WX4NHC Reports 2010 On-the-Air Station Test Results
As volunteers at the WX4NHC -- the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) In Miami, Florida -- prepare for one of the most active hurricane seasons predicted since 2005, WX4NHC Assistant Coordinator Julio Ripoll, WD4R, said he is counting on help from amateurs to relay hurricane advisories and weather data to those affected by the storms. “The surface reports that we receive from the affected areas help the NHC Hurricane Specialists fill in gaps in their meteorological data and help with their forecasts,” he said. “Relaying the hurricane advisories to those who have lost the conventional means of getting information can help save lives.”
On Saturday, May 29, WX4NHC conducted its annual on-the-air station test to promote awareness of the 2010 hurricane season, as well as to verify station equipment performance on the many frequencies and modes that are used to communicate with stations in the affected area during hurricanes. The station was on the air for 8 hours and made 142 contacts with stations in the US, as well as the Caribbean, Central and South America.
Ripoll said that most contacts made on HF were done using phone (single sideband) on the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) frequency of 14.325 MHz and on the Waterway Net’s frequencies of 7.268 and 21.325 MHz, as well as HF and VHF APRS, local Miami-Dade and Broward County VHF and UHF repeaters. WX4NHC also received numerous reports via their online hurricane reporting form and e-mail.
The VoIP Hurricane Net conducted a two hour simulated Hurricane Net on EchoLink (WX_TALK conference) and IRLP (node 9219) -- using the same methods of collecting and forwarding data to WX4NHC during hurricanes -- with great success. “We extend special thanks to Rob Macedo, KD1CY, and the VoIP Hurricane Net Controls for their dedication and continued support,” Ripoll said. “NHC Director Bill Read, KB5FYA, personally made most of the contacts on the EchoLink Net and was very happy to hear from many SKYWARN and National Weather Service volunteers. We also appreciate the help from our friends in the Caribbean in preparation of this year’s hurricane season, especially Angel Santana, WP3GW, who actually got an announcement of the WX4NHC exercise on Puerto Rico’s Univision’s TV channel 11.”
Ripoll told the ARRL that after Director Read had been at the mic for more than an hour making EchoLink Net contacts, he, Read, Miguel Parages, KG9C, and John McHugh, K4AG, took a break from the radios to discuss WX4NHC’s recent HH2/WX4NHC ham radio volunteer mission for the University of Miami/Medishare Field Hospital in Haiti and the roles that WX4NHC members played in this important humanitarian mission: “We had left our main HF radio playing softly in the background on 14.325 MHz and by coincidence during our discussion, we heard Jean-Robert, HH2JR, come on frequency. His ears must have been burning! This was a very pleasant surprise and we all took turns thanking Jean-Robert for the support he gave HH2/WX4NHC teams during their five week mission in Haiti and the support he gave us to obtain the necessary reciprocal license and operating permissions.”
During the station test, Ripoll said volunteers inspected the WX4NHC antenna farm and repaired one of the back-up antennas, an HF broadband folded dipole. “The years of South Florida Sun and humidity had taken its toll on the rope and center plastic mounting plate, but all other six HF, VHF and UHF antennas passed our tests and are ready for the 2010 hurricane season.”
Ripoll extended his thanks to all the Amateur Radio operators who participated in WX4NHC’s annual station test and said he looks forward to continued support during the hurricane season. WX4NHC, a team of volunteer Amateur Radio operators, are very proud to have maintained an active Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center for the past 30 years.
A WX4NHC QSL card is available to those who made a contact during the station test. To obtain yours, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Julio Ripoll, WD4R, 14855 SW 67 Ln, Miami, FL 33193-2027.