Alaska River Watch and Fire Status

**SKYWARN TEAM ALERT**

State Fire Status

River Watch Program

Current PIREP Areas of Interest: Link

National Weather Service (NWS) is responsible for monitoring ice breakup conditions throughout Alaska to assess flood threats and navigational hazards. Ground observations, aerial reconnaissance, and remote sensing are sources used to assess ice conditions. Although ice jam flooding is most common during the ice breakup season, ice condition reports are welcome during freezeup and mid-winter as well.

We have relied for many years on observations of Alaska village residents describing the river ice condition in front of the village. Supplemental aerial observations from aircraft flying at low to mid-level altitudes have significantly enhanced the information on ice conditions. Since ice conditions can vary significantly along a river and can change rapidly during the breakup process, numerous observations are needed statewide to assess the status of breakup. It must be stressed that we are looking for reliable and objective reports.

The River Watch Program is a voluntary program that is...

  • Asking pilots and village residents to provide reports of river ice conditions
  • Requesting pilot observations that can be obtained without deviation from the normal route or flight level
  • Stressing that river ice observations only be taken when it can be done safely
  • Serving the purpose to assist the NWS in providing accurate forecasts, warnings, and navigation information

River and lake ice observations can be provided to the Alaska-Pacific River Forecast Center (APRFC) via:

  • radio from aircraft to AFSS with observations for inclusion in a PIREP
  • phone at 1-800-847-1739
  • email report and/or photos to nws.ar.aprfc@noaa.gov

Additional information about the program and tools to download are available at the following links:

Program background:

Current River Watch Flood Map

Discussions have begun with the Alaska Weather Forecasting offices.  There are some disturbing facts that may affect Alaska severally as breakup begins and spring continues. It is noted the ground is still frozen, the temperatures are rising and now the storms coming in are mainly rain and could become heavy.  So as happens every year, the ice breaks up and begins to flow down river, blocking areas and causing flooding.  Since the ground is still frozen and snow is melting in the mountains and low lands, there is no place to go except into the rivers, rising the levels.

As I had put out earlier we have been asked to assist the Fairbanks and Anchorage Weather Forecast offices by submitting reports of what we have observed.  As hams scattered around Alaska and near a lot of river and streams we would be the first to observe the water rising.  So as discussion continue with the various forecasting offices, we need to prepare for 2 things.  One lets take notice of the level of the water in are area, either driving around, at home or while flying.  First of all be very careful, we don't need to travel a lot yet until we get control of this crazy virus.  2nd, if your area has flooded in the past, its going to flood this year like the worst flood we have had in the past.  Get your important items packed in waterproof containers.  Some times zip log bags, Tupperware and storage containers can save our pictures, important papers, books and electronics.

I have been putting out info and links as to where you can go to get weather spotter training and begin training for our new ALASKA SKYWARN program we are developing.  Harry/AL6F works for the Fairbanks weather office (KL7FWX) and they have a complete ham station, with Winlink established. for emergencies.  Harry is heading up our SKYWARN program.  Carol and I have taken the weather spotter training several times and just completed it on line again, but if you haven't, go to the links I provided on the MARA ARES website www.kl7jft.org and take the course.  There is a great reference book and a small test at the end. That is step one.  Next will be the SKYWARN courses that goes further into what it's about.

SKYWARN is very critical in the lower 48 where they have hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding.  Well all we have is earthquakes, flooding and snow and wind storms.  So with our unique capabilities and scattered like we are we can pass this valuable info onto the weather forecast offices to help them do their job better and could help save your neighbor and friends.  Now you may not want to be an official spotter, that's fine, but at least you have a little knowledge that would help you to help us.

To start, safely go to your near river and streams where you've seen flooding in the past and will probably see again and put in a marker, or put a surveying tape on a tree at the edge, something for a starting reference and log in the time and date, location, (lat and long if you have it), and check it about the same time each day. Driving back and forth to the store or work once we get back to it, check it and keep track of what you find.  Maybe you have an old broken measure tape fasten it to the marker or tree so you can use binoculars from a safe distance to see how the levels have changed.  Is there ice flowing are trees or ice blocking the river or stream. Do we have erosion picking up that may affect a house, neighborhood, or road?  It doesn't take you long and it is very important.

Start monitoring the VHF and HF nets and pass info along to the Net Control or get a message to me, Don/KL7JFT or Harry/AL6F.  Hear are some links that you can use to find out about flood warnings:

River Summary

Interactive River Map

Now to report weather or flooding go to these sites and please email KL7JFT and AL6F or if you have any questions.

RFC/River Forecast Center

For Fairbanks AOR:

For Anchorage AOR:

 

***FCC APPLICATION FEE COMES ON LINE 19 APRIL***

FCC $35 Amateur Application Fee Effective Date Announced

UPDATE:

ARRL News | New FCC Application Fee Will Not Apply To Amateur Radio License Upgrades

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) staff has clarified in response to an ARRL request that the new $35 application fee will not apply to most license modifications, including those to upgrade an Amateur Radio Licensee’s operator class and changes to club station trustees. The FCC staff explained that the new fees will apply only to applications for a new license, renewal, rule waiver, or a new vanity call sign. As previously announced, the new fees take effect on April 19, 2022.

“We are pleased that the FCC will not charge licensees the FCC application fee for license upgrade applications,” said ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM. “While applicants for a new license will need to pay the $35 FCC application fee, there will be no FCC charge for future upgrades and administrative updates such as a change of mailing or email address. Most current licensees therefore will not be charged the new FCC application fee until they renew their license or apply for a new vanity call sign.”

ARRL previously reported that the new $35 application fee for Amateur Radio licenses will become effective on April 19, 2022. Further information and instructions about the FCC Application Fee are available from the ARRL VEC.


The FCC released a Public Notice on March 23, 2022, stating that the amateur radio application fees, including those associated with Form 605 application filings, would become effective on April 19, 2022. The Federal Communications Commission's authority to impose and collect fees is mandated by Congress.

The $35 application fee, when it becomes effective on April 19, will apply to new, modification (upgrade and sequential call sign change), renewal, and vanity call sign applications. The fee will be per application.

Administrative updates, such as a change of name, mailing or email address, will be exempt from fees.

VECs and Volunteer Examiner (VE) teams will not have to collect the $35 fee at exam sessions.  Once the FCC application fee takes effect, new and upgrade applicants will pay the $15 exam session fee to the ARRL VE team as usual, and pay the $35 application fee directly to the FCC by using the CORES FRN Registration system (CORES - Login).

When the FCC receives the examination information from the VEC, it will email a link with payment instructions to each successful candidate who then will have
10 calendar days from the date of the email to pay. After the fee is paid and the FCC has processed an application, examinees will receive a second email from the FCC with a link to their official license. The link will be good for 30 days.

Additionally, the FCC stated that applications processed and dismissed will not be entitled to a refund. This includes vanity requests where the applicant does not receive the requested call sign.

Further news and instructions will follow as the FCC releases them.
___________________________________

FCC Instructions (not applicable until fees take effect on April 19): 
If paying fees for an application filed via the Universal Licensing System, please use the CORES FRN Registration system (CORES - Login).

FEE SCHEDULE (not applicable until fees take effect on April 19):

INDIVIDUALS
$35 FEE: New, modification (upgrade and sequential call sign change), renewal, and vanity call sign applications. All fees will be per application.
NO FEE: Administrative updates, such as a change of name, mailing or email address, or license cancellation.

AMATEUR RADIO CLUBS
$35 FEE: New, renewal, trustee change, and vanity call sign applications. All fees will be per application.
NO FEE: Administrative updates, such as a change of name, mailing or email address, or license cancellatio

Quarterly Statewide COMEX Snowmageden

The exercise will start Saturday at 0900 March 19th and run till 1400.  We will continue to train on Winlink and message handling.  Bushmaster Operations will be net control and the interface to the SEOC.  We use the standard Freq Plan ICS 205 found on the ARES Website, KL7JFT.org.

If you do not have Winlink operational yet, contact Don/KL7JFT and he will work assist in getting you operational.  In the interim we will have 147.33, 147.30, 146.85, and MATSU DMR 443.8 TS1 CC 1 TG 3102, SKY WARN Members can use the AK Skywarn TG.  3.920 MHZ will be the Guard Freq for Net Control. CW traffic will be monitored by Ed/AL7N on 3.940 or 7.113 MHZ our of Fairbanks.

Traffic Msg format for Supported Agencies will be via AK ICS 213, all other traffic will use the ARRL Message Format. Traffic can include weather reports, road reports, avalanche locations, health and welfare traffic.  Info all traffic to AD4BL/Linda, our AK SEC, also include "EXERCISE EXERCISE" in your subject lines of the message and voice comms.

Anyone who would like to assist at the Comm Center Contact Don/KL7JFT. If you would like to join ARES or SKYWARN, contact Don, also.

 

Pay your Membership Dues On Line

If you haven't paid your 2020 membership dues, please get with John/KL1XM.  Our dues is one of our main incomes to maintain the club equipment and activities.  We are also a 501c3 non-profit club so it is all tax deductible. The web site has an application form for you to fill out under Forms and you can go to the Donate tab and pay by PayPal or Credit Card, if you like.  For any other club donations we will provide you a Tax Receipt.  Also with all the benefits available thru ARRL, you may be interested in joining it also.  You have the choice of 2 magazines now, one for new hams, with your ARRL membership, you also can get good equipment insurance, pod casts on various ham subjects, new equipment evaluations, construction projects, contest, and what ARRL is doing on our behalf with new legislation.

Another item of interest is that we are allowed to use our current meeting venue by donating to the food bank, non-perishable food or paper products.  This helps out our Food Bank for the community.   And thank you for your donation.

DMR Radios

OK what is DMR Radio.

Digital mobile radio (DMR) is a limited open digital mobile radio standard defined in the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) Standard TS 102 361 parts 1–4[1] and used in commercial products around the world. DMR, along with P25 phase II and NXDN are the main competitor technologies in achieving 6.25 kHz equivalent bandwidth using the proprietary AMBE+2 vocoder. DMR and P25 II both use two-slot TDMA in a 12.5 kHz channel, while NXDN uses discrete 6.25 kHz channels using frequency division and TETRA uses a four-slot TDMA in a 25 kHz channel.

DMR was designed with three tiers. DMR tiers I and II (conventional) were first published in 2005, and DMR III (Trunked version) was published in 2012, with manufacturers producing products within a few years of each publication.

The primary goal of the standard is to specify a digital system with low complexity, low cost and interoperability across brands, so radio communications purchasers are not locked into a proprietary solution. In practice, given the current limited scope of the DMR standard, many vendors have introduced proprietary features that make their product offerings non-interoperable with other brands.

The ham versions of the Anytone, TYT,Retevis, BTECH, Ailunce, Yaesu and Alinco and a few other brands are Tier I and II.  And both Analog and Digital. The ALMR radios that the state is using and some municipalities are Tier III.

Some of the radio are Type 90 approved and work for ham also.  Prices vary 100-300 dollars.  There are some mobile version out there as well that go for 300-600 dollars.

My brand is the Anytone from Bridgecom.  This training and support they provide is top notch and no question goes unanswered.  They have several videos out on U-Tube and they have training courses at Bridgecom to take you thru the radios, programing and use.

Building your first code plug is a little daunting but their videos and support sites get you thru it, plus you can get with a buddy and share.

We currently have 4 Repeaters operational in Alaska, South Anchorage, Homer, Fairbanks and Wasilla. We organize or various groups of contacts into groups called Talkgroups and have one for Alaska, but there are several that include the lower 48 and the world.

These radios can be used on RF or thru internet/WiFi and cell phone hotspot connections.  We are experimenting in the Valley using them simplex and repeater coverage areas to see how they compare to standard Analog simplex and repeaters.

This is just the beginning.  Folks who are interested and/or are working this mode, lets put out heads together and see if we can getting going.

Don/KL7JFT

ICS COURSES

We have mentioned the basics requirements at our meetings and news letters for folks interested in Emergency Communications.

It was brought to my attention that it makes sense to complete them in the following order, not numerical order…..

“The recommendation is that folks begin with ISC 700 then 800 then 100 then 200 and finally 144.”

700 https://training.fema.gov/is/courseoverview.aspx?code=IS-700.b

800 https://training.fema.gov/is/courseoverview.aspx?code=IS-800.c

100 https://training.fema.gov/is/courseoverview.aspx?code=IS-100.c

200 https://training.fema.gov/is/courseoverview.aspx?code=IS-200.b

144 https://training.fema.gov/is/courseoverview.aspx?code=IS-144

Please let me know if any of you want a classroom setting so I can schedule that with our trainer

Please send a copy of our completion certificate to Don Bush/KL7JFT MATSU DEC, to put in your training file.

QRP EVENT PLANNING

With the sunspot cycle climbing and propagation returning (slowly) it may be nearing the time to reactivate the QRP club.  These days we have Zoom and other options.  We used to have monthly meetings here in Anchorage but perhaps Zoom will be a better choice for now.

So…what could we do?  A few ideas…

  • Have Zoom meetings
  • Have show and tell time
  • Programs…short ones about antennas, propagation and building stuff plus more
  • Build kits together.  Start small and work up
  • Make QRP to QRP schedules with other Alaska QRPers
  • If needed make 100 watt contacts, too.  Depends on propagation.
  • Have monthly competitions for most miles per watt or for longest distance
  • Maybe, just maybe a CW net but nets get a bit onerous after a while.
  • Share websites, technical sites and other related materials.
  • Some of us might get on DMR to chat as well as Zoom.
  • Start up a mail reflector for Alaska QRP members.
  • Get my 10 meter QRP beacon back up and running.
  • Other ideas?
  •  

 I do have a paid Zoom account so these ideas could be implemented.

Your thoughts or ideas?  Feedback?

73, Jim, AL7FS

http://www.AL7FS.us/

Jim Larsen

1-907-223-3548

Anchorage Alaska

Where’s Santa Quarterly Comex

Jerry KL7EDK talked to us about using the RMS without connecting to the internet. Jerry has the only hybrid station in Alaska. If the internet is down, his RMs will attempt to forward the traffic automatically via HF to an RMS that has internet. If you are sending via VHF the RMS will hold the traffic for the intended station to pick it up. The forwarding may take about 20 mins. Another method which is the fastest is peer 2 peer and works the best in Alaska. Both stations need to be in peer 2 peer mode on the same frequency.

Radio does not use the internet but takes longer. Must be delivered to the station it is being sent to an RMS but is a more secure method. Jerry will put the RMS in HF forwarding mode for the exercise.

Dean KC7FWK in Delta is working on setting up a Hybrid station which would really be good for Alaska.

The article I sent a bit ago was presented on the call by Ralph in Cordova. Seems there is a clean area east of Cordova which rarely has earthquakes and they are watching it pretty closely because they are concerned it might generate a big quake.

December exercise is on the 11th from 0900 to 1400. Theme is tracking Santa.  We will be using our skills to learn how to send traffic outside of the internet.  Using Voice, CW, and Winlink P2P methods.  All the rules we have been working with will be observed.  Reference MARA Operating & Winlink SOP v6 found on the www.kl7jft.org ARES web site.

AL7N, KL7IDA and KL7ST are going to work on the CW traffic.  AL7N does traffic watch on 7113 and 3940 during the day and would love any kind of traffic to send out.

Linda AD4BL

SEC ALASKA

BOY SCOUT JOTA

We have been asked to support the Boy Scout’s JOTA at the Scout camp Gorsuch at Mirror Lake 22700 Camp Gorsuch Rd, Chugiak. It will be Oct 16-18th, but they normally only do it for one day.  We’ll set the trailers Friday at 1000 and operate Saturday and tear down Saturday evening around 1700 if they don’t want to work Sunday.  We need about a dozen folks or more to support this, excellent training opportunity.  We could operate DMR if HF is a bust.  We need trailer pullers, setup and teardown crews, folks to interface and training folks to work with the kids to operate.  We normally make up certificates for the kids for operating.  Possibly coordinate with Tim or Ray to run packet, if it will work from the site. We are registered with the BSA and have the use of their call sign  K2BSA/KL7.  Suggested HF freqs are on their website. Please contact Don/KL7JFT so we can make sure we have enough folks on hand.  Trailers need to depart no later than 0800 from MATCOM.

13th Annual Emergency Preparedness Expo

MARA will be participating in the Annual Emergency Preparedness Expo will be held on September 25, 2021 from 10am to 3pm at the Menard Sports Complex.  Setup will be at 0900 and teardown at 1500.  We will need about 10-15 volunteers.  Please contact Don/KL7JFT at dbush@gci.net

 Pandemic protocols, as appropriate, will be in place. Hand sanitizer stations, and optional face masks will be available, especially for those not fully vaccinated. As many activities as possible will take place outdoors, weather permitting. The goal of this Emergency Preparedness Expo is to serve the needs of the community by providing all-seasons safety and disaster preparedness information and training at no cost to all residents and visitors.

This free, family-friendly event will feature:

  • Interactive games and activities
  • Disaster preparedness kit demos
  • Disaster services displays
  • Informative presentations
  • Direct to consumer sales
  • Door Prizes
  • First 100 adults through the door will receive a free preparedness kit

We will be setting up the Comm Center and Support Trailers, demonstrating Ham Radio Operations, training our newer folks and exchanging information wit the public.