Traffic handling: Unnecessary repetition wastes time

Recently I was listening to an SSB section traffic net and heard a region net representative passing inbound traffic to another station for local delivery. Conditions were good and the two stations seemed to have no trouble hearing each other. The region net representative sent the entire text like this (this was not the actual message I heard):

WITH THE STORM SEASON APPROACHING MAKE SURE YOUR SKYWARN TRAINING IS CURRENT X CHECK WITH YOUR EC OR SKYWARN COORDINATOR WITH THE STORM SEASON APPROACHING MAKE SURE YOUR SKYWARN TRAINING IS CURRENT X CHECK WITH YOUR EC OR SKYWARN COORDINATOR 

No, that’s not a typographical error. The region net representative sent the entire text and then immediately sent it again, without warning.

When reception is good, this kind or repetition wastes time, which could be a real problem during a period of high volume (e.g. after a disaster). Even in poor conditions, it’s rarely necessary to repeat an entire message. We instead wait for the receiving station to request “fills” (parts of the message he missed or was unsure of) and repeat only the needed information.

In addition, the ARRL NTS Methods and Practice Guidelines (MPG) provide a procedure a sending station should use when the operator feels unrequested repeats are necessary for clarity:

2.1.4.7 I SAY AGAIN, (use #1) To REPEAT FOR CLARITY Say the group(s), then “I say again”, repeat the group(s), and then continue. It is wise to limit repeats for clarity to one group at a time to avoid confusion with use #2 below. In bad radio conditions, however, repeating phrases or whole lines of a message can increase the chance for correct copy.
“WHISKER I say again WHISKER … ” 

Note that the MPG indicates that all such repetitions should be introduced with the phrase, “I say again.” The region net rep I heard did not use that phrase, so the copying station probably thought the first word of the repeat (“with”) was actually the next word of text. Note also that the MPG indicates that the most a sending station should repeat at a time is a “line of a message,” not the entire text.

Let’s all model best practices, as outlined in the MPG, when we pass traffic, especially if we’re serving in official capacities such as region net representative or net control station. Our failure to do so is one way that less experienced operators learn bad habits.

NWS Infographic.

The northern Indiana National Weather Service office published the infographic above along with the information below:

Hot and muggy conditions will remain this evening ahead of an approaching cold front. This front is expected to spark the development of showers and thunderstorms that will move into the area later this evening, most likely after 8 pm EDT. There remains a slight risk for a few of these storms to be strong to severe with damaging winds and heavy rainfall as the main threat. This threat will be highly conditional depending on whether or not the storms can organize before instability is lost as the sun sets. Cooler, less humid air will move in behind the front with highs in the 80s for the weekend. For the latest advisory and forecast information see our website at www.weather.gov/iwx.

IWX: Severe weather looking less likely

The best chance for severe thunderstorms today will be between 8 p.m. EDT and midnight across the northern part of the forecast area of the northern Indiana National Weather Service office (e.g. north of the Indiana and Ohio toll roads). That’s according to an Area Forecast Discussion that the office issued at 4:29 p.m.

Atmospheric conditions that support storm development are on their way, especially the upward forcing provided by a cold front and a strong change in wind speeds with altitude. But by the time those conditions get to the office’s forecast area, the atmosphere will have become more stable, as it usually does as temperatures fall in the evening. If instability is insufficient by the time the cold front arrives, we might get rain but no severe storms. If severe storms do form, the main threat will be damaging straight-line winds.

Local NWS office writes Facebook update on storm possibilities

NWS logo

The northern Indiana National Weather Service office posted the following message on its Facebook page at 4:14 p.m. EDT:

“We’re in “wait and see” mode here at the office this afternoon. The atmosphere is unstable enough to support thunderstorms but not much has developed so far. The main cold front is still draped back in western WI to central Iowa. We will be watching that closely as it moves southeast into the area later this evening. If storms do fire along the cold front, there is a possibility that some could be strong to severe with damaging winds as the main threat. We will continue to monitor the situation as time goes on and will keep you posted!”

Chemical fire in Columbia City causes injuries, triggers evacuations

Hazmat graphic

A chemical fire in Columbia City has reportedly injured some people, forced others to evacuate and led officials to ask some Columbia City residents to turn off their air conditioners. Read more in this report from WANE-TV.

In addition, help from the Fort Wayne Fire Department is on its way to Columbia City as of the time of this post.

Slight changes to severe outlook at midday

Probability maps from 12:30 p.m. Day 1 Convective Outlook
Probabilities of severe weather within 25 miles of a point between 12:30 p.m. EDT today and 8 a.m. EDT tomorrow. Top map: Probability of damaging thunderstorm winds or wind gusts of 50 knots (58 mph) or higher. Middle map: Probability of one inch diameter or larger hail. Bottom map: Probability of a tornado. Learn more about probability numbers.

The National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center (SPC) made slight changes to the geography of severe weather risk areas in the updated Day 1 Convective Outlook it issued at 12:30 p.m. EDT.

A slight risk of severe weather continues for northern Indiana, northwestern Ohio and most of lower Michigan between 12:30 p.m. today and 8 a.m. tomorrow. Damaging straight-line winds and hail remain the primary threats, with a 15 percent probability of each. The southern edge of the risk area, however, moved slightly north. As as result, the following counties covered by the northern Indiana NWS office are now outside the risk area: Grant, Blackford, Jay, southern Adams, southern Wells and southern Allen (Ohio).

Other changes include the reduction of the damaging wind probability for southern Michigan from 30 percent to 15 percent and the removal of Indiana and Ohio from the two percent risk of tornado.

Apart from the changes above, the situation remains pretty much the same as described in my earlier blog post.

Fort Wayne weather radio transmiter crippled for foreseeable future

View of NOAA Weather Radio transmitting antenna
(NWS Northern Indiana photo)

This morning, the northern Indiana National Weather Service office put out the public information statement below. For more on exactly what the problem is at the Fort Wayne NOAA Weather Radio transmitter site, see my previous blog post on the topic (complete with cool pictures!).

With severe weather possible today and tonight, now would be a good time to check your weather radio to see if you can hear the broadcast. If you’re not close to northwestern Fort Wayne, there’s a very good chance you can’t hear it. If you can’t hear it now, your radio will probably not alert you to any watches or warnings that might come out. In that case, you’ll need an alternative way to get those alerts, for example:

  • Install a weather alert app on your smartphone. I’m fond of iMap Weather Radio, even though it’s not free. It’s only $9.99 and is available in iOS and Android versions. I receive no financial gain from sales of this app.
  • Sign up for a text message (SMS) alert service. These require a cell phone with text messaging service but it need not be a smartphone. Some of which I know include:
  • Keep a local television or radio station playing within earshot.
  • Monitor a local ham radio spotter frequency (can be tuned in on any standard police scanner). The frequency for Fort Wayne is 146.88 MHz (146.76 MHz alternate).

Got other suggestions or questions? Use the comment link below.

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NORTHERN INDIANA
1102 AM EDT FRI JUL 19 2013 /1002 AM CDT FRI JUL 19 2013/

...FORT WAYNE NOAA WEATHER RADIO BROADCAST TO REMAIN ON LOW POWER
UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE...

THE FORT WAYNE NOAA WEATHER RADIO BROADCAST...WXJ-58 AT 162.550
MHZ...WILL CONTINUE TO BROADCAST AT LOW POWER FOR THE FORESEEABLE
FUTURE. PARTS ARE ON ORDER TO REPAIR THE LOW POWER AND DEGRADED
SIGNAL ISSUES THAT THE TRANSMITTER HAS BEEN EXPERIENCING OVER THE
PAST FEW WEEKS. HOWEVER...EXACT ARRIVAL TIMES ARE UNKNOWN AND
INSTALLATION WILL NEED TO BE COORDINATED WITH MAINTENANCE CREWS
DURING A WINDOW OF FAIR WEATHER.

WE APOLOGIZE FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE THIS MAY CAUSE. FURTHER UPDATES
WILL BE ISSUED AS MORE DETAILS BECOME AVAILABLE.

Straight-line wind, hail damage possible today & tonight

Wind, hail and tornado probability maps from Day 1 Convective Outlook
Probabilities of severe weather within 25 miles of a point between 9 a.m. EDT today and 8 a.m. EDT tomorrow. Top map: Probability of damaging thunderstorm winds or wind gusts of 50 knots (58 mph) or higher. Middle map: Probability of one inch diameter or larger hail. Bottom map: Probability of a tornado. Learn more about probability numbers.

See an update to this post.


The Northern third of Indiana, the northwestern quarter of Ohio, all of lower Michigan and large parts of Illinois and Indiana (see maps at left) have a slight risk of severe weather between 9 a.m. EDT today and 8 a.m. EDT tomorrow, according to the updated Day 1 Convective Outlook that the National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issued at 8:45 a.m. EDT. The slight risk area includes all counties served by the northern Indiana NWS office, except Blackford and Jay Counties.

In northeastern Indiana and northwestern Ohio, including counties in IMO SKYWARN quadrant two (again, except Blackford and Jay), there’s a 15 percent probability of damaging thunderstorm winds or wind gusts of 50 knots (58 mph) or higher or one-inch-diameter hail or larger within 25 miles of any point in the risk area. In the identified parts of Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, there’s a two percent probability of a tornado within 25 miles of any point. Learn more about these probability numbers.

Thunderstorms are forecast develop in northwestern Indiana during the mid to late afternoon hours today, according to a Hazardous Weather Outlook that the northern Indiana NWS office issued at  4:59 a.m. EDT. Those storms should shift southeastward across far northeastern Indiana and northwestern Ohio during the late afternoon and evening hours. Additional storms might develop later tonight, as a cold front gets closer.

SKYWARN storm spotter activation might be needed this afternoon and tonight. Because Three Rivers Festival is going on in downtown Fort Wayne, prompt spotter reports of wind damage and hail 10 to 15 miles upwind of downtown Fort Wayne will be particularly important (so there’s time to get warnings to the people downtown).

The SPC will update the Day 1 Convective Outlook at around 12:30 p.m. EDT. As my workload permits, I’ll post updated information on this blog throughout the day.

Slight risk of severe weather today

Wind probability map from Day 1 Convective Oultook.
Probability of damaging thunderstorm winds or wind gusts of 50 knots (58 mph) or higher within 25 miles of a point between 8 a.m. EDT today and 8 a.m. EDT tomorrow.

The Northern third of Indiana, the northwestern quarter of Ohio, all of lower Michigan and large parts of Illinois and Indiana (see map at left) have a slight risk of severe weather between 8 a.m. EDT today and 8 a.m. EDT tomorrow, according to the Day 1 Convective Outlook that the National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issued at 1:52 a.m. EDT. The slight risk area includes all counties served by the northern Indiana NWS office, except Blackford and Jay Counties.

The largest risk is damaging thunderstorm winds or wind gusts of 50 knots (58 mph) or higher but there’s also a risk of hail of one inch diameter or larger and a smaller risk of a tornado.

Thunderstorms will develop in northwestern Indiana during the mid to late afternoon hours today, according to a Hazardous Weather Outlook that the northern Indiana NWS office issued at  4:59 a.m. EDT. Those storms should shift southeastward across far northeastern Indiana and northwestern Ohio during the late afternoon and evening hours. Additional storms might develop later tonight, as a cold front gets closer.

SKYWARN storm spotter activation might be needed this afternoon and tonight.

The SPC will update the Day 1 Convective Outlook at around 9 a.m. and I’ll post a more detailed message to this blog after that update comes out.

Regarding the Day 2 Convective Outlook, the latest version of the product no longer indicates a severe weather risk in Indiana for the period from 8 a.m. EDT Saturday to 8 a.m. EDT Sunday. A slight risk remains in place for that period, however, for most of Ohio.