Monday, March 24, 2008

I was in the news!! :)

Thursday, March 1, 2007:

I just wanted to let everyone know the latest, most exciting event to happen around here. I will be (featured?, maybe?, I don't know if anyone else was interviewed) in an article coming up in the Detroit Free Press.

What makes me so special? I am an amateur ("ham") radio operator who's Skywarn trained for severe weather spotting/monitoring for the National Weather Service (NWS). I am also one of the net control operators for MICON (Michigan Inter-County Organizational Network), working directly with the NWS to provide communications during severe weather events.

Skywarn training for this year is about to begin and apparently the newspaper was looking specifically for females who'd been trained and they wanted to run an article about it. I'll be photographed tomorrow morning (hopefully the weather will be better than it is today) and the article will run Monday, March 5th.

Monday, March 5, 2007:


Residents eye the stormy skies

A new round of weather spotter classes to start WednesdayMarch 5, 2007


When a low-hanging funnel cloud in north Oakland County refused to materialize into a tornado, Piper V. felt a familiar tug of disappointment as she stood and watched. The weather spotter and licensed ham radio operator lives for atypical weather. On that day four years ago, nature had failed her again. Still, the Commerce Township mother of two went back to weather-tracking classes a few more times, so dedicated is she to the art of catching a cloud that others might have missed. On Wednesday, Oakland County starts another round of free Skywarn classes. Ordinary folks learn their way around hailstones and rushing water, cloud formations and wind patterns so that they can spot a sign that may have eluded National Weather Service radar. The agency's been offering the instruction for more than 25 years.

Gail Novak, chief of Oakland County's Emergency Response and Preparedness division, estimates there are 100 trained weather spotters throughout the county. The spotters drive or walk around during storms and call in their findings, via the county, to the weather service in White Lake Township. "Oakland County is over 900 square miles, so more eyes on the sky and out in the field benefits us," she said.

The Skywarn classes attract about 200 people each year. Each gets a certification card after a single two-hour session. Anyone 12 and older is welcome. Piper, 29, also is part of the county's Amateur Radio Public Service Corps, using her ham radio skills to relay weather information directly to the weather service. And she volunteers at the weather service operations center, which tracks climatic events for 17 counties.

Still, she would much rather be in the field. (Editor's note: Not necessarily, she loves tracking weather from the NWS just as much as she does from a vehicle) Piper says she wants nothing more than to chase tornadoes in Texas and Oklahoma.

Even if the last few summers were pretty mild, there were still 173 severe weather warnings in Oakland last year. "But it always seems like the really exciting, important things happen when I'm not around," Piper said.

Contact JULIE EDGAR at 248-351-3294 or

Piper V., 29, of Commerce Township took free National Weather Service classes to be a weather spotter in Oakland County. She uses her ham radio at home to call in reports of bad weather to the weather service. Oakland County has about 100 trained weather spotters.

Be a cloud chaser. The National Weather Service is offering these Skywarn Spotter Training classes:

*Wednesday, 7-9 p.m., Oakland County Emergency Response and Preparedness complex, Information Technology auditorium, Campus Drive South, west of Telegraph, Waterford.
*March 13, 7-9 p.m., Oak Valley Middle School, 4200 White Oak Trail, Commerce Township.
*March 20, 6-8 p.m., Southfield Public Library, 26300 Evergreen, Southfield.
*March 22, 7-9 p.m., Groveland Township Fire Station 1, 14645 Dixie Highway, Groveland Township.

Reservations for any of the classes are recommended by calling 248-858-5300 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

For April classes, go to

And that's that! I'll be at two Skywarn classes this year, the one at the Oakland County building and the one after that at Oak Valley. I'm going to the first one for training and the second one to help out the person who put it together and organized it for that location. I'm emailing Heather (the photographer) for the other photos she took of me. We spent almost 3 hours taking photos in various places. I had a great time (aside from freezing my butt off during the outside photos). I'm honored that I was chosen/suggested to be interviewed for the article.

(Editor's note: I got the photos from Heather, here they are!)

I haven't the slightest idea what I'm pointing at here.

Here I am in the Blazer (a.k.a. spotter-mobile) making a contact on the ham radio.

Keeping an eye on the sky, that's me!

Man, it was blisteringly cold that day, can you tell?

Y'know, it's hard to get those gripping, hard-hitting, award-winning weather spotting photos in the middle of WINTER!

No comments: