Old Fashioned Technology Still Used To Forecast Weather

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While a Nor-easter pounds the East Coast, we're getting ready for a snowstorm of our own.

And locally, some old fashioned technology still helps modern forecasters predict the weather.

And . . . they're off! Amateur radio operators are tuning, tapping, and talking for a 24 hour marathon called Skywarn Recognition Day.

"The purpose is to celebrate the contributions we make," says amateur radio operator Matt Parker.

Contributions that include weather reporting . . .

"We'll report things like heavy winds, snow, hail, rain, runoff," says Bob Evans, another amamteut radio operator.

Weather service officials say about 100 radio operators volunteer as weather spotters in Northern Nevada . . . warning of dangerous conditions such as floods and winter storms.

Says Roger Lamoni of the National Weather Service: "Over the past 50 years, thousands of lives have been saved with their help."

In addition to reporting weather conditions, the amateur radio operators also provide communication during severe weather emergencies. "The commercial stuff can be down and you can still contact people and get them help if they need help," says Natalie Sherrick.

Aside from the public service , many of these operators stay tuned for the fun of it. Frank Nance started in 1935 . . . now he's one of the few still fluent in Morse code. "It's very enjoyable. You hear the whole word. really it relaxes me," he says.

An enjoyable hobby . . . but also a valuable public service.

It's what keeps these radio operators still connecting in world full of modern communication technology.

The cost to become an amateur radio operator varies from under $100 to thousands of dollars, depending on your equipment.

To find out more about how to become an amateur radio operator for the National Weather Service, go to www.skywarn dot org on the Internet.