Hurricane Watch Net Seeks New Members
With hurricane season approaching, the various organizations that assist the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami are gearing up for what could be a very active storm season. One organization that assists the NHC is the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN). To better assist the NHC, HWN Manager Dave Lefavour, W7GOX, told the ARRL that the HWN is looking for new members. "The Hurricane Watch Net relies on volunteer operators -- our members -- who serve as our net control stations," he said. "HWN members are hams who have above-average stations, are capable of effectively conducting HF net operations and are willing to commit their time to operating in support of the HWN's mission during Net activations. The Net sessions can be long, and, in the recent absence of sunspots, pretty grueling."
Lefavour said that the HWN is looking for new members with stations that can effectively communicate with Central America and the Caribbean, Mexico and South Texas on the 20 meter band. "With the low solar activity, our Assistant Net Manager Brad Pioveson, W9FX, is very interested in finding more members that can help with Net Control Station duties on the low ends of the 40 and 80 meter phone bands," Lefavour said, "as we're having to broaden our focus from only operating on 14.325 MHz. During the 2008 hurricanes, 20 meters died after the Sun went down -- we no longer had the ability to effectively communicate with reporting stations or the National Hurricane Center. So in preparation for the 2009 hurricane season, we're open to applications from qualified amateurs who are located anywhere within North America or the Caribbean. With propagation having been so unpredictable in the past couple of years, you never know who's going to be able to hear the hurricane-affected area."
Lefavour said that bilingual hams are especially welcome: "We recognize that some Latin American operators hesitate to check in and send reports to us if they aren't fluent in English, so we're also interested in hearing from hams that are fluent in both Spanish and English. When we're working storms that are either affecting or threatening areas where Spanish is the language of choice, we always try to have one or more bilingual HWN members on hand to help with reporting. Those who have previously applied for HWN membership are encouraged to submit new applications. New applicants are also encouraged to apply."
Lefavour said that the Hurricane Watch Net is generally activated when a named Atlantic basin storm is within 300 miles of landfall. Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean runs from June 1-November 30, peaking from late August through September; the Pacific Ocean season runs from May 15-November 30. Of course, hurricanes may occur at any time of the year. The Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University predicts that 2009 hurricane season will see above-average activity with 14 named storms and seven hurricanes, three of which will be Category 3 or higher. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines a normal hurricane season as having 9-12 named storms -- with 5-7 of those reaching hurricane strength -- and 1-3 major hurricanes.