Radio Intrigue with Don Schimmel


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Report #034 11/01/2002

Mount Weather, Virginia - This is one of many U.S. Government relocation sites constructed during the cold war period. Mt. Weather is situated in the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains approximately 80 miles from Washington, DC and about 28 miles from Winchester, VA. It lies off of Route 601. Years ago it was considered secret but it became public knowledge when a TWA flight crashed in the nearby area. Now there is a sign on Route 50 indicating that Mt. Weather is located on Route 601 which now also bears the name, Mt. Weather Road. This particular site was originally intended for use by the President, Supreme Court justices, Cabinet secretaries, and other government officials. In the event of an attack against America, the obove individuals are to go to their respective designated pick-up point in Washington, DC and would be taken by helicopter to the Mt. Weather relocation site.

Over a period of several decades, Beacon identification publications mistakenly listed Beacon XPZ on 265 kHz as being located in Winchester, VA. In 1990, fellow SWLer and beacon aficionado, Perry F. Crabill, Jr., who lives in the Winchester area, did not believe that Winchester was the correct location for the beacon based on signal strength. Perry discovered that the coordinates given for the beacon turned out to be for the old Post Office building in downtown Winchester. There definitely was no beacon at that location. This result gave him a hunch and he went to Clarke County, VA and found the beacon to be on the Mt. Weather property. He determined the correct coordinates for beacon XPZ to be 39-02-46 N and 77-52-40 W. The chopper pad can be seen from Route 601 as well as the beacon antenna which is adjacent to the pad.

This relocation site is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Facilities include computer centers, communications installations, medical clinic, cafeteria, sleeping quarters and a television studio for handling any necessary public announcments. Food and water are stored plus other supplies.

FEMA callsigns are in the WGY(digits) series. There are two FEMA stations in Washington, DC those being the Communications Branch WGY911 and FEMA Headquarters WGY900. The Mt. Weather callsign is WGY912 and is listed merely as "FEMA Special Facility". FEMA is one of the members in the Shared Resources (SHARES) HF Radio Program. This was set up within the National Communications System and was designed to establish a National HF Radio Communications Network for communications during national emergencies. The network utilizes the combined HF radio assets of the Federal Government members and others on a shared basis. Control of the network is provided by the National Coordinating Center, callsign KGD34, which is located in Arlington, VA. For two views of the Mt. Weather site click here.

For additional details regarding the SHARES program go to www.ncs.gov/n3/shares For background information on FEMA communications go to www.fema.gov
End of Report

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Click here for index of previous editions of Radio Intrigue

2002 Don Schimmel.