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ARES Activates as Florida Girds for Hurricane Matthew


[UPDATED 2016-10-06 @ 2025 UTC] The entire State of Florida now is under an Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) Level 1 — or full — activation as Hurricane Matthew heads for landfall in the US. The deadly storm already has caused 16 deaths, most of them in Haiti, as it moved northward through the Caribbean. Northern Florida Section Emergency Coordinator Strait Hollis, KT4YA, will oversee the ARES activation for the entire state. The Northern Florida ARES Net, under HF Net Manager Don Duckett, N9MN, has been called up on 3950 or 7252 kHz — depending upon propagation — starting at 1300 UTC and will remain operational for the duration of the threat.

“This net is for life safety communications,” ARRL Northern Florida Section Manager Steve Szabo, WB4OMM, stressed. “This net is not for collecting weather data, idle conversations, or ‘chit chat.’” Szabo called on operators outside of the Northern Florida or Southern Florida sections having “good solid access to HF” to contact Duckett with their availability to serve as net control stations and to check into the net.

The Statewide Amateur Radio Network (SARnet) also has been activated for statewide use for life safety communications, starting at 1300 UTC and continuing until terminated. SARnet is a network of linked UHF repeaters serving Florida. Szabo asked operators in the Florida Panhandle or in the West Central Florida Section with solid access to SARnet to contact Assistant Section Manager Dave Dave Davis, WA4WES, with their availability to serve as net control operators.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit the website or read the American Red Cross “Hurricane Safety Checklist.”

Hurricane Matthew relentlessly pounding the Bahamas...potentially disastrous impacts for Florida,” is how the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami characterized the storm, which, at 1800 UTC, was about 65 miles south-southeast of Nassau, the Bahamas, and 125 miles east-southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida. Matthew has maximum sustained winds of 140 MPH and is moving northwest at 14 MPH.

The NHC has predicted that Hurricane Matthew is expected to first reach hurricane warning areas in Florida by late today and will spread northward within the warning area through Friday.  Tropical storm conditions are first expected in Florida within the next several hours. Hurricane conditions are possible in the hurricane watch area in northeast Georgia and South Carolina by early Saturday, with tropical storm conditions possible on Friday night.

More than 3000 Florida residents already have evacuated to shelters. “We are already getting requests for operators for shelters with few takers in both the NFL and SFL sections,” Szabo said in a section-wide alert. “Please prep your ‘go kits’ and stand by for requests through ARES leadership,” he said. “Do not self-deploy.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced it may use several 60 meter frequencies for interoperability with other authorized stations, federal government stations, and Amateur Radio stations during the Hurricane Matthew response. It is requested that all stations stay clear of these frequencies unless they have emergency traffic relative to Hurricane Matthew. The Amateur Radio Service has secondary status on 60 meters.

The suppressed-carrier frequencies (dial frequencies) are 5330.5 kHz, 5346.5 kHz, 5357.0 kHz, 5371.5 kHz, and 5403.5 kHz (USB).


FEMA Region 4 in Atlanta (Southeastern US) will be using the Amateur Radio call sign KF4EMA to allow FEMA-licensed amateurs to provide situational awareness on various Amateur Radio nets within Region 4 relative to the Hurricane Matthew response.



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