Radio Amateurs in Mexico Prepare as Powerful Hurricane Patricia Nears Landfall
[UPDATED 2015-10-23 @ 1600 UTC] An emergency net has been established on 7060 kHz (LSB) from Manzanillo in the Mexican state of Colima, in anticipation of the powerful Hurricane Patricia, which is threatening Mexico’s Pacific Coast. According to Zian Aguirre, XE1ATZ, the emergency net will also be using 14,120 and 21,120 kHz, and he asked the Amateur Radio community to keep all three frequencies clear for emergency traffic. States of emergency are in effect for three Mexican states.
Omar Alvarez, XE1AO, a faculty member at the University of Colima, initially activated the net on 7060 kHz from the University, which has its own amateur station. He said other stations had checked in from the capital city of Colima.
“We don’t have any damage at the moment, just rain since yesterday evening,” Alvarez told ARRL. “We are expecting the first effects at 1500 local time. Now I am at home. In the last hour I have had nine stations report in on HF and three on VHF, but without any emergency reports.”
He further reported that major grocery outlets in Manzanillo were closing this morning, although they would remain open in Colima, where other economic activity has been shut down. After 1300 local time, the water supply in Manzanillo would shut down as well. “Most of the tourists were evacuated from all the coastal hotels,” he said.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami is calling the Category 5 storm “potentially catastrophic,” as it heads toward landfall in southwestern Mexico. As of 1500 UTC, the storm was located about 125 miles southwest of Manzanillo and 195 miles south of Cabo Corrientes, Mexico. Evacuation of some 60,000 residents in the storm’s path is under way.
The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 2 Area C Emergency Coordinator Arnie Coro, CO2KK, has alerted emergency coordinators within Amateur Radio range of Mexico that Hurricane Patricia is packing winds of up to 200 MPH. “Preparations to deal with the huge storm should be completed by now,” he said. “I expect Mexican radio amateurs to be operating in the area of 40 meters used for emergency traffic. Please be on the alert in the frequency range between 7050 and 7100 kHz for possible emergency related traffic from Mexico.”
The National Hurricane Center said in its 1500 UTC summary, “On the forecast track, the center of Patricia should cross the coast in the hurricane warning area late this afternoon or early this evening. After landfall, the center of Patricia is expected to move quickly north-northeastward across western and northern Mexico.”
Hurricane Patricia is the most powerful storm ever recorded by the National Hurricane Center. The storm is expected to generate torrential rains and flooding. The storm is moving to the north at about 10 MPH. The National Hurricane Center has reported that the minimum central barometric pressure is at an extraordinary 25.99 inches.