The ARRL Headquarters Emergency Response Team will activate today (September 12), ARRL Emergency Response Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, has announced, as what the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is calling “dangerous Hurricane Florence” heads toward the southeastern US coast, where it’s “expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and rainfall to portions of the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states.
ARRL shipped seven Ham Aid kits to South Carolina by way of Georgia on September 11 to assist with emergency preparedness needs in advance of Hurricane Florence. These kits are the same ones that ARRL volunteers took to Puerto Rico a year ago to assist with disaster communications following Hurricane Maria.
“South Carolina ARES is fully activated,” ARRL South Carolina Section Emergency Coordinator Billy Irwin, K9OH, told ARRL, adding that he’s been coordinating regularly with the state Emergency Management Division. “We have operators serving 12-hour shifts at the SC Emergency Management Division and will move to 24-hour coverage on Thursday. Two operators have been deployed to Berkeley County to assist with shelter operations at the request of the Emergency Coordinator there.” Irwin said information about frequencies in use is in the Tactical Guide on the South Carolina ARES website.
“We are literally modifying plans on the fly to meet the needs of the mission,” Irwin added. “Several ARRL Sections have offered assistance.”
The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN), now at Alert Level 3, is closely monitoring three systems, Hurricane Florence, Tropical Storm Isaac, and Invest 95L, currently in the Gulf of Mexico. The net has shifted its formal activation to Thursday, September 13, at 1300 UTC, as Florence closes in on the US east coast. The net will activate on both its 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz frequencies and remain active around the clock, as needed. “Hurricane Florence is drawing a lot of concern for its size and strength, but more so for the potential flooding,” Assistant HWN Manager Stan Broadway, N8BHL, said.
HWN stations will be on both frequencies throughout the day and evening on Wednesday, September 12, to talk with stations in the coastal states. “We want to log their locations, their weather instrumentation and other pertinent information, so that when they are actively producing storm reports we already have them in the database,” Broadway said. “This will speed the reporting process Thursday and Friday as the storm does make landfall.”
WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center will remain active through Friday, September 14, operating cooperatively with the HWN as net stations funnel ground-level reports to the Center. WX4NHC will monitor the HWN and the VoIP Hurricane Net (VoIPWX) on EchoLink Conference WX-Talk, node 7203 or IRLP 9219.
As of 1200 UTC, the NHC said Florence was some 530 miles southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 130 MPH, moving to the west-northwest at 17 MPH.
SHARES will maintain watch on its Northeast Region (FEMA Regions 1, 2, and 3) and Southeast Region (FEMA Region 4) nets starting at 2100 UTC on Thursday, September 13, and on its National Net channels starting at 1200 UTC on Friday, September 14.
The Salvation Army Team Emergency Network (SATERN) has announced plans to activate for Hurricane Florence from 1700 through 2100 UTC on Thursday, September 13, on 14.265 MHz with a backup frequency of 14.312 MHz. It will reactivate on Friday and Saturday at about 1600 UTC until propagation no longer supports it or the Net Manager closes the net for the day.
SATERN may extend its activation depending on reports of major damage, especially to the communications infrastructure; continued significant emergency, priority, or health-and-welfare traffic, as well as reports of an increased need for auxiliary communication. The net’s primary mission will be the receipt and delivery of outbound health-and-welfare messages from affected areas. The Salvation Army is beginning to stage personnel and equipment in major deployments to North Carolina and Virginia.
The ARRL Pacific Section is preparing for activation to support a response to Tropical Storm Olivia. ARRL deployed seven Ham Aid HF kits to Hawaii for Hurricane Lane, and these will remain in Hawaii through the remainder of the hurricane season. Amateur Radio operators on Guam are active supporting response to Typhoon Mangkhut.
AMSAT-NA has announced plans to AO-92 to attempt to image Hurricane Florence. AMSAT Vice-President of Operations, Drew Glasbrenner, KO4MA, said this week that plans call for using the camera on AO-92 to try imaging Hurricane Florence during North American east coast passes on Thursday, September 13, and Friday, September 14. AO-92 will not be in U/V FM voice transponder operation during these passes. Ground stations should standby and not attempt to access AO-92 during this period. The high-speed image data will be transmitted on a downlink frequency of 145.880 MHz and can be captured, decoded, and uploaded to the Fox-1 data warehouse using FoxTelem version 1.06 software.