Severe weather doesn’t just happen in the spring and summer. For much of the US, as the temperatures turn cold, winter weather is a real threat. Although we usually don’t have the sudden onslaught of severity that a line of thunderstorms can bring, a winter storm warning can bring serious consequences to a community.
Once the snow starts falling, I usually turn the scanner on to the City DPW and County Highway Department frequencies. Listening to the guys in the snow plows can give you a real indication on how bad the conditions and highways are. If there is a threat of freezing rain and ice, I also add the electric utility to the mix as reports of blackouts and downed power lines start coming in. As long as I’ve got no where to go, I’ll be happy to ride out the storm and listen to the first responders.
Just as important as monitoring the road crews is to also monitor the local amateur radio repeaters. Even though cell phones are ubiquitous, many hams will just are just as likely to pick up the radio and give a call on the repeater as they are to make a call on the phone. If anyone queries on the repeater for road conditions, I can usually give them an update based on what I’m seeing on the local weather radar and reports I’ve heard from the area road crews.
Two great antennas for scanning are my 2 meter J-Pole antenna and the Land Mobile, Public Safety, and Marine Band antenna. These antennas are ideal for scanning in the VHF amateur radio and public safety ranges. I like the 2 meter antenna for scanning as I listen to both ham radio and public safety frequencies and I like to have the ability to transmit on the ham frequencies. The 2 meter antenna is tuned for 144-148MHz but it has enough bandwidth to easily receive the 150-160 MHz public safety band. If transmitting on 2 meters isn’t an issue for you, then the Marine and Public Safety antenna would be the better choice as it’s optimized for the VHF land mobile spectrum. Either way you won’t go wrong with choosing either antenna for your scanning pleasure.
And a final thought, don’t forget to monitor the 146.52MHz calling frequency. It’s amazing how many hams will use that channel, especially if they are unfamiliar with the local repeaters. Hams from outside the area just traveling through probably have the greatest need for travelers assistance as they may not be familiar with the roads or community. We welcoming and ready to provide assistance to any of the visitors traveling through your area.
Happy scanning and if you are out driving on the winter roads, be safe.