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Skywarn logo SkywarnTM Recognition Day
Begins December 5th
HAM operator working on WFO Brownsville's equipment
Event Pays Tribute to Amateur Radio Supporters

When thunder begins to rumble or a hurricane threatens, most people think about moving indoors to a place of safety. But a select group of people have a different reaction, and when inclement weather threatens they are often called into service. These people are storm spotters, volunteers trained in observing and reporting severe weather events, not only in summer but throughout the year. When heavy rains produce flooding, a tornado touches down, or a wild fire spreads dense smoke over a highway, it is often a storm spotter who provides the report to the National Weather Service. Many of these volunteers are amateur radio operators.

Amateur radio operators have existed since radio began, and anyone can become a “ham”. A random sample of radio amateurs might include an astronaut, a school teacher or an auto mechanic. Although anyone can tune-in to the world of ham radio operators with just a modest radio, some hams invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars in radio and electronic equipment and spend years honing their communications skills. So when a ham becomes trained in severe weather reporting, it puts them in a unique position to provide valuable information directly to the National Weather Service.

The idea for the first SKYWARN Recognition Day took shape in the summer of 1999. Meteorologist-in-Charge of the Goodland, Kansas NWS office Scott Mentzer (call sign N0QE) tried to find a way to recognize the valuable contributions storm spotters make to the National Weather Service. Since many of those storm spotters were also hams, it seemed like a natural fit for the recognition to be centered on Amateur Radio.

On December 5th, 2008 at 6 PM CST to December 6th at 6 PM CST, rather than report severe weather, thousands of hams across the country will operate radio equipment to participate in SKYWARN Recognition Day. SKYWARN Recognition Day, co-sponsored by the American Radio Relay League and the National Weather Service, pays tribute to amateur radio operators for the vital public service they perform. During the 24-hour event, amateur radio operators visit their local National Weather Service office and work as a team to contact other hams across the world. Last year, contacts were made in all 50 states and 40 countries during the 24 hour event. This is the 10th year for the event nationally, and the 6th conducted at the Brownsville National Weather Service Office. If you haven't joined in the fun, make 2008 your year to do so! To sign up, please contact Brian Miller, KE5AWU, or give us a call at 956-504-1432 during normal business hours.

Once again this year, the event will be held at the National Weather Service Office in Brownsville, 20 South Vermillion Road, at the intersection of Boca Chica Boulevard on the Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport Grounds. You can often spot the office by looking for the Doppler radar dome! To learn more about SKYWARN Recognition Day, check out the web site:

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