Not long ago vandals cut the guy wires to two broadcasting towers here in Wichita Falls. One of those towers fell to the ground. That tower belonged to Mobile Phone and also held the antenna for the amateur radio repeater that is utilized by the Storm Spotters in our area.

Those spotters load up in their vehicles and head out to monitor the severe weather as it rolls through our area whether it arrives in the middle of the afternoon or the middle of the night. The eyes on the ground that they provide give vital information to the National Weather Service office in Norman, Oklahoma, letting them know exactly what is happening and how to proceed with further watches and warnings. The equipment on the tower not only allowed Wichita Falls radio operators to communicate directly with Weather Service personnel in Norman, but also allowed the local network controller to keep our spotters where they could both monitor the storms and stay safe themselves.

According to Texoma'sHomepage the spotters lost not only their antenna but also all of the cabling leading up to it. The cost to replace their equipment is expected to be around $9,000. Charlie Byars said that by the end of 2020 the Wichita County Storm Spotters had raised about $2,400 and help was needed from the community. The last time the weather spotters had asked for help like this was twenty years ago in 2001.

Anyone who would like to donate can do so through the Wichita Falls Area Community Foundation online. Donations are tax deductible. Please mark the checks and online donation to go to the Wichita Amateur Radio Emergency Fund.

Mobile Phone anticipates the tower being replaced early this year and has agreed to allow the amateur radio operators to place their repeater there again. They have been working together this way for about 40 years.

The National Weather Service also had equipment on the tower, that equipment will be replaced by the weather service.

Those who are active in amateur radio or listen to the spotters during storm call-outs know what an essential service they provide to everyone in our area, this is our chance to thank them for all that they do year after year.

The springtime storm season will be upon us before we know it, the sooner the weather spotters get their equipment replaced and running the safer we'll all be.

If you have any information about this vandalism contact Crime Stoppers at 940-322-9888.

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