FCC Authorizes 2 New Ham Bands!

630 Meter Ham BandThe American Radio Relay League is reporting that the FCC has adopted rules allowing Amateur Radio access to the 630 and the 2,200 meter bands, with minor conditions. According to a Report and Order released on March 29, 2017, the new rules become effective 30 days following publication in The Federal Register.

The new frequency allocations consist of the new 630 meter band using frequencies of 472 kHz. through 479 kHz. (just below the AM broadcast band) and the new 2,200 meter band using frequencies of 135.7 kHz and 137.8 kHz.  These new bands would be available to General class and higher licensees with permissible modes including CW, RTTY, data, phone, and image.

In a news release ARRL CEO Tom Gallagher, NY2RF, calls this “a big win for the Amateur community and the ARRL.”

There are a few limitations on these new ham bands. Firstly, amateurs operating on 472-479 kHz would be permitted a maximum equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP) of 5 W, except in parts of Alaska within 800 kilometers (approximately 496 miles) of Russia, where the maximum would be 1 W EIRP. All U.S. amateurs operating in the 135.7-137.8 kHz band could run up to 1 W EIRP. Note that EIRP uses absolute antenna gain in its calculation. Given the extremely long wavelengths involved and the relatively small amounts of gain available from antenna compromises, one would assume that the total power output from one’s radio would be much higher than the actual EIRP achieved.

The FCC says the Amateur Radio service rules it has adopted for 630 meters and 2,200 meters allow “for co-existence with Power Line Carrier (PLC) systems that use these bands.” Utilities have opposed Amateur Radio use of the MF and LF spectrum, fearing interference to unlicensed Part 15 PLC systems used to manage the power grid. As such, the FCC is requiring a 1-kilometer separation distance between radio amateurs using the two new bands and electric power transmission lines with PLC systems on those bands. Amateur Radio operators will have to notify UTC of station location prior to commencing operations.

Additional restrictions include a 60-meter (approximately 197 feet) above-ground-level (AGL) height limit on transmitting antennas using both of these new bands.

More details about these two new ham bands will be available soon on the ARRL website at www.ARRL.org.

Safe Place Selfie Campaign

Safe Place SelfieDo you know where your severe weather “safe place” is while you are at work, school, church, home, or on the road?   Knowing your safe place is one of the most essential preparedness activities to save your life from extreme weather. In early April the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather-Ready Nation program will hold a four-day-long “safe place selfie” (#SafePlaceSelfie) campaign via social media to encourage everyone across the country to take this crucial life-saving preparedness action for when extreme weather threatens.

Who? EVERYONE! Individuals, businesses, organizations, etc.

What? #SafeplaceSelfie is a grass roots campaign as part of NOAA’s Weather-Ready Nation to get individuals, businesses, and all organizations ready, responsive, and resilient to extreme weather events.

Where? At home, at school, at church, at work, on the road.

When? Monday, April 3, 2017 through Thursday, April 6, 2017. There will be a live Tweet Chat on Thursday, April 6th from noon to 1 p.m. Central.

Why? To prepare ourselves to be ready, responsive, and resilient for when extreme weather hits.

How? Tweet or post a selfie photo of you taking shelter in your “safe place” to @NWSSpringfield using the hashtag: #SafePlaceSelfie

Your safe place may be very different for the various hazards we experience here in Southwest Missouri and extreme Southeast Kansas.  For instance, a car may be a safe place from lightning, but it is a very dangerous place during flash flooding and tornadoes.

Being prepared for extreme weather means knowing what to do no matter where or when it hits. And it can happen with barely a moment’s notice. If we’re lucky, we’ll be home, and our weather radio alert will sound. We’ll have our wits about us, and we can easily take action. However, one day it might happen when we’re away from home shopping at the mall or roaming around a hamfest when what was a parking lot just moments before suddenly becomes a lake.

2015 Joplin Hamfest Flash Flood

Buffalo Repeater Progress

Buffalo, Missouri Repeater Hardline Cable

Pallet of 7/8-inch diameter 50 ohm Hardline Transmission Cable for Buffalo, MO Repeater

Shipments are being delivered. Parts, accessories, and tools are being gathered and prepared. A professional tower climber has been hired. Soon, the Southwest Missouri Regional Skywarn repeater at 147.180 MHz. in Buffalo, Missouri will have a new home with a brand new antenna at a higher location drastically improving our linked system’s coverage throughout Polk County and Dallas County. Between July, 2016 and the end of January, 2017, thanks to the generosity of folks in our community, we were able to raise the $5,000 needed to move the Buffalo Repeater from its current location which is set for demolition.

In February, our new antenna, a Comscope DB-224, arrived. This exposed dipole omnidirectional antenna can handle a maximum power input of 500 watts and will provide up do 6 dB of gain. The design of the antenna makes it a direct current short which provides excellent lightning protection and reduced noise during wind and other times of high static electricity.

Earlier this month, a large pallet containing a very long run of 7/8-inch diameter corrugated hardline cable arrived. This type and length of transmission line would normally have cost about $2,520. However, we were able to save over $1,400 thanks to a very generous discount given to us by the distributor. Hardline is mandatory for professional repeater installations. In addition to being able to survive very harsh weather conditions, this type of cable, with its solid outer conductor, provides the highest possible shielding along with significantly lower loss over long runs compared with normal household consumer coaxial cable.

As more parts continue to arrive, we will be closer to making the move. We will continue to provide updates on the move of the Buffalo Repeater to its new location as things progress. Again, we sincerely thank each of you who donated toward this project.

Four Tornadoes In 3rd Outbreak (updated)

NWS Confirmed Tornado(updated: 2 tornadoes added to this event)

It’s not even spring yet, and surveyors from the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Springfield have already had to evaluate three separate tornado events in nine days! In a third round of severe weather throughout our County Warning Area on Thursday, March 9, 2017, four tornadoes are now confirmed along with numerous reports of large hail.

N.W.S. surveys say the first tornado hit at about 6:43 p.m. Thursday around 2 miles east-northeast of Butterfield, Missouri in Barry County. This EF-0 tornado had estimated winds of around 75 miles per hour and caused damage to one home.

The second tornado is now confirmed to have touched down about 5 miles east of Reeds Spring, Missouri in far western Taney County just south of Highway 160 at 6:50 p.m. This very brief EF-0 tornado destroyed a wooden frame structure and caused minor roof damage to 3 homes. Peak winds were estimated at about 80 miles per hour with a maximum width of around 75 yards and a total path of about one-tenth of a mile.

The National Weather Service says the third tornado, the strongest of the four, uprooted and snapped multiple trees about 6 miles northeast of Cassville in Barry County, Missouri. This 100-yard-wide EF-0 tornado hit at 7:01 p.m. and also traveled roughly one-tenth of a mile on the ground with peak winds reaching about 85 miles per hour.

Surveyors say the final tornado, also an EF-0, struck at 7:07 p.m. near downtown Forsyth in Taney County, Missouri. The estimated winds of 60 to 70 miles per hour from this twister reportedly damaged a strip mall and uprooted some trees.

Thankfully no injuries or fatalities were reported from either of these four small tornadoes.

If you were monitoring this particular event, you may have noticed that the trajectory and layout of these storms were a bit different than normal. Initially, the storms primarily affected the northwestern portions of our County Warning Area. Instead of the individual storms moving from southwest to northeast like they usually do, these storms appeared to congeal into a west-to-east oriented line which then moved from northwest to southeast through the remainder of our counties and eventually into Northern Arkansas.

Behind this front is a reminder that winter is indeed not yet over.

Spring Forward: Sunday, March 12th

Spring ForwardGreat Scott! It’s time to fire up the Flux Capacitor because we’re going back to the future – by one hour anyway! Daylight Savings Time begins this weekend here in Southwest Missouri and throughout most of the United States. This Sunday, March 12, 2017, at 2:00 a.m. local time, we spring forward to Central Daylight Time as we turn our clocks ahead one hour. Safety officials also suggest that this is a great time to test and/or replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

None of the nets on the Southwest Missouri Regional Skywarn linked repeaters move after these time changes. All of our nets adhere to local time. If you monitor our nets on our Broadcastify Feed or if you participate via our EchoLink Node N0NWS-R from parts of the United States and its territories that do not observe Daylight Savings Time including most of Arizona, all of Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands or in other parts of the world that do not observe Daylight Savings Time, then our nets will appear to start an hour earlier to you.

Daylight Savings Time ends on Sunday, November 5, 2017 at 2:00 a.m. local time.

March 6th – 7th Event: 3 Tornadoes

NWS Confirmed Tornado(updated: 3rd tornado added)

For the second time in as many weeks, Southwest Missouri was hit with an outbreak of severe weather producing three confirmed tornadoes and widespread straight-line wind damage. The National Weather Service in Springfield says this week’s event was triggered when a strong cold front pushed through the region during the evening and overnight hours of Monday, March 6th through early Tuesday, March 7th, 2017.  The front interacted with instability and strong wind shear already in place across the area.

Surveys from the National Weather Service report that the first tornado reportedly touched down at 10:01 p.m. Monday night about three miles south-southwest of Quincy in Hickory County, Missouri with estimated peak winds between 90 to 95 miles per hour. It was only on the ground for about one minute traveling a total of three-quarters of a mile with an estimated width of 100 yards. Damage was confined primarily to farm outbuildings and trees.

The other two tornadoes happened within minutes of one another in two different counties. The first tornado, an EF-1, happened at 10:33 p.m. Monday night in Camden County, Missouri about one mile southwest of Macks Creek. Peak winds were estimated at 110 miles per hour, and the maximum width of this tornado is estimated to be one-quarter of a mile. One person was injured, but fortunately no fatalities were reported. This tornado damaged a mobile home along with some outbuildings and trees.

Surveyors with the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Springfield say the third tornado hit four minutes later at 10:37 p.m. one mile south of Rocky Mount in Morgan County, Missouri. This EF-O tornado was fairly small and short-lived with an estimated width of 50 yards and a path of about one-third of a mile. No injuries or fatalities were reported. Some outbuildings and docks were reportedly damaged.

More details about this event including an interactive map can be found here.

These recent outbreaks come after what had been a fairly long lull in tornadic activity throughout Southwest Missouri. In fact, at Tuesday evening’s Spotter Training Class in Greene County, Steve Runnels, KD4OPZ, with the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Springfield said that prior to last week, it had been 21 months since the last Tornado Watch was issued within our County Warning Area!

It’s only early March.  This could end up being a very long and busy severe weather season. We can’t stress this enough: We need to get prepared and stay prepared. Twenty-one months is plenty of time to build a false sense of security or even a feeling of indifference. As Severe Weather Awareness Week continues throughout Missouri, please develop a plan for you and your family should a tornado emergency befall our area. Keep your HT batteries charged. Start bringing your HT with you more often. Check into the Tuesday evening Skywarn Training Nets more frequently so that radio operation becomes second nature.

We thank each of you for your on-air reports during severe weather and for being part of our awesome team!

Drill This Morning, Train This Evening

Statewide Tornado Drill at 10:00 a.m.2017 Tornado Drill

As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, the National Weather Service, the Missouri Department of Public Safety, and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) will be conducting a statewide Tornado Drill today, Tuesday, March 7, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. Central. Your weather radio alerts should sound, and you should be able to hear your local outdoor tornado sirens if you live in an area that has them close by.

When this drill commences, please tune into the Southwest Missouri Regional Skywarn linked repeaters and check in with Jim N0UAM as he calls a special net. Please note that this net will take the place of the regular Tuesday evening Skywarn Training Net on this date.

This drill is a great opportunity for you to prepare yourself for a tornado emergency at home, where you work, and where you spend your free time. If a tornado strikes while you are on your commute, do you know where all of the public shelters are located along your route? This week is a great time to find where they are. What about you and your family? Do you have a plan should a tornado strike while you are apart at work or school? Do you have a designated person whom you all know to contact in case you can’t reach one another? How about your amateur radio transceivers? Do you always have extra batteries charged and ready? Or do you have a special battery pack for your HT that allows you to use standard alkaline batteries?

Do you know the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning?

Tornado Watch: Conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms and possible tornado development. This is the time to prepare. Keep alert by listing to NOAA Weather Radio, or the commercial media for the latest weather information.

Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or the NWS is seeing signs on radar that indicate a thunderstorm may be capable of producing a tornado at any minute. People in the path of the storm should take immediate life-saving action.

Skywarn Spotter Training at 6:30 p.m.Skywarn Spotter Training

With two severe weather outbreaks in two weeks, this would be a great time for you to brush up on your storm spotting training. The National Weather Service will be holding their Spotter Training right in the heart of Springfield today, Tuesday, March 7, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. We hope to see you there!

Location: Assembly Of God Headquarters Auditorium
1445 N. Boonville Ave.
Springfield, Missouri 65802

(use the interactive map below for your convenience)

NWS Now Confirms 4 Tornadoes

NWS Confirmed Tornado(updated & corrected: tornado added; corrected to Buffalo, MO)

The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Springfield, MO now confirms that four tornadoes touched down within our County Warning Area during the severe weather event of Tuesday, February 28th through Wednesday, March 1st.

The first tornado touched down at approximately 10:37 p.m. on Tuesday evening in Crawford County, Kansas about one mile southeast of Hepler.  The National Weather Service storm survey says that this EF-1 tornado destroyed one outbuilding and damaged several items of farm equipment.

The second tornado, also in Crawford County, KS, hit about six minutes later. This EF-0 tornado touched down just north-northeast of Farlington on the west side of Farlington Lake along West Lake Road. Two carports were destroyed, and there was damage to two homes. A tree was also downed.

The third tornado, a weak EF-0, touched down just north of Buffalo, Missouri along Rocket Road at around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. Officials with the National Weather Service say the tornado started just west of highway 65 along Highway C and ended near the intersection of Rocket Road and Highway 73. Surveys report several trees were blown down along with numerous large tree branches. Several outbuildings and barns were damaged with one barn being completely destroyed.  A truck was severely damaged from debris, and one home had severe roof damage. The path was approximately one mile long and 100 yards wide with winds estimated at up to 80 m.p.h.

The fourth tornado, an EF-1, briefly touched down in Laclede County, Missouri about four miles west of Lebanon along Foxtail Road at around 12:51 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Numerous trees were uprooted or snapped. Minor roof damage also occurred to a framed home and nearby mobile homes.

These tornado confirmations follow numerous reports of straight-line wind damage throughout our CWA. Additionally, many locations reported hail ranging from pea-sized up to 1.75 inches in diameter.

This is the first severe weather outbreak we’ve seen in quite a while throughout the Springfield, Missouri County Warning Area. Fortunately, there are no reports of fatalities or major injuries. Click here for more details including an interactive map from the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Springfield.

Record-Breaking February

It seems February came in like a lamb and then slammed the door in our faces on its way out; not before setting some records, though!

The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Springfield, Missouri says February 2017 was a record-breaking month setting new highest monthly average temperatures at all 4 automated weather sites within the Springfield, Missouri County Warning Area. Springfield, Joplin, West Plains and Vichy all broke previous records! Most locations were around 9 to over 10 degrees above normal for the month.  Precipitation was on the low side for much of the area with Springfield, Joplin and Vichy all in the top 10 driest February’s on record.

For more details, click the graphic below:

Missouri Ozarks February 2017 Climate Summary