This is part two of the three-part article. This month we will focus on some of the items that will help the spotter in the field.
Cell phones for text messaging and having a Twitter account is also a good idea for reporting directly to the NWS. Cell phones can keep spotters aware of the latest watches and warnings put out by the NWS. It can also tell the spotter what towns or cities might be in the storm’s path. The cell phone can also double as a still photo camera or can be used as a video camera. Pictures speak a thousand words as they say.
Having an app on the laptop can be a tremendous aid to help diagnose a storm. Here is some software that can be downloaded.
· Gibson Ridge Level 3 or Level 2
· Allison House (data)
· Radar Scope
· Weather Tap
Be aware these programs do have a fee to use them.
Having a handheld anemometer will come in handy for taking wind speed readings. The handheld units also provide much more information as well. Plus, some of them will upload the data to a laptop for sending this information as an attachment using D-RATS to the NWS.
Another good tool to have in the toolbox is a good strong pair of binoculars. They will help in viewing the cloud rotation or a better look at other parts of the cloud.
Go-Kits…just the same as in EMCOMM, weather spotters should have a go-kit that is taken every time a spotter goes mobile. Plan from a few hours up to a few days just in case. This go-kit is especially built for storm spotting. I would recommend looking at the ARRL’s Amateur Radio Public Service Handbook for a list of items to have in the Go-Kit but, tailor it for storm spotting. Have the last-minute items been put in the bag? It would be a good idea to make a check list of last-minute items that should be in the Go-Bag. When the bag is loaded in the vehicle DO NOT put it in the trunk. It should be where it can be reached without getting out of the vehicle.
Batteries, batteries, batteries. It is important to remind everyone to take stock of the different types and number of spare batteries that will be used. Make sure they are charged, loaded and ready to go.
I have put a couple of pages of ideas of what should go into a Go-Bag here. The Disaster Supply Kit and Last-Minute Disaster Supply Kit Items. Just remember that the bags are geared mainly for weather spotting.
I have mentioned a lot of the equipment that will be found in the go-kit above. But, just as with EMCOMM there should be personal items, medications, blankets, water, first aid kits, items for the vehicle, spare batteries, flashlight, and a copy of the Basic and Advanced Spotters Guide. Get the vehicle ready for emergencies. Have a set of jumper cables and a shovel on board. If a handheld radio is taken have spare dry cell batteries on hand. Purchase the dry cell battery pack for the radio. When the rechargeable batteries go dead in the field there will most likely not be a place to recharge them.
Keep reading. Next month we will discuss what spotters should do during pre-activation.
Questions and comments concerning this article are always welcome and encouraged. Send an email to the address shown below.
Lew Maxwell. KB5HPT
Amateur Radio Emergency Service
DEC, District 6, WTX Section
TX RACES: DRO-8A