WX4NHC, Hurricane Watch Net, VoIP Hurricane Net to Activate for Hurricane Bill
In preparation for Hurricane Bill, WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center, the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) and the VoIP Hurricane Net (VoIP Net) will activate on Sunday, August 23. Presently, Bill is a Category 1 hurricane with wind speeds up to 85 miles per hour. The storm is expected to weaken on Sunday as it moves to cooler waters. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a tropical storm warning for the coast of Massachusetts from Woods Hole to Sagamore Beach on Cape Cod, including the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. A tropical storm warning is in effect for Nova Scotia, from Charlesville on the southwestern tip, to Point Aconi, on the northeastern side. A hurricane watch remains in effect from Ecum Secum (on Nova Scotia's southern coast) to Point Aconi.
"We are asking all amateurs to be mindful that the Canadians will be monitoring 3.770 MHz during the storm," advised ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Response Manager Dennis Dura, K2DCD. "Please keep this frequency clear so as not to disrupt any possible emergency traffic. Coordination efforts began on Wednesday with Radio Amateurs Canada (RAC) Headquarters personnel. On Friday, specific actions with the RAC Maritimes Section Manager Jim Langille, VE1JBL, were made to support the intelligence needs of the NHC, which works in tandem with the Canadian Hurricane Center."
WXNHC Coordinator John McHugh, K4AG, and Assistant Coordinator Julio Ripoll, WD4R, announced that WX4NHC will activate its HF and EchoLink/IRLP station at 9 AM EDT (1300 UTC) on Sunday, August 23. "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," Ripoll announced. "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 or EchoLink/IRLP Net once per hour to receive the latest hurricane advisories and to report your local conditions."
HWN Manager Dave Lefavour W7GOX, told the ARRL that the HWN will activate on Sunday, August 23 at 0800 EDT (1200 UTC) on 14.325 MHz: "This is in response to a request from WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. We will be disseminating Hurricane Bill advisory data and forwarding real time reports from available Amateur Radio stations in the affected area to WX4NHC. Non-member HWN stations not in the area are requested not to transmit on the frequency unless the Net Control asks you, or you have an emergency."
The VoIP Hurricane Net plans on activating at 4 AM EDT (0800 UTC). The amateur station at the NWS office in Taunton, Massachusetts, WX1BOX, will be active, monitoring the situation during the late night and overnight hours.
Ripoll said that WX4NHC will be monitoring the HWN on 14.325 MHz. Secondary HF frequencies will be 7.268 MHz and 3.950 MHz, +/- QRM, should propagation be lost on 20 meters. The VoIP Hurricane Net's EchoLink "WX-Talk" Conference Room and IRLP node 9219 will also be monitored. WX4NHC will also monitor the Citizen Weather Observer Program CWOP, APRS and MADIS/MESONET automated weather stations in the affected area. Surface Reports using WX4NHC's Online Hurricane Report form will be monitored, as well.
Director of Operations for the VoIP Hurricane Net Rob Macedo, KD1CY, said his group will have the *NEW-ENG* Echolink Conference Node: 9123/IRLP Reflector 9123 system cross-linked to the *WX_TALK* Echolink Conference Node: 7203/IRLP 9219 system for the duration of the storm.
Ripoll reminded resident s in the affected areas to be always cognizant of their safety, and not to venture outside during the hurricane to gather weather data: "Your safety is the first priority. There are many constantly changing atmospheric variables that affect the storm's track and strength."
At 2100 UTC on Saturday, August 22, Environment Canada -- the Canadian equivalent to the NWS -- extended the tropical storm watch for Newfoundland from Arnold's Cove northward to Harbour Deep. A tropical storm watch remains in effect from north of Point Aconi westward to Tidnish and from Victoria in Queen County northward to Lower Darnley in Prince County on Prince Edward Island. The western portion of Nova Scotia from fort Lawrence to Charlesville is also under a tropical storm watch. On Newfoundland, a tropical storm watch is in effect from Parsons Pond around the southwestern portion of Newfoundland to Harbour Deep. A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 24 hours.
Macedo said that they will have a call-up Net for Canadian stations at 8 PM EDT (0000 UTC) on August 22, followed by VoIP Hurricane Prep Net informal operations coordinated with WX1BOX at the NWS's Taunton office to deal with Bill's expected impact on Southeastern New England. "We could use any relays and stations that can assist with reports from the Canadian Maritimes and Southeastern New England tonight into Sunday," he said. "Any Amateur Radio operators with contacts in the affected area or can monitor and relay traffic heard on 40 and 80 meters would be very helpful to our operations."
According to the NWS, on Saturday afternoon, the center of Hurricane Bill was located about 300 miles (480 km) south-southeast of Nantucket, about 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, and about 585 miles (940 km) south-southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Bill is moving toward the north at a speed near 24 MPH. This motion is expected to continue through Saturday night, with a gradual turn to the north-northeast on Sunday. The core of Hurricane Bill should pass offshore the coast of New England late Saturday and move over or near Nova Scotia on Sunday.