St. Clair News Aegis (Pell City, AL)


March 6, 2014

An untold story

St. Clair County —

Those of you who know me are aware of my passion for amateur radio.  What you may not know is that I am involved up to my ears in amateur radio PR activities.  All of you that make your home in this little bit of heaven, known as Alabama, will recall a weather event of January 28th, 2014 when we received repeated, close couple, light dustings of snow that resulted in very slick roads, many stranded people and a somewhat embarrassed group of weather forecasters.  In all fairness to the local meteorological crowd with egg on their faces, snow events are very difficult to forecast accurately.
We ended up with thousands of people stranded, people at home, stranded at work, at school, on little hills, in ditches, and parking lots as well as many bent fenders and frustrated drivers.  Our normal modes of transportation were in total failure, east to west, along the I-20/59 corridor.  Some folks spent the night in their cars, in discomfort, but others were truly in distress.  The cell phone towers in and along the affected area were jammed.  Emergency services equipment and snow removal equipment had difficulty moving through the traffic jams and accidents.  This proved to be the automobile insurance adjuster’s and body shops full recovery act.  What a mess.
I went searching for the facts about the involvement of the amateur radio communities’ response to the “light Dusting” disaster.  I found very few records of the amateur communities activities, but having listened to the ham bands the afternoon, evening and late into the night of the 28th, I knew the amateur community had been very active.  This was a very different weather event than the Tornados the ham community spends much time practicing for.  The response to normal weather related event would be driven by a request from a local Emergency Management Agency.  The request for communications support would bring out the amateur radio communities.  No request was issued, and had it been it been, the local operators would also have been effected by the snow and ice and slick roads.

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