Hanna Passes Up Eastern Seaboard
Tropical Storm Hanna made its way up the East Coast of the United States, making landfall on the North/South Carolina border at 3:15 AM (EDT) Saturday, September 6. The storm produced tropical storm-force winds gusts, with some locations experiencing sustained tropical storm-force winds. Amateur Radio operators in the Carolinas and northward were prepared for the storm.
According to ARRL North Carolina Section Manager Tim Slay, N4IB, hams in his state were ready for Hanna, with personnel in place at the Amateur Radio Station at the State Emergency Operations Center. Slay said plans called for the hams to start operating from there Friday evening, going until about mid-day on Saturday "or for however long is needed." The EOC was secured at 12:30 PM on Saturday.
The Tarheel Emergency Net, North Carolina's HF ARES Net that meets on 3.923 MHz, was on stand-by status Friday night, going active at 6 AM Saturday. North Carolina Section Emergency Coordinator Bernard Nobles, WA4MOK, said the Net will remain active "until Emergency Management [officials] release Amateur Radio. The Tarheel Net has been receiving reports from across the state, mostly about the amounts of rainfall, which are anywhere from 1 to 5 inches."
Nobles said that the Amateur Radio station at the North Carolina Eastern Branch Emergency Operations Center in Kinston began operations at 6 AM Saturday. Later that morning, the EOC lost commercial power and the amateur station went on battery power until power was restored, about an hour later. Operations at the Eastern Branch were secured around noon.
According to Nobles, Hanna has not been as bad as expected, but there are several thousand people without power in North Carolina's coastal region. "We have been incredibly fortunate," North Carolina Emergency Management spokeswoman Jill Lucas said. "We have had no significant damage. We have had some trees down and local flooding, but nothing significant."
ARRL South Carolina Section Emergency Coordinator Charlie Miller, AE4UX, reported that on Friday evening, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division had the State Emergency Operations Center at Operations Condition 1 (OPCON 1) -- the highest level of alert -- with the SEOC manned 24 hours a day. "All normal communications modes are functioning," he said. At 9:30 AM on Saturday, the SEOC closed and all county EOCs returned to normal operations. "During Hanna, no communications outages -- beyond normal day-to-day outages -- were reported," he said.
On Saturday, "Port buoys are being inspected by the Coast Guard, and all three South Carolina ports are anticipated to be opened this morning," Miller said. "During Hanna, 22 Red Cross shelters received 650 people; eight people sought shelter in a 'special medical needs' shelters."
Miller said that there were no reports of injuries or "significant damage" in South Carolina.
ARRL Sections up the coast to Maine were notified on Friday on reporting protocols if ARES was activated in response to Hanna. From Friday evening throughout Saturday, status reports were received from the Eastern Massachusetts, Eastern New York, New York -Long Island, Northern New Jersey, Southern New Jersey and Virginia Sections.
Getting Ready for Ike
Hurricane Ike, once again a Category 4 hurricane, was about 90 miles east-northeast of Guantanamo, Cuba, and moving west at a speed of 13 MPH as of 2 PM (EDT) on Sunday, September 7. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), Ike is weakening just a bit as it approaches the island nation. Hurricane watches and warnings are currently in effect for the area.
Currently moving west-northwest, NWS forecasters are calling for Ike -- with maximum sustained winds of 120 MPH -- to move away from the Southeastern Bahamas and over or near Eastern Cuba Sunday night and Monday. Ike is expected to remain a major hurricane as it approaches eastern Cuba, but is expected to weaken as it moves over Eastern and Central Cuba on Monday. If, however, the hurricane manages to stay over water -- on either side of Cuba--longer than anticipated, less weakening would occur.
In the US, up to 1.3 million Southeast Florida residents could be forced to evacuate if the storm turns north. State and local officials urged Miami residents not to be complacent; in the Florida Keys, visitors were ordered out on Saturday and residents were told to evacuate on Sunday along the lone road linking the island chain to the mainland.
On Friday, ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager Dennis Dura, K2DCD, began to put protocols in place to support any of the ARRL Sections that may be impacted by Ike. "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," he said. "We have learned a lot from the Gustav and Hanna storms, and we are currently tracking and focusing on Ike now that Hanna is over. We continue to support efforts in the northern Gulf that were impacted by Gustav as we make new plans. It is imperative that all Amateur Radio preparations are in place for the coming of Ike. This storm has the potential to be the strongest one yet of the season. We will have to see what the mountainous terrain of Cuba does to it and then the course it takes one in the open waters of the Gulf."