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Tropical Storm Hermine Gains Attention on the Eastern Seaboard, Hurricane Watch Net Secures


[UPDATED: 2016-09-03 @ 16:41 UTC] Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and weather-spotting volunteers remain ready if needed, as Tropical storm Hermine continues to make its way up the US Eastern Seaboard. Some strengthening is forecast after the center moves offshore, and Hermine could be at near-hurricane intensity by September 4. A category 1 hurricane when it came ashore along Florida’s northern Gulf Coast, Hermine was downgraded to a tropical storm at 0842 UTC. The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN), which activated to gather ground-level reports on the storm as it approached landfall, now has secured after 19 hours of continuous on-air coverage. The net now is at Alert Level 2 — monitoring mode.

“[M]embers of the Hurricane Watch Net, operating under tough band conditions on 20 and 40 meters — mainly caused by a geomagnetic storm — transmitted advisories on Hermine to the affected area and received numerous weather reports — observed and measured,” said HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV. “Those reports were then forwarded to the National Hurricane Center by way of WX4NHC.”

Farther up the coast, the ARRL New York City-Long Island Section has been alerted to a Tropical Storm Watch.” We are in a monitoring mode at this time,” ARRL N-LI SEC Jim Mezey, W2KFV, said on Friday. “All Districts have been asked to check their equipment and their availability.”

Connecticut ARES also has gone on a Level 1 alert. “There is a lot of uncertainty in the forecast as to the impacts this storm is likely to have on our area, but we should be prepared for whatever it brings,” Connecticut SEC Wayne Gronlund, N1CLV, said. “Please maintain good situational awareness as this storm moves up the coast by watching/listening to your preferred weather forecast sources.” Gronlund advised Connecticut ARES members to be ready to assist by ensuring that radio batteries are charged, vehicles and generators are fueled.

“Now is the time to make preparations to keep your family safe should you be asked to deploy,” he said. “Remember, you should not deploy without direction from the appropriate ARES or local official.”

According to FEMA at 12:30 UTC, mandatory evacuations were ordered in Florida for five Big Bend counties, and voluntary evacuations in three others. Upward of 300,000 customers were reported without power, and Amtrak suspended rail service on Thursday in the US Southeast.

As of 1500 UTC on September 3, Hermine was about 35 miles east-southeast of Duck, North Carolina, and some 80 miles southeast of Norfolk, Virginia, with maximum sustained winds of 65 MPH. The storm is moving to the east-northeast at 15 MPH.

Tropical storm-force winds extend outward for up to 185 miles, and tropical storm warnings and watches are in effect along the East Coast. The storm resulted in evacuations and flood damage, and a dozen or so structures were damaged due to possible tornado activity. There have been reports of downed trees and power lines throughout the affect areas. The NWS said interests along the US northeast coast should monitor the progress of the storm, which could generate significant rainfall and the potential for flooding.

Graves noted that the last major hurricane to strike the US was Hurricane Wilma in 2005. He thanked daily users of the net’s frequencies —14.325 and 7.268 MHz — for their cooperation in keeping a clear frequency.

“The Hurricane Watch Net will be prepared for the next hurricane to threaten land in the Atlantic Basin,” he added.



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