March 2009 Newsletter

There were no activations in February. It still is interesting to hear the warning sirens go off on the first Wednesday each month when the temperature is hovering around zero.

The next SKYWARN meeting is 17-Mar @ 7:00 PM, the third Tuesday of the month.

About 16 members attended the 17-Feb meeting. Topics discussed included:

  • Dave P. and Chris G. are now both certified SKYWARN instructors. Not only are we now able to schedule and teach our own classes for volunteers, we can also provided certified training for Law Enforcement and other emergency workers. The classes qualify for POST credits. There had been requests for this training last year.
  • SKYWARN Class is scheduled for 10-Mar. More details below.
  • Deuel P. is working with HyVee in both Owatonna and Faribault to set a date for a Weather Radio sale. He is also talking with Cabelas about a similar project. Once dates are set, he will need volunteers to help program radios. This outreach was a huge success last year.
  • Tom S. secured a free both at the Home Show (March 27 - 29). The both is available for SKYWARN, OSCAR, and CERT. We still need someone who will coordinate volunteers to staff the booth. This project raised a lot of interest in SKYWARN last year.
  • The 4th Annual MN Skywarn Workshop is March 28th, from 9 - 5 at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. More information and pre-registration is available at
  • There are changes happening in the basement. We are adding a second HAM radio and a second computer station for better usability. We are still waiting for a conduit through the boiler room to route the antenna cables from the basement to the roof.
  • Lengthy discussion of callout solutions. CityWatch just doesn't have the reliability we need. Wayne brought up a calling tree. Bill suggested using email to a distribution list that sends text messages to people's cell phones. Some experimenting took place. We need domain names for the various providers. Mark will be talking with the School District on Thursday. They have a calling system that seems to work extremely well. He will get details about it at that meeting.

SKYWARN Training
Spotter class for Steele County is scheduled for Tuesday, 10-Mar. Todd Krause from the National Weather Service in Chanhassen will be our instructor. Dave KCUVY advises the spotter material has had a significant revision from past years. The new information would be beneficial to all spotters, regardless of experience. Details with updated information are posted on the SKYWARN 2009 Class Page. Although not a requirement, we encourage pre-registration with Bonnie (507-444-2454) at the Fire Station.

CERT Training
Congratulations to Chris G. for completing CERT training. This is a great opportunity for personal development in being prepared for emergencies. Dave KCUVY has said many times that SKYWARN volunteers may have to shift roles from spotting to response. We are already deployed and sometimes may be the first ones to report critical damage. The CERT training provides individuals the knowledge to be safe after the event. It is really great to see individuals expand on the breadth of their skill sets.

Getting Ready
With the beginning of March, all SKYWARN volunteers should be blowing the dust off of their equipment. As the cold weather starst to turn into more frequent warmer days, the opportunity for severe weather increases. Be sure to review the maps and routes you may use. Check the operation of your weather radio and be sure to change the batteries. Be sure you and your family don't miss any alerts due to an improperly working radio. Monthly tests signals are transmitted on the first Wednesday of each month at 1:00 PM.

Daylight Savings Time
Whether you love it or hate it, Daylight Savings Time begins on March 8. It has a long history of starts, stops, and changes since it was established in 1918. Repealed in 1919 and brought back to life nationally in 1966. At that time, DST began on the last Sunday in April and ended on the last Sunday in October. During the "energy crisis" years, DST began on 06-Jan in 1974, 23-Feb in 1975, and then back to the last Sunday of April. It moved to the first Sunday in April in 1986, which brings us up to 2007 with DST starting on the second Sunday in March.

Solstices and Equinoxes From MSNBC
The ability to predict the seasons by tracking the rising and setting points of the sun throughout the year was key to survival in ancient times. Babylonians, the Maya and other cultures developed complex systems for monitoring seasonal shifts. But it took centuries more to unravel the science behind the seasons. Copernicus radically changed astronomy when he proposed that the sun, not Earth, was the center of the solar system.

We know the Earth orbits the sun elliptically and spins on an axis that is tilted. Ass a result, different hemispheres are exposed to different amounts of sunlight throughout the year. The seasons are marked by solstices and equinoxes. Solstices mark the points at which the poles are tilted at their maximum toward or away from the sun. They occur each year on June 20 or 21 and Dec. 21 or 22, and represent the official start of the summer and winter seasons.

The equinox is when the sun appears to be directly over Earths equator. On March 20 or 21 of each year, the Northern Hemisphere is reaching the vernal equinox and enjoying the signs of spring. The autumnal equinox occurs on Sept. 22 or 23, when summer fades to fall in the north.

Although the solstices represent the pinnacles of summer and winter with respect to the intensity of the suns rays, they do not represent the warmest or coldest days. This is because temperature depends not only on the amount of heat the atmosphere receives from the sun, but also on the amount of heat it loses due to the absorption of this heat by the ground and ocean. It is not until the ground and oceans absorb enough heat to reach equilibrium with the temperature of the atmosphere that we feel the coldest days of winter or hottest days of summer.

Copyright 2009
All Rights Reserved
Steele County SKYWARN
Owatonna, MN