SWFL WATCH NET
Sponsored and Operated By The SWFL Tech Team
NOTE: For Simplicity, I will be using the term
“Storm” to indicate the Calamity, Disaster, or
Civil unrest that we are Experiencing.
NOTE: This is NOT ARES or RACES. We work
Alongside and Separate achieving different goals
and objectives. ARES and Other Official and
Sanctioned Communications Programs are Always Respected and we will Relay Information to these Systems only when Radio Amateurs are Unable to Contact them Directly. Our Purpose is to Establish Continuous Communications with Radio Amateurs Before, During, and After Local or Regional Actual or Forecast Events of Magnitude, and relay Skywarn information to the National Weather Service Office in Ruskin Florida. It is Not our Purpose to relay shelter information or Damage Reports to Local Governments or ARES.
Further we aim to Facilitate Communications between Radio Amateurs and other Cut Off Individuals to Points Outside the Affected Area using various Means Including HF Winlink, HF Digital, and HF Voice. Our Operations will Always take Place Outside any Frequencies or Repeater Pairs being Utilized or on Standby for Use By any Local Government, ARES Team, or Emergency Management for Any Operations.
To Prepare for a Disaster, Weather Calamity, or Civil Unrest through Participation and Training
To Provide Pre Storm Information and Discussion in a Radio Net format
To Test and Ensure Readiness of Communications Equipment Before The Storm Arrives
To Monitor 2Meter Call and an Operating Repeater to provide Local Information as Requested
To Maintain a Watch Net as the Storm Approaches or Event Unfolds
To Monitor and Maintain an “On Demand Net” During the duration of any Calamity or Event affecting SWFL
To Quickly Establish a Full Range of Communications Methods following the Storm
Quickly began to relay information as requested to Points Outside the Affected Area.
Assist Radio Amateurs with Connections, Relays or Assistance as requested when able
The SWFL Watch Net will Meet, Train, Plan, and Practice for Operations Before, During and After Events of Magnitude. When an Event or Storm of Magnitude is Forecast for our area or Unfolds without Warning The SWFL Watch Net will Active and Begin an On Demand Information and Welfare Net
When Is The Net Activated
Anytime a Storm or Potential Disaster Threatens Our Area. Generally Speaking the net will activate hours before the onset of Tropical Storm Force Winds. For Suddenly Occurring Events and Severe Weather the Net will be activated as soon as the need is recognized and the system can be activated. The Net will Close when the Threat is gone and it is Established that Power, Cell Phone, and Internet are available in the area and no further calls for assistance are being received.
This applies primarily to Hurricanes or other storms or Camilities where Advanced Warning is Possible. Prior to the Arrival of Storm Force Winds the On Demand Net will Start on the Designated Repeater Pair. We will take checkins and begin a list of folks that will be riding out the storm with us on the air. After Checkins we will pass available Storm Information from NOAA and Local Meteorologists. We will also take questions and requests for relays. We will also ask if there is anyone you are keeping in contact with that we can’t hear.
During Storm Conditions the On Demand Net will Remain Active asking for Checkins or any Emergency Traffic at 15 to 30 minute Intervals. The Net Controller will provide Hourly Updates to Net Participants as they are sent from NOAA, State and Local Emergency Management, and Local Meteorologists. Any Emergency Traffic or Requests for Emergency Assistance will be Relayed to the EOC if Direct Communication is Not Possible. It is recommended that you call your Counties ARES / DEM on the Frequencies they have Established and use our Net as a Last Resort. We love to help, but this is not our Primary Purpose, and it is theirs. On The Spot Weather Reports, Damage Reports, and Condition Reports will be taken as offered by Net Participants. We will run a Roll Call Hourly to see who we can still make contact with.
Post Storm Operation
Following the Event we will Stay Active as long as the Need Persists. If Cell Service is Down and we are Still Up, we will Continue to Operate 24/7 as we are Able to get Health and Welfare Messages out of the Affected Area. We can help coordinate assistance between Hams and Facilitate Information on Local Information, Local Frequencies, and Local Directions to Any Hams that need it. We will not take ARES or Emergency Management Routed Messages unless we are Last Resort. Again, this is not the Purpose. Calls for help should use 911 if available. If not, then call Lee County EOC on 147.165+ 127.3 (Red Channel) or 146.685- 136.5 (Channel 22) or the Color Coded Channel for your Zone. Check the ARES Standard Frequency List for More LINK. If Not in Lee County, have your ARES Operating Frequencies Programmed and Ready.
NOTE: Non-ARES Radio Amateurs are Welcomed to submit Damage Reports and Requests for Help or Assistance Directly to ARES / RACES Station Operating on Any Amateur Radio Frequency following basic Net Protocol. Have the Frequencies for Your County at the ready!
NOTE: After a Major Storm or Hurricane where Trees are damaged, Power is Out, and Most Systems are Powered Down the Radio Spectrum becomes Very Quiet and Radio propagation is Great! VHF/UHF Communication can easily get Twice the performance after a Major Storm.
We will Primarily Operate on the 444.775+ 136.5 Repeater which is Channel 34 on the ARES Standard Frequency List. This Frequency Pair is not Utilized by ARES During Emergencies. If ARES or Local Government Needs to use our Repeater, we will relinquish it immediately and announce a new one. We ask every participant that is able to also Monitor the 2Meter Call Channel to Provide Assistance to Any Hams in the Area.
Alerts will be sent by a Designated Net Controller when it is Determined that we are Activating the Net. In cases where advanced warning is available, we will send out Advanced Notices of future activations. Alerts will be sent using an Email Blast System. Participants can designate what Email Address (as many as you want) get the Email. Further you can provide your Mobile Number and your Carrier Name and I can set up Email to Text for you. More INFO This way you can get the Notifications Quickly. Alerts will Include SWFL Watch Net Activation Information as well as the Latest Information Issued by Local, State, and National Government Sources. Subsequent Alerts may be issued when changes occur in Net Times, Forecast Information, or Forecast Intensification.
Frequency List Standardization
We utilize the Lee County ARES Standard Frequency List in an Effort to Standardize a Much as Possible. LINK We will be Developing an Expanded Frequency List with a Corresponding Chirp File in the coming weeks. The Channels numbers will remain the same, but we will be filling in the gaps with other useful Frequencies.
We will Encourage all our members and Net Controllers to get Skywarn Trained and Qualified. We will facilitate that Training whenever possible. We will take and Relay any Skywarn Reports to the NOAA Office in Ruskin following the standard procedure.
Youtube, Broadcastify, and Police Scanner
When Available we will also Simulcast our Net Activities on the SWFL Tech Net Storm Watch Youtube Broadcast as well as the Broadcastify System. Links to these Internet Feeds will be provided on all Alerts when we Activate. Further we will continue to Broadcast other area Amateur Radio Feeds including SARNet. This way Family, Amateurs Outside the Area, and Anyone Interested can Listen In. I have Redundant Power and Internet here in the Shack and will Maintain the feeds as long as possible. As other folks sign on, our Capabilities will increase.
Time Base / Use
The SWFL Watch Net will use Local Time. All Alerts, Reports, and Information will be issued in Local Time. This is a Local Operation and it is NOT Necessary to Complicate anything by utilizing Non-Local Time.
Who Can Be A Net Control Station
Any Licensed Amateur Radio Operator that is Equipped for the Task. It is Suggested that All Net Control Stations have the Ability to Transmit and Receive on 2 Seperate Radios (One VHF and One UHF) Simultaneously During Storm Conditions. Redundant Power or a way to Operate for periods of time without commercial power. At least 2 Ways to connect to the Internet (Cell phone Tethering Counts) and a Hardened or Interior Mounted Antenna System. Optional Bonuses would be a Landline Phone, an HF Radio with an antenna system that is Hardened or can be Protected during the storm and Digital HF Capabilities.