Hurricane Watch Net Seeks New Members
The various organizations that assist the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami are gearing up for what forecasters are predicting to be a very active storm season. One organization that assists the NHC is the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN). One of the functions of HWN is to provide on-the-ground, real-time weather data to the forecasters at the NHC. The HWN gets this weather data from Amateur Radio operators who volunteer their time to monitor data from their calibrated home weather stations and report that data to the HWN. To better assist the NHC, HWN Manager Kirk Harding, K6KAR, 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,” Harding 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 HWN net operates on 14.325 MHz, so prospective members must be able to legally transmit on that frequency to participate.
Harding 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. “As we head into the 2011 hurricane season, we’re looking for qualified amateurs who are located anywhere within North America or the Caribbean,” he said. “We are also looking for bilingual hams. 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 who 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.”
Harding explained 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. National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center predicts that the 2011 hurricane season will see above-average activity with 12-18 named storms, with 6-10 of those storms becoming hurricanes. Of these storms, three to six could develop into major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines a normal hurricane season as having 11 named storms -- including six hurricanes -- with two becoming major hurricanes.