fort Worth.

--Editor: Dufner (bab/dfr) Reporter: Margot Habiby- Dallas at (1(214)954-9452 or mhabiby@bloomberg.net. Editor resp.: Mary Schlangenstein at (1(214) 954-9451 or maryc.s@bloomberg.net.

6365243 Last modified: 2015-07-16 00:32:15, 5885 bytes

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