VoIP Hurricane Net Provides Support During Hurricane Isaac
The VoIP Hurricane Net running on the *WX_TALK* EchoLink conference node 7203/IRLP 9219 was active over a two day period from Tuesday, August 28, through Wednesday, August 29, as Hurricane Isaac pounded the US Northern Gulf Coast with high winds, extremely heavy rainfall, significant storm surge and river and stream flooding. The VoIP Hurricane Net operated for more than 25 hours continuously during the US coast landfall.
Rob Macedo, KD1CY, Director of Operations for the VoIP Hurricane Net, was thankful for the overwhelming support received. “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Crescent City Amateur Radio Group - CCARG and the N5OZG repeater system,” he said. “They provided a significant number of reports from Southeast Louisiana and the New Orleans area. The EchoLink node on their repeater system, maintained by Joe Glorioso, N5OZG and other CCARG amateurs, remained active throughout the duration of the event.”
“We’d also like to thank all net controls and other stations who also supported the VoIP Hurricane Net,” Macedo added, “Including those with listen-only nodes that allowed many more people to monitor our activities without impacting operations. Their cooperation is appreciated.”
Hams throughout the area contributed to the effort. John McHugh, K4AG, the WX4NHC Coordinator, noted that “A report from Doug Arnold, KE7DCZ, of a measured wind gust of 80 MPH in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana was utilized in one of the National Hurricane Center advisory estimate updates during the overnight hours.”
Amateurs such as Gary Shuford, KM5ME, a private meteorologist and weather observer for the National Weather Service, did everything possible to remain on the air and render their services. After losing commercial electric power, Gary switched to a portable generator and continued to submit reports to the net. He reported a wind gust of 107 MPH in Gretna, Louisiana around 4 AM CDT on Wednesday, August 29, with more than eight inches of rain recorded.
Among a number of repeater systems active in the area, the W5YL system maintained its connection to the VoIP Hurricane Net, acting as a conduit for additional weather data and damage reports from the affected areas. The W5YL system covers Terrebonne, Lafourche, Assumption and St Mary parishes.
Julio Ripoll, WD4R, Assistant WX4NHC Coordinator, thanked the VoIP Hurricane Net for their efforts. “All reports are being printed and submitted to the hurricane specialists,” Ripoll said. A complete list of the reports received during Hurricane Isaac can be seen in the VoIP Hurricane Net Report Viewer.
ARRL Headquarters Activities
Long before Isaac made landfall ARRL Emergency Preparedness staff in Newington, Connecticut were monitoring the progress of the storm and staying in touch with amateurs in the Caribbean. As Isaac moved closer to landfall, contact was made with section staff in the path of the storm.
Beginning on Friday, August 24, daily updates were sent to section staff and conference calls were held with national-level served agencies and partners. "Regular contact with section staff, WX4NHC, VOIP WX net, Hurricane Watch Net, and our served agencies helps us develop situational awareness and respond accordingly," said Mike Corey, KI1U, ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager.
As Isaac impacted Louisiana and Mississippi, a need for qualified net control stations in the Delta Division was identified. By reaching out through the website, e-mail and social media, volunteer net-control stations were quickly identified and put in touch with the net manager. "It was good to see contesters also step forward and volunteer," reports Corey. "Their sharply honed operating skills were put to good use.”