Radio communication, weather, and emergencies

We had two storms about a week apart the last two weeks of the year. The first dumped 18 inches (45 cm) of new snow, the second had winds gusting to 50+ mph (80+ kph).

The second storm knocked down a full-size tree in our neighbors woods, tore my ham radio HF antenna support mast from the ground twisted it horizontal, and eventually brought the whole thing crashing down. Fortunately, while the car is often parked under it, we had moved the car to a safer place when the storm arrived.

Rather than put the antenna up again, I've decided to sell it and move towards simpler antennas that will be more robust in bad weather.

The local Skywarn amateur radio group provided a continuous stream of reports to our local National Weather Service office, telling them where the power was out, when the trees started crashing down, and general weather conditions throughout the storm.

There are so many things to think about when planning emergency communication. Not just "will the power stay on, and do I have backup power?", but "will my emergency antennas stay up in a serious storm?"


  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,517 admin

    Many years ago (I'm really going to date myself here 🤣), we had a TV antenna on the roof of the house that came down in a particularly nasty storm. We had been able to pick up a couple of US channels (we were pretty close to the border) but after that we just had "rabbit ears" and could only get the 2 Canadian channels, both of which had limited hours of broadcast. Dad just couldn't see the expense of replacing that antenna. Occasionally, if someone held the rabbit ears at a certain angle we could pick up a station just across the border. They had much more exciting programming but I think that was a case of the "grass being greener" on the other side of the border.

    Ham radios were the only thing working during that storm. Along with an old shortwave radio. 😁

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    TV antennas on houses are still fairly common on older homes here. Cable TV is expensive, so we have never signed up.

    We used to have a very high-gain UHF TV antenna with preamp on an electric rotator and mast that we could point at the transmitting station, or at nearby mountains that reflected the signal. It worked pretty well until windstorm bent the mast and destroyed it, 4 or 5 years ago.

    Since we never watched much TV, I decided it wasn't worth repairing it just to have TV coverage for emergencies, which are precisely the times the antenna could come crashing down again.

    Rabbit ears are worthless in marginal rural areas like this one, where the nearest transmitteer may be 30 miles away on the other side of a mountain range.