Ham radio operators take part in largest ever severe weather drill

Published: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 6:46 PM

Ham radio operators take part in largest ever severe weather drill

Ham radio operators are a big part of emergency communications in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Now, local operators are taking part in the largest ever amateur radio severe weather drill. It simulates what would happen if a massive weather disaster happened here.

Just steps away from the WHIO-TV newsroom, ham radio experts come in whenever there’s the potential for severe weather to the SKYWARN office. There, Mike Carter and Don Parker today were communicating with the outside world using ham radios in a drill called Black Swan.

>>>Follow storms with LIVE storm chasers

“Dayton SKYWARN will be putting out the weather alerts that we receive from National Weather Service. This is basically following the same event we had June 29, 2012, where we had a derecho come through and do all the damage,” Don Parker, Dayton SKYWARN coordinator said.

While this is only an exercise, it mimics what’s happening now in Puerto Rico. The U.S. territory lost power from Hurricane Maria, which is keeping people there in a black hole of communications.

Volunteers with the American Radio Relay League, which certifies ham radio operators, flew to the island to help connect Puerto Ricans with their loved ones.

“They put a call out for ham radio operators on Monday ... on Thursday, 50 of them went down. They had over 350 people apply for that and they will send those down to relive the ones already down there,” Parker said.

The important role amateur radio operators play in times of disaster is why they are participating in the Black Swan exercise. This way if anything happens, they will be ready to help.

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Elwell: Don’t count on an easy winter

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 11:23 AM

Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell explains what technically classifies as a blizzard.

Up until today it may have been hard to realize that winter is now less than 60 days away. Our temperatures have been well above average for most of autumn with just a few brief cool spells.

This has led many people to believe that we are in for quite a payback for this nice weather this winter or we may be in for a quiet winter. Well, the outlook is in, and I wouldn’t count on an easy winter.

»WEATHER: Get the latest Storm Center 7 forecast

First, let’s look at what will likely be the main players this winter. It is a term you have likely heard before and likely will hear a lot more of in the coming weeks. Yep, La Niña appears to be developing and there is up to a 65 percent chance it will hold or get stronger as we head into the winter.

Just a refresher, La Niña is a term given when sea surface temperatures across the equatorial Eastern Central Pacific Ocean are lower than normal by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius. Such a contrast in ocean water temperature has corresponding influences on the atmosphere and jet stream patterns across North America. Typically, during La Niña phases, the jet stream pattern across the southern half of the United States becomes very active, supplying lots of moisture across the region. The northern branch of the Jet Stream also can reach farther south and occasionally phase with the southern branch. This phasing can lead to a stormy weather pattern, especially across the Midwest, Great Lakes into New England.

»MORE: Elwell: Science world ignores politics, preps for lunar space station

Because of the development of La Niña, the forecast for the upcoming winter is for above normal precipitation across much of our region including right here in the Miami Valley. So now the question is, can we expect more snow than normal? The answer to this is a bit trickier, because while a more active southern jet stream can bring us more frequent and bigger storm systems, it can also bring warmer air farther north, leading more to a threat of heavy rain or ice.

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Temperature patterns for this coming season will be dependent on several factors including how far north the southern branch of the jet stream can shift. But there are other key factors we will closely be monitoring which are a bit more difficult to predict beyond the short term. One of those is what we call the Arctic Oscillation. This has to do with the circulation patterns around the North Pole, more precisely known as the Northern Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) which more directly influences weather patterns across the eastern United States. During a negative phase of the NAO, westerly winds across Canada weaken, allowing arctic air to build in the region and get even colder. This cold air many times will get forced southward into the United States.

»MORE: What to know about sky events

During La Niña years, there appears to be an impact on how far south intrusions of arctic air building in Canada can move. Because of our latitude here in the Miami Valley, we are still far enough north that we will likely see near normal temperatures, although it appears there will be times with the southern jet stream may send temperatures above normal.

Okay, so enough of the mumble-jumble meteorology stuff… here is the bottom line of what we are expecting.

First, thanks to above normal temperatures over the fall, water temperatures of the Great Lakes are also above normal. That will likely mean intense lake effect snows across the region. While we normally don’t have major snow squalls in the Miami Valley from Lake Effect Snow, the wind flow off of Lake Michigan can typically lead to light snow accumulations in the area and at times, lead to brief white-out squalls which are responsible for many of the winter weather related traffic accidents. It is important to note that with the recent warmth, any snowfall prior to December would likely melt quickly due to warm ground temperatures.

Using analog data to help in forecasting (looking at past years when fall conditions were similar to how they are now), our StormCenter 7 team believes our winter may be similar to that of the 2005-2006 winter. Just to refresh what happened that winter, we saw a quick, somewhat harsh start to winter followed by a mid-winter (January) warm-up. After a relatively quiet period, several big storms during the last month of winter brought a wintry mess across the region.

While this winter is expected to be busier than that of the last couple of winters, it likely will not be as extreme as the “polar vortex” winters we experienced a several years ago. If the current pattern remains similar to that of 2005, we will likely have a mid-winter break from any extreme cold before blasts of cold and snow return to wrap up the season. Stay tuned!

Eric Elwell is WHIO StormCenter 7 Chief Meteorologist. Contact him at eric.elwell@coxinc.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Rain moves in today, cooler air arrives this week

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 3:26 AM
Updated: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 3:29 PM

Showers at times today, breezy and cool.


  • Few showers through mid-week
  • Cooler than normal temperatures
  • Windy at times

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar


5 Day Forecast with Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs

TONIGHT: Showers likely, windy and cool with temperatures falling into the 50s this evening, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs. Showers will taper a bit tonight, but clouds linger. Overnight lows will drop into the middle 40s. Still breezy at times through the night.

Kirstie Zontini

>> 5-day forecast

TUESDAY: Not as soggy as Monday, but a few passing showers are possible at any point during the day. Mostly cloudy, windy and cooler with highs in the lower to middle 50s. Winds may gust over 30 mph during the afternoon. Mainly dry with broken clouds Tuesday night. Windy and cold with lows in the upper 30s. Wind chills early Wednesday may be near freezing.

Kirstie Zontini

WEDNESDAY: A cold morning with temperatures in the 30s. Mostly cloudy through the day with the slight chance of a passing shower, mainly in the northern Miami Valley. It will be the coolest day of the week with highs ranging from the upper 40s to low 50s.

>> County-by-County weather forecast

THURSDAY: Areas of patchy frost to start the day with temperatures in the 30s. Lots of sunshine for the afternoon and a wind shift out of the south will help temperatures to climb to near 60 degrees for the afternoon.

FRIDAY: Dry to start Friday with increasing clouds through the day. A cold front will bring the chance of some showers into the evening. Highs for the day into the upper 50s.

SATURDAY: Some showers may linger to start the day, then drying into the afternoon. A chilly day and breezy with morning temperatures in the 30s and highs in the upper 40s.

WPAFB Monday Weather: Rain showers, clouds expected through the day

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 12:01 AM

WRIGHT PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE—Keep the umbrella handy today as rain showers are expected, according to Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar.

RELATED: Dayton Interactive Radar - WHIO Doppler 7

A lot of clouds will be with us in the morning, but it looks like we should be dry early on. Rain showers move in as we head closer to lunch. The rain could be heavy at times in the afternoon.

RELATED: County-by-County Weather 

Temperatures on Monday won't move much as most of us see highs in the middle, maybe upper 60s. More lingering rain is expected Monday evening. Widespread rain could add up to over 1" in spots by Monday night.

Rain returns to start the work week

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 5:02 AM
Updated: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 5:27 PM

A pedestrian tries to keep dry on Clematis Street. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
A pedestrian tries to keep dry on Clematis Street. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)(Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post Staff Writer)

We’ll see a few more clouds overnight tonight, according to Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar. Collar said a mild night and breezy night is expected with lows in the middle to upper 50s.


  • Rain moves in Monday
  • Could be heavy at times
  • A cooler day Wednesday


Monday: Showers move in, some of which could be heavy at times. The best chance for steady, and possibly heavy rain, will be in the afternoon and evening hours. While the chance for storms remains low, we can’t rule out a rumble of thunder or two. Highs will be in the middle to upper 60s

>> Download the WHIO Weather app for up-to-date forecasts

Graphic by Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar

Tuesday: A few lingering showers are possible under mostly cloudy skies. Highs will be in the middle 50s.

Wednesday: A cool day is on tap for Wednesday. Highs will be in the lower 50s and while the chance for rain is small, a couple of passing showers can’t be ruled out.

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

Graphic by Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar

Thursday: We should dry out Thursday under partly cloudy skies. Highs will be in the upper 50s.

Friday: Dry and breezy with highs in the lower 60s. The chance for rain does return Later Friday into early Saturday.