NOAA 99-078
Contact: Susan Weaver, Patrick Slattery


The National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League of amateur radio operators will join forces to test an existing back-up weather reporting system, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said today. The reporting system would be used in the unlikely event of Y2K problems with the telecommunications system used to issue daily forecast and weather warnings.

Hundreds of volunteer ham radio operators will partner with forecasters at nearly 40 weather service offices, to broadcast weather information to as many other amateur radio stations as possible. Amateur radio operators typically volunteer time and equipment to help broadcast weather warnings during severe weather. The exercise will run from 6 p.m. CST on Nov. 26 to 6 p.m. Nov. 27.

"We are fully Y2K tested and ready to continue providing timely weather information as we enter the new millennium," said John J. Kelly Jr., director of NOAA's National Weather Service. "However, the back-up test of weather reporting with our ham radio partners adds another element in our commitment to public safety and service. We are confident in our Y2K readiness, because we've spent three years testing and modifying our mission-critical systems of radars, ground sensors, and computers, as well as the weather satellites of NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service.

Meteorologist-in-Charge Scott Menzter of the Goodland Kan., Weather Forecast Office, devised the amateur radio testing plan, which started as a tribute to ham operators in northwest Kansas and blossomed to a project involving weather service offices around the country.

"We started the Y2K back-up test to give much-deserved recognition to the ham radio operators who work with the Goodland office and often provide critical communications links during severe weather, and it just grew as ham operators and forecast offices learned about it," said Mentzer, who is a ham radio operator himself. "The exercise provides an opportunity for weather service personnel and ham operators to share knowledge and test each other's capabilities before a severe weather situation. Our folks are encouraged to use the radios and to get themselves licensed in the event that a ham operator is not available during a severe weather event."

* = tentatively scheduled

Forecast Office Contact Phone #
Aberdeen, SD George Marshall 605-225-6173
Albany, NY Steve Pertgen 518-435-9570
Amarillo, TX John Holsenbeck 806-335-2911
Billings, MT Dan Borsum 406-652-0851
Bismarck, ND Dan Noah 701-250-4224
Brownsville, TX* Don Ocker 210-542-5377
Buffalo, NY Bob Hamilton 716-565-0204
Cheyenne, WY Wilson Sellner 307-637-8634
Chicago, IL Bill Wontroba 815-834-0673
Corpus Christi, TX John Metz 512-299-1353
Davenport, IA James Meyer 319-386-3976
Des Moines, IA Shane Searcy 515-270-2614
Detroit, MI Darin Figurskey 248-625-3309
Dodge City, KS Larry Ruthi 316-225-6514
Fairbanks, AK Jack Mercher 907-458-3709
Gaylord, MI Brian Hirsch 517-732-9306
Goodland, KS Scott Mentzer 785-899-2360
Grand Forks, ND Jim Belles 701-795-5198
Grand Junction, CO Jim Pringle 970-243-7007
Great Falls, MT Rick Dittman 406-453-9957
Green Bay, WI Jeff Last 920-494-5845
Hanford, CA* Dan Gudgel 559-584-0583
Honolulu, HI Thomas Heffner 808-973-5275
Indianapolis, IN Dave Tucek 317-856-0360
Jackson, KY Harold Keeney 606-666-2560
Kansas City, MO Bill Bunting 816-540-6021
La Crosse, WI Todd Shea 608-784-8275
Louisville, KY Norman Reitmeyer 502-969-8842
Marquette, MI Jackson Pellett 906-475-5782
Medford, OR John Casad 541-773-1067
Melbourne, FL Scott Spratt 407-255-0212
Miami, FL James Lushine 305-229-4520
Minneapolis, MN Todd Krause 612-361-6670
Morehead City, NC Michael Colby 919-223-5122
Norman, OK Dennis McCarthy 405-366-6583
North Webster, IN Patrick Murphy 219-834-1104
Omaha, NE Dave Theophilus 402-359-2394
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Phoenix, AZ Steve Sipple 602-379-4607
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Pueblo, CO Bill Fortune 719-948-9429
Rapid City, SD Susan Sanders 602-341-9271
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Sioux Falls, SD Todd Heitkamp 605-330-4247
Spokane, WA Ken Holmes 509-224-0110
Sterling, VA Barbara McNaught 703-260-0107
Topeka, KS Mike Akulow 785-232-1493
Wilmington, NC Robert Sumpter 910-762-6258
Wilmington, OH Mary Jo Parker 937-383-0428