Operation Grid Failure
January 18, 2020
0800 until 1400 Hours
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This page was last updated: January 25, 2020
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Operation Grid Failure is an emergency or disaster exercise that will take place across the Commonwealth of Virginia.  All Amateur Radio operators are welcome to participate regardless of any group affiliation or non-affiliation.  This exercise will begin with the assumption that the gird was down with Appalachian Power and Dominion Power which provide electric power throughout the state.  This exercise will begin after cell phone towers have a simulation of exhausting their battery power and are down.  So the state is simulated to be without cell and hardwired phone.  Internet service is also down except for satellite.  Radio repeaters that provide communications for police, fire, rescue, search and rescue in addition to ham radio repeaters that do not have available generator, wind and batteries, or solar will also be down.  Those that participate in the exercise will only be able to use Winlink gateways, repeaters and HF stations that have emergency power available on site.  We are not requiring stations, repeaters and gateways to turn off commercial power but alternate power must be available on site.
We are asking that all long haul traffic use Winlink to send their traffic.  Local traffic may be sent via voice, digital or CW.  If you don't have Winlink skills or equipment, please send your traffic to a station from your area  that can send your Winlink traffic for you,  Do not use Telenet for Winlink traffic.

This year no "canned traffic" will be prepared for you.  You must prepare your own traffic based on the scenario of a massive power outage.  I will be sending a number of messages to each participate that will require a reply.  Please send a generous amount of traffic to stations in your local or regional area.  Remember that at least 80% of all traffic will be local in nature in a real disaster.  You will have Winlink contact information on all radio amateurs that are participating in the exercise so you will have a large number of people that you can send traffic.  Please use ICS-213 General Message forms for all formal traffic.  Use ICS-205 forms that you send to me so that it can be posted and people that want to contact you can know how to route their traffic.  Keep a log if you wish to complete an ARRL or AUXCOMM taskbook (these are two different taskbooks with different requirements).  This log documention should be a help in getting tasks approved for sections of your taskbooks.  The ICS log is ICS-309.  This log can be found at the "Exercise Forms" button on the links on the left side of this page.
Simulated Emergency Test
“Operation Grid Failure”

There have been questions raised as to how agencies fit unto the Simulated Emergency Test, Grid Failure.  The ideal situation is that agency personal generates the out-going messages and the reply to in-coming messages.  It would be ideal to have people with good typing skills, generating messages and saving them to a thumb drive to hand to the radio operator to send for an agency.   In a number of communications points there is no agency person present during the drill.  In these situations ham operators have produced the messaging. 

There will be no “canned” traffic set to radio operators that participate in this exercise.  This is different from exercises in years past.  I will be sending messages (ICS-213) to stations throughout the Commonwealth during the drill.  These will require a reply to this traffic.

The following is simulated conditions that you can expect, that would require communicating between agencies and individuals with agencies.  First, the exercise simulation will begin at the start of the fourth day without power with no end in sight.  The reason for the grid failure is still unknown at this point.  The temperatures have been mild for the middle of January during the first 3 days but the northern jet stream is dipping south and crossing Virginia.  We are now expecting simulated temperatures to dip to sub-zero Fahrenheit.  This will place all homes and business dependant upon electricity for heating to be facing a real crisis.  Those that have generators that depend upon gasoline will be searching for sources to refill their supply.  A small percentage of service stations have generators large enough to power their pumps. This will create long lines at the few stations that have generator power.  Most of these businesses will be unable to process credit cards due to the Internet being down.  You will need cash to make a purchase at any business that remains open.  With a 50 degree drop in temperatures forecast within the next 24 hours, employees needed to maintain critical business will be busy insuring there families have heated sheltering.

Many of the residents of Virginia will be driving to neighboring states that continue to have commercial power.  This will create a situation of mass migration, which is a disaster within a disaster.

Considering this condition unfolding.  Where would your agency be trying to maintain communications?  What kind of assistance would you be requesting?  Where would you need to establish communications to keep abreast of the changing situation?  Where would you need to be sending “Situation Reports” to keep others informed of conditions at your location?

Long haul messaging should be sent via Winlink.  Gateways that use VHF that do not have a satellite Internet will only be able to handle local traffic within the footprint of their gateway system (Your -10 gateway and your -5 digi) that supports your system..  Those using HF may go to gateways outside the affected area.  These would be gateways in neighboring states or throughout the world.

For HF voice we will rely mostly on 60 meters.

VHF/UHF voice remains the most efficient way for your local short traffic.


If you have questions, contact me,

Glen Sage, N4DN

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