A couple of our contributors will be attending this year’s Severe Weather Awareness Day in Nashville. It’s a free event, but registration is required.  It’s Saturday, 28 February, from 9am-4pm.  Anyone interested can register at this link.

I don’t know if attending a basic spotter class is a requirement to attend this event, but if not required it is strongly recommended.  Spotter classes (both online and in person) are available at this link.  Even if you don’t attend S.W.A.D., now is a good time to take the basic spotter class.  There are a LOT of them scheduled this time of year, and they’re few and far between after storm season starts.


Thursday night I went to my first SKYWARN spotter class in Murfreesboro. It was a pretty good one. It took approximately and hour and a half, where they would cover a topic, watch a video, and so fourth. Our class was specifically for middle TN, but I assume it is somewhat universal. Several of the videos showed what not to do (DUI through a raging river, stand outside taping trees falling on your neighbors house and etc…). All in all it was a great class with quite a few people, several of them being hams and or police. I would strongly recommend the  spotter class to anyone, especially hams involved in ARES.

This Sunday the day began warm (65 or so) and sunny. Towards afternoon it started raining and cooled off to 40. By midnight it was about 33 degrees and pouring rain. At 4:30 AM the wind had swept the antenna mast clean and there was sheet ice on my deck.

Many businesses got road reports early in the morning and called the work day off. There were wrecks constantly coming in all over the county, with even more cars setting as the bases of hills the couldn’t climb up. In Rutherford county EVERYTHING was sheet ice. Report on the radio said there was sheet ice on all but one road. It took Old Codger Number 859 15min to cover 1 mile of highway. To our north in Sumner county traffic was moving steadily at 30mph all over, with snow covering the road and ice below it. Needless to say, many people (including those who were not in a wreck) are enjoying an unplanned day off work, however some of them got home to find ice had knocked the power lines down.

Fortunately we have a devoted group on the 147.105+. Even though we have had no official ARES action we have  had at least one station monitoring around the clock. This morning when the first station called to report a traffic issue, there were  at least 5 stations on. Everyone did great, and some important traffic info was used, even in lieu of something demanding a formal report.

Below I am posting some pics I took this morning (it was 15 degrees, so the shots are shaky)IMG_4354 IMG_4355  IMG_4357    IMG_4361 IMG_4362  IMG_4366 IMG_4367 IMG_4373 IMG_4372 IMG_4371 IMG_4370  IMG_4368

Fortunately I have no pictures of the road.



Tonight/tomorrow we are at moderate risk for some icing. This afternoon Wilson county will be getting some rain with cooling temps, which will turn to freezing rain late at night, then snow (how much I can’t tell) beginning early Monday morning-about 10 am. This system will come from the north west, so this forecast can be adjusted accordingly for your county. If our ice accumulation reaches it’s predicted amount 1/10-1/4 inch we could be setup for snow accumulation. NOTE: 1/4 inch of ice is enough to break power lines, might want to dust off the backup heat.

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IMG_4331 Last night we had some rough weather in middle TN. Funnel clouds in Sumner county, 93 mile an hour measured wind in the northern part of our county, with torrential downpours, thunder, lightening, and power outage in our area. As Murphy’s law applies to ham radio, my base station antenna was QRT. Fortunately we had a portable, piece together groundplane I was able to setup and get into the repeater fine. A full fledged drop kit is good to have, but you can never underestimate the importance of having a basic portable antenna.

IMG_1493With today’s high temperature reaching barely ten degrees, I have a handful of tips to post here (mainly so I don’t forget them and do the same things I did today again).

1 – leave the hot water running all night.  Just a trickle is usually enough.  If you’re concerned about a water bill increase, think about how much it would cost to replace a burst pipe.

2 – lubricate the rubber seal around the door of your car to keep it from freezing.  I’ve heard that non-stick cooking spray of any kind will work, but I’ve not tried it yet.

3 – if your car door does freeze shut, pry around the edge of the door along the rubber seal while gently pulling the door handle.  It’s easy to break the handle off by pulling too hard.  It seems a metal spatula works well for this (handy to know if your ice scraper is inside the car while it’s frozen shut).

4 – thaw frozen water lines by wrapping with wet towels, heating with a heat gun or space heater, or by heating the area that the pipes froze.  I pointed this heater under the house for an hour or so and almost everything thawed out:


5 – lower the freezing temperature of washer fluid in the car by adding alcohol.  I used a store brand washer fluid/deicer that claims to be good to -20 degrees – while the fluid in the reservoir was still liquid, the hose that runs to the windshield was frozen.

6 – plug any and all vents around the foundation of your house.

7 – defrosting your windshield with warm water is easy and works well, but turn your windshield wipers on immediately to keep it from freezing to the windshield.


The animals are all doing well, but they had to have fresh water multiple times during the day. The ground was frozen solid today, so it was quite easy to get around with no mud – roads nearby were also fine as soon as the sun hit them, but the ice never completely melted from some smaller roads.

With the temperature supposed to be down to one degree tonight, we’ll see what conditions end up being like tonight and tomorrow.

One like we haven’t seen for around 18 years.


Since we’re in Tennessee, this will be very cold weather for us. It wouldn’t be so bad elsewhere (where the locals were prepared for it), but we will be making a handful of extra preparations:

Extra bedding/extra light/plastic nailed over the window for the chickens:


They will also get a shallow pan for water temporarily-The waterer will freeze quickly and I don’t want to thaw it multiple times per day. The pan will freeze, but I can break ice off the top and add fresh water easily. There are two chickens loose that I need to catch and lock up. They’re much less likely to freeze inside the building.

Extra firewood – it had already been cut and split, but I decided to stack it closer to the house to minimize long trips for wood:


And I also like to fill a wheelbarrow with wood that can be rolled right up to the door:


Even a little bit more firewood will be brought into the house and replenished regularly so it has time to dry out before I use it.

Noah moved some rabbits around and will probably bring the smallest ones in for the coldest weather, in addition to replacing all the waterers with plastic dishes. Waterers freeze way too fast and are hard to thaw. The cages were all wrapped with plastic as an extra windbreak.


The dog got extra bedding in her house, and will also come in on the coldest days.

I’ve checked the coolant in all farm equipment for freeze protection, verified the tires/belts/hoses on the cars are good (cold weather and sudden temperature changes will cause a lot of stress on worn rubber parts), added a blanket and my SAR pack to the car, and secured all outbuildings against wind.

I also put up another ground plane antenna and this time ran a wire INTO the house so we can stay warm while talking.

That’s about all I can do for now, but a good start. There will probably be plenty to do tomorrow and as the cold weather moves in, since that’s when we’ll find everything we forgot about.