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Hurricane Watch Net Keeping Tabs on Strengthening Hurricane Joaquin

10/01/2015

[UPDATED: 2015-10-01 1756 UTC] It’s been a quiet season so far for the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN), but Hurricane Joaquin, now a Category 3 storm, has been keeping net members busy this week. Joaquin hit the Bahamas September 30, with maximum sustained winds of 120 MPH. After initially activating on September 30 at 1500 UTC on 14.325 MHz, the net shut down on October 1 at 0445 UTC, as conditions deteriorated on its nighttime frequency of 7.268 MHz. The HWN resumed operation a few hours later on 20 meters at Alert Level 5 — Catastrophic Response Mode. WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) also has activated. 

“This storm has gotten huge and very ugly,” said HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV. “The people of the Bahamas, especially San Salvador, Rum Cay, Cat Island, and Samana Cays, are in for a rough ride today! Residents along the US East Coast should closely monitor the progress of Joaquin.”

The NHC said Joaquin will batter the Central Bahamas with hurricane-force winds and heavy rain and storm surges into the evening of October 1. The storm was expected to generate rainfall totaling 10 to 15 inches over the central Bahamas. The NHC has predicted that Joaquin would turn toward the west-northwest late on October 1, followed by a turn to the north and an increase in forward speed on October 2.

The NHC said swells generated by Joaquin will start affecting portions of Florida’s eastern coast and the US southeast coast by October 2. “These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” the NHC has predicted.

The 5 day projection for Hurricane Joaquin would place the storm off the coast of North Carolina as early as October 4 and headed toward Southern New England. States of emergency already are in effect in Virginia and New Jersey, but it’s still unclear whether the storm will make landfall or remain offshore. 

Eastern New York Section Emergency Coordinator David Galletly, KM2O, took part in a conference call with the Albany Office of the National Weather Service on October 1. He said the NWS expressed concerns that additional rainfall in the wake of this week’s heavy rains could pose flooding potential.

The American Red Cross, Eastern New York Region is asking volunteers to register their availability, while the ARC Greater New York Region has begun mitigation planning and is asking ARES teams to be on alert for a possible activation.

“Our entire Section has dealt with events of this nature, including the flash flooding of Irene and the fury of Sandy,” Galletly told ARES members. “Please stay alert for developments.” 

He called on all ARES groups in the Eastern New York Section to go on standby and make preparations for possible deployment by Monday, October 5. A Simulated Emergency Test on October 3 will proceed as scheduled. 

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. 

“We’re monitoring the situation and the forecasts regularly. 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.



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