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Hurricane Watch Net Ramps Up to “Catastrophic Response Mode” for Matthew


[UPDATED: 2016-10-04 @ 2007 UTC] Active for the past 2 days in response to the threat posed by Hurricane Matthew, the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) now has ramped up to Alert Level 5 — “Catastrophic Response Mode.” Matthew made landfall near Les Anglais in western Haiti at 1100 UTC. The HWN focuses on eliciting real-time “ground truth” weather information and data from storm-stricken zones to assist National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasters.

As the dangerous category 4 storm has begun battering Haiti and threatens eastern Cuba, states along the US Eastern Seaboard now have begun to take serious notice. Emergency operations centers in Florida, Georgia, and Virginia are at full or partial activation, and the governors of Georgia and North Carolina have declared states of emergency. 

A hurricane watch now is in effect from Deerfield Beach, Florida, to the Volusia/Brevard County line. A tropical storm watch is in effect from the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys northward to south of Deerfield Beach, including Lake Okeechobee. According to information reported to the HWN, the Red Cross plans to open evacuation shelters from Vero Beach to Miami starting at noon ET on October 5.

A topical storm warning for Jamaica has been discontinued.

Operating with announcements and traffic in both English and Spanish, the HWN is active on 14.325 MHz and will operate on that frequency and on 7.268 MHz, its nighttime frequency for as long as necessary. If propagation dictates, the net will operate on both frequencies simultaneously.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit the website or read the American Red Cross “Hurricane Safety Checklist.”

Hurricane warnings are in effect for Haiti, several eastern Cuban provinces, and the  Bahamas, with hurricane watches and tropical storm warnings posted elsewhere in the region. The eye of the Hurricane Matthew will move near eastern Cuba later today (October 4), and move near or over portions of the southeastern and central Bahamas tonight and tomorrow. Some fluctuations in intensity are anticipated.

Other nets are active in the region. The Cuban National Emergency Net operates on 7.110 and 7.120 MHz as well as on 3.720 and 3.740 MHz. In addition, hams in the eastern provinces — with prefixes CO7, CM7, CL7; CO8, CM8, CL8, and CO9) may use other frequencies, such as 7.045, 7.080 and 7.115 MHz. Cuban Federacion of Radio Amateurs (FRC) National Emergency Coordinator Carlos Santamaría, CO2JC, has asked stations not involved in the emergency nets to avoid those frequencies.

According to Arnie Coro, CO2KK, FRC President Pedro Rodriguez, CO2RP, reported in a TV interview that radio amateurs in the six provinces now under a maximum state of alert are deployed to operate on 2 meters, 40 meters, and 80 meters.

In the Dominican Republic on the opposite end of Hispaniola from Haiti, members of the Dominican Radio Club deployed at the Red Cross and the emergency operations center. Emergency net operation has been on 7.065 MHz in conjunction with local repeaters.

A large and dangerous hurricane, Matthew is forecast to produce very heavy rain over southern Haiti, eastern Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and eastern Cuba. The rainfall could produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, has directed those seeking to pass health and welfare traffic to the SATERN Net on 14.265 MHz. SATERN operators also will monitor the HWN as well as the Maritime Mobile Service Net (MMSN) on 14.300 MHz while propagation lasts.

Graves said the HWN will remain in continuous operation until further notice to gather real-time weather data from the affected zones. The net also will provide backup communication to responding agencies, including emergency operations centers and the Red Cross.

National Hurricane Center station WX4NHC has activated and is participating in the HWN operation as well as on 3.815 MHz. The VoIP Hurricane Net, supporting the NHC activated on October 3 on the WX-Talk Conference, Node #7203 on Echolink and IRLP Reflector 9219. IRLP Reflector 9553 is the backup. This net will also be analyzing social media from the impacted areas and Internet website data from sites such as the Caribbean Hurricane Network.

As of 1800 UTC on October 4, Hurricane Matthew was reported to be about 65 miles east-southeast of Guantanamo, Cuba, and about 55 miles south-southwest of the eastern tip of Cuba. The National Hurricane Center has clocked the storm’s maximum sustained winds at 145 MPH. The storm is moving north at 10 MPH.