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ARRL, Amateur Radio Gears Up for Hanna, Ike

09/05/2008

As the ARRL Headquarters staff continues to support response and recovery efforts in Louisiana and the areas impacted by Hurricane Gustav, yet another storm begins to shift some of the focus eastward. Tropical Storm Hanna, currently forecasted to impact the North Carolina coastline early Saturday morning, has begun to activate ARESĀ® preparations from Florida northward. Hanna is responsible for at least 137 deaths in Haiti.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), a hurricane watch is now in effect from north of Edisto Beach, South Carolina to Okracoke Inlet. A tropical storm watch remains in effect from Edisto Beach southward to Altamaha Sound, Georgia. A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the Central and Northwestern Bahamas. A tropical storm watch means tropical storm conditions are possible within 36 hours.

ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager Dennis Dura, K2DCD, has begun to put protocols in place to support any of the ARRL Sections that may be impacted by Hanna. "We are beginning the coordination efforts with the individual Sections that could be on the receiving end of what is becoming an active storm season for the United States mainland. While Hanna currently remains a tropical storm, we must ensure that all Amateur Radio preparations are in place in case the storm turns into a hurricane."

North Carolina

According to ARRL North Carolina Section Manager Tim Slay, N4IB, hams in his state are ready for Hanna. "The Amateur Radio Station at the State Emergency Operations Center is ready to go. We will begin operating from there on Friday at 8 PM and go until about mid-day on Saturday or for however long is needed." Slay also said the Tarheel Emergency Net, the North Carolina HF ARES Net that meets on 3.923 MHz, has been tested and is prepared for the incoming storms.

Slay said that hams in his state have verified that the equipment is all in working order at the State Emergency Operations Center. The South Carolina Healthcare Emergency Amateur Radio Team (SCHEART) -- a system of strategically located repeaters linking 64 South Carolina hospitals by Amateur Radio, forming a statewide emergency communications network -- is also on alert.

South Carolina

ARRL South Carolina Section Manager Jim Boehner, N2ZZ, said South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has called for a voluntary evacuation for those who live along that state's coastal areas. "Based on all the information we've received at this point," Governor Stafford said, "we think we're going to miss this storm, but it's still incredibly important that we be prepared, and for people in areas that could be the most affected to be prudent. More than anything, this storm may serve as a reminder to everyone along the coast to be prepared for what could still come your way in this season. That means having a full tank of gas, a storm kit and an evacuation plan as these storms head our way."

An "Ugly Mess"

The Weather Channel's Tim Ballisty called Hanna an "ugly mess" since the storm is not acting like a typical storm: "Hanna has no markings of a classic-looking tropical cyclone. It is a highly disorganized tropical storm and will have a lot to do in a short period of time to organize and strengthen to a hurricane."

Ballisty warned that people should not be fooled by Hanna's appearance. "It is important to note that one should not focus solely on [Hanna's] center of circulation," he said. "In fact, the worst of Hanna may not actually be found close to the center of circulation but rather away from it. Impacts such as tropical storm-force gusts, tropical downpours and very choppy surf will be felt hundreds of miles away from the center. That being said, the center of Hanna is projected to make landfall near the coastal South Carolina/North Carolina border, or perhaps just east of there, very early on Saturday morning."

After landfall, Hanna is expected to spread rain and breezy conditions up the mid-Atlantic and Northeast coast on Saturday, impacting several major cities. Due its rapid forward speed, the storm will not linger. Hanna will be exiting off the New England coast by as early as mid-morning Sunday. Rainfall totals are not expected to come anywhere close to what was seen with Hurricanes Fay or Gustav.

"If nothing else it's a good dress rehearsal for Ike if Ike were to come," said Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Hurricane Ike and Tropical Storm Josephine

Fast on Hanna's heels, Ike is the third major hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season; it is not yet threatening any land. A Category 4 hurricane on Thursday, Ike was downgraded to Category 3 early Friday morning.

For now, Ike is of no threat to land, but could threaten the Bahamas by Sunday and into early next week. Residents of the Bahamas should monitor Ike carefully the next several days. Ballisty said that as of now, it is too early to tell if Ike would have any impact on the United States. "The entire Southeast coast should pay close attention to the progress and forecast track of Ike," he said.

Josephine, a tropical storm in the eastern Atlantic remains a fairly weak tropical storm. It continues to struggle with maximum sustained winds now near 50 MPH; this storm is currently no threat to land; however, the storm continues to feel the effects of wind shear and dry air, and this may keep any additional strengthening in check. Josephine will continue to move west-northwest over the next several days and will not be of any impact to land in the near future.



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