Never say never!!!
When we think of severe weather, we usually think of spring, not November. But, it happened today. While it was kind of surprising in a way, it wasn’t really unexpected. About 24 hours before the heavy weather hit, forecasters started talking up the possibility of severe weather. Early morning forecasts mentioned the possible need for spotter activations. The decision for a net was made about 10:00am. We got the call about 10:45 for a net to begin at noon. (Thanks for the early warning ILN.) I happened to get the call and decided to take net control myself. Steve – N8TFD has done more than his share this year, so I figured he could use the break. Little did I know he’d bail me out later.
Arriving at our net control point at WLW about 11:45, I received a briefing from the hams at the NWS office in Wilmington stating that the heavy stuff was still a few minutes out of our area. The Cincinnati radars were confirming this. So, the net was brought up early, with time to get the equipment and computers all set just right. Sometimes, when such early notice isn’t possible, we run in and have to start right away. It’s more difficult to “get into the groove” that way.
Then, just about the time the severe weather started moving in, a power failure took out our entire console. The lights were on, but our equipment and much of the equipment in the WLW newsroom was down. Uh, oh – the problem must be in the building. The generator wouldn’t solve this! Several of the staff began scrambling. And they all had the same question: “Are we still on the air?” Well, they were, but we weren’t. All I had was my HT and my laptop on battery power. Hardly enough to run a net. Luckily I was able to raise N8TFD who prepared to take over net control from his car. Just about that time, the power was restored. A few minutes later, it went out again. This time Paul Jellison WD8KMX, the Chief Engineer at WLW, and a good friend to WARN, and some of his staff began to investigate. As soon as Paul found out we were down, he said that we’d have to be moved to another circuit. My comment was, “Not Now!” (Thinking he had much more important things to restore power to) Paul said, “Yes Now.” He must have realized things were just getting interesting. Thanks Paul!
After solving our “electron deficit”, things settled down. A single narrow band of storms marched its way across the area. We got several good reports of damage, wind speed, and heavy rainfall amounts. Mark Howard – K8MH reported 60 MPH wind gusts in the Hamilton/Monroe area. Harry Epp – N8QFX reported 50 MPH winds and tree damage near Oxford. Most of our counties were under a severe thunderstorm warning at one time or another. Dave – N9JUW was calling in reports from the Ripley County net as usual. We could have used a few more reports from northern Kentucky and Clermont County. I switched to repeater frequencies in these areas and got no response to my queries. Only a couple reports came in on our primary frequency from those areas either. This is not entirely surprising, given that this net occurred in the middle of the work day and most of our spotters were probably away.
About 3:15 PM, we were given permission by the National Weather Service to secure the net and go home. Thanks go out to a lot of people. Thanks to the staff at WLW for getting us back on the air. Thanks to Steve – N8TFD for taking the net while we solved the power problems. And thanks to all of our spotters who, as usual, provided us with good information for the NWS.
Hopefully we won’t have to do it again until next spring.