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SSB Voice Nets Schedule

SSB Voice Nets for 2016-2017:

SSB Nets 2016

NOTE: If you are outside of directional beam, please use the Net(s) where you’re closest to Beam. After we make contact I’ll turn center of Beam toward you so we hear each other best.

Propagation is long at 2200 utc, when we target Trans-Atlantic & Trans-Pacific vessels.

SSB Nets 2014 map 5

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Help Wanted – Weather Forecaster

What: Job Opening – two permanent part-time positions which may become full-time positions over the next few years as we grow the business.

Who: Marine Weather Center

Where: Lakeland, Florida. Training may take place in Lakeland, but you can work from anywhere with a good Internet connection.

When: Planing to hire forecasters Summer 2015

Qualified individual will have:

Experience cruising on a boat (preferably a sailboat), preferably in the Bahamas, Caribbean, and offshore Atlantic waters, other geographies a plus.

Experience racing sailboats, or familiarity with racing strategy and tactics.

Some experience forecasting weather, and desire and aptitude to learn more about forecasting weather.

Ability to “see in your mind / paint a mental picture” complex 4-dimensional phenomena (3-D weather unfolding over the 4th dimension which is time).

Excellent written and verbal communications skills, especially the ability to distill complex information into a simple-yet-detailed forecast which provides client the information they need for good decision-making.

Job Description:

Marine Weather Center provides high-value-added weather forecasts and routing advice primarily to small private sail and power boats. We disseminate forecast products via SSB Voice radio, email, voice telephone, fax, Internet Webcast, and recordings we post on our website.

Duties include:

Analyze recent observational data and computer forecast models to arrive at a forecast, and Collaborate with other forecasters to arrive at an agreed-upon general forecast.

Conduct SSB Voice Nets at various times of the day, including 6am-10am Eastern time, and late afternoons/evenings, as many as 7 days/week.

Simultaneously broadcast this content over 2 Internet Webcasts, and also recored this content then post recordings to website.

Compose Email forecasts to each of 3 Regions.

Provide forecasts by phone when clients call (generally from 10am-2pm), and deduct a phone-in forecast from their account.

Compose any Custom email forecasts due for a given day.

Respond to inquiries from current and prospective clients by email and website support ticket.

Some travel may be required, including possibly Boat Shows and Seminars.

Scheduling:

You must be able to work anytime of the day/night, but we are generally open for business from 5am-8pm. Most scheduled tasks occur in the early mornings (SSB Nets/Webcasts/Recordings, and Regional Email forecasts 6am-10am), with some work during the day (available for phone calls 10am-2pm), and some work in the late afternoons (another SSB Net).

Marine Weather Center will have 3 employees (myself and 2 other employees). I will work full-time, and our other 2 employees will work part-time on a rotating list of duties. When 1 of the 3 of us is sick, on vacation, or otherwise unavailable for work, the other 2 will work as much as necessary to complete all duties in a timely fashion.

Salary:

Starting salary $20/hr. Future increases depend on your job performance and the growth and profitability of the business.

Benefits:

Marine Weather Center provides a 401-k plan for all employees. In addition to allowing employees to make tax-advantaged elective 401-k contributions from their salaries, Marine Weather Center intends to make significant profit sharing contributions into your account (refer to the 401-k document for details).

Commitment:

Marine Weather Center is providing you with proprietary tools, training, expertise, client information, and valuable company secrets.

You will be required to sign a non-compete agreement, barring you from providing weather forecasting or routing advice to Marine interests (persons and/or boats) for 2 years after you leave our employment.

Tools:

If you do not currently own sufficient tools (computers, etc.), Marine Weather Center will provide them. You must provide your own, reliable Internet connection.

Interested Candidates:

Please email resume and letter stating qualifications to:

chris@mwxc.com

Deadline to submit resume:

June 30, 2015

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Spring/Summer SSB Weather Nets Schedule

It’s “Spring Forward”, when the US does its semi-annual time-change ritual. This always creates a certain amount of confusion and frustration, but we can’t control local time zones, so we have to deal with it.

One option would be to keep the “Zulu” times constant throughout the year, and let the folks who change time worry about when to listen.

But radio propagation changes during the year:
8-megs tends to be best for about 2 hours beginning at sunrise, but propagation is closed until sunrise.
4-megs tends to be best for an hour before & an hour after sunrise.
12-megs tends to be best about 1-3 hours after sunrise.
Sunrise varies by almost 2 hours during (later in December-January / earlier in May-June) so it is even more important to work the bulk of our traffic earlier in the morning from April-October, versus December-February.

Unfortunately that leaves us with March, where we have this time change, but the sun does not rise very early.

We also have a migration pattern:
Winter: almost 100% of traffic is S of 30N, and I can hit that traffic with the antennas pointed in only 2 directions from Florida (to the ESE and S).
Spring/Summer/Fall: traffic is spread-out, including areas N of 30N, so I’ll need to turn antennas NE at a designated time to work traffic offshore including Bermuda-Azores, along the US, and into Canadian Maritimes.

Finally, as you know, I made a huge investment of money and time in new antennas/radios last summer. As a result, folks are hearing me much better, and over a much larger geography, and I’m handling more traffic.

Today, vessels in E Caribbean offered feedback that 8:30am AST is too late for the Net, due to their need to plan their day, and also propagation was weaker at 8:30am than earlier in the morning.

As a result, I want to try the following:

We’ll ADD a new Net:
6:00am AST/EDT (1000 utc) on 4.045 & 8.137 USB, antennas turned ESE, with Synopsis/Forecast for E Caribbean (If propagation is not open to E Caribbean at 6am, please LET ME KNOW when it opens, and we can adjust the Start Time to that time).

The next Net is as published:
6:30am AST/EDT (1030 utc) on 4.045 & 8.137 USB, antennas turned ESE, with Synopsis/Forecast for Bahamas (this is best Net for VESSELS MOVING N from E Caribbean to Bermuda/30N).

We have more traffic in Bahamas and elsewhere S of 30N than I can work in an hour, so, until further notice, the Net which begins at 6:30am will continue till 8am…then:

8:00am AST/EDT (1200 utc) on 8.137 USB & 12.350 USB, antennas turned NE, with Synopsis/Forecast for US E Coast (this is best Net for VESSELS N&W of Bermuda and N of 30N).

As more traffic moves N of 30N versus S of 30N, the start time of the 8:00am Net will shift to 7:30am (I’ll email when that happens).

8:30am AST/EDT (1230 utc) on 8.137 USB & 12.350 USB, antennas turned ESE, with Synopsis/Forecast for E Caribbean
9:00am AST/EDT (1300 utc) on 8.137 USB & 12.350 USB, antennas turned S, with Synopsis/Forecast for W Caribbean

As always, I respond to every Subscribing Vessel I hear. You are free to hail me anytime, but we are likely to hear each other best when my antennas are pointed somewhere close to (within 45-degrees either side of) your location.

I will post the above to the NEWS section of my website, but the schedule on the “Learn More about SSB Nets” page will not be updated for a week or two.

I am open to making further changes to best satisfy the needs of Subscribing Vessels, so, if the above schedule is not working for you, let me know your concerns, and I’ll assess whether we can make further tweaks to the schedule.

Thank you for your continuing support!…Chris.

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Christmas Vacation

For the first time in 12 years, Marine Weather Center will be closing for 5 days. Offices will be closed from Wednesday, December 24, 2014 through Sunday, December 28, 2014.

In an effort to minimize weather-related surprises while we’re gone, forecasts on Tue23 will include long-range outlooks, and an assessment of the potential risks/uncertainties in the forecast.

We wish you Happy Holidays.

Thank you for your continuing support…Chris.

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NEW Radios/Antennas and NEW SSB Nets SCHEDULE!

You may know I spent all summer (June till early October) making improvements to operations at Marine Weather Center. Briefly:

Installed new dual-band, high-gain, directional Yagi antenna, custom made by Opti-Beam in Germany for the 8MHz and 12MHz channels we use.
Optimized the horizontal loop antenna we’ll continue to use on 4MHz.
Antennas are mounted atop a new radio tower.
Purchased new radios, and will use 2 radios (each on its own band) on each Net.
Built a new office so I could properly install and use all the new gear, and install additional computer monitors to improve my forecasting.

If you are anywhere in the W Atlantic/US E Coast/Bahamas/Caribbean, you should hear me VERY WELL when you are on the correct channel, at the right time, and I have the Beam pointed in your direction.

Details are below. I look forward to your feedback and constructive input…Chris.

DOWNLOAD .PDF of MAP HERE:
SSB Nets 2014 map 5

DOWNLOAD .PDF of SPREADSHEET HERE:
SSB Nets 2014

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Improvements at Marine Weather Center

In May, 2014 I began making improvements to office space and radios/antennas at Marine Weather Center. After months of planning and spending many tens-of-thousands-of-dollars, things are finally starting to take shape.

On Tuesday, Aug 19, we poured the concrete foundation for a structure which will house my new office/radio room. I expect the building will be erected by early September, and I’ll be able to build my office in September.

On Thursday, August 21 we expect to pour the large concrete pad for the new radio tower. The tower and antenna arrive in September, and I expect to have them installed by early October.

The antenna (see picture below) is a custom 2-band / 2-elements-per-band Yagi (beam) from Germany’s Opti-Beam, manufactured to be resonant on the 8-meg and 12-meg SSB frequencies we use. The antenna provides over 10 dBi gain over my existing antenna (maybe 3 “S-units” on your signal strength meter, though meters vary).

The Optim-Beam is a directional antenna (I’ll use a rotor to turn the antenna toward stations with which I’m communicating) with 15-20 dB front-to-back gain, meaning I should hear less interference and background noise when I’m listening for you.

The new tower elevates the antenna about 75′ above ground, and should result in a much stronger radiation pattern toward distant stations versus my present antenna mounted 30′ above ground.

Finally, I can feed both bands simultaneously (using 2 radios), so I will be able to transmit and hear on both 8-megs and 12-megs simultaneously.

I will continue using the full-wavelength horizontal loop on 4.045 USB (to communicate with stations within a couple hundred miles of Florida), but raise it to 55′ above ground, which should provide signal improvement versus its current 30′ height. Big learning curve on my end, but I hope to be comfortable with radio operations before we get really busy later in October.

REDUCED SUMMER SCHEDULE WILL CONTINUE THRU SEPTEMBER, allowing time to complete improvements.

  • Mondays / Wednesdays / Fridays: normal operations
  • Tuesdays / Thursdays / Saturdays / Sundays: CLOSED, except I will provide detailed Tropical-related information if Tropical LO threatens.

 

IF ALL GOES WELL, THEN BY OCTOBER:

  • you hear me much better
  • I hear you much better
  • you can choose the-better-of-2 bands to use at any given time
  • assuming no conflicts with other Nets, I’ll use only 3 channels (4.045 USB (likely only from 6am-7:15am) / 8.137 USB (likely 6am-10am) / 12.350 USB (likely 7:15am-10am)), so it will be easy to find me anytime during the morning when propagation is open (precise times will vary some depending on timing of sunrise and whether the US is on Standard or Daylight Saving time…we’ll formalize a schedule in the Fall).
  • I will be more productive throughout the day in my new office space with additional computers/monitors
Opti-Beam Custom antenna being tested on a boom lift in Germany

Opti-Beam Custom antenna being tested on a boom lift in Germany

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Reduced Schedule for July-August

In order to complete major enhancements to my SSB installation and relocate office space…

Beginning Monday, July 14, 2014 I will work the following reduced schedule for July and August:

DAYS:
CLOSED on Tuesdays / Thursdays / Saturdays / Sundays (unless Tropical weather threatens, in which case I’ll conduct normal operations on these days – to the extent necessary to address Tropical weather).

OPEN on Mondays / Wednesdays / Fridays, on the following schedule:
SSB Voice Nets (and simultaneous Internet Webcasts):
4045 USB at 6:30am AST/EDT (1030 utc)
8137 USB at 7:00am (or a few minutes after) AST/EDT (1100 utc)
8104 USB at 8:30am (or a few minutes after) AST/EDT (1230 utc)
12350 USB at 9:15am AST/EDT (1315 utc)

Regional Daily Email forecasts: Monday, Wednesday, Friday (additional days as necessary if Tropical weather threatens). I’ll try to email forecasts earlier – for the past couple months I have devoted several “normal working hours” most weekdays to preparing for planned improvements. Going forward, I should be able to devote most of my attention to weather duties on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays.

Custom email and phone-in forecasts: available 7 days/week after 10am, but prefer Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

More details on service improvements in the coming months…thank you for your support!…Chris.

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Tropical Weather Outlook and large-scale pattern September-October

TROPICAL OUTLOOK and LARGE-SCALE PATTERN September-October

September is normally the height of our “CapeVerde” Tropical Season – when strong TropicalWAVEs exiting Africa have a good chance to develop into Tropical LOs in the Eastern Tropical Atlantic (not far from CapeVerde Islands).

Typically, in mid-October we begin turning our attention from Atlantic waters E of Caribbean…to W Caribbean-GOMEX-W Atlantic, where early-season ColdFRONTs and still-warm waters often spark Tropical LOs.

While we STILL NEED TO MONITOR Tropical Atlantic E of Caribbean…it seems MUCH more likely any Tropical LOs which form from TODAY (Monday Sept 16 2013) onward thru the balance of September & October will develop somewhere in a LARGE ENVELOPE including:
–all of NW Caribbean and adjacent waters thru Jamaica & N of Providencia in SW Caribbean
–much of GOMEX
–from Cuba to waters off SE US, in area from Florida to near & S of Bermuda (and including Bahamas)

Much of this area is already seeing broad vorticity (counter-clockwise-spin) / squalls & moisture / falling surface pressures. These characteristics may plague large parts of this area for the next month+/-.

Models hint at possible Tropical LO formation in 3 areas later this week:
S of Bermuda (would move N/NE and might impact Bermuda)
Some part of NW Caribbean and/or SW GOMEX (uncertain motion)

Long-range models hint at another Tropical LO forming in NW Caribbean or GOMEX during the week of Mon23, and moving NE thru Cuba or Florida, possibly Bahamas & adjacent W Atlantic waters.

REGARDLESS whether Tropical LO(s) form in the above envelope, we’ll tend to see the following influences:

E Caribbean…occasional squalls with TropicalWAVEs, and occasional typical Trades…but more S-of-E direction of Trades which are lighter-than-normal.

C/SW Caribbean…similar to E Caribbean except uncertain whether activity causes direction of Trades to be other-than-E.

Most areas within the “envelope”…uncertain/changeable weather, with unusually-low-confidence in forecast details. Intervals of squalls which may be significant & persistent, along with strong wind especially near any LO(s)…but also intervals of L&V conditions with little significant weather.

Areas N of the “envelope”…periodic ColdFRONTs, with the normal clocking S<SW<N wind & squalls…but also many intervals of N<NE wind and L&V conditions between FRONTs (providing more days with reasonable S-bound opportunities for folks from Canada & NE US than we often see in the Fall).

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Vacation Schedule from Monday July 1 thru Sunday July 14

I’ll be on vacation from Monday, July 1 through Sunday, July 14. I’ll return to normal duties Monday, July 15.

Ed Bilicki on s/v Rainy Day will fill-in for me Monday, July 1 through Thursday, July 11, on the following schedule:

Ed will operate 3 SSB Voice Nets Daily (except Sunday). If all goes as planned, you should hear Ed just as you hear me.
4045 USB 6:30am AST & EDT / 1030 UTC
8137 USB 7:00am AST & EDT / 1100 UTC
8104 USB 8:30am AST & EDT / 1230 UTC

Ed will operate the Nets remotely, so there may be some issues with audio on both sides of the conversation. We’ll need relays to help. If your needs are not met by the SSB Nets, please reach-out to Ed by email or telephone for your forecast (Ed’s contact info is below).

Ed will conduct ONLY THE LOW-BANDWIDTH Webcasts.

Ed will send email forecasts from the chris@mwxc.com address – access them just as you access forecasts from me.

* *

If you purchase a Custom Email forecast at mwxc.com, Ed will see and respond to your request.

Ed will see and respond to Support Requests – simply email:

support (at sign) mwxc.com

with your request for assistance
Please include DATE & TIME in the SUBJECT LINE, and Ed will try to respond to your Request by that Date & Time.

If you are emailing SPOT position reports, please send them to: svrainyday@hotmail.com if you wish Ed to see them.

*.*

If you need additional assistance, please contact Ed:
svrainyday@hotmail.com
phone 252-675-0972

From Monday, July 1 through Monday, July 8, I’ll be checking email Daily, and I will be available at 863-248-2702, or chris@mwxc.com if you need me.

From Tuesday, July 9 through Saturday, July 13, my access to telephone and computer will be VERY limited, so I may not be able to respond to your needs in a timely fashion.

NOTE that on Friday, July 12 and Saturday, July 13, NEITHER Ed NOR I will be available (I will try to check email & messages once/day, but there will be NO SSB Nets or Regional Daily Email forecasts or detailed Custom forecasts – but I will try to provide short answers to specific questions on these 2 days).

If there’s active Tropical weather at ANY point in the next 2 weeks, then I will jump-in and provide email forecasts for the Tropical feature (the long-range outlook suggests Tropical LO formation through July 15 is very unlikely).

I will be traveling on Sunday, July 14, but I’ll be available during parts of that day by phone and email.

Thank you for your continuing support!…Chris.

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Where to spend “Hurricane Season” in the Bahamas/Caribbean?

In response to a question about where (in Bahamas/Caribbean) to spend Hurricane Season:

It might help to break your thought process into 2 parts:

1. Avoidance: Lying in places where Tropical LO pressure systems of significant intensity are highly-unusual.

2. Protection: Selecting a relatively-secure spot when you lie in areas at higher risk.

First, AVOIDANCE:

Safest place I can think of in Caribbean/Bahamas area is Panama – I don’t know that a Tropical LO has ever (in recorded history) seriously impacted Panama (I’m not saying one can’t, but it seems unlikely).

From an avoidance perspective, 2nd safest place is probably Colombia, followed by ABCs/Venezuela, and Trinidad/Tobago. All of these areas have some risk for Tropical LO pressure systems – but, because of the normal E-to-W progression of such systems, these areas are prone to being impacted by the LEFT-quadrant of the LO (the WEAK quadrant, but a quadrant with W-component wind)…AND Tropical LOs S of Latitude 12N tend to be relatively-weak.

Second, PROTECTION:

When you’re in a higher-risk area, the more advance warning you have of an impending system, the more options you have to secure your vessel in an optimum location. I can help you with this by providing the maximum advance warning, and offering an educated guess on the plausible tracks a system might take, as well as its plausible intensity.

Unlike most forecasts which focus on 1 single correct solution, I try to appraise you of all “plausible” risks.

Almost any location can be a good spot in a Hurricane – if it’s in the correct place relative to the path of the Hurricane.

That said, there are certainly places which offer very good protection in all but the worst-case scenarios:

The most-secure spot for protection may be Luperon,DR, for at-least 3 reasons:

1. DR N Coast would be in the LEFT-quadrant of a W-moving LO
2. most Hurricanes track W or N-of-W, and thus, before reaching Luperon, would travel over-or-adjacent-to the large landmass of DR E of Luperon (and likely PuertoRico) – weakening the LO before it gets to Luperon
3. in order to be impacted by the RIGHT-quadrant of a Hurricane, it would almost certainly be moving from S-to-N, and would cross the large & mountainous Hispanola landmass before reaching Luperon.

RioDulce, Guatemala is an excellent spot – it’s up a river.

Other than Luperon and the RioDulce, there are MANY good “Hurricane Holes” – but probably none of them offers 100% protection when hit in just-the-wrong-way by a Cat5 Hurricane.

Among the many good Hurricane Holes (and there are LOTS of others in addition to these):

  • Several spots in Abacos
  • Georgetown,Exuma
  • Salinas, PR
  • A few select spots in StMartin, Antigua, StLucia, Grenada, among others

*.*

TIMING of Hurricane Season:

Of course, Hurricane Season “officially” runs from June 1 thru November 30.

But Tropical LOs have occurred in the Atlantic N of the Equator in every month except 1 – I believe it’s February. Weather does not obey the calendar, and, if the right (or should I say wrong) conditions come together, a Hurricane is possible anytime.

That said, the most active part of the season varies by geography:

For E Caribbean, probably 95% of Tropical LOs pass from August 1 to October 15 (“Cape Verde Season”, where LOs tend to develop in E Tropical Atlantic). Probably 90% of systems pass in just 6-weeks, from August 15 to September 30. But I can recall Tropical LOs in recent years in every month from April to November – indeed “wrong-way-Lenny” raked the NE Caribbean as a Cat5 in mid-November!

For W Caribbean (and all areas N of the Caribbean), high-risk times are longer…not only is there high risk from LOs moving W from E Caribbean (during the “middle” of season)…but also from LOs which develop along stalled ColdFRONTs, (during the “ends” of season from April-July and October-December).

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