News & Announcements

* TWITTER POSTS PROBLEM FIXED... (Posted 10/15/2012)

Starting on the 10th, Twitter apparently made a not-too-well-widely-publicized change in how it handled incoming posts from automated servers and this caused a blackout for a few days because EMWIN servers across the country suddenly found that they were not able to get through and make any posts. Most of us didnt' even notice this until a couple of days had passed because it's all handled automatically by the EMWIN server software. After discussions with our EMWIN software author, and doing some beta testing for him of some fixes, the problem now appears to have been fixed, and posts to Twitter are yet again flowing. We'll keep an eye on things for a while to make sure things continue to work without problem.

* DUST SETTLED... (Posted 7/07/2012)

Looks like everything is again working. Web pages show normally. Text and graphics products are again flowing to the web sites. Graphics are again displaying on the web pages. Everything looks good. If anyone notes anything amiss with either the AC-SKYWARN or AC-EMWIN web pages, please let us know.

* PARDON OUR DUST! (Posted 7/05/2012)

Our service provider is changing the server software to a newer version and as a result users of the AC-SKYWARN and AC-EMWIN pages may see some funky things for a little while. Please bear with us. May take a little while to work out some kinks which may pop up.

* COOPERATIVE VENTURES (Posted 6/20/2012)

Now providing severe weather bulletins to Bradford County area users. In the spirit of public service, we're expanding our services to now provide severe weather bulletins to email and cellphone for Bradford County area users. Sponsored by Bradford County Office of Emergency Management, Alachua County SKYWARN, and the Alachua County EMWIN Project. What makes our service different is the customizeability that most other services don't offer, such as the ability to either BLOCK/TRASH bulletins during certain time periods, like say, overnight; or to HOLD bulletins after hours and still send them in the morning anyway if users wish, maybe because they still want to know what happened overnight. We've already been providing these bulletins to BCEM's Facebook and Twitter pages, too, for quite a while, now.

* MIRROR SITE WORK (Posted 4/30/2012)

Gave the ACS mirror site some attention. Due to some incompatibilities between AFN and Fireline, we were unable to truly mirror the AFN website at Fireline, and the mirror was left abandoned for some years. A few years having gone by now, and servers having been upgraded, began work on getting mirror site going again. This way, if there's a major crash at AFN, the Fireline mirror site can still be used in it's place until the problems are fixed.

Also began work on creating AC-EMWIN mirror site, too.

Work is in progress. May take a little while to get everything working perfectly.

* NEW AC-EMWIN SERVER! (Posted 4/20/2012)

We now have a brand new web server!

The Alachua County EMWIN server was switched out with a newer, much faster one this afternoon and y'all didn't even know it! :) Not a beat was missed in the switchover and everything went perfectly and smoothly. In fact, I'm kinda nervous because I'm waiting for Murphy's Law to kick in at any moment. It was as simple as installing all the Windows Updates and then transferring the weather software over to the new machine. Hmm.

The old server was a chugging 1.6 GHz, 32-bit, 256 MB RAM, 20 GB HDD clunker that was completely adequate 8 years ago; but the EMWIN software was getting more complicated as it became continually upgraded over the years and we were starting to experience more some occasional drags and lockups. So we went to TigerDirect and for $239 got a refurbished 3.4 GHz, dual core, 64-bit, 2 GB RAM, 400 GB HDD, 8 USB port monster-engined speedster. :) No more dragging or lockups, and everything works SO much faster.

The server serves both Alachua County SKYWARN and Alachua County EMWIN, and sends weather bulletins to email, pager, cellphone, and to listgroups at UF and on Yahoo, as well as to Twitter accounts, and to Facebook accounts - for FREE as a public service.

The old server will remain in inventory as a backup/standby server.

(Yer welcome!)

* ACS STORM SPOTTER FIELD GUIDE UPDATES (Posted 4/16/2012)

During the past couple of weeks, I've been very busy learning how to use some RADAR and satellite image handling software. This software allows downloading of current or past archived data and creating imagery or animations from it.

Took a little while to get the handle of it. But it's pretty fantastic stuff and I've been downloading lots and lots of radar data and converting them into radar animations and uploading them to the ACS Storm Spotter's Field Guide.

With the software, I can download ANY kind of radar data available - Base Reflectivity, Base (Relative) Velocity, Storm Relative Velocity, 1-Hr/3-Hr/Storm Total Rainfalls, Vertical Integrated Liquid, Storm Tracking Information, Mesoscale Detection, TVS Detection, Hail Index, etc. I can save single images or create animations of whatever length I like. With the addition of the new Dual-Pol radars, there's even more data available than before. This means that people who visit the pages about various past storm events can now view a number of radar animations to go along WITH the photos and/or video on the page. It makes understanding the actual situation which was occurring at the time a lot easier.

I was still uploading the last of the page changes when AFN's FTP went down this evening, but will finish it up, tomorrow. After that, I'm going to try my hand at downloading and working with satellite data so that people will have that as well to go along with everything else.

* PHOTO OF EF-0 TORNADO CONFIRMED IN ALACHUA, FLORIDA (Posted 3/28/2012)

Jonathan Baker of Alachua took a photo of a funnel and some video of a funnel cloud which may well have later turned into a tornado which caused some minor damage not far away. More here.

* AC-EMWIN SET UP TO RECEIVE FLORIDA STATEWIDE TORNADO DRILL MESSAGES (Posted 2/1/2012)

I've noticed that NWS-JAX has been sending the yearly tornado drills using the PNS bulletin headers. So I've set up the AC-EMWIN server so that it will be able to redistribute that test drill message on a regular basis to our listgroups, email accounts, pagers, and cellphones...and even to our AC-SKYWARN and AC-EMWIN web pages. This will now be done automatically, so that server admin doesn't have to worry about it. :) THAT BEING SAID...

It'll ONLY work if they used the exact same "headline" in the next bulletin, but I've set things up on the AC-EMWIN server such that next time we have that yearly tornado drill, it'll go out everywhere - to our listgroups, to user's emails, to pagers and cellphones, as WELL as to our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Course, it all depends upon whether they use the exact same headlines in next year's bulletins that they did in this year's, which are as follows:

     "...THE FLORIDA STATEWIDE TORNADO DRILL IS CURRENTLY UNDERWAY..."

       ...and...

     "...THE FLORIDA STATEWIDE TORNADO DRILL HAS CONCLUDED..."

HOWEVER, If they DEVIATE from those exact words, then it won't work. (And Jax has a really *baaaaaaaad* habit of doing just that - because chances are good it could be a different person doing it each year, and they often wing it and don't always adhere to the "scripted" verbiage set aside in the NSWIs [or "NWS Instruction" documents].) :(

I decided not to use just "FLORIDA STATEWIDE TORNADO DRILL" alone because of the possibility that other PNS bulletins could merely *mention* the upcoming drill bulletin and that could set off an accidental send before it is actually time. Thus, "THE FLORIDA STAEWIDE TORNADO DRILL IS CURRENTLY UNDERWAY" is pretty specific, and pretty well guarantees that it shouldn't be used at any other time other than within the actual drill message, itself.

I currently have it set up to go out to:

  • All current pager/cellphone customers now receiving the "Weekly Pager Test Message"
  • Facebook - AC-SKYWARN, AC-EMWIN, GVLStorms, GVLWeather, other customers
  • Twitter - AC-SKYWARN, AC-EMWIN, GVLStorms, GVLWeather, other customers
  • UF Listserv: SKYWARN-L Discussion List
  • Yahoo: AC-SKYWARN Email Alert List, Alachua County EMWIN (AC-EMWIN) List
  • Web sites: AC-SKYWARN Home Page, AC-EMWIN Home Page

Users should receive the drill begin message, and the drill end message. It will only go out *ONCE A YEAR* (when they do the Statewide Tornado Drill - during Hazardous Weather Awareness Week).

Understand... If they used the standard "TORJAX" ID, then it would be no problem. It would go out just like every other tornado bulletin, except that it would say "DRILL" in it. However, using that bulletin ID would also probably set off the local EAS system, and they'd probably have to add the lines "*** TEST TEST TEST *** / THIS IS ONLY A TEST MESSAGE / THERE IS NO ACTUAL TORNADO EMERGENCY AT THIS TIME", or some verbiage similar to that to the text bulletin, itself. For the NWS-FO, I can see how that's a lot of "handling" have to plan for and set up for just a drill. For this reason, Jax prefers to place them inside the PNSJAX ID instead, and then they set off the NWR when the drill time comes. But to send it out LOCALLY, using out *own* system, it does force me to have to do all this fancy footwork to specially handle just that one special PNS bulletin.

See, the PNS bulletins (aka, the "Public Information Statement") are normally reserved for public notices or news-related announcements. It makes it difficult then to set up what is normally reserved for news as a "test/drill" message. But...the way I've set it up, it *should* work. We'll see. I'll probably also set up some backup alternate keyword verbiage trap possibilities too, just in case they do indeed use something different next time.

I've even got it set up to paint the state in grey on the map (see AC-SKYWARN page) when it happens.

Looking forward to next year to see if this actually works out correctly. :) (crosses fingers)

* ALACHUA COUNTY SPOTTER TRAINING CLASS HELD (Posted 1/25/2012)

The spotter training class was held in Alachua County, yesterday. The instructor was Al Sandrik.

Among new news:

  • NWS-JAX will soon be replacing it's old WSR-88D radar with a new "Dual Pol" radar. Thier radar will be down intermittently as they put it up.
  • The "NOWCast" (Short Term Forecast) bulletin will no longer be issued and ceased being sent, yesterday.
  • Angie Enyedi was promoted to "Lead Forecast Meteorologist as of January 23rd.

Unfortunately, turnout was very sad/poor, this time around. In the past, whenever a class was announced, I'd put out posters in all the area supermarkets, put out notices in as many email listgroups as I could, notify TV-20, and area newspapers big and small. Then I'd repeat those notices near class time. This time, however, ACOEM put only a single notice a month ago in it's newsletter "Alachua County Community". That was it. The Gator Amateur Radio Club placed but one single notice in it's own listgroup - the day before the class. As far as any other notices put out (aside from my own) - I'm not aware of any. And I'm not sure if TV-20 was given any notice about it (in time enough to warn the public with reasonable time to plan); but they were there to take some quick shots and do a quick 15-second notice AFTER the class was over at 11pm last night. I tried my best to help the situation - with notices in AC-SKYWARN, SKYWARN-L, and AC-EMWIN same day as the County notice went out. But unfortunately, regardless of my own efforts, the turnout was only 14. When I arranged the classes, the turnouts would always be from 75-100+ people in attendance. I wasn't impressed. Alachua County Emergency Management just does not have the right enthusiasm about the program. I thought the turnout was pretty pathetic. The room was so sparse at 5:50pm that I thought it might actually be cancelled. Then a few more people showed up last minute, and a few UF students showed up 20 minutes late, bringing it up to the final 14 total. Note that I'm not counting NWS or EM employees in that count, either.

There was something else that kinda bugged me about the class. On a table against the wall just before you entered the classroom were some sign-in sheets asking for your name, telephone number, and email address. When I signed them, I thought that the information was being requested for the NWS. It's what everyone assumed, naturally. There were no signs by the sign-in sheets indicating who the information was being collected for. Alachua County SKYWARN used to do this but we placed our own logo at the top and everyone knew who was collecting it. As well, we always announced the intended use of that information. Only after you'd signed the sheets, and the instructer began to speak did you find out that the NWS was not asking for that information. I quote Al Sandrik, who was the instructor that evening: "We don't care who you are. That's PII, 'Personally Identifiable Information', and we HAVE nothing to do with it, and WANT nothing to do with it." It was not clear exactly who the information was beign collected for - ACOEM, or some local ham radio club, or both. I don't remember it being made absolutely clear. The person in charge of collecting it though, was apparently Jeff Capehart, a person with whom I've had some pretty serious problems in the past, and I ended up giving him my cellphone number and my fiancee listed her home phone number and her business email address. I was not happy about that. I did not want him knowing anything about me or my life or who I associate with. In the past, my friends and associations had been stalked and attacked by Jeff and his friends. In my opinion, unless there is a clear NEED for that information, and/or the use for that information is clearly labelled, there should not be any "unidentified" lists requesting anyone's information. The list on the table simply said "SKYWARN Class" and I think we all assumed that the National Weather Service was collecting information about their storm spotters for their own use. Now, one of my past stalkers, a past convicted felon (in computer crimes), has access to our PII.

On a GOOD note, this spotter training class was separated from the last one by just a year. This is a marked improvement in the past NWS record with Alachua County. In the past, we were lucky to get a class every TWO-PLUS years; while Flagler County would sometimes get THREE to FIVE in a single year. The favoratism was obvious. Let's see if this change can maintain itself. I always tried to shoot for two classes a year, which was not ever a problem under Fred Johnson.

* ALACHUA COUNTY SPOTTER TRAINING CLASS - JANUARY 24TH, 2012 (Posted 1/6/2012)

There will be a Basic & Advanced spotter training class held on January 24th from 6 to 9pm at the:

Alachua County Health Department Conference Center
 224 SE 24th Street
 Gainesville, Fl 32641

To register for the class, please contact:

David Donnelly
Email: acem@alachuacounty.us
Tel: (352) 264-6500

* SPOTTING LOCATIONS PAGE CREATED (Posted 06/19/2011)

I've finally gotten around to creating a page that I had intended to make some 6 or 7 long years ago, actually. However, some local area hams started going nuts and began engaging in stalking and harassment of myself and my friends and family. I won't go into that here. You can read about that in my blog. Unfortunately, many things got put on hold, though, while I attempted to deal with it. After calling attention to it all with the blog, it all stopped. ...But the damage was done, and a lot was left in ruin and abandon. In the peace and quiet since the blog, I have had actually time to renew old projects which had been long lost and forgotten in the frey and get them going again. SKYWARN has always been my interest and my mission. This is just one more little "project" to further that mission. Never quit. Never just up and surrender. Always get back up on the horse - and always with a renewed enthusiasm and even a smile just to make the bad guys feel worse about not winning. That's how you have to look at it.

Often spotters might find themselves out shopping, perhaps driving to visit friends or family, or maybe theyll be driving out on the job, and they'll come across a storm through the trees that looks prettty strong - but they can't see it very well, or they'll note something in a storm that they want to get a better look at but they can't because of the trees, or something like that. This page attempts to list places around the county which offer good opportunities for viewing. It's called, simply, Alachua County Spotting Locations.

People are constantly asking me where they can find a good location to watch a shuttle launch, or to get better looks at storms, and this little web page project attempts to answer that question for them. I hope it helps.

Of course, if you know of any other locations out there, yourself, please let us know and we'll scout out the location and take some photos and put it in there, too..

* GAINESVILLE SUN USING OUR AC-EMWIN TWEETS! (Posted 06/06/2011)

I just noticed, this afternoon, that the Gainesville Sun is making good use of our AC-EMWIN Twitter feed. The AC-EMWIN feed offers up live NWS bulletins such as Sever Thunderstorm Warnings, Tornado Warnings, Special Weather Statements, and more, as they occur. Good to see that. When the Gainesville Sun retweets us like that, some 2500 additional people get the word. As well, the Project gets that much more publicity. Thanks, Gainesville Sun! :O)

* WALDO WALL CLOUD VIDEO FINALLY GETS DATED! (Posted 05/30/2011)

It took eleven years worth of on-again/off-again work, but the Waldo Wall Cloud video finally received it's long-awaited date stamp. It took some doing, too. It wasn't easy.

The vidographer forgot to turn on the data/time stamp on the camera. He also hadn't reported it to the NWS when it occurred, so there was no related LSR report to document it. NWS-JAX doesn't apparently keep archived data past about a week, making documenting efforts later difficult. NWS records didn't seem to have a copy of the TEXT of the Severe Thunderstorm Warning that had been issued that day. When hunted down, it appeared to have been lost from all sources. Thehunt was abandoned in the hopes that the future might locate the data and that in time things would become better archived and more organized.

Eleven years later, while NWS records LISTED the warnings that had occurred, a good many of them were still missing the actual text meat. It actually took advertising the problem to a number of weather-related lsitgroups, and someone actually happening to have their own *personal* archives before a copy of the missing bulletin could be found. That bulletin matched the wording heard being repeated by the dispatchers in the video exactly. The date of that bulletin is July 16th, 2000. I have now copied that bulletin to our own site so that it will never be lost again. I also found a screen shot of the radar at the approximate time of the event, too. I will continue to hunt down an animated image of the radar for that time.

I have now updated all related videos to include the correct date.

* NEW WEATHER-RELATED VIDEOS (Posted 05/25/2011)

Over the past couple months I've been trying something new. In playing around with iMovie and Final Cut video editing software I've discovered that I can actually speed up the videos that I take and create time lapse videos. This is something that I've been wanting to do for a long time. Ten years ago I wasn't able to do that with the limited camera, equipment, and software that I had back then. Times have changed and now I think I'd like to again pursue that idea. Problem is, now that I'm ready, the storms aren't happening. :) Actually the Midwest is getting so sadly pounded to shreds having to deal with unbelievable floods, and insanely cruel severe weather, while we're experiencing something of the opposite, now.

So over the past few months, I've slowly been adding time lapse videos to my Weather-related Videos page. (Thanks to Jim Carr for providing the web space to host them.) They're not especially spectacular right now - as I'm just beginning and am experimenting; but...

Over time, I hope to add time lapse videos of storm-related things - such as single-cell and multi-cell storm formation, mostly. But I'd like to also document simpler, non-severe things like fair weather cumulus, and higher-level clouds, pileus clouds, gust front passages, etc. With time lapse, nothing is exempted from the possibility of being examined. :) I'm hoping it will become as fun and educational for others as I know it will be for me. :)

* UPDATED THE SKYWARN INDEX (Again!) (Posted 05/24/2011)

I spent the past couple of days pouring over the Index To SKYWARN Web Pages On The Internet - checking for dead links, adding new ones...but mostly perusing sites already listed for links to additional Blogspot, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and YouTube pages for each web site. I started doing that last month but got side-tracked. Now everything is up-to-date. ...Until next month, when I'm sure I'll have to do it again. Neverending job, it is. :)

* HOW TO VIEW A SHUTTLE LAUNCH IN GAINESVILLE (Posted 04/27/2011)

A common question people are asking of late, especially now that the shuttle era is winding down, is whether one can actually see a shuttle launch from Gainesville. The next natural question that goes along with it is WHERE you can go to see a launch. The answer is "yes". You CAN see a shuttle launch from Gainesville. See this page for some examples of what a launch looks like from here, as well as the answer as to where to find a good location to view a launch.

* SKYWARN INDEX UPDATED (Posted 04/07/2011)

Performed yet another links check on the Index To SKYWARN Web Pages On The Internet. AWFUL lot of broken and missing links. DO have to tell yuh...keeping that page up and current is a neverending job. Someone will come along and beg me to add thier new web page to the list, and I SWEAR...THREE MONTHS LATER...the page is already missing. That happens a LOT.

I'm also adding something new to the site. I've decided to go ahead and start adding related Blogspot, Facebook, and Twitter pages that any organizations may have, as well. If you have a link you'd like me to add to the Index, let us know.

* SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK (Posted 01/31/2011)

From the NWS-JAX web site....

IN EARLY FEBRUARY THE FLORIDA DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND
THE GEORGIA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY WILL BE HOLDING THEIR ANNUAL
SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEKS.

IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK WILL BE HELD
FROM JANUARY 31ST THROUGH FEBRUARY 4TH.

IN THE STATE OF GEORGIA SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK WILL BE HELD
FROM FEBRUARY 6TH THROUGH THE 12TH.

IN BOTH STATES A TORNADO DRILL WILL BE CONDUCTED AS A PART OF THE
WEEKS ACTIVITIES.

THE FLORIDA TORNADO DRILL WILL BE CONDUCTED ON WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY
2ND AT 1010 AM EST THROUGH 1030 AM EST. IF INCLEMENT WEATHER IS
OCCURRING OR THREATENING THAT DAY...THE DRILL MAY BE POSTPONED UNTIL
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 4TH AT 1010 AM THROUGH 1030 AM.

THE GEORGIA TORNADO DRILL WILL BE CONDUCTED ON WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY
9TH AT 900 AM EST THROUGH 930 AM EST. IF INCLEMENT WEATHER IS
OCCURRING OR THREATENING THAT DAY...THE DRILL MAY BE POSTPONED UNTIL
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 11TH AT 910 AM THROUGH 930 AM.

IN BOTH STATES THE DRILL WILL BE CONDUCTED VIA NOAA WEATHER RADIO
ALL HAZARDS AS A ROUTINE WEEKLY TEST. THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
WILL NOT ISSUE A LIVE TORNADO WARNING FOR THE DRILL. THE EMERGENCY
ALERT SYSTEM WILL NOT BE ACTIVATED FOR THE DRILL NOR WILL THERE BE A
CRAWL ACROSS TV SCREENS.

SOME WEATHER RADIO RECEIVERS DO NOT ALARM FOR ROUTINE WEEKLY TESTS.
ORGANIZATIONS WISHING TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DRILL MAY WISH TO TURN
ON THEIR RECEIVERS FIVE MINUTES PRIOR TO THE SCHEDULED DRILL TIME TO
LISTEN FOR THE ROUTINE WEEKLY TEST ALARM TONE AND THE DRILL MESSAGE.
IN ANY CASE...IF WEATHER IS FAVORABLE YOU SHOULD ASSUME THE DRILL IS
BEING CONDUCTED AT THE SCHEDULED TIME EVEN IF YOU DO NOT HEAR THE
ACTUAL ALARM TONES.

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE IN JACKSONVILLE WILL CONDUCT THE
TORNADO DRILL AS A ROUTINE WEEKLY TEST FOR THE FOLLOWING COUNTIES...

IN FLORIDA...
ALACHUA...BAKER...BRADFORD....CLAY...COLUMBIA...DIXIE...DUVAL...
GILCHRIST...HAMILTON...LAFAYETTE...LEVY...MARION...NASSAU...PUTNAM...
ST JOHNS...SUWANNEE AND UNION.

IN GEORGIA...
APPLING...ATKINSON...BACON...BERRIEN...BRANTLEY...CAMDEN...
CHARLTON...CLINCH...COFFEE...ECHOLS...GLYNN...IRWIN...JEFF DAVIS...
LANIER...LIBERTY...LONG...LOWNDES...MCINTOSH...PIERCE...TATTNALL...
TOOMBS...WARE AND WAYNE.

NOTE...JACKSONVILLE WEATHER RADIO STATION KHB-39 SERVES BOTH
SOUTHEAST GEORGIA AND NORTH FLORIDA. IN ORDER TO CONDUCT THE TORNADO
DRILL IN GEORGIA...IT WILL BE NECESSARY TO CONDUCT TWO ROUTINE
WEEKLY TESTS ON THE JACKSONVILLE TRANSMITTER ON WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY
9TH. THE FIRST ROUTINE WEEKLY TEST WILL BE FOR THE GEORGIA TORNADO
DRILL AROUND 9 AM EST. THE SECOND ROUTINE WEEKLY TEST WILL BE AT THE
ROUTINE TIME OF BETWEEN 10 AM AND NOON. THOSE PERSONS USING OLDER
RECEIVERS WHICH ARE NOT SAME EQUIPPED OR WHO ARE NORMALLY TONE
ALERTED FOR COUNTIES IN BOTH STATES WILL BE ALERTED TWICE ON THAT
DAY. ON WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 2ND THE FLORIDA DRILL WILL ALSO SERVE AS
THE ROUTINE WEEKLY TEST FOR CAMDEN AND CHARLTON COUNTIES IN GEORGIA.

QUESTIONS MAY BE ADDRESSED TO AL SANDRIK...WARNING COORDINATION
METEOROLOGIST...PHONE 904-741-4370 EXTENSION 223...E-MAIL
AL.SANDRIK@NOAA.GOV.

Starting January 31st, the subject of note for each day will be as follows:

  • January 31 - Lightning
  • February 1 - Marine Hazards & Rip Currents
  • February 2 - Tornadoes & Thunderstorms
  • February 3 - Hurricanes & Flooding
  • February 4 - Temperature Extremes & Wildfires

The Florida Division of Emergency Management also has a web site with some interesting information. See 2011 Severe Weather Awareness Week.

* ALACHUA COUNTY TO HOLD SPOTTER TRAINING CLASS!...FINALLY! (Posted 10/23/2010)

Two years and eight months since OUR last spotter training class, and eight FLAGLER County spotter classes later, a spotter training class has FINALLY appeared on the NWS-JAX board for Alachua County...

When:
  December 9, 2010
  6:00-9:00 pm

Location:
  Alachua County Public Health Auditorium
  224 SE 24th Street
  Gainesville, FL

To register, contact:
  David Donnelly
  (352) 264-6500
  Email: acem@alachuacounty.us

Instructor will be Al Sandrik.

* AC-EMWIN SYSTEM DOWNTIME - 24-HOURS... (Posted 09/23/2010)

The AC-EMWIN server suffered a crash for about 24-hours due to a comedy of errors surrounding the installation of a piece of beta software. The software apparently suffered a hiccup during Windows installation. This apparently corrupted other EMWIN sofrware files. When the EMWIN software was then run, we were inundated with so many error flags that the Task Manager had to be used to terminate processes. The entire EMWIN software directory was affected, requiring a complete reinstallation. For whatever reason, Windows System Restore did not apparently do it's job, and reinstallation to a point prior to corruption was NOT possible. Outside of that, the closest prior backup that was able to be found was from back in September of 2009, a full year ago. Luckilly, this backup contained all of the listgroup setups, and only minor adjustments were required to get the ACWIN-* series of listgroups going again. Twitter, however, was another story. While we had some Twitter setup in the saves, the setup information involved the use of TwitterMail - which we had found to be buggy and unreliable. So we ceased using that service. Thus, we had to start from scratch with the Twitter setup. We had to utilize old alarm setting files. This meant that we lost some customers who had requested to be added in the past year. We're in the process now of adding them back. I had a paper log for that. Some customers who had moved and requested removal were still in the backup saves that we had, so they had to be removed again. And again, we had paper logs so that was easy.

At this point, after working diligently around the clock - except for the customers that we are now adding back, and the previously mentioned problem with the Watch/Warning Map on the ACS page - everything else is now back up and running smoothly. In fact, some things even better than before! While on it, the opportunity was taken to clean up a lot of things in setup that we'd been meaning to get to for quite a while.

* BULLETIN SCROLLER ON ACS PAGE CHANGED OUT... (Posted 09/21/2010)
We've changed out the old with the new. The old weather bulletin vertical scroller on the Alachua County SKYWARN main front page has been changed out with a new one. The old one had no real powerful controls, and the user had to mouse over the text to slow down the scrolling. That was as much as one was able to do. This new scroller implements the use of up and down arrows to allow for scrolling forwards or backwards, AND includes a PAUSE button! Users should appreciate this one much better.

* WATCH / WARNING MAP IMAGE TEMPORARILY BROKEN... (Posted 09/19/2010)
After upgrading to a new beta version, wherein apparently some changes were made to the way that watch/warning map saves were handled, the Watch / Warning Map on the Alachua County SKYWARN web page (and in the AC-EMWIN graphics archives), is temporarily showing as a broken image.

We ARE working on that problem and hope to have it resolved as soon as possible.

* NEW NAV ICONS ADDED... (Posted 05/30/2010)
Added a few navbar icons to the left-side navbar allowing users to instantly access our Twitter page, Facebook page, Blogspot blog, and Yahoo AC-SKYWARN Alert List page with a single click.

* SPOTTER TRAINING CLASS CANCELLED - MAY 14, 2010 (Posted 05/04/2010)
Per Dave Donnelly, the May 14th Spotter Training Class for Alachua County has cancelled. The official reason given was "...due to unforseen circumstances." The next opportunity for a class will be October 15th. (Sigh!) Yah...I know.

In the meanwhile, I want everyone to keep track of how many spotter training classes that OTHER spotter groups in other counties gets in that time. This is unfair to Alachua County spotters and people should complain to NWS-JAX about that practice and ask them what is going on that Alachua County is being discriminated against like that. File formal complaints with NWS-HQ. Get to the bottom of it. This discrimination can be evidenced by checking out past spotter training schedules and comparing them with Alachua County's. Make NWS-JAX answer for it. Don't just let it go. Flagler SKYWARN, for example, always gets a minimum of two spotter training classes a year - sometimes even THREE! Alachua County has not had ONE in OVER two year's time. And the most recently-scheduled one was cancelled inexplicably. The spotter training classes are in their job descriptions. They are supposed to do this. It's not fair that other counties get so MANY spotter training classes while Alachua County gets none and NO explanation for it. ...Complain to NWS-HQ.

* EMWIN TRANSITION TO EMWIN-N - APRIL 24, 2010 (Posted 03/24/2010)
EMWIN transmissions on the GOES-East satellite have now transitioned to EMWIN-N. EMWIN users on GOES-East that do NOT have EMWIN-N capability should re-point their dishes to GOES-West, now.

EMWIN users on GOES-West will not be affected.

For more information, see the main EMWIN web page. The EMWIN-N Transition page has been updated with additional transition and equipment vendor information.

The EMWIN GOES-East Transition flyer, that describes the transition, is available for download here.

If you have any additional questions, please email: emwin.systems@noaa.gov.

* BASIC & ADVANCED SPOTTER TRAINING CLASS - MAY 14TH, 2010 (Posted 03/23/2010)
There will be a Basic & Advanced SKYWARN spotter training class on Friday, May 14th, 2010, from 6 to 9pm, at the Alachua County EMA, 1100 SE 27th Street, Gainesville, FL. Contact Dave Donnelly to register at (352) 264-6500, or at email dad@alachuacounty.us. Instructor will be Angie Enyedi, from NWS Jacksonville.

* LOTS OF WEATHER VIDEOS UPLOADED! (Posted 03/17/2010)
Uploaded a ton of weather-related videos that I've taken over the years and I've made them now available, online. They include videos of downburst events, hail events, a wall cloud seen in Waldo, and more. They can be found under "Weather-related videos" at Todd Sherman's Video Pages. If you'd like to use any for educational purposes, let me know. While there feel free to also browse other videos I've taken - including space shuttle launches, various vacations videos, and more. Enjoy!

Do you have any weather-related videos that you think might be interesting or educational? Please let us know! We might be interested in placing it on our site. If you've got an interesting tape, contact us and let us take a look. We're especially interested in videos which show various types of storms and features WITHIN storms: corkscrewed striations in towers, anvil lips, overshooting tops (bubbly ones especially), mammatus, inflow stingers/tails, wall clouds, funnels clouds, tornadoes, gust fronts/outflow boundaries, gustnadoes, dust devils, lightning (CC, CA, CG, anvil zits, crawler lightning), etc., etc.

* BASIC & ADVANCED SPOTTER TRAINING - MARCH 23, 2010 (Posted 02/23/2010)
There will be a Basic & Advanced SKYWARN spotter training class on Tuesday, March 23, 2010, from 6 to 9pm, at the Shiloh Baptist Church, 173 SW Shiloh Street, Ft. White, FL. Instructor will be Angie Enyedi, from NWS Jacksonville. Event will be sponsored by the Columbia County Emergency Services. Pre-registration is preferred so that they can plan on the number of handouts to bring, as well as how much FOOD to bring. (Their group likes to bring food like subs and stuff for attendees.) :o)

Please try to register by March 18th, if possible. For more information and to register, please contact Leila Lindsey at (352) 339-4018 (preferred), or (386) 454-2872 (leave a message and she will return your call).

* AC-EMWIN PROJECT NOW HAS IT'S OWN YAHOO LISTGROUP (Posted 11/10/2009)
The AC-EMWIN Project now has it's own Yahoo listgroups for the latest news and announcements regarding the Project.

* AC-EMWIN: NEW GRAPHICS ADDED TO GRAPHICS PAGE (Posted 11/10/2009)
Added National Threat Level graphic. Added new composite images. Added additional RADAR graphics.

* AC-EMWIN: NEW WEATHER BULLETIN SUBSCRIPTION METHOD (Posted 11/10/2009)
Created new method for subscribing to weather bulletins. Should save me a lot of time and effort. Will make things a lot easier. Users will now choose from pre-set groups for watches/warnings, forcasts, civil emergency bulletins, etc. They can now also choose which counties they would like to receive them for. For more information, see here.

* ACWIN-* LISTGROUPS NOW AVAILABLE (Posted 07/24/2009)
The ACWIN-* listgroups are now available for the public to use. The following lists may be accessed as of today:

  • ACWIN-FL-ALACHUA
  • ACWIN-FL-ALACHUA-CIVIL
  • ACWIN-FL-ALACHUA-SEVERE

For more information about the ACWIN-* series of listgroups, please see http://alachuaskywarn.org/acwin

* HUGE CHANGES TO ACEMWIN-HURR-L HURRICANE BULLETINS LIST (Posted 07/10/2009)
Past month or so has been spent researching documentation for Listserv and EMWIN software so that we could implement some major changes to the ACEMWIN-HURR-L Listgroup that we have up on the UF's Listserv. And now...

We've finally implemented the use of "topics" to allow users to subscribe only to those hurricane bulletins that they WANT. Under the old way, we'd send a bunch of hurricane-related bulletins to the listgroup, and when the season got busy, it got a little crazy, and users would become inundated with so many hurricane bulletins that users became irritated and unsubscribed.

Under this NEW setup, users can subscribe and unsubscribe from whichever bulletins they want, AT WILL.

Here are the "topic" areas that are now available to choose from within the ACEMWIN-HURR-L listgroup:

  • PWSAT: Tropical Cyclone Surface Wind Speed Probabilities
  • SPFAT: Storm Strike Probability Bulletin
  • TCANT: Tropical Cyclone ICAO (Aviation) Advisory
  • TCDAT: Tropical Cyclone Discussion
  • TCEAT: Tropical Cyclone Position Estimate
  • TCMAT: Marine/Aviation Tropical Cyclone Forecast/Advisory
  • TCPAT: Public Tropical Cyclone Advisory
  • TCPSP: Public Tropical Cyclone Advisory (Spanish)
  • TCUAT: Tropical Cyclone Update
  • TCVAT: Tropical Cyclone Watch/Warning Product (VTEC)
  • TWDAT: Tropical Weather Discussion
  • TWOAT: Tropical Weather Outlook and Summary
  • TWSAT: Monthly Tropical Weather Summary
  • CHGHUR: Tropical Cyclone Objective Guidance (Computer Hurricane Guidance)
  • STDCCA: Satellite-derived Tropical Disturbance Summary (E. CARRIBEAN)
  • STDECA: Satellite-derived Tropical Disturbance Summary (C. CARRIBEAN)
  • STDWCA: Satellite-derived Tropical Disturbance Summary (W. CARRIBEAN)

New users will automatically be subscribed to all topics to begin with, by default. But users now have the power to turn things that they decide they don't like or want off at any time.

And as well! ...The ACEMWIN-HURR-L listgroup is now being archived, too. Users will have the ability to peruse past bulletins for information. This will probably come in handy to students or researchers.

For more information, especially on how to subscribe to the list, please see the ACEMWIN-HURR-L Web Page.

* BEEN BUSY LATELY... (Posted 06/06/2009)
Over the past few days we've been working on a number of additional things...

- Created Alachua County SKYWARN Blogspot blog (http://acskywarn.blogspot.com). This will be used for news and updates about Alachua County SKYWARN.

- Created Alachua County SKYWARN Twitter page (http://twitter.com/acskywarn). This site can be used by AC-SKYWARN members to keep in touch, and maybe even as a secondary means of relaying spotter reports, locally.

- Created Alachua County EMWIN Project Blogspot blog (http://acemwin.blogspot.com). This will be used for news and updates about the Alachua County EMWIN Project.

- Created Alachua County EMWIN Project Twitter page (http://twitter.com/acemwin). This is a special use project allowing local area users to receive Alachua County severe storm-related weather bulletins for free as a public service, provided by Alachua County SKYWARN and the Alachua County EMWIN Project.

The AC-EMWIN Twitter page is an experiment. It was something that our EMWIN software was uniquely capable of doing. It was easy to implement. Twitter had capabilities that our EMWIN software was able to take advantage of. So we did it. We may consider going many steps further and offering the same service to immediately surrounding counties, as well. Then people will be able to subscribe SPECIFICALLY to bulletins for those counties they WISH in Twitter.

* AC-EMWIN SERVER COMPUTER HACKED BY LOCAL HAM (02/16/2009)

I caught Jeff Capehart/W4UFL VNC-ing into the EMWIN system without permission at about 12:30am. Didn't know it was him at first but I had a suspicion. Sent an email to Faculty Advisor Dr. Jay Garlitz and to Ray Strubinger, then the network admin, requesting help in obtaining the IP address of the person who had logged in. (I never did get what I needed.) I called the police the next day and, long story short, the entire system got kicked off of the Dental Science Building rooftop I guess because I'd made "waves". Jeff went through this whole schpeil of denial while the police were involved. Feigned innocence, not knowing anything. The faculty advisor, Dr. Jay Garlitz, even vouched for him and thus helped to keep him out of the way of any legal trouble.

(UPDATE: Found two Gainesville Sun articles regarding prior computer crimes for breaking into a University of Florida IFAS computer system before. Along with a three other people, Jeff AND HIS WIFE SUSAN were involved in hacking into a University of Florida IFAS computer system. Check it out.)

While originally Dr. Garlitz wanted the equipment removed from the club station rooftop, he suddenly changed his mind and began fighting with me over who actually owned the system and who it actually belonged to. He held on to the equipment and refused to allow me access to it while he checked around to try to find out who really owned it. They took my key to the club station, and refused to allow me access anymore without supervision. He wanted to give the EMWIN equipment to the UPD to hold on to in the meantime and I told him that if he did I would sue GARC, go to the Press, and call public attention to the whole thing. After being told not to allow Jeff to handle anything (he was the look-to-guy in GARC for everything), Dr. Garlitz instructed Jeff anyway to go to the Alachua County Office of Emergency Management - in specific, to Dave Donnelly - and let him know of the existence of the equipment and, "to see what they had to say". I advised Dr. Garlitz that he had no right to do that, that the equipment wasn't GARC's to be able to make that decision, and was given specifically to me by the Florida Division of Emergency Mgmt, in specific, by John Fleming. I said that if ACOEM thought they had rights to it, then they needed to have it out with me in a CIVIL court because this was a civil matter.

As I'd predicted, Jeff did NOT do exactly what he was asked and he not only brought it to the attention of Dave Donnely, but he made side mention of it's existence to Phil and Melissa Royce "...to see if Melissa was still interested in harassing you", as Jeff later put it to me in his own words. He even added, "I knew it would probably cause you problems, but...I figured you could handle it." Jeff told me that he'd gone to Melissa as a "test" for her, to see if she was still interested in "harassing Todd." He said he wanted to give her "one more chance to prove herself", to see if she meant it when she had told him that she wasn't interested in stalking me anymore. (That's another story and it's very long.) I wonder, what was he going to do if she had failed. Report this to...WHO? ...Do...WHAT? Oh wait. She DID fail. Gimme a break. Interesting was how he actually tried to con me into believing that he was just doing this to HELP me.

Sure enough, Philip Royce picked up on it, went straight to Dave Donnelly, and campaigned for Dave to attempt to take it so that Phil could do things with it. (ACOEM already HAD an EMWIN system of their own. They didn't need this one, and in fact the whole reason we got it in the first place was because ACOEM notified us of the existence of the thing and SAID they didn't have the time, manpower, or the money to be dealing with a second system.) Dave Donnelly immediately emailed Dr. Garlitz back with instructions to confiscate all of the EMWIN equipment and to hand it over to ACOEM immediately. It was quite good. It sounded really official and authoritative. It was a really nice try. But I fired an email back to both parties advising that if ACOEM wanted this, it was a civil matter, it wasn't GARC's business to be arbitrator, and that Dave needed to first PROVE that the system belonged to ACOEM. I told Dave that if he did not back off, I would sue ACOEM, and file harassment charges against him. (I'd filed a harassment case against Phil and Melissa some years ago. Dave basically told the cop that he thought I was a problem based solely upon gossip and slander that he'd been hearing about me from in fact people I'd TOLD him were harassing me before; and not fully understanding what was going on around him at the time, his words actually caused a cop in GPD to deliberately sabotage my case, and he ended up inadvertantly helping Phil and Melissa get away with what they'd done. When Dave did this, he inadvertantly aided and abetted my harassers, and put himself in the way of a whole hell of a lot of possib;e problems if it ever got out what he had done. He could lose his career, his house, and everything he owns.) Not wanting the bad attention and publicity and the almost definite inquiries and investigations that go along with it, Dave immediately backed off with an email to Dr. Garlitz advising that he was no longer interested, and he was never heard from again. Finally, I guess Dr. Garlitz wanted nothing more to do with this, either, and it was causing HIM and GARC to skirt way too close to big problems with the powers that be in the University of Florida, and he agreed to hand the equipment over to me, but I had to actually sign some documents, first. He finally agreed to a date to allow me to take the equipment. But there was a snag. Environmental Safety called Dr. Garlitz and told him that they only wanted people who had gone through the proper rooftop safety TRAINING to go up on the rooftop. There were only TWO people with that training: me...and Jeff.

On May 3rd, three months after the hacking event, I was finally able to get my hands on the equipment. Jeff and I were the only two between Alachua Co. SKYWARN and GARC who had actually obtained the UF Environmental Health & Safety-required rooftop safety training courses, so we were the only ones who were allowed up on the roof. And so, yah...I was forced to handle the rooftop removal WITH this guy. While on the rooftop, alone, with no one else around, he admitted everything to me...

Here's how the conversation went, so that we can all be scared the exact same way together. Okay, group hug! Everybody hold close! Ready? This gets weird...

Always feeling it important to make sure I "understand" how things "really" are, Jeff said that after I had called the police, Dr. Garlitz decided he didn't want anything to do with me or the EMWIN system anymore and wanted it out of the club station. (See, to Dr. Garlitz, Jeff was very important. He volunteered for everything, made himself useful and invaluable to everyone, Dr. Garlitz didn't want to believe that Jeff could be bad...to the point of defending him even in the face of tangible proof. It would just break his heart to finally realize that Jeff ISN'T the goodie two-shoes he thinks he is.) I told Jeff that that's what I had already known, and that Dr. Garlitz had told me that it wasn't because he wanted me gone, but because he said he needed the computer space. Jeff said, "More like that's what the 'official' reason given to you was." Wherein I replied, "I'd already assumed that." So, bottom line: Dr. Garlitz took sides based not on logic but upon personal gut feelings and hopes and want of innocence, and while he thought he was doing the right thing, he actually ended up aiding the bad guy in causing further harm to the innocent guy by showing the bad guy that he was unstoppable. And the police have done this same thing to me twice, now.

Jeff said Det. Metz (the detective who was assigned to me...note...to me, not to Dr. Garlitz or to the Gator ARC) called him and asked him to try to use a 'scanner' to find who accessed the computer. (A 'scanner'? What in the HELL is that?) What was he doing talking to the guy I was making the COMPLAINT about?!! Everybody take note, here: Todd complains about Jeff to the police. So then, the police contact JEFF to help them find out what happened? Just thought I'd make sure people understood this. GPD had JUST finished doing the exact same thing to me just a couple of years before with a harassment case against Phil and Melissa Royce. I TOLD the police NOT to allow Jeff access to the case. I TOLD them. I TOLD Dr. Garlitz NOT to allow Jeff ANY involvement in this because he'll deliberately screw it up. As well, they'd be giving the criminal EVERYTHING that they know and AIDING him. In the end, they did just that. UPD and Dr. Garlitz were irresponsible in their handling of the situation, here. ...Forensically backwards to how the whole thing should have been handled. EVERY...TIME...that I turn arround...SOME police department or government department is AIDING people who are harassingand stalking me. In the end, UPD gave me the "Well, since the equipment belongs to you and it's not UF property, it's not our jurisdiction" excuse.

So here's a question for yuh. If it's not THEIR jurisdiction, and it's not GPD's jurisdiction, if someone breaks in to your computer, who the hell handles it? This one fell through the cracks because of abuses of favors and politics and who you know.

Conveniently, after Dr. Garlitz had another club member who was network savvy look at the computer, I was given some excuse, and told that it was not possible to look up who had accessed the EMWIN computer because of the way that their network was set up. Calls to UF network admin...not necessary. They've got it all covered. Right?

Everybody wanted to believe that Jeff was good, and that I was nuts. Everybody wanted to believe that I was just picking on Jeff, and that I was a troublemaker trying to make waves for no good reason at all. Makes sense to ME!

While we worked on the satellite dish, Jeff admitted that it was indeed him who had remoted in.

"How?", I asked him. "You mean using Windows Remote?"
He looked at me like I was nuts. "Windows REMOTE? I didn't use Windows Remote."
"So, you used VNC, then? Because that's kinda odd. Whenever a second person attempts to use VNC while someone else is logged on, the first person usually gets booted off - at least that's what *I* had the settings set to, originally; but that didn't happen. He didn't answer.
"So how did you get the PASSWORDS, then? Because I kept changing them."
"I *know*", he says.
"So then how did you get them?"

He paused. Then he admitted, grinning with this obvious pride, that he had swiped the passwords from out of the Windows Registry file. And the way that he said it really shocked me. It was kinda like, as if he thought that this is what *EVERYBODY* does, EVERY DAY. (To do this, you cannot do it remotely because you don't know the passwords to be able to get in. You have to physically GO TO the club station, sit down in front of the EMWIN computer, and do a heck of a lot of things in the Registry Editor to find that stuff. The registry file is not something that normal Windows users fiddle with. It's not something that most Windows users even UNDERSTAND or know HOW to work with, much less what is contained in it. Most don't want to TOUCH that stuff. The EMWIN software was password protected to keep him out. The VNC program was password protected to keep him out. I'd turned OFF Windows Remote Desktop to keep him out. He knew that I was doing all of this SPECIFICALLY to keep HIM out. He KNEW I didn't want him in there and he acknowledged this. To GET the passwords, Jeff apparently went into the registry - not just once, but REPEATEDLY, even after I had CHANGED the passwords. ...And he was NOT an admin for the Gator Amateur Radio Club, nor did he have "NEED" to be into the EMWIN system for the things that he did.

He even repeated the passwords BACK to me...cut me OFF in fact to brag them to me:

"Oh! You mean '******?' ...'******?' ...'******?'"

He grinned as he repeated them all back to me! ...GRINNED! He thought this was just the cats meow, here! He had every one of them exactly correctly! He didn't miss ONE. I stared at him, ever so frightened. My jaw dropped and my eyes got wide for a moment and then I gathered myself, realizing that I was giving myself away. I realized this is a man who desperately has to feel all-powerful, and like he's got complete control of me. (GOD, what I'd do to see the results of a Hare PCL/R test applied to this guy!)

"But you weren't an admin for the club when you did that", I said.
"Yah. So? *Ray* was. What about it?" (Was he implying that Ray had helped him, here?)
"What right did you think you had to DO that?", I asked.
"Because you wouldn't do what I WANTED and you were pissing me off!"

He said this in such a way, as if he had some RIGHT to do whatever he wanted and DAMN me for trying to BLOCK him from being able to do that and having any control of me. He even described how he was online and then suddenly the mouse started moving around, and he realized that it must be me. He described that he saw me going back into the directories that he had just gone into, and saw that I was trying to figure out what he was looking for. Then he said he lost control and the screen went blank, which is what happened to me. I lost control of my mouse first, and things locked up, and I had no control anymore. To get control back, I had to log off, and log back in - thereby forcing him to be booted off. (As SOON as I logged back in, I changed the PW immediately so that he couldn't log back in, anymore. While online, I checked around in the Windows setup. Sure enough, the box that I'd unchecked many months ago to disallow Windows Remote Desktop to be used...was again checked. Jeff was leaving himself a backup means in, just as I had suspected. I again unchecked the box. The next day, in proper procedure, I contacted the police, and all hell broke loose from there.)

Then he said, "Yah, heh-heh, and I was like, 'Oh WELL, he just found out!'"

No fear over what he had done registered in his face as he said this. He truly didn't see it as a problem. He saw nothing wrong at all with what he did.

He chuckled a little bit and then said, "I DIDN'T try to use the passwords in the AC-SKYWARN Yahoo group...". But the way he said it, the tone that was there in his voice as he smiled, it made me stand still in shocking sudden realization. In my mind, it kinda said "but I was thinking about it, though." And something in my mind said that he's already TRIED all of the combinations that he could think of somewhere in the past ANYWAY, and for all I know, he already KNOWS what the password is.

Nobody sees the danger in this man. ...NO ONE. Everyone looks at him as if he's some sort of a god incapable of ill will. Everybody vouches for him and police departments actually skip all forensics procedures when the big names vouch or when someone has a patch on their shirt.

MUCH more information about the very serious problems that I've been having with local hams can be found at my personal Blogspot blog: Stormspotter-Todd. You'll want "Where Did Todd Go? ...On Dealing With Psychopaths", found under December, 2009.

Anyway, long story short: I now have the system secured and operating someplace else where I can watch it more closely. I'm talking with a few different people about different ideas to get the satellite dish mounted, but the old concrete block mount has apparently disappeared from the GARC club station and is no longer to be found - long-ago "permanently borrowed" by club members at some point, no doubt; so I have to find an alternate way to mount it.

The system IS operating using internet ingest in the meantime. I am still sending to pagers, cellphones, etc. I am sending graphics and bulletins even to various web pages. However, for now, live connection to our server is no longer possible because the network [at the new location] uses a dynamic Cox IP address. (GARC had a stable, static IP address which allowed people to connect.) I may be able to work around this, though. I'm looking into that, as well.

Fear not, people. We'll get all of our legs back at some point, here.

* DUPLICATE ALACHUA CO. SKYWARN YAHOO PAGE CREATED BY MELISSA ROYCE TO CONFUSE PEOPLE... (Posted August 30, 2008)

On August 15th, Melissa Royce, apparently just to be beligerent and mean, and already knowing of the current existence of the Yahoo Alachua County SKYWARN Email Alert List run by us, created a duplicate "Alachua County SKYWARN" Yahoo listgroup on her own in an effort to confuse people. Efforts to get Yahoo to help have proved fruitless and useless. Alachua County Office of Emergency Management prefers to take a stance of non-involvement but since Melissa created this using their name and with their approval I am at a loss to understand how they think they can remain uninvolved.

There is SO much more to this story but this is not the appropriate place for it. To describe what happened to me in the past five years would require a special web page DEDICATED to the subject. It's also scary to deal with. When I'm done putting it together, I'll make it public. But it's a LONG story that I just don't have the stomach to sit down and rehash, right now, because it's just way too stressful. Suffice it to say, though, that about 6 different ham radio operators have made it their life's mission to harass and stalk me for years and to create confusion and paranoia over me inside Emergency Management, the Weather Service, and elsewhere. And unfortunately I cannot seem to stop it and I've complained to everyone: State Attorney's Office (spoke on the phone with Spencer Mann himself, who treated me unbelievably rudely considering the sensitive nature of the complaint, and like I was being completely rediculous to complain), the Gainesville Police Department (2 officers - one of whom deliberately sabotaged a harassment case that I'd filed against some hams), the University of Florida Police Department (2 officers there, who also blew me off and who then ended up aiding someone I'd actually filed a complaint about), various city and county commissioners to let them know, the Alachua Co. Office of Emergency Mgmt. (Chief Will May and then Asst. Chief Dave Donnelly, who himself even recommended that I go to the police, then told the police that I was a "problem" without any tangible evidence to such a thing and based solely on word of mouth, which is COMPLETELY irreponsible a thing to do for a man of his power and position and PARTICULARLY considering the nature of his very position), the Florida Division of Emergency Mgmt. (2 people), the National Weather Service (3 people). Everyone blew me off. No one took me seriously. What's worse...everyone ended up aiding my harassers in some way or another. Whether accidentally because they were duped or not...is nonsequitor. They should have been more forensically accurate if they were going to go as far as to take real actions against me. I can't wait to find out what happens if I end up getting shot one day - and then I DON'T die - and it becomes discovered that I complained to all those people and NO ONE took me seriously. The Press should have a royal field day with that and they won't be able to explain themselves away. Nobody ever thinks about things like that when they're busy doing...favors. There are consequences to taking risks like that. ...To your career, and to your assets, and your freedom.

* COMBINED SPOTTER TRAINING CLASS FEBRUARY 27TH!!! (Posted 02/08/2006)
The next spotter training class will be a COMBINED Basic and Advanced class held on Feb 27th, 2006 at 6:00 PM in Meeting Room "A" of the Alachua County Library - Headquarters Branch, 401 East University Avenue, Gainesville. The class will last three hours - until 8:45 PM, with a 15-minute break in the middle. The instructor will again be Al Sandrik, Lead Warning Coordination Meteorologist from the NWS Field Office in Jacksonville. The class is FREE, and open to the public. However, PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED for the class. To register your seat, contact Todd Sherman, Coordinator, at (352) ***-****, or email registration@alachuaskywarn.org. We'll need the following information: Your name, physical address, tel. no., current spotter ID number issued from NWS-JAX (if you have one), and your ham radio callsign (if you have one). For a map to the class location, and to see the Registration List to confirm that your name is on it, see the Spotter Class Schedule page. PARKING in metered spots around the Library is free after 5pm. There are also nearby parking garages (for a fee). Next to the west side of the Star Garage, though, there is a small metered (free after 5pm, remember) parking lot. As always, WE ARE HOPING TO BREAK RECORDS IN ATTENDANCE THIS TIME AROUND. So invite your friends and family. Last year, we saw 101 people in attendance. This time, we hope to surpass 150 in number! To help, print out our Spotter Class Announcement Poster and place it in your office, or in your favorite local store window! To see what Meeting Room "A" looks like, see these stitched panoramic photos. To receive the latest status on all upcoming spotter training classes, and to receive the latest Alachua Co. watches, warnings, and advisories, and the latest Alachua Co. SKYWARN Newsletter, we recommend that you sign up for the AC-SKYWARN E-mail Alert List.

* COMBINED SPOTTER TRAINING CLASS MAY 25TH!!! (Posted 05/08/2005)
The next spotter training class will be a COMBINED Basic and Advanced class held on May 25th, 2005 at 6:00 PM in Meeting Room "A" of the Alachua County Library - Headquarters Branch, 401 East University Avenue, Gainesville. The class will last three hours - until 8:45 PM, with a 15-minute break in the middle. The instructor will again be our favorite, sparky Angie Enyedi, Asst. Warning Coordination Meteorologist from the NWS Field Office in Jacksonville. Everyone loved her last year and so we welcome her back this year, too! The class is FREE, and open to the public. However, PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED for the class. To register your seat, contact Todd Sherman, Coordinator, at (352) ***-****, or email skywarn@fireline.org. We'll need the following information: Your name, physical address, tel. no., current spotter ID number issued from NWS-JAX (if you have one), and your ham radio callsign (if you have one). For a map to the class location, and to see the Registration List to confirm that your name is on it, see the Spotter Class Schedule page. PARKING in metered spots around the Library is free after 5pm. There are also nearby parking garages (for a fee). Next to the west side of the Star Garage, though, there is a small metered (free after 5pm, remember) parking lot. WE ARE HOPING TO BREAK RECORDS IN ATTENDANCE THIS TIME AROUND. So invite your friends and family. Last year, we saw 101 people in attendance. This time, we hope to surpass 150 in number! To help, print out our Spotter Class Announcement Poster and place it in your office, or in your favorite local store window! To see what Meeting Room "A" looks like, see these stitched panoramic photos. To receive the latest status on all upcoming spotter training classes, and to receive the latest Alachua Co. watches, warnings, and advisories, and the latest Alachua Co. SKYWARN Newsletter, we recommend that you sign up for the AC-SKYWARN E-mail Alert List.

* COMBINED SPOTTER TRAINING CLASS JULY 15TH!!! (05/25/2004)
The next spotter training class will be a COMBINED Basic and Advanced class held on July 15th, 2004 at 6:00 PM in Meeting Room "A" of the Alachua County Library - Headquarters Branch, 401 East University Avenue, Gainesville. The class will last three hours - until 9:00 PM, with a 15-minute break in the middle - at 7:15 PM. Those who have already taken a Basic class within the past two years (from NWS-JAX) and who wish to attend just the Advanced portion of the class may show up about this time. The instructor will be Angie Enyedi, Asst. Warning Coordination Meteorologist from the NWS Field Office in Jacksonville. The class is FREE, and open to the public. However, PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED THIS TIME AROUND for the class. To register your seat, contact Todd Sherman, Coordinator at (352) ***-****, or email skywarn@fireline.org. For a map to the class location, and to see the Registration List to confirm that your name is on it, see the Spotter Class Schedule page. PARKING in metered spots around the Library is free after 5pm. There are also nearby parking garages (for a fee). Next to the Star Garage, though, there is a small metered (free after 5pm, remember) parking lot. WE ARE HOPING TO BREAK RECORDS IN ATTENDANCE THIS TIME AROUND. So invite your friends and family. Our largest class ever was about 76 people. This time, we hope to surpass 150 in number! Let's help make this a reality! So help spread the word around! My dream has always been to have a large room and fill it to capacity with people wanting to learn about the weather. If this happened, it would make my dream come true! To help, print out our Spotter Class Announcement Poster and place it in your office, or in your favorite local store window! To see what Meeting Room "A" looks like, see these stitched panoramic photos. To receive the latest status on all upcoming spotter training classes, and to receive the latest Alachua Co. watches, warnings, and advisories, and the latest Alachua Co. SKYWARN Newsletter, we recommend that you sign up for the AC-SKYWARN E-mail Alert List.

* AC-EMWIN PROJECT OVERVIEW - POWERPOINT PRESENTATION (08/21/2003)
A PowerPoint presentation on the AC-EMWIN Project was given at the regular meeting of the Gainesville Amateur Radio Society on the evening of August 21st. If you were not able to attend, and you would like to view the presentation, see here. There are two versions to choose from - PowerPoint (.PPT) and online HTML. Our thanks the the Gainesville Amateur Radio Society for allowing us to give the presentation.

* EMWIN PROJECT PROGRESS (07/18/2003)
[Pager Display Example] The Alachua Co. EMWIN Project is proceding along - if but slowly. Project Request Form for satellite receiving dish installation upon the Dental Science Bldg. rooftop was approved and it is all that remains of the major subprojects to do. We just have to arrange a date to put it up, now. Was actually approved last month but bugs in the EMWIN software kept me involved in working with the author to correct them. In the process, also had a chance to suggest and have implemented numerous more user-friendly improvements to the software. We had some major roadblocks with SMTP Auth and POP Before SMTP with a number of local ISPs which seriously interfered with e-mailing and some paging. As well, had some issues with AFN and inability to FTP products to the EMWIN page on AFN. Unknown if due to AFN's disk space problems or to finite number of FTP ports available. Problem resolved by moving all products to the EMWIN machine, itself, and pointing to them from the pages on AFN. For now, it seems we have finally worked around all these problems and things appear to be working smoothly now on the EMWIN computer. NWS products are available on the EMWIN web page, an updated watch/warning map is available on the A.C. SKYWARN main page, text product e-mailing and paging services are now available to the public, and we are retransmitting NWS text and graphic products over the air on 163.325 MHz. At this time, all data is being pulled from off of the Internet; but once the satellite dish goes up, we will be pulling from GOES-12, with Internet then used only as a backup if the signal for whatever reason fails.

* LARGE HAIL IN ALACHUA COUNTY! (03/01/2003)
On the morning of March 1st, Al Pinson's home was deluged with so much hail that the ground at his home became white, and hail up to 3-inches fell, causing damage to his vehicles and property. More on the story here.

* BASIC SPOTTER TRAINING!!! (02/24/2003)
We just finalized plans for the next Basic Spotter Training Class! It will be held on Friday, April 4th. More information about that here!

* EMWIN TRANSMITTING STATION (02/07/03)
FDEM just dropped off all the necessary equipment needed to run an EMWIN transmitting station with us. Still awaiting a second delivery of the required coax. We're hoping that the station will be located atop the roof of the Dental Sciences wing of the J.H. Miller Health Sciences Center (across the street from Shands Hospital). We're in the process of working that out. Once operational, anyone with a scanner and a small "demodulator" device will be able to receive the EMWIN transmissions on their own home computer noticeably faster than is possible with Internet lists. The EMWIN system retransmits NWS weather products out on a frequency of 163.325 MHz at 1200 baud. We can customize which "products" (text bulletins, and perhaps even some images) are transmitted so that only those products relating to Alachua County will be sent. As WELL as being able to transmit the data, we can dupe it to personal e-mail, e-mail lists, to text pagers which use an e-mail address, and we can upload bulletins to our web site where people can click on the latest issued bulletin. For more information on this project, and it's status, please see the web page About the Alachua County EMWIN Transmitting Station.

* NEW WARNING COORDINATION METEOROLOGIST (WCM) AT NWS-JAX (02/07/03)
Fred Johnson has moved on to greener grasses with a new job in Kansas City working with the Aviation Weather Center. The new Warning Coordination Metorologist for NWS-JAX is now Al Sandrik. Congrats to both Fred and Al and we look forward to working with Al in the future.

* ADVANCED SPOTTER TRAINING CLASS TO BE HELD JULY 16TH (06/12/02)
The next Advanced Spotter Training Class will be held July 16th, 2002 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM at Alachua County Fire/Rescue Headquarters, 913 SE 5th Street, Gainesville. Instructor will be Fred Johnson, Warning Coordination Meteorologist from NWS-Jacksonville. Note that this is not being held at the same location as the recent Basic class (which was held at the Alachua Co. EOC Building). For a map to ACFR HQ, please see here.

* MARCH 27TH BASIC SPOTTER TRAINING CLASS A SUCCESS! (03/28/02)
The spotter training class was a great success, pulling in 42 people. The class was held at 7pm at the Alachua Co. EOC building located at 2621 SE Hawthorne Road (at the corner oe SE Hawthorne Rd. & SE 27th St.). The Instructor was again Fred Johnson, Warning Coordination Meteorologist from NWS-JAX. After the class, Dave Donnelly, Alachua Co. Emergency Manager with the Alachua Co. Office of Emergency Management, gave a tour of the EOC facilities. Our thanks to WUFT/TV-5 for the interviews and the publicity; also to The Gainesville Sun, WGFL, WOGX, WKTK, WSKY, GoGainesville.com, and all of the local Publix supermarkets for the publicity that they also provided us online, in articles, in radio spots, and on public bulletin boards.

The next class will be an Advanced, which is now in the process of being arranged with Fred Johnson. We'll advise everyone when we come up with a date, time, and location.

* A.C. SKYWARN WEB PAGE NOW HAS A MIRROR SITE (09/02/01)
Jim Carr/KC4MHH, of Fireline BBS Online, has graciously made space available on his server to allow the creation of a mirror site for the Alachua County SKYWARN Home Page. Now, if Alachua FreeNet goes down again, the page will still be accessible from the secondary server site. The secondary URL for the A.C. SKYWARN Home Page is http://www.fireline.org/skywarn. Definitely bookmark it, and label it as a "[mirror site]", so that if AFN goes down again in the future, you will have a secondary way in.

* GARS 146.820 REPEATER NOW BACK ON THE AIR (08/27/01)
The Gainesville Amateur Radio Society's repeater on 146.820 MHz is now back up and running with a new radio and repeater controller. The OUTPUT (not the input) is currently toned to 123.0. This doesn't do much good to actually limit any interference on the INPUT, but it CAN be used during band openings when multiple 82s can be heard, to allow your radio's squelch to open ONLY when the GARS 82 repeater pops up. All you have to do is turn on the PL feature on your transceiver, and tell it that 82 uses 123.0.

* ALERT LIST MOVES OVER TO YAHOOGROUPS (08/23/01)
On August 23rd, A.C. SKYWARN opened a list group account on YahooGroups. Over the next few days, the service was set up, and then current list members were automatically moved over to that group. Before the move, the list was actually a simple BCC list maintained on the Coordinator's home computer for free, out of his own time. However, when the Coordinator was not home, or otherwise unavailable, and the severe weather came, then no alerts would be sent out. Moving things to Yahoo allows assigning multiple people to send out the alerts if the Coordinator is not able to.

Current members will not have to do anything to resubscribe back into the list. It will occur automatically. If users then desire to unsubscribe, they now have the control to do so without having to ask permission from the moderator, if they wish.

While Yahoo incorporates a few anti-spam measures to try to prevent spam from getting into the list group, and while our own list is read-only (and moderators must approve everything before it gets sent back into the list, anyway), there is ONE downside. At the top of any e-mails sent to the list, a two or three-line ad gets added by Yahoo. But it's pretty small. If you can deal with that minor irritance, then you're good to go. But if you can't, it is easy to unsubscribe, and the instructions are at the bottom of all e-mails in the list. We'd hate to see people go, but we would understand if it really bothered you.

The move to Yahoo does offer certain additional "niceties." Online, at the list site, members will have access to a variety of new and interesting things. You can view the list group's mail right there in the MESSAGES section. You can upload/download files to the FILES section. You can access our DATABASE section (currently containing past Spotter Class Rosters, which may be sorted by any column just by clicking at the column name). You can upload/download photos to the PHOTOS section. If you have a weather-related photo that you think is interesting, why not share it with everyone and upload it here. You can view profiles on other list members in the MEMBERS section. (You can make your profile as detailed, or as vague, as you wish.) You can chat with other members online (with special software) in the CHAT section. You can view a calendar of upcoming events, and even have it send you e-mail reminder notices, in the CALENDAR section. You can check out some related links in the BOOKMARKS section; and finally, you can even participate in some online polls in the POLLS section. (I curently haven't the foggiest what kind of polls to create right now, but I'm sure to will get some good use sometime.)

The list group's online site is available at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ACSKYWARN. Try it out and let us know what you think.

If you are not currently a member of the Alert List and would like to be, you will need to sign in. You must first create a new user ID and password at the Yahoo site, and then join the ACSKYWARN group. After that, when you log in, just tell it to "remember your name and password next time" and it won't ask you again. But just in case, always write your user ID and password down somewhere.

The Alert List's purpose is the dissemination of weather-related alerts that regard Alachua and surrounding counties, and the dissemination of Alachua County SKYWARN-related news and bulletins. The list is read-only (one-way), and it is not a "discussion" list; so your Inbox won't be filled with excess drivel if chat is not your bag.

* CHANGES TO NWS-JAX WEB PAGE (01/30/01)
NWS-JAX home page has had some additions, including new RADAR images to choose from, a new, quarterly newsletter to read, new online observation reporting forms, and more. Check out the NWS-JAX home page at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jax.

* NWS RADAR NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE (01/30/01)
The long awaited weather radar imagery is now available. See http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/cgi-bin/master.pl?suite=radar. Products now available include base reflectivity, composite reflectivity, 1-hour precip, and storm total precip.

* NWS-JAX ONLINE QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER (01/30/01)
NWS-JAX is now publishing a quarterly newsletter called the Seabreeze Webletter. It can be found here: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jax/cgi-bin/master.pl?suite=current It is currently available in Adobe PDF and WordPerfect9 formats, and an HTML version is planned, soon. Articles include quarterly and yearly weather summaries, editorials from Fred Johnson, what's new, planned events, descriptions of some of the things that they do at NWS-JAX, and a SKYWARN section.

* ADVANCED SPOTTER CLASS STATUS (Rev 11/28/00)
The Advanced Spotter Training class was held November 16th, at 7:00 PM, at ACFR HQ, 913 SE 5th Street, Gainesville. Instructor was Fred Johnson, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the NWS Office in Jacksonville. All tables were again full, but we only had a little over half the number of people in attendance as were at the Basic class in August. In the Basic class, we had 3 people per table; at the Advanced class, just 2 people per table. Total number who signed the attendance sheet: 26. Spotter ID cards, as well as SKYWARN bumper stickers, were mailed out before the class until my own supply ran out, and Fred handed out more cards on the day of the class.

We try to repeat the Basic and Advanced spotter training classes about every six months, or as the schedules of the instructors at NWS-JAX allows. The next upcoming class will be Basic Spotter Training. Date, time, and place yet to be arranged. If you would like to be placed on our SKYWARN e-mail Alert List - which includes local area watches and warnings, as well as announcements of upcoming classes, send an e-mail requesting to be added to the list to skywarn@afn.org. No ads. Your info is not sold or shared. In fact, its just a simple BCC list that I maintain, personally.

* `RAISEN', THE "UNOFFICIAL SPOTTER MASCOT", NOW WITH GOD (Rev 10/20/00)
Suddenly, and without any prior warnings or indications, Raisen passed away at 11:23 PM on October 18th. I was working on a computer, working on it's BIOS setup, and Raisen was sleeping on the bed behind me, lying on her side when it occured. I tried everything I could, including CPR, and nothing would work. The next day we took her to the vets for an examination. It was discovered during a necropsy that Raisen had died from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which means "[thickened] [heart muscle disease]." It is a silent killer with no outward warning signs. It is a genetically pre-programmed disease. The examination revealed that Raisen's left heart chamber was "extremely thick, the wall thickened, and the chamber small." This means that the heart just wasn't able to get enough oxygen to her system. As well, the circulation was poor as a result. With blood not flowing fast enough through her heart, clots developed. It is thought that what happened to Raisen was a clot dislodged from her heart and travelled up an artery to the brain, causing instantaneous cessation of functions. It took us by complete surprise. She had just jumped upon the bed behind me, too, and I had not noticed her even come in. But, as usual, Raisen was near me, when it happened.

This cat once even survived a pygmi rattler bite on the nose, and being stuck 70 feet up a tall pine tree in the freezing cold of a winter's night.

Raisen was born on May 5th, 1993 at 2pm - two months before the Los Angeles earthquake. I was there the day she was born, and I fed her specialized milk from bottle droppers from my gloved hands as a kitten. I was her "daddy," and her best friend. I took the best of care of her and gave her the best possible life a kitty could ever have. I was there near her the day she left this earth. I got to spend just 7 years, 5 months, 14 days, and 9 hours of her wonderful life with her. It was far too short for a cat.

Raisen was my best and closest friend, and under my attentions, became the smartest cat I ever knew, being very adept and with a high learning ability, and was very quick of mind. She had personality, feelings and attitude to match. I'll never forget her, and she will be so sorely missed for a long time.

I never got to make the SKYWARN commercial I had always intended to make with her. I could have easily done it with her, though. She was just that smart.

For more information and photos about Raisen - including an animation of Raisen throwing herself into a tornado, you can visit Raisen's web page at http://www.afn.org/~afn47120/pets/raisen.html.

* NEW COSMETIC CHANGES TO WEB PAGE! (Rev 10/02/00)
In Microsoft Internet Explorer, if you remove, and then add right back, your Favorites links to this and any subpages, you'll note the addition of our SKYWARN logo to your Address Bar and next to your Favorites link! Also added new Java marquee scroller to replace the MSIE-only MARQUEE code, which eliminates herky-jerky motion of old scroller, and adds a few special effects. It is also viewable in both MSIE and Netscape, now. Changed document-wide font to `MS Sans Serif,' which I think looks neater. Removed the JavaScript clock, which contributed to marquee jerkiness, as well. Besides, Windows has its own clock.

* Gainesville Sun Article regarding 08/31/2001 Spotter Class

* Report on the July 20th Severe Wind Storm

* SKYWARN-L: A.C. SKYWARN Discussion List (Rev 15 JAN 98)
We've created a mailing list called the `SKYWARN-L SKYWARN Discussion List'. This is a local area mailing list that local SKYWARN spotters and wannabe's may now subscribe to in order to discuss things related to SKYWARN and weather spotting. See here for more information.

* SKYWARN Standard Operation Procedures Manual
Alachua County SKYWARN does have a Standard Operating Procedures Manual. This is our operating bible. Its constantly going through changes and updates, so check back here now and then to be sure you've got the latest edition. Choose from a version below. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Online HTML VersionOnline HTML Version [Last Rev. 04 JUN 00]
Online TEXT VersionOnline TEXT Version [Last Rev. 04 JUN 00]
WP 6.0/6.1 VersionWP 6.0/6.1 Version [Last Rev. 11 SEP 98]
MS-WFW 2.0b VersionMS-WFW 2.0b Version [Last Rev. 20 Mar 98 - Missing]


Alachua County SKYWARN
Gainesville, Alachua Co., Fla.
E-mail: admin@alachuaskywarn.org
Last updated: October 15, 2012.

Web Page Copyright © 1997- by Alachua County SKYWARN.
All Rights Reserved.

Skywarn® and the Skywarn® logo are registered trademarks of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
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