Hams Ready for Fay
While Tropical Storm Fay made landfall over Key West, Florida at 3 PM EDT on August 18, Amateur Radio operators throughout Florida were prepared "just in case." As Fay crossed Key West, Florida Emergency Management officials noted that while "Fay is no Hurricane Charley," it is following the same general path as 2004's Charley, a Category 4 hurricane and one of the most destructive hurricanes in recent history for the area; at least 13 people were killed in that storm. A tropical storm warning is still in effect for the Florida Keys and the majority of Florida's Atlantic coast. All hurricane warnings have been discontinued.
All three of Florida's ARRL Section Managers are working cooperatively as Fay tracks through the state. After sweeping through the Keys, Fay next made landfall in Cape Romano at approximately 4:45 AM on Tuesday, August 19, in the ARRL Southern Florida Section, headed by Sherri Brower, K4STB. Landfall on Florida's mainland was initially expected to hit the West Central Florida Section, where Gerald D. Turner, N4GD, is Section Manager. Florida's state emergency headquarters is in Paul L. Eakin's, KJ4G, Northern Florida Section; he is continuing to coordinate with the state government officials.
According to Julio Ripoll, WD4R, of WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio Station at the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Fay came close to reaching hurricane strength "several times in her track through Cuba and Florida. The surface reports collected via ham radio continue to be very important, no matter how high or low the wind speed. They fill in gaps between governmental weather stations and give the hurricane forecasters a better idea of the wind field range and local flooding."
Plans are in place for several shelters to be opened and responses ready for expected flooding issues, even if the storm does not develop fully. ARRL HQ staff are following events closely and in contact with members and ARES® leaders in the affected areas.