Nets Activate, Gulf Coast Preparations Underway as Tropical Storm Gustav Heads Toward Jamaica
John McHugh, K4AG, coordinator for Amateur Radio at the National Hurricane Center, WX4NHC, posted this message this morning:
"In anticipation of Gustav reaching hurricane strength today, WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, will be activating today at 12 PM EDT (1600Z). We request all land based stations as well as ships at sea in the areas affected to send us weather data (measured or estimated) and damage reports.
"If you are in the affected area and normally monitor on a local Net on VHF, 40 or 80 meters, we would appreciate your checking into the HWN NET or EchoLink/IRLP Net once per hour to receive the latest Hurricane Advisories and to report your local conditions.
"Please do not venture outside during the hurricane to gather weather data."
In addition, the VoIP Hurricane Net activated at 11 AM EDT (1500Z), according to a post by Jim Palmer, KB1KQW, VoIP-WX Net Scheduler. This message was posted to the VoIP Web site:
"There are a few EchoLink and IRLP nodes in the affected area of Jamaica and we hope that Amateur Radio Operators with these capabilities in neighboring Caribbean Islands and the International Radio Emergency Support Coalition (IRESC) can support us with contacts in the affected area via HF and other means as well as direct contact via EchoLink and IRLP. All information will be helpful for WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio Station at the National Hurricane Center."
Gulf Coast Preparations
Although the track and intensity of the storm could change, news reports agree that it appears likely that Gustav will gather strength in the Gulf of Mexico and impact one or more Gulf Coast States early next week. An August 27 FEMA news release summarized preparations already underway in the Gulf Coast states. It says, in part:
"The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is coordinating plans and preparatory activities of numerous federal agencies in close communication with state, tribal and local officials as Tropical Storm Gustav threatens to return to hurricane strength prior to impacting Gulf Coast states. All residents in the region are encouraged to make personal preparations. Information is available at www.Ready.gov on how families and individuals can best prepare before the storm.
"FEMA and its federal partners are in close communications with states along its potential path in order to review plans, pre-station assets and personnel, and respond to any request for assistance. FEMA's work with states using a Gap Analysis tool to determine in advance of storms where federal assistance is most likely to be needed has helped federal and state agencies to develop pre-scripted mission assignments and other contingency plans to help improve response and recovery efforts."
The news release also provides details on preparations now underway by several other agencies, including the American Red Cross and the Army Corps of Engineers.