Getting Ready For Hurricane Season
There are many ways Amateur Radio operators and organizations give back to our communities. The West Central Florida Group, Inc. was founded nineteen years ago to provide critical communications support for the National Weather Service’s SKYWARN severe weather spotter program. SKYWARN is activated on the NI4CE Repeater System whenever severe weather and tropical weather systems threaten Florida’s West Coast population. The NI4CE system relays critical severe weather reports to the National Weather Service. These reports often lead to the issuance of Severe Weather Warnings to keep the general public safe.
Our volunteer Hams normally conduct our annual Repeater Maintenance activities during March, April and May so the NI4CE system is ready on June 1st, the official start of the Hurricane Season. The CoVID-19 crisis has, so far, prevented those activities from taking place.
This year, we also have work on three Amateur Radio Weather instrument packages that needs to be completed. These devices relay real-time weather data from sites in Hillsborough, Highlands and Manatee Counties to the National Weather Service for inclusion into local forecast models. The Safer-at-Home orders have brought this work to a halt.
Another major project is the re-location of the NI4CE Digital Voice Repeater from a tower in New Port Richey to another tower in Holiday. This repeater serves Hams in Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Southern Citrus County. The repeater is currently off the air until the CoVID-19 emergency passes and a professional tower crew can install a new antenna at the Holiday site.
Our organization works with young men and women who wish to become FCC licensed Amateur Radio operators. The CoVID-19 crisis has forced us to postpone classes and Amateur Radio license testing sessions scheduled with cadets and leaders of two Civil Air Patrol squadrons in the TampaBay area. We are hoping these training and testing programs can be re-scheduled later this year.
Stay well! Stay Safe!