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Amateur Radio Preparations Ramp Up as Irma Strengthens to Category 5:

from The ARRL Letter on September 7, 2017
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Amateur Radio Preparations Ramp Up as Irma Strengthens to Category 5:

Hurricane Irma -- the most powerful hurricane in more than a decade to threaten the Atlantic coast -- has been making its way through the Caribbean with the likelihood of affecting Florida by late this weekend. Evacuations already were under way by midweek in several Florida counties. The National Hurricane Center (NHC http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/) has called Irma "an extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane." Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 50 miles from the storm's center.

The NHC has warned that the combination of a life-threatening storm surge and large, breaking waves will cause above-normal tides and flood normally dry areas near the coast. Rainfall of up to 15 inches or -- in isolated instances -- 20 inches has been predicted.

W1AW at ARRL HQ will be in monitoring mode through Saturday and will activate on Sunday. Ham Aid http://www.arrl.org/ham-aid equipment has been deployed to the West Central Florida Section, where ARES teams in at least three counties are ready to support shelter communication.

The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN https://www.hwn.org/) activated on September 5, and by mid-week was watching three hurricanes -- Category 5 Irma; Category 1 Josť, following behind Irma, and Category 1 Katia in the Gulf of Mexico.

"It now looks like the Hurricane Watch Net will be working on two land-falling hurricanes," said HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV. "Over the next few days, Irma will affect Hispaniola, Cuba, the Bahamas, and Florida."

"Josť could affect the northern Leeward Islands Saturday or Sunday as a Category 2 Hurricane. Katia is forecast to make landfall on the coast of Mexico as a Category 2 Hurricane late Friday evening or early Saturday morning.

The HWN's primary frequency is 14.325 MHz, and its nighttime frequency is 7.268 MHz, although the net could operate on both frequencies simultaneously. Graves said the net, which marks its 52nd anniversary this week, would remain in continuous operation until further notice.

http://hwn.org/data/nhcat1.html The VoIP Hurricane Net http://www.voipwx.net/ activated on September 5 -- as did WX4NHC at the NHC. Both the HWN and the VoIP Hurricane Network relay hurricane "ground-truth" information via WX4NHC to the NHC to assist forecasters. Any Amateur Radio operators in the affected area of Irma or with relays into the affected area of Irma are asked to provide surface and damage reports into the VoIP Hurricane Net for relay into WX4NHC.

SKYWARN Nets active as Irma moves through the Caribbean can pass reports to the VoIP Hurricane Net for relay into WX4NHC and are asked to designate a net liaison or connect directly to the *WX_TALK* EchoLink conference node: 7203/IRLP 9219. Stations on AllStar can connect to the EchoLink side of the system by dialing *033007203.

IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinator Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, compiled a list of emergency frequencies, subject to change, for use in the Caribbean in anticipation of Hurricane Irma. Radio amateurs not involved with the emergency should avoid these frequencies.

- Puerto Rico: 3.803, 3.808, 7.188 MHz. Radio amateurs in Puerto Rico also will cooperate with the HWN on 7.268 and 14.325 MHz.

- Cuba: Days, 7.110 MHz (primary) and 7.120 MHz (secondary); Provincial Net -- 7.045, 7.080 MHz, and on other lower frequencies as necessary. Nights, 3.740 MHz (primary) and 3.720 MHz (secondary), and on other lower frequencies as necessary.

- Dominican Republic: 3.873 MHz (primary), 3.815 MHz (secondary), 7.182 MHz (primary), 7.255 MHz (secondary); 14.330 MHz (primary), 21.360 MHz (primary), 28.330 MHz (primary).

- Caribbean Emergency and Weather Net (CEWN): 3.815 MHz and 7.162 MHz (when necessary). The net has activated continuously until the hurricane passes through.

The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN http://www.satern.org/) encouraged its operators to start monitoring the HWN. On Wednesday, September 6, the International SATERN SSB Net moved to a Delta II (extended monitoring) status from 1400 until 2300 UTC. SATERN National Liaison Bill Feist, WB8BZH, said that schedule could hold through the end of the week. Stations on the net will seek information on emergency, priority, or health-and-welfare traffic, situation and hurricane damage, and communication disruptions. SATERN will not accept health-and-welfare inquiries.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that several FEMA Regions would activate the 5 MHz/60-meter interoperability frequencies in support of a possible response to Hurricane Irma. Direct communication between federal and amateur stations is permitted. FEMA stations are:

- Region 1 -- KF1EMA

- Region 2 -- KF2EMA (includes Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands)

- Region 3 -- KF3EMA

- Region 4 -- KF4EMA

- Region 6 -- KF6EMA

- Maynard MERS -- NF1EMA

- Thomasville MERS -- NF4EMA

- Denton MERS -- NF6EMA

These suppressed-carrier reference frequencies -- also known as dial frequencies or window frequencies -- 5330.5 kHz (voice), 5346.5 kHz (data), 5357.0 kHz, 5371.5 kHz, and 5403.5 kHz, may be used as part of the event. The FEMA point of contact is Dave Adsit david.adsit@fema.dhs.gov, KG4BIR, FEMA Spectrum Manager, (540) 272-4605.

The FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) reminded licensees this week that FCC rules address operation during emergencies. "These rules allow licensees to provide emergency communications during a period of emergency in a manner or configuration not specified in the station authorization or in the rules governing such stations," the FCC said. The FCC contact for Part 97 (Amateur Service) rules is Mike Regiec Mike.Regiec@fcc.gov, (717) 338-2603. During non-business hours, contact the FCC Operations Center FCCOperationCenter@fcc.gov, (202) 418-1122.

Updates http://www.arrl.org/hurricane-irma-2017 on storm-related Amateur Radio activity are posted on the ARRL Hurricane Irma page.

Source:

The ARRL Letter

Member Comments:
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Amateur Radio Preparations Ramp Up as Irma Strengthens to Ca  
by W6EM on September 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"The FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) reminded licensees this week that FCC rules address operation during emergencies. "These rules allow licensees to provide emergency communications during a period of emergency in a manner or configuration not specified in the station authorization or in the rules governing such stations," the FCC said."

This is reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina in particular. An amateur whose 2M HT had been "modded" to allow transmissions outside of the 2M band was crucial in assisting the US Coast Guard in at least one helicopter rescue.

Sadly, most of us do not remove transmitter "blocks" so that in a true emergency, as Hurricane Irma may present, we won't be able to use our HTs or mobiles, as the New Orleans amateur did in a true, life or death situation.

Perhaps we all ought to rethink this, putting the responsibility where the regulations put it: on individual licensees. We are responsible for transmitting only on amateur bands within spectrum that our licenses permit, when all is normal. But, when all else fails, well, we could be where having the capability to intercommunicate with the Coast Guard or military helos might just make a difference between life and death. For ourselves, our loved ones, or our neighbors.

73.

Lee
W6EM

 
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