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Harvey Gains Hurricane Strength, Hurricane Watch and VoIP WX Nets Activate


Once downgraded to a tropical depression, Harvey has regained strength in the Gulf of Mexico and been upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane. The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) activated at 1500 UTC on 14.325 MHz, and planned remain there until 0100 UTC. The HWN will activate on its nighttime frequency of 7.268 MHz at 0000 UTC.

“This will allow us a 1-hour overlap between bands,” said HWN Net Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV. “Should propagation dictate, we will operate on both frequencies simultaneously. Once activated, we will remain active until further notice.”

In its August 24 1800 UTC update, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Harvey was “rapidly intensifying.” It advised that preparations along the middle-Texas coast be rushed to completion.” The storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 85 MPH. It was located about 335 miles southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, moving north-northwest at 10 MPH.

On that forecast track, Harvey was predicted to approach the middle-Texas coast on August 25, making landfall that night or early on August 26 and stalling near the middle-Texas coast through the weekend.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Port Mansfield to Matagorda, Texas, and a Hurricane Watch is in effect for south of Port Mansfield, Texas, to the mouth of the Rio Grande. Tropical storm watches and warnings have been posted for other areas along the Gulf Coast.

With Harvey poised to become a Category 2 hurricane, ARRL South Texas Section ARES has posted communication plans to address Harvey. ARRL South Texas Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) Jeff Walter, KE5FGA, said the section was preparing for the storm's arrival along the South Texas coast. “Monitor the frequencies in the ICS-205 document, when able,” he advised volunteers.

Harvey would be the first hurricane to make landfall in Texas in 9 years. In addition to tropical and hurricane-force winds along the Texas coast and further inland, the main concern with this storm is heavy rain and flooding.

The NHC said Harvey is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 12 to 20 inches with isolated maximums of 30 inches over the Texas coast through next Wednesday.

“During the same time period Harvey is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 3 to 9 inches along its outer radius, including parts of south, central, and eastern Texas and the lower Mississippi Valley,” the NHC advisory continued. “Rainfall from Harvey may cause life-threatening flooding.”

NHC also warned that a combination of a dangerous storm surge and tides “will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.”

“And, when it comes to landfalling tropical systems, never rule out the possibility of spin-off tornadoes,” Graves said.

Graves stressed that the HWN would be looking for “observed ground-truth data from those in the affected area (wind speed, wind gust, wind direction, barometric pressure if available, rainfall, damage, and storm surge).”

“We are also available to provide back-up communications to official agencies such as emergency operations centers and Red Cross officials in the affected area,” Graves added. “We will also be interested to collect and report significant damage assessment data back to FEMA officials stationed in the National Hurricane Center.”

The VoIP Hurricane Net has announced activation plans, starting Friday afternoon and continuing through early Saturday afternoon.

“Any Amateur Radio operators in the affected area of Harvey or with relays into the affected area of Harvey are asked to provide surface and damage reports into the VoIP Hurricane Net,” said the net’s Director of Operations Rob Macedo, KD1CY. “Any SKYWARN Nets active in the local area that can pass reports to the VoIP Hurricane Net for relay into WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center are welcome to send a net liaison or connect directly at their discretion.”




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