Tropical Storm Network Standard Operating Guidelines
Important Notice: For a PDF version of the latest Tropical Storm Network Standard Operating Guidelines, including our frequency/mode matrix, please request an RRI radio operator registration form.
Tropical weather events regularly impact a large portion of the United States and Canada. Tropical storms can develop into hurricanes, major winter storms, which propagate up the Eastern Seaboard of North America, major flooding disasters or other significant meteorological events.
In addition to preparing for communications outages, Radio Relay International networks are available to provide supplemental interoperability between served agencies, facilitate the delivery of overflow message traffic from commercial or government networks or collect weather data or situation reports during a major event. Situation reports may include reports of widespread utility disruptions, highway closures, evacuations, significant damage to communities and related information of interest to emergency response and relief agencies.
I Why use RRI?
In recent years, the density and reliability of government and commercial telecommunications infrastructure has improved dramatically. However, outages and even widespread isolation of communities have occurred. It is therefore important to not only exercise our survivable networks, which operate without infrastructure, it is also important to stage our resources to ensure that operational readiness is in place. While it may be tempting to utilize the Internet or cellular mobile networks to originate weather data or situation reports to served agencies, these latter actions do nothing to exercise networks or stage survivable resources so that they may perform effectively in the event they are needed. Therefore, RRI encourages all radio amateurs to utilize our networks to facilitate such public service activities. We will then be staged for rapid response when “all else fails.”
II Tier One Response:
During the period leading up to impact, RRI members are asked to report weather conditions on an hourly basis and situation reports (SITREPS) as needed for use by served agencies. This "ground truth" information will be utilized to better understand the extent of storm effects and improve initial response during the early phases of any potential disaster. RRI members are caution to avoid emulating “broadcast techniques” such as those often heard on the wide-coverage 20-meter radiotelephone nets during which radio amateurs replicate information commonly available via broadcast media. In other words, the emphasis should be on collecting information in the field and conveying that information TO the appropriate served agency.
The following guidelines are intended to ensure a high level of quality control and consistency in the reporting process. Such measures ensure that the information is conveyed accurately and easily harvested and consolidated by served agency personnel.
A Weather Data:
Real-time weather reports transmitted hourly from locations within the affected area may be requested. Therefore, we have set criteria for two thresholds, which should trigger the transmission of a weather report. These are:
A complete weather report will consist of the following:
Radiogram format provides all of the necessary accountability and network management information required for this task. An example of a weather report in radiogram format might be:
22 P W4ABC 8 MYRTLE BEACH SC 1300Z OCT 5
HORRY COUNTY RAIN 650 WIND 47/65 PRESSURE 2934
Explanation of above:
When submitting a weather report, please observe these guidelines:
Please follow the above example message format and sequence as closely as possible. This makes logging and transfer easier for all involved.
B Situation Reports (SITREPS):
RRI and other EMCOMM members are encouraged to report significant storm damage, disruptions to infrastructure, significant flooding, levy breaches and the like. In order of priority, this information will originate from:
Emergency Services Personnel: This includes information provided by the local EOC, fire service, department of public works or similar responsible agencies/parties.
First-hand observations: In this case, the radio amateur reporting an observed event should exercise discretion. For example, a flooded basement would not meet the reporting threshold, but a river above flood stage, which is inundating a community or blocking a major state or federal highway, may be significant. Likewise, one tree uprooted may not meet the reporting threshold, but a large area of heathy, large trees uprooted and/or blocking roadways or rail networks may be significant.
An example of a SITREP report might be:
23 P W4ABC 30 MYRTLE BEACH SC 2130Z OCT 5
SITREP HORRY COUNTY STATE HIGHWAY 23 IMPASSIBLE BETWEEN ROUTE 10
AND US HIGHWAY 51 DUE TO WASHOUT X SAINT JAMES
HOSPITAL EVACUATED DUE TO FLOODING X FIRE STATION THREE EVACUATED
HORRY COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGER
Explanation of Above:
When originating a SITREP, please follow these guidelines:
III Tropical Events other than Hurricane
A Winter Storms - Snow
As stated in the preface, tropical events often exhibit other effects. Examples include tropical depressions, which transition into major winter storms impacting utility services and transportation networks across wide areas of the Eastern Seaboard. In other cases, tropical depressions may stall or propagate slowly, thereby causing significant flooding events. In such cases, served agencies may request activation of our network to collect “ground truth” information or SITREPs.
In the event of non-hurricane events, such as a major winter storm, the weather data format is essentially identical. However, certain terminology changes pertaining to precipitation type may be necessary. In addition, snowfall events require a mean (average) value; the procedure for determining this being covered in a latter portion of this document.
Sample message indicating Snowfall amount:
22 P W2ABC 8 PERTY AMBOY NJ 1300Z OCT 5
MIDDLESEX COUNTY SNOW 650 WIND 47/65 PRESSURE 2934
One will note that the precipitation type is changed to “snow.” Snow is typically measured to one tenth of an inch. However, an accuracy level to one quarter inch is acceptable. RRI volunteers are encouraged to melt precipitation to determine liquid equivalent (equivalent in liquid precipitation). The same message with liquid equivalent might be as follows:
22 P W2ABC 10 PERTH AMBOY NJ 1300Z OCT 5
MIDDLESEX COUNTY SNOW 650 LIQUID 073 WIND 47/65 PRESSURE 2934
Here are the basic rules for snowfall reports:
B Winter Storms – Mixed Precipitation
Situations may arise in which an observer experiences both rain and snow. In such cases, it may be best to use the term “MIXED” combined with a liquid equivalent value. In other words; “MIXED 230 LIQUID 060….” For example:
22 P W3ABC 10 MYRTLE BEACH SC 1300Z OCT 5
HORRY COUNTY MIXED 230 LIQUID 060 WIND 47/65 PRESSURE 2934
C Winter Storms - Ice Storms
In the case of ice storms, the combination of ice accumulation and wind speed information is of significant interest to emergency management because it indicates the potential for widespread damage to utility infrastructure.
Ice accumulation is often best measured on wires, tree branches of other objects. However, be certain to measure the radius of the ice accumulation on such objects and not the diameter. One quarter inch or greater accumulation is the reporting threshold for ice accumulation.
An example of an ice storm report might be:
22 P W8ABC 6 MATEWAN, WV 1300Z DEC 5
MINGO COUNTY ICE 150 WIND 15/20
Explanation of message format:
IV Network and liaison structure:
This radiogram traffic may be originated via any one of the following methods:
Daytime: 20, 40 and 30 meters
Nighttime: 80, 40 and 30 meters
A specially assigned key station will be assigned to receive reports originated via DTN (RRI Digital Traffic Net). More than one key station may be assigned, with the duty roster being sequenced by schedule. The address of this key station may change depending upon the duty roster, so be certain to check the latest RRI bulletins. Please note that DTN routes by zip-code. The zip code provided for message routing may be OTHER THAN that of the agency to which the message is addressed.
Again, please note that if the primary target for a given time-period is unavailable, message traffic may be transmitted to one of the alternates, regardless of time-period.
When originating reports via the manual-mode watch-frequencies, please use the following methods to request assistance or list message traffic:
Please note that some frequency flexibility may be necessary. The station maintaining the radio watch is encouraged to periodically transmit a net call, particularly if he has moved from the published QSX frequency to avoid interference. For example, a CW operator might transmit "QSX RRI de W0ABC K"
V Tier Two Response: Operational Support
At any point, the Tier One reporting operation may transition into a support operation. Priority will be given to any operational message traffic. When a circuit/net is not being utilized for priority reports or priority operational messages, it may be utilized for welfare message traffic per usual RRI policy.
During the initial 72-hours after land-fall, the origination of disaster welfare inquiries originating outside the disaster area and addressed to individuals within the affected area is discouraged. However, when circuit capacity is available and priority traffic has been cleared, welfare messages originating from within the affected area to points throughout the United States and Canada may be originated.
VI Individual Preparedness
RRI members should prepare now for emergency operations. This includes:
E-mail broadcasts to RRI leadership and members will announce when operations will commence and areas from which weather data and SITREPs are requested. If for some reason the tropical storm weakens significantly or does not make landfall, the operation can be cancelled.
Net Managers should issue concise bulletins using "QNC" techniques as appropriate. This anticipates early Internet outages in the affected area. The "QNC" will indicate mission status and provide additional guidance, particularly at the local and section level.
VIII Key Stations and Others Delivering Messages:
Radiograms delivered in print (e-mail, FAX, etc.) should display in all capitals when practical. All other message content such as notes, contact information and so forth may be in mixed case.
When delivering message traffic received manually via FAX or e-mail, please insert three blank lines between each radiogram listed. Type ten words to a line for message traffic transcribed using a word processor or "mill," or five words to a line for message traffic transcribed by hand. Typewritten or word processor methods are preferred for such delivery methods to ensure readability.
All traffic delivered should be reviewed and checked for completeness.
All message deliveries should be prefaced with, or otherwise indicate that the reports were received via Radio Relay International.
All message deliveries should include contact information for the delivering station when appropriate.
IX Records and Reports:
Net/Node Managers and those stations clearing traffic via one of the "watch frequencies" should file an after-action report with the TSN Network Manager. Please register with RRI for complete details.
The report should indicate the total number of messages of each precedence handled during the course of the operation. An example of such a report might be:
24 R W2ABC 10 PERTH AMBOY NJ OCT 12
MARION IL 62959
HURRICANE CAMILLE REPORT X EMERGENCY 0 PRIORITY 25 WELFARE 7
JOE SMITH W2ABC
The Radio Relay International North American Response Plan Mode/Frequency Matrix is available to registered RRI radio operators. Please note that DTN (digital) operations will require routing to one or more specific “key stations” depending upon time of day. These target stations will be identified in operational bulletins.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Section Nets are encouraged to collect reports, which may be forwarded by a manual mode liaison station or Digital Relay Station using the RRI frequencies/nodes specified in the frequency/mode matrix provided in Appendix A of the SOGs. In the absence of an active or functioning section network, individual RRI or EMCOMM stations may inject traffic directly into the RRI system.
Tropical Storm Network