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Canadian and American Hams Provide "Textbook Example" of Amateur Radio's EmComm Role

09/30/2008

On Sunday, September 27, the VoIP Hurricane Net formally activated at 5 PM EDT to provide surface reports as Hurricane Kyle affected portions of extreme Northeastern Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada. The activation was in coordination with WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio Station at the National Hurricane Center (NHC), to support their operations for Hurricane Kyle.

"The Canadian Maritimes rarely get hurricanes, but we received some of our highest quality reports that included measured wind data every 15-20 minutes, as well as damage reports from radio amateurs in the area. They did a fantastic job," said Director of Operations for the VoIP Hurricane Net Rob Macedo, KD1CY. "We reached out to many of the IRLP and EchoLink stations in this area and the response rate from those amateurs connecting to our Net was extremely high. This was truly an international effort, as the VoIP Hurricane Net also had volunteer hams from Australia and Germany assisting in Net Control activities."

Assistant WX4NHC Coordinator Julio Ripoll, WD4R, agreed: "The Canadian amateurs provided critical surface reports to the National Hurricane Center that we wouldn't have received otherwise. I was very impressed with the level and detail of the reports we received." The National Hurricane Center in Miami works closely together with the Canadian Hurricane Centre when tropical events impact this area of the world.

The storm downed trees and wires, prompting power outages over portions of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Canada. A measured wind gust to near 95 MPH was reported in Lockeport, Nova Scotia by a ham radio operator with a weather station within a couple hundred feet of the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.

ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager Dennis Dura, K2DCD, acted as Net Control for most of the Net's activation; Dura also serves as Assistant Director of the VoIP Hurricane Net Operations. "I, too, was extremely impressed with the level of support from the Canadian amateurs in providing situational awareness and disaster intelligence for Hurricane Kyle," he said. "The work these hams performed was a textbook example of the role Amateur Radio plays in events like this. Many lessons were re-learned tonight, lessons that need to be re-taught in areas impacted by tropical events."

On Saturday, prior to Kyle's arrive in the Canadian Maritimes, Dura began providing information to the Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) through their ARES e-mail reflector. Sunday's information sharing was escalated with direct contact with RAC Vice President for Field Services Bob Cooke, VE3BDB. "This event provides an opportunity for cross border support, as it's certainly not every day that a tropical event is aimed at a Canadian Province without first hitting the States", Dura said. Cooke echoed this in his message to the RAC Section Emergency Coordinators, District Emergency Coordinators and local Emergency Coordinators, urging "every Radio Amateur to participate to the best of his or her ability."

Elsewhere in the Tropics, Sub-Tropical Storm Laura has formed in the open Atlantic, but is currently only a threat to marine or shipping interests. Laura may briefly obtain hurricane strength before weakening over the colder waters of the Northern Atlantic.



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