This arrived in my mailbox last week. I know personally all of the players on the WX4PTC NWS side of the story. If you are not involved in SkyWarn, you might consider becoming a trained spotter. The classes are free and there is no special equipment to buy.
The following article by Barrett Thompson, KE4R, was submitted to various media outlets and QST about a week ago. Thus far, I have not seen it in any of the local papers. It should be; it is a great story. Some thoughts to take away from this: You never know when something more critical can happen. We have a lot of expertise in areas besides Ham radio. It pays to monitor the situation. (How many of us still monitor the local repeater when driving?) Hams take action and don't just sit on the sidelines hoping someone else will. Great job Barrett and Robert! Now, the article:
Pine Mountain, GA / Feb. 24, 2012 ---
Unusual winter weather patterns surprised a dozen scouts from Troop 151 of Newnan, Georgia on their multi-day backpacking trip on the Pine Mountain Trail. Senior patrol leader David 'D.J.' Sokoloff, KI6WIL, demonstrated the Boy Scout motto "Be Prepared!" when he pulled a hand-held Amateur Radio transceiver from his backpack and, using the Georgia Skywarn Linked Repeater System, contacted the NWS weather station WX4PTC in Peachtree City to check on weather advisories for his location.
Robert Burton, KD4YDC, Skywarn net control operator present at the weather station, immediately consulted with NWS meteorologists and informed the troop to expect severe thunderstorms with high winds, possible hail, and frequent lightning strikes. Exposed as they were on the mountain ridge, he recommended they take cover immediately. The troop requested further assistance with route planning for the nearest evacuation point on the trail.
Fayette County Ham operator Barrett Thompson, KE4R, a scoutmaster familiar with that trail system, provided route and shelter options to the scouts. As the intense storms pounded the scouts, D.J.'s radio became rain soaked and stopped working. Everyone was concerned by the silence and Barrett took the next step of contacting the Park Ranger station and passing on the situation.
As Barrett coordinated with park rangers by telephone, the scouts pressed on through the elements and were soon met by park rangers at a point where the trail is accessible to motor vehicles. As the storms subsided, the troop took a few minutes to rest, change into dry clothes, and consult with the rangers about their trek.
With the risk of severe weather now past, they decided to complete their planned hike and spend another night on the trail --- a fine example of scout spirit! Special thanks go out to all of Georgia Skywarn for their continued commitment to build and staff a reliable Ham radio network to serve our community in such times.