Hurricane Watch Net Seeks Net Control Operators
The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) is looking for additional net control operators. Hurricane Season in the Atlantic begins June 1 and ends November 30, and in the Eastern Pacific from May 15 until November 30. The Hurricane Watch Net typically activates on 14.325 MHz when an Atlantic Basin hurricane is within 300 miles of landfall, or at the request of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami. HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said the net now is getting everything in place for its 50th straight season, and that includes signing on some new net control stations and net members.
“The Hurricane Watch Net is preparing for a 2014 season which seems to have a lot of uncertainty,” Graves said. “Some experts are calling for an active season, while others are calling for a mild one, due in part to what appears to be a developing El Niño.” Graves said the storm season typically peaks from late August and through September, although said that hurricanes can happen at any time of the year.
Graves pointed out that 1992, another El Niño year, experienced Hurricane Andrew — the last Category 5 storm to make US landfall. Another El Niño year was 2004, when hurricanes Charley, Frances, Jeanne, and Ivan — all Category 4 storms — occurred, all making landfall in Florida.
Since 1965, the Hurricane Watch Net has had a “formal, direct relationship” with the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Graves announced that the HWN now has a similar relationship with the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
Graves said the net is always looking for well-qualified, experienced net control operators who can effectively communicate with the hurricane-prone areas of Eastern Canada, the US East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
“We are especially looking for bilingual operators, as we recognize that some Latin American operators hesitate to check in and send reports to us, if they aren't fluent in English,” Grave said. “The Hurricane Watch Net relies on volunteer operators — our members — who serve as our net control stations. These volunteers are hams who have above-average stations and are willing to commit their time to operating in support of the HWN’s mission during net activations.”
Graves conceded that net sessions can be “long, and, at times, very stressful.” He noted that while the HWN primarily operates on 14.325 MHz, it is also looking for volunteers who can handle net control duties on the low end of the 40 meter phone band. “When 20 meters fades away in the evening,” he said, “we lose the ability to effectively communicate with our reporting stations or the National Hurricane Center.”
Net control operators must be HWN members, but radio amateurs do not need to be HWN members to participate in the net as reporting stations. HWN participants provide observed or measured weather reports, or relay assistance as required by the net control station.
Radio amateur interested in becoming HWN members or volunteering as NCS station should visit the net’s Membership Information page.