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SKYWARN storm spotters to hold radio event this weekend

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Storm spotters can be considered the unsung heroes of the disaster relief business.

As such, National Weather Service offices from around the country will take to the airwaves again this weekend (December 6-7), to celebrate SKYWARN Recognition Day 2013.

This will be the 15th consecutive year that SKYWARN will be honored for helping train volunteers to spot and report dangerous conditions - a process that saves lives and reduces property damage.

About 75 regional weather offices have registered for this year's ham radio celebration, including those in Albany, Taunton, Mass. and Philadelphia, according to NOAA, the parent agency of the weather service.

SKYWARN was founded in the 1970s as a joint venture of the NOAA and the American Radio Relay League, and has trained thousands of volunteers in storm spotting techniques.

Ham radio had been a SKYWARN staple since the early days, with many amateurs using local repeaters to look for and relay dangerous conditions to the NWS offices.

Volunteers who are not hams can report their findings by Internet or telephone, if needed.

This weekend, the participating weather service stations will operate on shortwave, VHF and UHF ham bands at varying times, and some will be connected via Internet radio links such as EchoLink and IRLP.

Communications will include voice, Morse code, as well as digital modes PSK31 and RTTY, and verification certificates will be offered by the local weather service offices.

In New England , the Taunton (Mass.) NWS office will operate its ham station, WX1BOX, on VHF repeaters including Vernon (146.79 MHz) and Killingly (147.225), plus repeaters in Eastern Massachusetts and on Cape Cod.

The National Hurricane Center in Florida will operate from its headquarters station, WX4NHC, for the full 24 hours event, and will monitor the hurricane watch frequency of 14.325 MHz.

Hams who contact any NWS stations are asked to give their call sign, location and a brief description of the local weather.

This year, since Pearl Harbor Day coincides with SKYWARN Recognition Day, hams who make any contacts between 1 and 2 p.m. Saturday are asked to state the following:

"Conditions at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, were mostly sunny and 75 degrees."

For more information on becoming a SKYWARN volunteer in Connecticut, visit the official Conn. SKYWARN home page.

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