Monday, September 16, 2013
Amateur Radio Provides Critical Communication in Colorado Flooding Response
QST de W1AW
ARRL Bulletin 21 ARLB021
>From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT September 16, 2013
To all radio amateurs
SB QST ARL ARLB021
ARLB021 Amateur Radio Provides Critical Communication in Colorado Flooding Response
More than five dozen Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers have deployed in and around flood-stricken counties of Colorado, providing critical communication for Red Cross shelters and state and local emergency operation centers. Recent heavy rains have caused veritable mountainside tsunamis that have caused rivers and streams to overflow their banks, ravaged roads and property and displaced an undetermined number of residents. At least three people are known to have died. ARRL Colorado Section Manager Jack Ciaccia, WM0G, says that with power cut off to affected communities and many cell telephone towers along the Big Thompson River toppled by the flooding, ham radio is providing medical and health-and-welfare traffic between evacuation centers and the EOCs.
"Every EOC is being staffed by ARES people," Ciaccia told ARRL. "Almost every evacuation center has an ARES communicator, doing either voice or packet communications between EOCs and shelters."
The isolated towns of Estes Park, Lyons, and Jamestown were or still are relying solely on ham radio for contact with the outside. Jamestown has since been evacuated. "Everybody was huddled into the high school there," Ciaccia told ARRL. He was in contact with the mayor there and trying to get the community needed resources as soon as possible. Hams in Estes Park have been working out of the EOC in the Town Hall, which is on high ground. "There's no place to go. Everything's flooded," Ciaccia said. "The only ham in Lyons was working out of an evacuation center at the local elementary school." He said the National Guard has been relocating some evacuees, as the shelter has become overcrowded.
On Saturday, September 14, US Congressman Cory Gardner (R-4) visited the state emergency operation center to express his appreciation to the Amateur Radio operators responding to the historic flooding disaster. Rep Gardner asked Colorado Section Emergency Coordinator Robert Wareham, N0ESQ, to extend his thanks to all ARES members staffing positions in the field as well.
Boulder County has deployed miniature drone aircraft carrying Amateur TV cameras to survey the affected, more remote regions, for now to spot individuals who may need to be rescued. "We're still in a search-and-rescue mode," Ciaccia said, "not really in a damage-assessment mode."
Ciaccia said the drones - a fixed-wing aircraft and a hybrid gas/electric-powered helicopter - have been transmitting ATV video via UHF to the ground and simultaneously recording the video on a memory stick. The helicopter can remain in the air for more than 5 hours at a clip, recording images for officials at the EOC to evaluate. Ciaccia said Boulder County Emergency Coordinator Al Bishop, K0ARK, owns Reference Technology, the company providing the drones.
Ciaccia said that during the past year the Boulder County ARES team created the Mountain Emergency Radio Network (MERN) on its own time and money and put up two repeaters - one at Allenspark and another in Gold Hill. "The intent was to start educating people in the mountain regions to become hams," Ciaccia said. Some 65 individuals have gotten their licenses, and the team provided each with a radio. "Those radios and those people - they became the eyes and ears for their communities," Ciaccia explained.
As power was lost, the only remaining means of communication were the two repeaters operating on propane-powered generators. "The system worked," Ciaccia added, "and we were able to utilize it for emergency communication purposes." Those communities have since been evacuated.
News media accounts citing the state Office of Emergency Management say 19 Colorado counties remain under a high threat of flooding. These include Boulder, Arapahoe, Weld, Park, Jefferson, Larimer, Clear Creek, Adams, Douglas, Broomfield, Gilpin, Denver, Logan, Morgan, Washington, El Paso, Teller, Pueblo and Elbert.
State authorities are warning residents in the hard-hit counties to stay off the road. Interstate 25 from the Wyoming line to Denver has been closed, along with part of Interstate 70.
Source: W1AW Bulletin via the ARRL.
HOW TO READ PROPAGATION NUMBERS
The A index [ LOW is GOOD ]
- 1 to 6 is BEST
- 7 to 9 is OK
- 11 or more is BAD
Represents the overall geomagnetic condition of the ionosphere ("Ap" if averaged from the Kp-Index) (an average of the eight 3-hour K-Indices) ('A' referring to amplitude) over a given 24 hour period, ranging (linearly) typically from 1-100 but theoretically up to 400.
A lower A-Index generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; a low & steady Ap-Index generally suggest good propagation on the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.
SFI index [ HIGH is GOOD ]
- 70 NOT GOOD
- 80 GOOD
- 90 BETTER
- 100+ BEST
The measure of total radio emissions from the sun at 10.7cm (2800 MHz), on a scale of 60 (no sunspots) to 300, generally corresponding to the sunspot level, but being too low in energy to cause ionization, not related to the ionization level of the Ionosphere.
Higher Solar Flux generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; Solar Flux rarely affects the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.
K index [ LOW is GOOD ]
- 0 or 1 is BEST
- 2 is OK
- 3 or more is BAD
- 5 is VERY VERY BAD
The overall geomagnetic condition of the ionosphere ("Kp" if averaged over the planet) over the past 3 hours, measured by 13 magnetometers between 46 & 63 degrees of latitude, and ranging quasi-logarithmically from 0-9. Designed to detect solar particle radiation by its magnetic effect. A higher K-index generally means worse HF conditions.
A lower K-Index generally suggests better propagation on the 10, 12, 15, 17, & 20 Meter Bands; a low & steady Kp-Index generally suggest good propagation on the 30, 40, 60, 80, & 160 Meter Bands.
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