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Hurricane Watch Net Recorded 300 On-Air Hours in 2021


Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, says 2021 was the third most-active hurricane season on record in terms of named storms, and was the sixth consecutive above-normal season.\“We’ve completed another hurricane season. The Atlantic basin was extremely busy again for 2021,” Graves told HWN members. “For the year, we had 21 named storms, seven of which became hurricanes, and four of those became major hurricanes — Category 3 or stronger.” Graves noted that 2021 marked the first year on record that two consecutive hurricane seasons exhausted the list of 21 storm names.

Tropical systems that made landfall caused a total damage of $70 billion, as of the end of November, making 2021 the fourth most costly hurricane season on record, behind 2012, 2005, and 2017.

Graves recounted that several tropical systems made an impact on land this year. “In August, Tropical Storm Fred caused devastating flooding across parts of the Greater Antilles and the southeastern United States,” he said. “Hurricane Grace made two landfalls in Mexico — first as a Category 1 hurricane just south of Tulum on the southeast Yucatán [Peninsula], and second as a Category 3 major hurricane in the Mexican state of Veracruz.”

“Hurricane Ida was a deadly and destructive hurricane that made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane — the most intense and destructive hurricane to affect the state since Hurricane Katrina,” Graves continued. He noted that Ida also caused catastrophic flooding across the US northeast.

“Hurricane Larry peaked as a powerful Category 3 hurricane over the open Atlantic [Ocean] before making landfall in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador as a Category 1 hurricane. Later, Hurricane Nicholas moved erratically both on and offshore [on] the coasts of Texas and Louisiana,” he said.

In 2021, the HWN activated for five hurricanes — Elsa, Grace, Henri, Ida, and Larry. The HWN did not activate for Nicholas, another hurricane that made landfall. “Nicholas was a storm that was never expected to become a hurricane,” Graves explained. “However, at 0300 UTC on Monday, September 13, when Nicholas was just 22 miles away from land, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) upgraded the storm to a Category 1 hurricane. Nicholas made landfall at about 0530 UTC on the eastern part of the Matagorda Peninsula, about 10 miles west-southwest of Sargent Beach, Texas.

“Mother Nature loves to play tricks, and she did with this storm. There was no way to predict this storm would have become a hurricane prior to landfall,” Graves said. “When it did, we had no time to activate for it.”

Graves said the HWN racked up nearly 300 hours on the air, with 140 of those spent on Hurricane Ida alone.

The HWN membership is strategically disbursed across North America, throughout the Caribbean Sea, Central America, and the northern coast of South America. Its primary mission is to disseminate tropical cyclone advisory information to island communities in the Caribbean, Central America, along the Atlantic Seaboard of the US, and throughout the Gulf of Mexico coastal areas. It also gathers observed or measured weather data via amateur radio from operators in storm-affected areas — as well as any post-storm damage — and conveys that information to NHC forecasters via WX4NHC.

The HWN typically activates on 14.325 MHz by day and 7.268 MHz after nightfall, whenever a hurricane is within 300 statute miles of a populated landmass or at the request of the NHC or the Canadian Hurricane Centre.




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