Enhanced SKYWARN System Embraces GMRS

May 9, 2023

Gary, AK4ZX, Director of the Chattanooga Amateur Radio Club emailed me this morning and described an exciting endevour in which their club has created an enhanced SKYWARN network by incorporating both Ham and GMRS repeater systems. Even more intriguing is the club's embrace of GMRS users as an effort to expand the Ham Radio hobby. From Gary's email:

Today, we begin a roll-out of an enhanced radio network to support Skywarn here in the Chattanooga area. The Chattanooga Amateur Radio Club (CARC) and the North Georgia GMRS (NGGMRS) Network have created a partnership to support a range of initiatives, including wider radio coverage areas (see map below), improvement of overall weather awareness, and to create new avenues for technological advancement. The CARC and NGGMRS have long recognized that Amateur & GMRS Radio are kindred spirits and natural partners for those that love radio. About 45 percent of NGGMRS members are also ham radio operators, which makes the 'connection' between ham radio and GMRS an obvious fit and is a near perfect path for GMRS users that so desire, to become hams. With that recognition, CARC and NGGMRS have established a strong partnership of mutual support to implement and strengthen non-commercial, non-government communications in service to its members and as a public service to the community at large...the greater level of support for Skywarn demonstrates that partnership.

After months of work, the installation of seven new GMRS repeater sites which, combined with CARC ham radio repeaters, provide a wider and near seamless radio coverage for a large portion of the southeast Tennessee, northwest Georgia, and northeast Alabama, is complete. The unique licensing nature of GMRS creates opportunities for those that need radio communications options but do not desire to become a ham, as is the case in many ham radio families. The almost 900 members & individuals represented by NGGMRS, along with the population of ham radio operators in the area, provides a large base of "eyes & ears" for Skywarn purposes. Local Skywarn Controllers are fully onboard with the addition of GMRS to the stream of weather data provided by GMRS and Ham Radio operators and are now equipped with GMRS radios and are GMRS licensed too. Skywarn orientation sessions are also available.

We are hopeful that we will see an overall improvement in the average number of Skywarn participants available on a day-in-day out basis, more quantitative & quality severe weather reporting, and a heighten sense of weather awareness. To quote one of the founding principles of the NGGMRS organization, 'If this network will one day, save one life, in a time of need, then it’s all worth the time, money, and sacrifice.' The CARC agrees with that philosophy.

Source: Chattanooga Amateur Radio Club  open_in_new

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