There really is a Winter Field Day, and this year, it takes place over the January 30-31 weekend, sponsored by the Winter Field Day Association (WFDA). The annual event’s stated purpose is to encourage emergency operating preparedness in the winter, but it’s also a great opportunity to operate in the great outdoors.
The WFDA describes itself as a dedicated group of Amateur Radio operators who believe that getting ready for emergency communication in a winter environment is just as important as the preparations and practice that take place at ARRL Field Day each June, all while taking some additional unique operational concerns into account. The WFDA points out that disasters are unpredictable, and its goal is to help enhance operators’ skills and prepare for all environmental conditions typically found in the US and Canada throughout the entire year.
“We believe…that maintaining your operational skills should not be limited to fair weather scenarios,” the group says. “The addition of a Winter Field Day will enhance those already important skills of those who generously volunteer their time and equipment to these organizations.”
The event is not restricted to North America. All Amateur Radio operators around the world are invited to participate. Operation will be on all HF bands except 12, 17, 30, and 60 meters. The event runs 24 hours. US and Canadian stations exchange call sign, operating category, and ARRL or RAC section. The rules are similar to those for the ARRL Field Day, held in June.
Last year, WR5J, W7KXB, KG7NJQ, and K7ZFO braved the conditions to operate as NC7G near North Bend, Washington. Curt Black, WR5J, recounts, “We had a fantastic team — young, new hams and some amazing octogenarian hams. All contributed to the effort and the triumph. We had fantastic operating conditions.” Black said the weather was great too — with balmy temperatures.
“We had a blast — worked all night long — bounced from band to band and mode to mode. We had no idea it was going to be as warm as it was,” he said.