On Friday evening, December 5 and Saturday morning December 6, 2008, Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) operators from the Northeast US participated in the Operation Snow Shoe ’08 exercise. The scenario was a major Nor’easter with 24 inches of snow and heavy ice. The weather results in catastrophic damage and disaster area declarations. Operators from Virginia to Maine to Illinois participated. Multiple communication modes were used including HF voice, military VHF frequencies, Winlink2K, MT63, and phone patches.
A drill objective was to practice station survivability with operations using emergency power and back-up antennas. “Severely austere” conditions of no phone, internet, and commercial power were practiced in some locations. Message traffic from coastal areas with major damage was passed as far west as Iowa. Mike Neilsen, W1MPN provided the point of contact for the MA State EOC for the drill in MA. Reports were also collected from Carl Aveni, N1FY at the SKYWARN desk at NWS Taunton. Reports from Army, Air Force and Navy-Marine Corps MARS members in MA were collected, formatted as “spot reports” and forwarded. This fulfilled another drill objective of sending the disaster assessment reports to provide military and civilian federal response planners with “ground truth” that they may not be receiving from any other source. It was a challenge to co-ordinate the drill around the Skywarn Recognition day activities!
–Thanks, Phil McNamara, N1XTB