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Weather Emergency Monitoring Tips

October 26, 2012

An extended period of heavy rain will be on the way for the Erie area, beginning late tonight and lasting through next Thursday and possibly beyond. In addition we may also see strong damaging winds and also the potential for the first snowfall of the season.

You can find out the latest about our local weather by clicking over to my weather blog:
http://nicksweatherpage.wordpress.com

So, with the hazardous weather on the way, I thought this would be a good time to review what to monitor during emergency situations.

First of all, be sure you have backup power to run your radios. Scanner monitoring is a fun hobby, but it can quickly become something far more serious during a weather emergency. Make sure you have batteries available for your radios, and have your handhelds charged up and ready to go. Additionally, make sure your NOAA weather radios are equipped with backup power in case of an outage.

Also, for more serious emergencies it is recommended that you have extra food and water on hand to last several days. You should also have necessary medications in your kit, blankets, and flashlights. While this emergency likely won’t warrant such tools, things could quickly get more serious. Above all, be sure to heed the advice from public safety officials.

So what should you monitor during weather emergencies? Police and fire frequencies are obviously great places to start. Law enforcement and fire crews often respond to trapped vehicles, downed trees, downed power lines, and other such incidents, and this can be valuable knowledge. Make sure you have all the police and fire frequencies for your area on hand, and be sure to have state and county freqs as well as your local police and FD. Freqs for specific departments can be found on the frequency pages.

Another thing I always monitor is amateur radio. Emergency nets are activated during severe weather emergencies, and they can provide you with very handy information about the current situation. Even if a net is not active, hams talking as they travel can still provide good information about potential travel hazards and weather conditions. Repeaters may be blown off air by high winds, so be sure to listen to simplex freqs such as 146.52, 146.55, and 146.58 MHZ as well as repeaters such as 146.61, 146.82, 146.70 and 147.27 in the Erie area and 146.625, 146.94, and 146.88 in Chautauqua county.

These are some of the more important freqs, but others will obviously benefit you. These include freqs for your streets department, public works crews, and power company channels. I not only listen to the NY thruway police but also the thruway maintenance crews during bad weather.

If you have the room in your scanner, I recommend you set up an “Emergency Bank” for the duration of the system. It provides you with a way to group the most important police, fire, ham, and utility freqs together without having your scanner overwhelmed by all the activity. Then, you can simply monitor the one bank and get all the local happenings. For scanners with greater channel capacity, you can set up a permanent emergency system/bank/list so it is always there for whenever you need it. I erase mn bank 5 (misc bank) on my BCT8 during emergencies and put in the necessary freqs for an emergency monitoring station.

Be sure to stay tuned for later weather information and be safe!

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