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Amateur Radio Assets Active as Category 4 Hurricane Michael Makes Landfall:

from The ARRL Letter on October 11, 2018
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Amateur Radio Assets Active as Category 4 Hurricane Michael Makes Landfall:

An array of Amateur Radio public service assets was active as Hurricane Michael -- now a tropical storm -- made landfall near Mexico Beach on the Florida Panhandle on October 10, with devastating 155 MPH winds. The storm is believed to be the first Category 4 or stronger hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle, and the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned of life-threatening storm surge as well as hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall.

The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN http://www.hwn.org/) activated on October 10 and closed operations the following day.

WX4NHC http://w4ehw.fiu.edu/, the Amateur Radio at the National Hurricane Center, was active to receive observed weather information and data via Amateur Radio to aid forecasters.

The VoIP Hurricane Net http://voipwx.net/ activated on October 10 to support communication with the National Hurricane Center.

The Southern Territory Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN http://www.satern.org/) stood down on October 11. SATERN was requested to provide Amateur Radio operators for Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee, and Tampa, as well as some local units in Georgia, and at Divisional Headquarters in Atlanta.

The ARRL North Florida and West Central Florida sections assisted SATERN with additional operators in Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee, and Tampa. North Florida Section ARES was at Level 1 (full) activation.

Miller Norton, W4EMN, the Communications Watch Officer at the Duval County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Jacksonville, Florida, was monitoring SARnet https://www.sarnetfl.com/ -- a UHF-linked repeater network in Florida -- when he heard an urgent call for help that needed to be sent to the State EOC in Tallahassee. All other forms of communication were out, and Norton was able to relay the message to via Amateur Radio. He also passed along messages and requests from the Jackson County EOC to the American Red Cross. Norton said officials in Tallahassee and Jackson County were both incredibly grateful for the way the SARnet system functioned during the weather emergency.

Jackson County Emergency Coordinator Ricky Whittington, KD4AST, is deployed to the county EOC in Marianna.

"We took a direct hit by the center of the storm at 140 MPH," he told Clay County ARES Assistant Emergency Coordinator and Public Information Officer Scott Roberts, KK4ECR. "[The] county maintenance building across the road from the EOC was picked up and slammed into the north side and over the roof of the EOC just prior to the eye passing over."

The incident took out the HF antenna, which has since been restored. Whittington said the internet failed, as did cell service for a while. Hams have been passing material and resource orders to the State EOC via HF and SARnet. Whitting reported "total devastation of Bay, Jackson, and Gulf counties," with loss of electrical power and water service, in addition to damage in Franklin, Holmes, and Leon counties. "[The] only mode of communications after the eye came across was ham radio, until we got minimal cell service a few hours ago," he reported.

The ARRL Emergency Response Team has been coordinating with Field Organization leadership in ARRL Sections affected by the storm, as well as with WX4NHC, the HWN, VoIP Hurricane Net, Department of Homeland Security SHARES, and US Army MARS.

Source:

The ARRL Letter

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