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Thunder Eagle's 20th Anniversary

A Time To Reflect and Say Thank You To Our Customers

What started out 20 years ago as an amateur radio public service project to get critical severe weather alerts to police, fire and first responders has evolved into a nationwide emergency communications business that thousands of people rely on every day. This is a wonderful story of continued progress in support of the NWS' goal of saving lives and property through the issuance of severe weather forecasts and warnings. This is an unfinished tale that often goes in circles!

In the late 1980's the NWS was modernizing by consolidating over 300 forecast offices down to 122, adding the new Doppler radar, and reorganizing their volunteer severe weather spotting program called Skywarn. Gropper assisted the NWS in reformatting Skywarn with a structural organization similar to a volunteer fire department and drafted a national operations manual for the program. The manual's goal was to be copied and adapted for local severe weather operations. The Skywarn Program continues to grow and save lives and property. Kansas City Skywarn Manual

Being in the NWS Baltimore/Washington Forecast Office for major weather events including Hurricane Andrew, the Blizzards of 1993 and 1996 and numerous tornado and flooding events, gave us a great appreciation for the dedication and skill of NWS personnel. We noticed that although severe weather warnings were being timely issued, emergency responders were not receiving them as they usually only monitored their radio channels. There had to be a way to tie NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) into emergency communications systems without disrupting communications in progress. This led to the development of the WE110/AE120. Being on the leading edge often runs afoul of existing rules. We worked with the FCC to revise the amateur radio rules in 1993 to permit NWR to be automatically retransmitted. This has proven to be a lifesaver. One of our client's, Henry County TN, received a NWS award for retransmitting the first NWR tornado alert heard in the county as the system was placed in service!.

Never far from our thoughts is the reality that the weather can be a killer. One heartbreaking story was the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak in Piedmont, Al where many people died after a F4 tornado struck the Goshen Church when they did not receive the tornado warnings. Our thoughts and prayers for these folks are still vivid today. This event redoubled our efforts.

After 9/11, NWR truly became All Hazards radio, transmitting, in addition to severe weather warnings, Amber missing children alerts and a broad range of non weather emergency alerts such as 911 Telephone Outage and Shelter in Place. In 2002 we particpated in a major FCC Emergency Alert System rulemaking, Many of our suggestions were considered and adopted.

Starting on 9/11 Gropper worked as a telecom specialist in the FEMA EOC and learned first hand emergency management's highly specialized weather and communications requirements. This led to the creation of the FipsServer® hosted weather information and alerting system and an understanding of the importance of Low Power AM as an emergency communications resource.

We thank our wonderful clients, who are our biggest supporters and cheerleaders, for 20 great years. We look forward to the next 20. Keep those great ideas and requirements coming.


Kansas City Skywarn Manual

Palm Sunday Tornado Outbreak

1993 FCC Amateur Radio rulemaking

2002 FCC Emergency Alert System rulemaking

2014 FCC TIS rulemaking

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