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Hurricane Watch Net Ramps Up Alert Level for Tropical Storm Grace


The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) is keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Grace and has bumped up to Level 3, “Standby Alert.” The net designation indicates that a tropical cyclone has become, or is forecast to become, a hurricane and threaten land within the HWN area of interest within the next 48 hours. The net will announce activation plans on its website. The HWN operates on 14.325 MHz during daylight hours and on 7.268 MHz after nightfall, when it’s active.

“We can only hope this system will provide some grace by not becoming a Hurricane!” HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said. “Unfortunately, Grace is forecast to become a category 1 hurricane sometime tomorrow (Wednesday, August 18).” The National Hurricane Center says that could happen as early as 1200 UTC.

As of 1800 UTC, Grace was dropping heavy rain over Jamaica that is beginning to spread into eastern Cuba. The National Hurricane Center reports Grace is 25 miles east of Montego Bay, Jamaica, and some 250 miles east-southeast of Grand Cayman Island. With maximum sustained winds of 50 MPH, the storm is heading west at 15 MPH.

The current forecast track has Grace making landfall somewhere along the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula in the early hours of Thursday morning. A second landfall forecast very early on Saturday, between Tampico and Túxpam. “Of course, a lot can happen over the next 24-48 hours,” Graves allows.

Graves said that should the HWN need to activate, a few things could pose a problem.

“For reasons unknown, we have not heard from any reporting stations in Mexico since the 2005 season,” he said. “The first landfall looks to occur overnight/very early morning when propagation has been poor to non-existent on 40 meters, and the timing of the second landfall is the same as the first — overnight/very early morning when propagation has been poor to non-existent on 40 meters.”

Graves notes it’s still early in terms of predicting what the storm might do, and a lot can change regarding the timing and location of landfall.

“We all know Mother Nature could care less what time of day a storm makes landfall. But, should Grace indeed become a hurricane and threaten landfall, the Hurricane Watch Net will be ready to assist wherever possible,” Graves assured. “This includes disseminating the latest advisories issued by the National Hurricane Center in Miami in both English and Spanish. We do so for marine interests, shortwave listeners, and of course, amateur radio operators willing to share their weather data.” 



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