Hurricane Watch Net Enters Third Day of Hurricane Joaquin Response
The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) has entered its third day of its activation for Hurricane Joaquin, which the National Hurricane Center is calling “extremely dangerous.” The net was active on October 1 for 17 hours, although a class M-5 solar flare early on October 2 (UTC) caused the net to shift operations from 14.325 MHz to 7.268 MHz before shutting down at 0100 UTC because of deteriorating conditions. The Hurricane Watch Net resumed operation at 1100 UTC on October 2, still at Alert Level 5 — Catastrophic Response Mode. WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center (NHC), which also has activated, received a visit on October 1 by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ.
HWN Manager Bobby Graves said that on October 1, the net was able to receive reports from Eleuthera, Abacos, Cuba, and the Turks and Caicos, as Joaquin gained strength into a Category4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 130 MPH. “Crooked Island, Bahamas, has seen nearly 18 continuous hours of hurricane-force winds,” Graves said.
In addition to generating torrential rainfall over its path, ocean swells now affecting portions of the Southeastern US coast will spread northward along the East Coast through the weekend. “These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” the NHC said. “Regardless of Joaquin's track, a prolonged period of elevated water levels and large waves will affect the Mid-Atlantic region, causing significant beach and dune erosion with moderate coastal flooding likely.”
Although the probability that Joaquin will make landfall along the East Coast of the US has gone down considerably, observers continue to keep a close eye on the storm’s path, and North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, and Maryland have declared states of emergency. The 5 day projection of Joaquin’s path shows the storm veering toward the northeast and remaining off the US East Coast.
The storm is moving slowly to the northwest as it continues to batter the Central Bahamas, and the NHC said hurricane conditions will continue there today. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 50 miles from the center, and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 205 miles.
Graves said the storm has made its anticipated turn toward the north and was expected to shift more to the northeast later today. “On the latest forecast track, Joaquin should remain well offshore, sparing the United States and Canada a direct strike later this weekend,” Graves observed. “Of course, this track could change so I would still keep a watchful eye on this system.” Joaquin hit the Bahamas on September 30, with maximum sustained winds of 120 MPH. It’s not expected to leave the Caribbean archipelago until tonight or Saturday.
During HWN activation, the net control station will request measured/observed ground-truth data from stations in the affected area. The HWN also remains available to provide back-up communication to official agencies, such as emergency operations centers and Red Cross officials in the affected area. The net also will gather and report to FEMA officials in the NHC any information on significant damage. Stations should not check into the net unless specifically requested to do so.
ARES/RACES organizations have been stepping up preparations to activate if necessary, and the ARRL continues to monitor the situation. “Like most, we’re waiting to see which way the storm will go,” ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, told the ARRL Field Organization leadership in areas that could be affected by Joaquin. “ARRL Headquarters will be in touch with our National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), FEMA, and NHC as things develop.”
Visit the HWN website for the latest information on this storm and HWN activation plans.