2020 LNU Lightning Complex

This post is a call to the Cobb Community to contribute useful info.
PLEASE add a comment that we can include in the updates!


(Original Post) 19 Aug 2020 @ 9:30 PM Pacific
+ UPDATES!
                     TinyURL for this page: tinyurl.com/y5d6wmoa

Hello Everybody,
We hope you’re safe right now
as the many fires sparked by lightning strikes (over 10,000 in the first August storms), are flaring up all over the state and already stretching CalFire’s resources dangerously thin. Fires are continuing to run in multiple directions and impact multiple communities. There are now over 500 fires in California (including 23 major “complex” fires).


LNU Lightning Complex Fire”                                          (LNU = Lake Napa Unit)
Fatalities: 5 (plus 4 injuries) so far…
Counties Affected: Lake, Napa, Sonoma, Yolo & Solano
Multiple Blazes: Hennessey, Gamble, 15-10, Spanish, Markley, 11-16, Walbridge (13-4).
Started: 17 Aug 2020
Acres Burned: 350,000+ acres
Structures: 871+ destroyed, 234+ damaged, 30,500+ threatened
Containment: 22% (as of 24 Aug)
———————
LNU Lightning Complex(3 fires), Sonoma-Lake Napa Unit, Cal Fire. IMT 1 (Cal Fire Team 2). Two miles north of Barro, CA. Chapparal, tall grass and timber. Extreme fire behavior with long-range spotting, short-range spotting and wind-driven runs. Numerous structures, energy and communication infrastructure threatened. Evacuations, area, road and trail closures in effect.


Lake County & Cobb Area Information

• Radio      • Weather      • Maps      • Images       • Info & Alerts


• Radio •

Radio Frequencies (MHz):
   462.5500   CAVERN Main GMRS Repeater Channel        (DCS Tone: D071N)
   154.2875   Morgan Valley Fire Command / Round Fire (“Fire 23”)
   155.0250   CalFire LNUE (CAVERN 47)
   169.5375   Hennessey East Fire Command

NOTE: to tune in 7-digit freqs, use Menu on your radio to set the “Step” to “2.5“, the smallest increment. On some radios, the last digit is just visible in a very tiny font on the radio’s display.

Web-Based Radio:
Lake County Fire & Police Radio (direct: Lake County emergency svcs)
Broadcastify.com (general: online radio frequency aggreagtor)

Stay Tuned: more frequencies are coming soon from CAVERN Network Control !


Weather

NWS Weather Update
• 21 Aug •

Fire Weather Threat:
Thunderstorms Possible on Monday & Tuesday (24 & 25 Aug)
across northwest California.
New wildfires may be ignited by lightning

National Weather Service                                                      (general)
Current Weather for Cobb, Lake County                                 (95426)
The Geysers • Weather Forecast

WindFinder.com                                                    (dynamic wind maps)
Windy.com                                                          (wind tracking website)
AirNow.gov                                                        (CA fire & smoke maps)
LightningMaps.org                                         (pinpoint lightning strikes)


Maps •

Lake County Fire & Evac GIS Maps
Lake County, CA GIS Portal
Lake County Map Info:                   Email: Lon.Sharp@LakeCountyCA.gov
National Wildfire Coordinating Group                 (maps w/fire overlays)
CalTopo.com                                     (topographic maps with data layers)
SF Chronicle Fire Maps                        (both current & historical fire info)
ArcGIS Map of LNU Complex Fire             (complex extents, evac zones)
LNU Incident Maps                     (NIFC maps: hi-res downloadable PDFs)


• Images •

AlertWildfire.org                  (Lake County & North Bay area tower cams)

19 Aug: Some LNU Complex Fires (from the Cobb Mtn 1 webcam)

• Info & Alerts •

LNU Lightning Complex Fire Info                                 (LNU fire details)
Fire Updates from CalFire                                       (general CF website)
CalFire LNU Tweets                                      (updates for hummingbirds)
FlightRadar24.com                                             (track aerial fire-flights)
Fire Info for Resource Mgmt Sys                            (NASA data d/l login)
Lake County Sheriff OES Alerts                     (emergency services alerts)
511.org Road Closures                         (critical fire-related road closures)
CA Dept of Transportation                        (enter hwy# for road closures)
Red Cross People Locator                                      (safe & well program)

211 General Help Line                                      (bay area 24/7 help line)
707.967.4207    CalFire LNU 24/7 Info                              (see note*)

* CF 24/7 Info NOTE: the St Helena dispatch command center is handling these calls and is already stretched thin from coordinating CF’s dozens of fire engine crews. The voicemailbox may be full when you call andif it’s very busy there may be nobody able to answer, but: a 911 operator may call you back to make sure you’re not in imminent danger, so please call only w/serious issues.

NIFC.gov                                            (National Interagency Fire Center)
Wildfire Intel Forum                   (community wildfire intelligence forum)

Nixle Alerts:                                                Text JOINLCSO to 888777

Nixle Alert • 19 Aug 2020 @ 9:42 PM Pacific
LCSO has issued Evacuation Orders for Residents in…

FaceBook Scanner Groups:                         (from Mel / Siegler 001)
Public Safety Scanner Lake County CA
https://www.facebook.com/OnTheScannerLakeCounty
Lake County Public Safety Scanner and Awareness
Lake County, California Emergency Warnings and Preparedness


• Other Useful Links…     (WIP)
Get Started as a CA.VERN Volunteer Emergency Radio Network Operator…

Alert Services!

2019.10.24: a Calfire firefighter confronts a vortex created by the Kincade Fire.

Recently, Magdalena Valderrama Hurwitz sent out some information about local emergency alert services that I is useful to the community. I’m amplifying her email here with some additional info… ~Dav

Dear Neighbors,

October and November are peak fire months —the 2018 Camp Fire happened just last November— so please do pay attention to emergency alerts from sources like PG&E, announcements from local groups like CAVERN* as well as news from local newspapers, and everywhere else you get your news so that you can stay informed. In the meantime, with Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) looming over Lake County, a lot of you have been wondering about where to get the best emergency alerts.

Nixle

Many of you may already be signed up for alert texts (SMS) from the Nixle system. However, if you haven’t updated since last year when the notification went out, you are not getting much of what’s going on in Lake County. Check your old text messages to find and update your account, do a search for “nixle alert” online (DuckDuckGo.com does not track your searches!) or just visit the Nixle website for more information.

LakeCoAlerts

For the most useful local alerts, make sure you are signed up to receive LakeCoAlerts and weather alerts. Back in Fall 2018, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office became aware that some LakeCoAlerts subscribers have been receiving weather alerts in the early morning hours. The Sheriff’s Office has disabled the National Weather Service alerts feature from our LakeCoAlerts system because the Sheriff’s Office was not able to control the times the alerts went out from the National Weather Service system. The Sheriff’s Office encourages all Lake County residents to sign up for LakeCoAlerts by going to LakeSheriff.com. In the event of an emergency critical notifications will be sent out through the LakeCoAlerts system.

If you have any problems signing up with LakeCoAlerts, please contact Teresa Stewart at lakesheriff@lakecountyca.gov, or 707 263 3450. She can confirm if you are in the system.

PG&E Alerts

PG&E alerts are separate, even though PG&E works with the the County OES (Office of Emergency Services) to alert them ahead of the public. To sign up, go to:
https://www.pge.com/en_US/residential/outages/alerts/alerts.page
Be aware that PG&E website pages may be overwhelmed by traffic. Unfortunately this service is for PG&E account holders only, so if you live in any kind of institutional setting such as a retreat center or volunteer dormitory, work with your managers to stay on top of news. If you are off-grid, you may be able to get a neighbor with PG&E service to keep you informed.

National Weather Service

The National Weather Service at NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) helps the public keep track of Fire Weather through zones. That information is one set of data that PG&E and others use to declare fire watches:
https://www.weather.gov/pimar/FireZones
For Lake County, our fire zone is 264.
Here’s a map.

CAVERN
Cobb Area Volunteer Emergency Radio Network

The CryptoRights Foundation (a local 501c3 led by Dav) and the CAC’s Communications Committee (chaired by Mel) are coordinating efforts to organize amateur GMRS and FRS radio operators all around the Cobb Mountain area into (Firewise-compatible) groups that can pass along extremely up-to-date information during an emergency.

CAVERN, which is a CryptoRights public benefit project you can donate support to, is working with the CAC CommsComm to start growing the numbers of both unlicensed FRS (Family Radio Service) and FCC-licensed GMRS radio operators (General Mobile Radio Service) who can access CAVERN radio repeaters (one now exists on Hoberg’s hill courtesy of Larry). CAVERN (Cobb Area Volunteer Emergency Radio Network) welcomes new members regardless of their experience (training is available on this website and through Mel and Dave). LCARS (Lake County Amateur Radio Society) is another good source for HAM radio information, in case you want to go deeper and get a more involved and expensive FCC license. Two-way radio can be the only way to communicate when celltowers and internet connections are down, and CAVERN can help you learn the protocols and be ready to talk to your neighbors and the larger community.

For the future, CryptoRights is developing a mesh radio network that will connect everyone’s smartphones on/around the mountains, even when line-of-sight is unavailable and even when celltowers and internet connectivity fails! For more info on their VERN project, which is part of their Harmless Little Project, get in touch with Dav directly (CAVERN is the prototype community).

NOTE: CAVERN’s Mel McMurrin is giving away several pre–programmed 2-Watt FRS radios as door prizes at the Cobb Resilient event on 19 October 2019. These radios come in pairs (so neighbors can each have one) and they have the various CAVERN channels already set up for you.

Subscribe to the (low-volume) CAVERN Announcements list for email updates on local emergency preparedness, disaster responses and community recovery efforts. Details on the Cobb Resilient Radio Giveaway will be sent out through this mailing list!

Other Community Options

Some local churches, community and neighborhood groups have established phone trees for their members. My own parish has already held a phone tree drill recently. Check around, and make sure you are connected. It’s important to have several layers of communication and information that you know you can rely on to be accurate because a rapid response can be critical to saving yourself. But remember: phone trees currently work only when the celltowers are not down!

_________________________________________________________
Magdalena Valderrama Hurwitz is the Firewise Communities® Community Regional Coordinator, Board member, South Lake Fire Safe Council, director of the Seigler Springs Community Redevelopment Association and a contributor to the CAVERN project.

Konocti Fire Lookout Closed

State Inspector shuts down Mt Konocti Tower on Wright Peak.

“Saint Helena, this is Konocti Tower… out of service.”

2019.10.04 • I may never again get to say that… at the end of a long shift, after looking out over all of Lake County’s green and blue magnificence, to keep my fellow citizens safer from fires and other disasters. It is with concern for the safety of Lake County’s people, animals and natural splendor, that I must report sad news to you. Today, a CA State Inspector has shut down the Mt Konocti Fire Lookout Tower on nearby Wright Peak. Mark your calendars, friends. It might be a long wait. 🙁

The details will be available through the local Forest Fire Lookout Association (where I volunteer for shifts on the tower), but the preliminary information is that the Inspector locked us out —well before the end of Fire Season— for what he deemed to be unsafe conditions related the tower’s physical state (dry rot, weakened steel, cracking concrete). At first, I wondered if they were talking about me. 😉

Personally, as a volunteer lookout, I don’t mind an appropriate level of risk — if it saves lives and property. Sure the tower is old and worn (who isn’t?), but it’s not statistically likely to fall down until after fire season 2019. To add some perspective, I’m pretty sure the firefighters who go and actually put out the fires are willing to accept a similar class of risks (to a higher degree, of course) and for the same reasons.

As a community, we are suddenly less safe, but a few dozen volunteers will be safer, so… consider that logic. On the bright side, we could now become more dependent on one PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) Security Camera mounted by CalFire on the northeast corner of the tower. You can see the images here. As you will see, the difference between those PTZ cameras and human beings with brains and powerful binoculars is… significant. Peripheral vision, a human brain and way better magnification will beat a camera any day.

Now, we as a community must find a way to compensate for this loss. The tower closure could last somewhere between “a fairly long time” and “never coming back online”. We’ve been metaphorically poked in the eye with a stick and left half-blind as a community to eruptions of smoke, flames and human foibles all around Lake County and beyond. We need more than ever to focus our collective energy on keeping each other safe. That starts with talking to each other, as do many other solutions to what ails our society. Talk. Get to know people. Feel comfy calling them for help or going to help when they call. Learn the emergency protocols, like our “directed net”. Join a FireWise group (we have SIX all around Cobb!). Know where the places people talk about are located (yes, we need better maps on this website!).

So, if you’ve been sitting on the fence, waiting to see how this whole “volunteer emergency radio network” thing works out… well, it’s time now for you to step up, for your own safety and that of others too, including your loved ones and friendly neighbors. Get a radio and join us on the radio checks. There was talk of going back to one radio check per week, but now that Konocti Tower is going “out of service” indefinitely… I think we might go to three radio checks a week. Vigilance plus readiness equals life.

It’s easy to get involved and be part of the solution

 

CAVERN on KPFZ

  Mon 30 Sept 2019
  1:00-3:00pm
  KPFZ 88.1 FM
   (Lake County public radio)

Episode 186 from http://lionslair.com/hamradio/ Thank you Ben!

CAVERN’s organizers were live on the air with radio host Ben Weiss on public radio station KPFZ, chatting about the CAVERN project and its roots, RF radio topics, organizing your community to be prepared for emergencies and the future convergence of software-defined radio (SDR) and terrestrial radio mesh networks, including the mothership VERN project’s development happening at a small nonprofit tech thinktank right here in Lake County.

Useful Links (WIP)

Fire/Emergency

CalFire Incidents: fire.ca.gov/incidents/

GMRS /FRS / Radio

Add_Link

Cobb

CobbWeb.org (under construction, needs volunteers!)

Other

Sonoma County Emergency: SoCoEmergency.org

CAVERN project (Firewise) Groups

CAVERN Tee Shirts

Here’s a proposed design for the first CAVERN Tee Shirt.

Got ideas for a good tee shirt design?
Please email me your ideas!

CryptoRights wants to print some tee shirts for people who are willing to help underwrite a prototype node at their place, so we need to hear from you! If you mention what size you want printed for you, that helps us plan the shirt printing run.

We’re looking for a local tee shirt printing company with good prices and quality cotton shirts. We’ll let everyone know here the (tax deductible!) donation that will cover the limited-run Alpha Tester shirts plus the Alpha (prototype) Mesh Node hardware components.*

* CRF will share the prototype hardware costs with alpha node operators. Once there’s a public release, alphas will get that release hardware node (which they’ll then own) at a huge discount. CRF will modify the hardware prototypes to build nodes for the beta testers who follow after the alpha pioneers. Get in early and save!

Progress Report: Prototype Alpha Radio Mesh Network Nodes

CryptoRights (CAVERN’s sponsoring nonprofit) has a small development team working on the design for the prototype (alpha) hardware nodes that will (go up next year on rooftops and in attics) to form the mesh radio network we’re developing for 2020 and beyond.

Here’s a photo of the current (early alpha) prototype mesh node hardware we’re using to begin alpha testing in our satellite lab:

Each harmless little prototype consists of:
(1) a CPU (RaspberryPi running our custom Linux OS) & SD Card Memory;
(2) an Antenna (USB) and
(3) a Battery (also USB).

Pretty simple… so far! Three prototype nodes (see bottom photo) have been built for development and lab testing. Just buying the components for these first prototypes on AmazonSmile, the total is around $150 each, which is why we’re working on designs to get the per-unit cost way lower so anyone can easily afford one. The more nodes, the denser the mesh, and thus the better the mesh’s performance and reliability, resulting in a safer community from wildfires, big storms and other emergencies. CryptoRights is now gratefully accepting donations (see the right side of this page), applying for grants and planning a crowdfunding campaign to fund the manufacture of up to 100 test nodes so we can place them with volunteer operators around every side of the mountainous region centered on Cobb — which was selected partly on the basis of its challenging topography!

Also, we’ll soon start work on:
(4) 100% Off-Grid Operation (a big project goal) by adding a Solar Panel (or existing panel tie-in) and a compact Charger/Inverter (make yourself a ‘wikiname’ login at the Harmless Little Project and see “SoRad“).
(5) Weatherproof Enclosure: once the technology is ready for outside testing, it will have a weatherproof enclosure that can easily be mounted onto a roof, bolted to a tower or even screwed onto a deck rail or tree branch if that’s what you have handy. Yes,if you have a very large property, you could operate several nodes to connect (with enhanced privacy) to your family and nearby friends ‘behind’ the hills… and you’d be adding density to the mesh for everyone nearby as well.

For now, the (most basic) alpha nodes will just plug into your house’s 120V power (ideally, up high in your attic) and the Battery will keep the system operating in case of a power outage.

We should have more progress to report in October!

N.B.: If you are subscribed to the Announcement list, you’ll know as soon as we begin asking for the first few volunteer Alpha Node operators.

August 2019 Updates

Greetings!

Come visit our CAVERN table at the Blackberry COBBler event on 24 August 2019. We may have FRS and GMRS radios, and possibly even CAVERN tee shirts available (for a tax-deductible donation to support the project).

CAVERN Radio Checks continue weekly on Wednesdays at 6:30PM all year around — and we’re also now doing a second weekly Radio Check on Saturdays at 1:00PM during fire season (which is roughly June through when the rains arrive around November). Thanks to Larry S, we have a good repeater high over Cobb where a lot of people can reach it by radio. Mel and I are hoping to expand this with two more repeaters once we solve the “tone problem”. If you are a radio nerd and can help us with that, please email me.

Meanwhile, we’re working on some prototypes of the first mesh network nodes. (see photo). They are magnificently crude, but we will be testing them in 2020. If you get a tee shirt, you’ll be signed up to help test a very early prototype of the mesh node.

~Dav


The first three CAVERN mesh network node prototypes starting to talk to each other in our lead developer’s lab.

___________
PS: get on our CAVERN Announcements list so you get the latest news!
GOTO — lists.CAVERN.mobi

CAVERN Emergency Channel

Not everyone wants to listen to a scanner or CAVERN throughout the day…and especially at night. Luckily CAVERN programmed radios can screen out the day–to-day chitchat on the frequency, so that you only hear alerts of local emergencies put out by fellow CAVERN volunteers.

Monitoring

To screen out chitchat set your CAVERN-programmed RETEVIS RT22 to channel 9, or (newer) BTECH GMRS V1 to channel 33. Additionally any FRS/GMRS radio that supports privacy tones can be set to the standard channel 15 with a “privacy tone” or CTCSS receive tone of 103.5 Hz. (Often tone #13 corresponds to 103.5 Hz.) Consult your radio’s manual or send email to Net Control.

NOTE: We test the Emergency Alert channel tone at the beginning of our check-ins or when a Fire siren is tested. But we conduct the actual check-in roll calls on our non-emergency channels! (RT22 Ch 8, GMRS V1 Ch 15 or 23, most FRS/GMRS radio ch.15 with NO privacy tone.) If you modify your radio to hear the Emergency tome, be sure to reset your radio to the regular channel after test or you may not hear anything else!

Transmitting

Should you need to announce an emergency, first listen and ask on the non-emergency channel if the network is already aware of the emergency.

If there is imminent danger to the some part of the Cobb area (as in a moving fire within 1-3 miles likely to require evacuation) put out an emergency alert with as much detail RETEVIS RT22 to Ch 9, or BTECH GMRS V1 to Ch 15 or 23 with CTCSS 103.5 set on transmit. Additionally any FRS/GMRS radio that supports privacy tones can be set to channel 15 with a “privacy” or CTCSS tone corresponding to 103.5 Hz (often named tone #13).