Weather Wednesday – Weather And Ham Radio

Welcome to another Weather Wednesday. This week I’m going to pick up where I left off with my Simpsons Sunday blog and cary it over to Wednesday. Weather and ham radio do have a relationship in many ways. Most hams keep track of the propagation and listen for openings. What this means is that they are listening for signals that are farther away so they can talk to more people, especially on the VHF and UHF bands. This is called dxing and I personally like to do this because it is interesting to hear where people are from and to either hear a conversation or get into one with someone way out of town.
Hams also keep track of sunspot cycles too. At the peak of the cycle the propagation is very very good on certain bands. Atmospherics also comes into play here because this also plays a roll in propagation in that when thunderstorms are in the area, you hear crackling on am radio or what ham’s call static crashes. These are very good for judging how far or near you are to a thunder event.
All you have to do is listen to your radio during the day and for a bit at night on both the am and fm bands. You will notice an increase in the amount of stations you can pick up at night, especially on clear nights and when the winds are light. The summer is probably the best time for an opening to occur and it gets really exciting when it happens.
Another way ham radio and weather come together is with volunteer organizations such as SKYWARN and CANWARN. The ham radio community make up the core of both organizations but anybody can get involved. If you have a passion for the weather and want to help out the Weather office with spotting it this is for you. This is normally the time of year, when Warning Preparedness Meteorologists all over the world are training and retraining volunteers on storm spotting. I have been a CANWARN member since 2008 and I enjoy going to the sessions every year. I get to meet good people and learn a few things along the way too.
There are nets for both CANWARN and SKYWARN volunteers to report on severe weather in their local area and they can be very short to as long as 9 hours or so. I have a feeling that there might have been a longer net then that but I’m not sure.
Another way that weather and ham radio come together is with the recent inclusion of the Weather Radio channels on VHF radios. Some of them also have a weather alert option built in and there are also some models which have Specific Area Message Encoding on them. Personally, I don’t use the weather alert option because I have enough standalone and combined weather radio receivers for that. Also, ham radios, scanners, Marine radios and some GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service ) radios have 10 channels…. 7 NOAA weather channels and 2 marine continuous broadcast channels. The other one is blank but was used by NOAA years ago.
If you would like more information on all I have written hear, you can use the internet to look it up. Also, if you are going for your ticket your study guide will hopefully have some information on all aspects of propagation.
73 all.

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