Alachua Co. EMWIN Project

Alachua Co. EMWIN Project
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Spotter Training Class!
Dec 9, 2010 - 6-9pm
Alachua County

  December 9, 2010
  6:00-9:00 pm

"Bring a friend!" -Dave Donnelly

  Alachua County Public Health Auditorium
  224 SE 24th St
  Gainesville, FL

To register, contact:
  David Donnelly
  (352) 264-6500

Instructor will be Al Sandrik.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Spotter Training Class Notice:
Alachua County - December 9, 2010

Two years and eight months since OUR last spotter training class, and eight FLAGLER County spotter classes later, a spotter training class has FINALLY appeared on the NWS-JAX board for Alachua County...

Alachua December 9, 2010
6:00-9:00 pm

Alachua County Public Health Auditorium
224 SE 24th St
Gainesville, FL

To register, contact:
David Donnelly
(352) 264-6500

Instructor will be Al Sandrik.

A PERSONAL COMPLAINT: Spotters are required to have refresher training every two years. Because of the immature actions of quite a number of Alachua County ham radio operators who have caused a number of pretty serious problems, our own local area spotter program has pretty much disappeared and been dissolved down to a web page only, while Alachua County has been *severely* prejudiced and NWS employees have actually been *afraid* to come down here to give any classes at all for 2-3/4 years. Angie does classes for every *other* county in the NWS-JAX CWA but seems utterly *frightened* to show her face here, anymore. So many bad things have happened. Government officials took actions based on gossip, and now they're responsible for those actions. They made some serious mistakes of judgment and management and they don't know how to APOLOGIZE much less FIX the things that they were duped into doing by the hams. ANY acknowledgement opens them up to a lawsuit. At the same time, FLAGLER County has had it's *pick and choose* of up to THREE CLASSES A YEAR - at least EIGHT since we had OUR last class. ...Maybe more - I'm still researching it. That's an inexplicable favoritism, and it's just not right.

Regardless of what those hams have done, taking it out on innocent people who had NOTHING to do with it all is NOT right. The spotter program, and the training classes, MUST continue, regardless. If NWS is worried for their safety, then they can always get security to accompany the instructors. But spotters *must* be refreshed every two years, regardless. That is an NWS mandate.

Meanwhile, I propose that if the hams are a problem, THEN STOP COOPERATING WITH THE HAMS UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THEY LEARN. The rest of the ham community will be forced to follow through and get ON them. It WORKS. You just need *solidarity* to make it happen. There is a serious problem with the local ham community and it needs to be addressed head on. If need be, I would suggest putting a two-year cessation on all cooperation with ALL Alachua County ham programs, and *force* them to sit down and talk amongst themselves about self-policing and doing the right thing and taking charge when bad apples cause harm to others. Without that, ***there are no consequences*** and nobody has any reason to *stop* what they're doing. PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN...and it shocks people, makes them think. GARS, GARC...these clubs need to be made aware of what their members are doing, and to seriously stop and think about such things, and stop *avoiding* the very serious things that are right in front of their faces. These guys don't like to acknowledge the bad. They're like some abuse victims...they continually turn a blind eye and let the abuse continue to happen, thinking if they just ignore it "it'll go away on it's own". You have to take charge, or you'll just keep getting hit. At this point, their members have caused so much harm that they could face lawsuit and total dissolution.

Myself, so much harm has been brought to me personally, and to other people, and so many crimes have been committed, that I'm *actually* thinking of bringing a real lawsuit against some people in NWS-JAX *and* against Alachua County government. This is SO BAD what has been done! (sigh)

Meanwhile, reinstate the non-ham *civilian* spotter core - which worked perfectly and HAD no problems because it stayed SEPARATE from the ham community (while still allowing COOPERATION between hams and EM). This is WHY Alachua County SKYWARN was civilian-run and avoided hams and EM...we didn't want the damned politics and egos. WE didn't NEED dues, donations, or grants. We did our job and JUST the job that we were supposed to do: LOOK UP, and REPORT! That's IT! There is NO OTHER DUTY for a spotter! Security background checks, incident command training, EMRISS training, CERT membership, ham membership, emergency management security clearance, classes held inside buildings REQUIRING any of the above...these things are not supposed to be required for a spotter. That's ARES, RACES, etc. Those are totally separate things. SKYWARN can work WITH those groups. But it is supposed to be separate and of it's own. When you try to join it with these other things, problems happen, and there is politics, and unnecessary over-management for something that is supposed to be very simply run.

If THIS class gets postponed, then I *strongly* encourage people to make complaints to NWS-HQ in DC and call attention to it all. This is ridiculous. It really needs to be brought to public attention if these guys can't start getting on the ball and taking charge.

More information about the REASONS for the Alachua County prejudice can be found here: .


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Webpage Watch/Warning Map Temporarily Broken...

Bare with us. We just upgraded to a new beta version of the EMWIN software and apparently there is a bug which prevents the map from being properly transferred to the web site.

We're working on this as we speak.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gust Front Funnel Cloud ('Gustnado')
June 29, 2010
Gainesville, FL

Date/Time: June 29, 2010, 5:44pm ET
Location: Gainesville, Alachua County, FL

[Image Copyright (C) Steven A. Robicsec 2009. All Rights Reserved.]

Photo by Dr. Steven A Robicsek, MD, PhD. Taken June 29, 2010 at 5:44pm, from atop the Seagle Building on W. University Avenue, looking west at the Ben Hill Griffith Stadium.

This is not actually a "tornado", but something more like a large dust devil. If you remember your spotter training, a true funnel cloud "hangs pendant from a wall cloud." Gustnadoes are actually not part of or connected to the cloud base. From the New World Encyclopedia...

"A gustnado (gust front tornado) is a small, vertical swirl associated with a gust front or downburst. Because they are technically not associated with the cloud base, there is some debate as to whether or not gustnadoes are actually tornadoes. They are formed when fast moving cold, dry outflow air from a thunderstorm is blown through a mass of stationary, warm, moist air near the outflow boundary, resulting in a "rolling" effect (often exemplified through a roll cloud). If low level wind shear is strong enough, the rotation can be turned horizontally (or diagonally) and make contact with the ground. The result is a gustnado. They usually cause small areas of heavier rotational wind damage among areas of straight-line wind damage. It is also worth noting that since they are absent of any Coriolis influence from a mesocyclone, they seem to be alternately cyclonic and anticyclonic without preference."

This is truly an amazing shot. It's difficult enough to catch any KIND of a funnel here in Alachua County; but to catch one placed perfectly right next to the stadium like this is sure to destine this particular photo for some small amount of fame in the least. Congratulations to Steve on nailing this one! This is a great shot!

I've talked to Bill Quinlan, TV-20 Meteorologist, and he advises that in talking with the NWS they thought they were seeing a convergence of two outflow boundaries in the vicinity. Bill said that he was looking at the radar when this was actually happening and he said that this funnel occured at the very outside edge of the storm, where the outflow/gust front was.

We're not exactly sure just WHERE the funnel is actually touching down...behind the O'Connell Center?...over Lake Alice? It is obviously picking up a lot of dust. We know that the point of photography is at the Seagle Building. And the funnel is located between the southern edge of the west wall of the stadium and the south end zone score board (the building with the antennas on top of it). This narrows things down a bit. But now we need someone at ground level from that area who actually saw it so that they can point to us a differrent specific direction and this will allow us to accurately pinpoint exactly where the event actually occured. So if there's anyone who lives in any of the dorms in that vicinity who actually saw this, please do contact us so that we can try to narrow this down more.

This photograph demonstrates perfectly how there are things out there which can LOOK like a funnel cloud or a tornado, but which actually are not. This is an excellent "look-a-like", and I've been hunting for these kinds of photographs for a while.

(This may well be the first-ever photograph of a gust front funnel ever taken in Alachua County.)

For more examples of severe related photography and videography, see the Alachua County Area Storm Spotter's Field Guide.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

EMWIN Downlink Frequencies Under Attack By Broadband Interests


For those SKYWARN spotter and ARES/RACES groups across the US which make use of EMWIN to distribute weather bulletins to their spotters, hams, and to their local communities, some kinda scary news...


From the EMWIN-Users listgroup: "Of special interest to EMWIN users and vendors is FCC Public Notice DA-1035 (ET Docket No. 10-123) released on June 4, 2010 calling for public comment on the extent and manner of use of the 1675-1710 MHz frequency band by non-federal users."

The FCC is calling for comments on the feasibility of the idea to share (or I'm not sure...possible take) the current frequencies now used for EMWIN downlink with broadband (cellular) services, which could interfere with (or cease) EMWIN downlink for many users across the country and other parts of the world...including the downlinks thousands of Emergency Management Agencies now enjoy across the nation and even abroad. Problem is, they've only given us until the 28th to respond. ...Of THIS month. That's right. As of today (the 11th), you have 17 days to find every possible example of EMWIN use across this country and abroad - and to have each and every one of them respond and make us look legitimitely important. Do you know how to get thousands of Emergency Management and Civil Defense Agencies - who apparently don't even at this time know that this is even happening much less that they are supposed to defend themselves - to suddenly up and grab muskets and defend the use of their EMWIN systems with comments?

EMAs and CD agencies use EMWIN to get weather and emergency information SIMULTANEOUSLY with their NWS kin. The EMWIN data downloaded directly from the GOES satellites is received and redistributed IMMEDIATELY - on the order of a whole two MINUTES faster than the NWR weather radio system does. In severe weather and emergency situations, two minutes is a LOT and allows Emergency Managers and CD agents that much more time to decide what to do. That can save lives.

In the Pacific, and even recently in Haiti where our government just GIFTED an EMWIN ground station, EMWIN is the only source of hurricane and other emergency-related information. They have nothing else.

There are many places around the country that don't HAVE cable or DSL. In these places, EMWIN is much appreciated.

Sharing with broadband could introduce interference problems which could mean loss of transmitted data and the thought that the FCC might even consider this acceptable is kind of ludicrous. What are they thinking?

There's the thought that EMWIN could be distributed by other means, such as over the Internet. I disagree with this, however. The whole reason EMWIn was originally created was to give Emergency Management Agencies and Civil Defense agencies a means with which to receive the latest weather data as early as possible to give the fastest possible reaction time. Forcing redistribution through the internet is just non-feasible. It introduces likelihoods for serious delays. The more servers you have between the satellite and the end user the more liklihood for breakdowns, downtimes, susceptibility to things like hackings and DOS attacks, or delays from just plain traffic overload. Weather data distributed via the internet could introduce unacceptable delays from hours to days, which would make EMWIN data non-feasible any longer as an Emergency Management tool, a Civil Defense tool, or anything more than a notification method of "convenience" and "curiosity" than anything that could be used to help save lives by giving the fastest possible notification times. Internet distributuion would introduce some of the SLOWEST POSSIBLE notification times.

EMWIN has been around for many many years, and it is not the same itty-bitty thing that it started out as. It has improved greatly, adding more bulletins, more useful graphics, and we were right in the middle of a transition to even FASTER downlink speeds when the FCC came along with THIS stupidity.

EMWIN doesn't just offer weather bulletins. It offers civil emergency-related bulletins such as warnings for hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches, road hazards, hazardous materials accidents, telephone outages, law enforcement emergencies, nuclear hazards, attack warnings, etc. It offers varioius graphics, too, such as satellite and radar and forecast plots.

The EMWIN system costs little to set up and maintain. The software is cheap and can do many awesome things - including starting other programs on issuance of a watch or warning, or setting off external equipment such as flashers or sirens using X10 capability.

Scary is that some towns across the US actually depend on te EMWIN downlink to set off their sirens during weather emergencies.

Here is an email from the EMWIN Staff, sent to the EMWIN-Users listgroup.

Here is a link to the actual FCC Notice. Use this document's guidelines to also respond with your comments.


- Sudden odd behavior on the part of NWS employees. Emails to NWS (especially EMWIN-related-) employees with questions having anything to do with the EMWIN issue go unanswered. This is highly unusual considering that the employees emailed NEVER ignore an email and are ALWAYS otherwise VERY helpful and anxious to respond. This would seem to indicate that there is some sort of a gag order is in place. Should we contemplate requesting FOIA copies of any internal memoes so ordering employees to keep quiet?


We need to write the FCC and get as many people and orgainzations and agencies to respond as possible. Harp on our numbers - how many of us are actually using the downlink; and on the SPEED with which EMWIN allows us to receive the bulletins - on par with our NWS counterparts, often on the order of minutes before they actually go out over the NWR or are received using internet-based commercial resources. Mention how EMWIN is used in your area. Be specific.

Don't let apathy in. Don't GUESS at how this battle will go and assume that there's gonna be a last-minute cavalry rescue by someone in government who "has to know" and who will take care of the problem for us. That may or may not happen. More I ask around, more it seems NOBODY KNOWS about this in government circles!

1) Make your comments! You can mail them in, or you can make them online using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: or the Federal eRulemaking Portal: Don't just click these links first, though. READ THE FCC PUBLIC NOTICE AND ADHERE TO THEIR GUIDELINES!

2) Write, email, and/or visit your local Senators and Representatives. Danny Lloyd's blog site (People To Write Concerning FCC Docket 10-123) lists how you can do this.

3) Contact the Press,too. If you use EMWIN user (are you an emergency manager? EMWIN sysop or manager? end user of EMWIN who receives bulletins FROM the system? does your University make use of it? your TV station?), let THEM know that we could be losing the EMWIN downlinks. Why not. Couldn't hurt. What's the worst that could happen? Go for it. The more local people who contact their local Press asking them to do a story, the more interested they'll note that people are, and the more likely they'll be to do a story. Contact TV stations, and newspapers big AND small. Tell them how you've been using EMWIN and what good it has done for you. Emphasize it's importance in your community. Hit the NATIONAL networks, too! ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, Headline News, etc. Again, more we request air time, more likely they will. HIT em!

4) Join listgroups like EMWIN-Users, and WxMesg to keep yourself abreast of the latest.

If you're an ARRL member:

5) Email your Section Managers so that they know what is going on. They can spread the word down into their own sections. (Note: The linked-to page only works for active ARRL members, unfortunately.)

6) Contact the ARRL's Regulatory Information Branch (ARRL Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson/N1ND, and ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay/W3KD). The more who write them, they more they'll think this matters to the hams. The hope is to get thier legal and regulatory departments to look into this and maybe at LEAST suggest ways for us to handle this, or at BEST maybe they'll even jump personally on the bandwagon, themselves.

Some other links on the subject:

- Potential L-band Frequency Sharing - from NOAA-EMWIN Page
- What' - NOAA/GOES Satellite Communications At Risk Due To Proposed Frequency Spectrum Auction. This site gives excellent description of the problem, and how vastly the auction affects things. Use this to educate yourself.
- People To Write Concerning FCC Docket 10-123 - Please carbon copy any correspondance with the Department of Commerce, NOAA or NWS to your Senator and Representive. Because of the short time span, you will want to consider also calling your Senator and Representative.
- StormReady Guidelines - You will notice that EMWIN is the second item listed, with a recommendation to use a satellite dish. The EMWIN service is such a value that it is listed right after NOAA Weather Radio.
- Emergency Management Broadcasting Frequencies - courtesy Zephyrus Electronics, Inc. - This could possibly be used as a starting point to show widespread use of EMWIN across the United States. Could also be used as a contact list to notify these groups of the EMWIN issue and to cooperate and put in their own comments - even if they're no longer "retransmitting", but still use EMWIN for other things. I count some 62 sites in here!

We've been given LESS THAN THREE WEEKS to compose comments and submit them to the FCC. That's kinda ridiculous, but there it is. So let's move on this. Spread the word fast. Compose away people. Join lists such as EMWIN-Users, EMWIN Broadcasters, and WxMesg, too, for more information, and for ideas and suggestions on what to mention in your comments.

UPDATE - 10/11/10: Hard work slowly paying off. We've got word ARRL is a sleeping giant actually researching to make their own response, but they've got a couple of ham-related frequency fights going on that they want to handle, first. As well, NOAA finally issued a PNS bulletin this afternoon acknowledging the EMWIN problem and advised that they too will be submitting a response.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

CANCELLED: May14 Spotter Training Class - Alachua County

The Basic & Advanced SKYWARN spotter training class that was to be held on Friday, May 14th, 2010 has been CANCELLED.

Reason given: "...Due to unforseen circumstances."

Alternate date given: October 15, 2010. (sigh)

Contact Dave Donnelly for more information: (352) 264-6500, or at email

Our apologies for any inconvenience.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

EMWIN Has Transitioned To EMWIN-N On GOES-East Now

EMWIN on GOES-East transitioned to EMWIN-N on April 24th. EMWIN users on GOES-East that don't have EMWIN-N capable systems should repoint to GOES-West, now.

EMWIN Users on GOES West will be unaffected.

- The main EMWIN web page ( and the EMWIN-N Transition web page ( has been updated with additional transition and equipment vendor information.
- The EMWIN GOES-East Transition flyer PDF, that describes the transition, is available for download here:
- If you have additional questions, please email:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lots of Weather Videos Uploaded!

Uploaded a ton of weather-related videos that I've taken over the years and I've made them now available, online. They include videos of downburst events, hail events, a wall cloud seen in Waldo, and more. They can be found under "Weather-related videos" at Todd Sherman's Video Pages. If you'd like to use any for educational purposes, let me know. While there feel free to also browse other videos I've taken - including space shuttle launches, various vacations videos, and more.


Do you have any weather-related videos that you think might be interesting or educational? Please let us know! We might be interested in placing it on our site. If you've got an interesting tape, contact us and let us take a look. We're especially interested in videos which show various types of storms and features WITHIN storms: corkscrewed striations in towers, anvil lips, overshooting tops (bubbly ones especially), mammatus, inflow stingers/tails, wall clouds, funnels clouds, tornadoes, gust fronts/outflow boundaries, gustnadoes, dust devils, lightning (CC, CA, CG, anvil zits, crawler lightning), etc., etc.

Basic & Advanced Spotter Training Class
Alachua County, FL
May 14, 2010


There will be a Basic & Advanced SKYWARN spotter training class on Friday, May 14th, 2010, from 6 to 9pm, at the Alachua County EMA, 1100 SE 27th Street, Gainesville, FL. Contact Dave Donnelly to register at (352) 264-6500, or at email Instructor will be Angie Enyedi, from NWS Jacksonville.

(5/3 - I've heard a rumor that this class has been cancelled but I will refrain from removing this announcement until I have seen confirmation duplicated in a few local ham and EM listgroups and on TV-20. Until such time I will consider my seat still reserved and I WILL be attending on the 14th, myself. -Todd)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Basic & Advanced Spotter Training Class
Columbia County
March 23, 2010

There will be a Basic and Advanced Spotter training class at the below location in Columbia County for those who are near your two-year limit and are due for refresher spotter training.

Pre-registration is requested for this class. They have ample seating so if you've got friends, invite em and have them register, too.

Basic & Advanced Skywarn Training for North Florida

Who: NWS Instructor Angie Enyedi
When: March 23, 2010 (Tuesday) 6:00-9:00 PM
Where: Shiloh Baptist Church
173 SW Shiloh St
Fort White, FL

Contact information to sign up:
Leila Lindsey
Tel: (352) 339-4018

This class is hosted by Columbia County Emergency Services.
Free and open to the public.
Trainees are encouraged to participate as Weather Spotters,
however, continued participation is not mandatory.

What is a Storm Spotter?
The Skywarn spotter program is a nationwide network
of volunteers trained by the National Weather Service (NWS)
to report significant weather. Anyone is welcome to participate.

Why Skywarn ?
The NWS's mission is to protect lives and property.
When weather conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms
or tornadoes are expected to develop, a severe thunderstorm or
tornado WATCH is issued. A Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado
WARNING is issued when severe weather has been reported by
a Skywarn spotter or indicated by Doppler radar. Skywarn
volunteers become the NWS's eyes and ears, helping to provide
better weather watch and warning services.

Email: Leila Lindsey

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Imposter AC-SKYWARN Twitter Account

Someone has apparently created a duplicate/imposter Twitter account called "alachuaskywarn". This is not our account.

The real Twitter account for Alachua County SKYWARN is "acskywarn" and has a much larger membership base. Unfortunately, some people will not recognize this and will inevitably become confused.

We apologize for this but we have absolutely no control over it. There are some rogue ham radio operators out there who were jealous of how well Alachua County SKYWARN was doing and they went out of their way to try to destroy it. They put on an extremely poor show and went out of their way to stalk, harass, scare and cause harm to myself and a number of my friends, even attacking their careers. They were not successful in destroying the organization itself, or it's web page, or it's web presence. However, they were entirely successful in completely destroying any chance for further SKYWARN spotter training classes inside Alachua County for...well...indefintely. NWS-JAX and ACOEM are too afraid of what the ham radio operators here have been doing here to pursue such a thing for now, and both NWS and ACOEM are rather disgusted. Unfortunately, what happened here in Alachua County has also affected the SKYWARN program across the entire NWS-JAX County Warning Area, as well. Mistakenly thinking that the problem laid with the civilians rather than the hams, NWS-JAX took it out on the wrong program: the civilian spotter program here, rather than the ham radio community. NWS-JAX no longer officially recognizes civilian programs across the ENTIRE County Warning Area. This is gravely unfortunate. This means that spotter classes must now be called for and handled by ACOEM and only ACOEM and since ACOEM is no longer interested in spotter training classes due to what has been happening down here, there will likely be no more spotter training classes for quite a while. The story is long but can be had from here: .

They've created imposter Yahoo accounts, too. The real Yahoo account is "ac_skywarn" (the AC-SKYWARN Email Alert List). The imposter account is "AC_Skywarn", which was created by Melissa Royce to deliberately confuse people.

She's also sent me harassing emails before by forging my name in Yahoo and creating an account in my name there, then sending me a harassing email and then deleting the account thinking she'd be hiding the evidence. However, on checking the header information in the email, it pulled up her husband's old personal web page (now no longer existant).

She's not a very bright stalker; but a stalker nonetheless. I suppose she feels very proud of what she does. Everyone take a moment of silence to clap for her in your minds...


Okay. Everybody done?

It's unfortunate that I have to deal with people like this. But there yuh go.


Updated the following pages...

Made some changes/additions to the following web pages:

Some Local Area Severe Weather Photography

July 17, 1997 Downburst Event - Gainesville, FL

May 14, 2000 Hail Event - Gainesville, FL

July 20, 2000 Severe Wind Storm - Gainesville, FL

March 01, 2003 Hail Event - Monteocha, FL

Todd Sherman's Weather-related Videos