Winter Weather Standard Operating Guidelines
This document provides recommendations for Amateur Radio Operators within Linn County to provide assistance to motorists during hazardous winter weather conditions. The objectives of this operation are:
- Respond to requests for emergency assistance.
- Summon aid for stranded motorists.
- Place telephone calls for travelers delayed by the weather.
- Facilitate exchange of weather related traffic information (road blockages, major backups).
- Manage repeater traffic levels such that requests can be handled with minimum delay.
- While the primary focus is Linn County, reports and requests from adjacent counties may be supported.
All Amateurs are encouraged to monitor the developing weather situation by monitoring local media and NOAA Weather Radio (162.475 MHz) for forecasts of hazardous winter weather. Monitoring local public safety radio frequencies may also useful to learn when driving conditions are becoming hazardous (note section 5).
3. Operational Guidelines
The type of operation we encourage depends on the existing conditions. The possible modes of operation are just monitoring, or establishing a STANDBY net.
3.1 Monitoring to provide assistance
Any station is encouraged to monitor the 146.745 repeater if driving conditions are hazardous, but not dangerous. This would typically correspond to times when the NWS has issued a Winter Weather Advisory. If the repeater is quiet for an extended period of time, monitoring stations are encouraged to announce their availability with an announcement similar to:
“K0XYZ monitoring for motorist assistance”.
3.2 STANDBY Net Operation
When weather conditions are potentially dangerous, a STANDBY net may be considered. This would typically correspond to Winter Storm Warning or Blizzard conditions. The purpose of announcing a STANDBY net is to control the volume and nature of traffic on the repeater to a level that ensures that assistance can be provided and weather related traffic reports can be exchanged.
Note that during off-hours or during conditions so hazardous that very few mobiles are active (e.g. late at night during a Blizzard), a STANDBY net may not be necessary, as there is no traffic to control. Simply monitoring the repeater is sufficient.
During a STANDBY net, the EC, an AEC or other trained net control operator establishes himself as the net control station on 146.745. Net control should:
- Announce that a STANDBY Winter Weather Net is in operation.
- Announce that he is available to respond to both Emergency and non-emergency requests for assistance.
- Advise stations that the repeater is open for direct station to station calls, but requests that conversations on frequency be kept brief, with at least three second gaps between transmissions.
- Request that non-weather related conversations be moved to other frequencies.
- Periodically request reports from mobiles on hazardous locations to be avoided. Limit reports to major thoroughfares if necessary.
- Periodically repeat reasonably current reports.
Remember that the purpose of this net is to assist mobiles in need, or to help mobiles select alternate routes to avoid traffic problems or specific hazards. This net is different from a Severe Weather net. We are not passing on weather observations to any public service agency, only other Amateurs. General reports such as slippery conditions or abandoned cars in the ditch are not useful unless they indicate a specific traffic hazard to be avoided.
3.3 ACTIVE Net Operation (not applicable)
No active (formal) net operation is envisioned under conditions covered by this guideline. An ACTIVE net is appropriate if Amateurs become involved in providing assistance to other public service agencies. Operations under these conditions are covered in the Emergency Operations Guidelines.
4. Safety Considerations
Stations making themselves available to assist motorists should do so from a fixed location with telephone service available. Mobile stations should provide assistance via cellular telephone only if no fixed stations are available.
This guideline does not imply that Amateurs should intentionally “patrol” roads during hazardous winter weather. It is only intended to provide assistance to mobiles in the course of their normal travels.
5. Legal and Professional Considerations
Net control and other stations should avoid the direct relay of information received via Police and other Public Safety frequencies. Situations presenting hazards to passing motorists may be reported, but details of particular incidents should not be relayed over the air as it may violate FCC regulations.
Please refrain from personal observations or derogatory comments on situations you may encounter. Public Safety personnel may monitor our traffic under these circumstances. We would like to enhance their respect for our professionalism.
This plan was reviewed and updated at the November 2009 Planning Committee meeting, reviewed January 2013 with minor edits.