TANEY COUNTY, Mo. – Amateur radio operators said the Duck Boat Tragedy highlighted how much time it takes to communicate weather conditions in Taney County to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Springfield.
“The duck boat incident, the Weather Service did a good job on that,” Amateur radio operator Jim Parks said. “That was all radar indicated. Had there been somebody on the other side of Table Rock Lake saying we’ve got 90-mile-an-hour winds or whatever it was, we like to think it would have made a difference.”
It’s why operators have worked to raise money for new equipment to get information out faster.
“When we’re doing this, it’s not just for our club, it’s for the folks in our area that we live next to our neighbors and also for those visiting us,” Amateur radio operation Bill Hensley said.
Hensley and Parks are a part of the Tri-Lakes Amateur Radio Club. Their job is to report to another person what they see during a storm.
“We can report hail conditions and things like that so that the meteorologists at the National Weather Service have a clearer view of the actual picture of what’s going on,” N0NWS Trustee Mike Blake said.
In Taney County, there is currently one repeater that sits at the base of a tower east of Branson.
“We have hills so I can be standing on one side of the hill and I can’t talk to somebody on the other side of the hill,” Parks said.
The new repeater will sit at the base of a tower one mile west of the Christian Cross near Highway 160 and 65, transmitting directly to Springfield.
“We’re going to be about 170 feet above the ground on a very high part of the hills out here,” Parks said. “I talk to the repeater and then it transmits out and anybody within that range can hear it by going up in the air. We expand that circle.”
The money for the equipment is coming strictly from donations.
“We determined that $4300 needed to be raised, which is small amount,” Blake said. “We purchased an antenna. It’s currently now waiting on the tower climbers to come and install. The money has come from just people saying here’s $20. [One person] had a piece of equipment, another person had another piece of equipment that they donated the 49 repeater group.”
The repeater will allow amateur radio operators to directly report conditions to Springfield, with the hopes of avoiding any tragedies and keeping people safe.
“If I’m on the southwest part of town, and if I’m getting half dollar size hail there and I put that in and other people looking at that and hearing that say, oh, you know, I live on the northeast part of the county, maybe I ought to put my car in the garage, for instance, or take cover,” Parks said.