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2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season Proves to Be a Busy One for Hams


So far, with nine tropical storms and four hurricanes, the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season has indeed been a busy one. Beginning with Hurricane Alex in June, hams at WX4NHC -- the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, Florida -- and weather spotters around the country have kept an eye on these storms. Hurricane Earl came in late August and early September, Hurricane Karl in September and now Hurricane Igor is making its way across the Canadian Maritimes. The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1 and will continue through November 30.

Hurricane Igor, now a Category 1 storm, is currently the strongest storm of the 2010 season and is one of the largest hurricanes (based on size) ever recorded in the Atlantic basin. On September 8, it became the ninth tropical storm of the season, strengthening into a hurricane on September 11; the next day, Igor was a Category 4 hurricane. By September 18, it had been downgraded, continuing to weaken to a Category 1 hurricane before its greatest impact in Bermuda on September 19. It has held its strength as it moved slowly northward, remaining a hurricane as it passed just southeast of Newfoundland on September 21.

Hurricane Igor is about 75 miles north-northeast of St Johns, Newfoundland, with maximum sustained winds reaching 80 MPH. Currently, the storm is rapidly moving northeast at 46 MPH. Forecasters at the NHC expect that Igor’s center will continue to move away from the island of Newfoundland late Wednesday or early Thursday. A hurricane watch is in effect for the coast of Newfoundland from Stones Cove northward and eastward to Fogo Island. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the coast of Newfoundland from Burgeo northward and eastward to Triton, the islands of St-Pierre and Miquelon.

Despite the fears of Bermudian officials that Hurricane Igor would cause immense damage across the island nation, the storm passed having caused relatively minimal structural damage. Heavy rains fell across the islands between September 18-19 and sustained winds over hurricane force and gusts reached 90 MPH.

In an e-mail to Tony Siese, VP9HK, WX4NHC Assistant Coordinator Julio Ripoll, WD4R said that he was happy to hear that Bermuda fared well through Hurricane Igor, one of the largest hurricanes in size he has seen in that part of the Atlantic in many years. “I will never forget the night we stayed on-the-air with you and other VP9 Hams as Hurricane Fabian made landfall in 2003 and your live reports of the roof damage to the EOC and having to relocate during the storm. You were a vital link to NHC and the outside world. Thank you so much for the many surface reports you sent during the storm. This gave the Hurricane Specialists an insight as to what was actually happening on the ground.”

Ripoll said that a report of a 94 MPH gust was the strongest wind speed that was reported by the Bermuda Net to the NHC. The strongest measured report from a ham radio operator -- a 69 MPH gust -- was from Siese’s station.

On September 21, SATERN National Director Pat McPherson, WW9E, received a report from Rick Shirran VE3NUZ, the Salvation Army’s District Commander in Newfoundland: “Newfoundland is being battered by Igor! We’re seeing winds up to 70 km per hour in St John’s and much higher in south coast. It’s a very wide storm, covering approx half of the island. Many roads are closed and some businesses have lost roofs; two towns have declared a ‘state of emergency.’ One town on the south coast already has 205 mm (approximately 8 inches) of rainfall since last night. St John’s now at 60 mm (2.3 inches), and Gander and Bonavista at 70 mm (2.75 inches).”

McPherson said that Shirran was stationed on Bermuda during Hurricane Fabian. While there, he helped the Salvation Army and Salvation Army SATERN response “and is intimately familiar with the potential and challenges there. He brought good intelligence to us again this time.”

The SATERN Nets stood down on September 20, but McPherson said that if Igor “becomes a problem again, we will again call up the SATERN Net on 14.265 MHZ. Kudos to the National Net Director Ed Schumacher, WA9GQK, and the SATERN 20 Meter Net Director John Strobel for the good response, alert and coordination of the network. Thanks to the net controls also, who secured an excellent response and to all those who monitored guarding against the potential challenges of the hurricane.”

Along with Hurricane Igor, forecasters at the NHC are also watching two other Atlantic storms: Tropical Storm Lisa -- currently 530 miles west-northwest of the Cape Verde Islands -- and a storm forming over the Windward Islands, off the coast of Venezuela. The NHC notes that this storm has a medium chance (50 percent) of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours. Tropical Storm Georgette, located very near the southern tip of Baja, California, is the only active storm in the Eastern Pacific.



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