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Amateur Radio Response Continues as Hurricane Matthew Moves Up East Coast


[UPDATED 2016-10-08 @ 1430 UTC] Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas continue to support communication during the response to Hurricane Matthew, which has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm. Governors have declared states of emergency for some or all counties, and multiple shelters have opened in all four states. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports that as of mid-morning on Saturday, October 8, strong winds and dangerous storm surge were affecting the coast of South Carolina, with heavy rains and gusty winds spreading inland. A hurricane warning extends from north of Altamaha Sound in Georgia to Surf City, North Carolina.

Some 1.2 million residents of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina were reported to be without power, and thousands have evacuated to shelters, where ham radio volunteers have been supporting communication.

As of 1200 UTC on October 8, Hurricane Matthew about 20 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina. Maximum sustained winds were 85 MPH, and the storm was moving northeast at 12 MPH. Hurricane Matthew has yet to make landfall.

The storm’s current projected path shows it looping around toward the east, opening up the possibility of a second strike on the Bahamas and Florida sometime next week, likely in a much-weakened state.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit the website or read the American Red Cross “Hurricane Safety Checklist.”

Hurricane Matthew had a devastating impact on Haiti earlier this week, with hundreds of fatalities reported so far. Many villages and towns were seriously damaged or destroyed. Four storm-related deaths have been reported in the US.

The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) on 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz has been active continuously for the past 6 days gathering real-time ground-truth weather data and passing it along to the National Hurricane Center via the Center’s WX4NHC.

The first major hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, Matthew at one point was a Category 5 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 160 MPH, the first Category 5 Hurricane to form in the Atlantic Basin since Felix in 2007.

HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, reported on Friday that net members have relayed many real-time, ground-truth observations from Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, the Bahamas, and the US. He said the HWN handled many post-storm reports from Haiti and continues to do so.

All radio amateurs are asked to avoid transmitting on or near any emergency net frequencies. In addition, stations should not check into any emergency or weather information net unless they have something to contribute.

The Salvation Army Team Emergency Network (SATERN) remains active at a DELTA II (extended monitoring) status, which will include continuous monitoring of the net frequency of 14.265 MHz while propagation lasts. The SATERN Net is looking for any emergency, priority, or health-and-welfare traffic from hurricane-affected areas. SATERN is only handling outbound messages from the affected area. It will not accept inbound traffic.

The VoIP Hurricane Net is supporting the NHC on the WX-Talk Conference, Node #7203 on EchoLink and IRLP Reflector 9219. IRLP Reflector 9553 is the backup. (Due to the limited number of routes to the Echolink node for mobile devices, monitor WX-Talk on a desktop computer if possible.)

The Voice over Internet Protocol Weather Net had a peak number of check-ins on October 7, with 82 stations connected to the Weather Talk Server onEchoLink and IRLP systems. Rob Macedo, KD1CY, reported that the net recorded between 50 and 100 reports ranging from flooding from heavy rainfall, storm surge, wind damage, wind speed, and rainfall amounts.

“This is one way the American Radio Relay League encouraged hams to serve during National Preparedness Month,” said Lloyd Colston, KC5FM, Public Affairs Officer for the VoIPWx Net.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced it may use several 60 meter frequencies for interoperability with other authorized stations, federal government stations, and Amateur Radio stations during the Hurricane Matthew response. It is requested that all stations stay clear of these frequencies unless they have emergency traffic relative to Hurricane Matthew. The Amateur Radio Service has secondary status on 60 meters.

The suppressed-carrier frequencies (dial frequencies) are 5330.5 kHz, 5346.5 kHz, 5357.0 kHz, 5371.5 kHz, and 5403.5 kHz (USB).

FEMA Region 4 in Atlanta (Southeastern US) will be using the Amateur Radio call sign KF4EMA to allow FEMA-licensed amateurs to provide situational awareness on various Amateur Radio nets within Region 4 relative to the Hurricane Matthew response.

Earlier this past week the Northern Florida ARES Net was called up on 3950 or 7242 kHz, and the Statewide Amateur Radio Network (SARnet) was activated. 





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