Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Preparing Ham Radio Response to Hurricane Florence

Amateur radio emergency communications groups throughout North and South Carolina and surrounding areas are gearing up for a possibly massive impact on communications infrastructure once Hurricane Florence makes landfall. Below are preparatory notices from two wide-area groups, the Hurricane Watch Net and SATERN, the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network. In addition, local ARES/RACES groups are planning for activations.

The following is from the Hurricane Watch Net as of Weds., Sept. 12:

Hurricane Florence is drawing a lot of concern- for its size and strength, but more so for the potential flooding as it makes land.  Over the week, the actual time of landfall has moved closer to the end of this week.  Here is our current plan of operation for the Hurricane Watch Net as of 9 AM EDT Wednesday morning.  

We will *not* have a formal net today (Wednesday) but we will have stations present on both our 20 meter frequency (14.325) and our 40 meter frequency (7.268). HWN will be present throughout the day and evening to talk with stations in the coastal states. We want to log their location, their weather instrumentation and other pertinent information so that when they are actively producing storm reports we already have them in the database. This is valuable because it will speed the reporting process Thursday and Friday as the storm does make land.

Formal Hurricane Watch Net operation will commence on both bands at 7:30AM EDT Thursday, September 13.  On 40 meters, we will check into the Waterways Net and they will turn the frequency to us when their net is completed.  We anticipate 24-hour operation as conditions permit thereafter. Our first priority is bringing weather observations to the National hurricane Center. The Hurricane Watch Net also is ready to assist with other emergency operations (EOCs, shelters, etc.) as needed.  

The following is from SATERN - the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network:

SATERN will activate for Hurricane Florence from 1200 (CT) through 1600 (CT) on Thursday, 13
September 2018 on 14.265 MHz with a backup frequency of 14.312 MHz. It will then be activated on
Friday and Saturday immediately after the morning training Net (about 1100 (CT) until propagation no longer supports it or the Net Manager closes it for the day.

Assessment of the need for continued activation beyond Saturday will be made by SATERN leadership based upon:
1. Reports of major damage, especially to the communications infrastructure
2. A continued significant amount of Emergency, Priority or Health & Welfare messages being handled
3. Reports of increased needs for auxiliary communications
4. A request from The Salvation Army or one of our partners to continue

The primary missions of the Net will be:
1. Receipt and delivery of Health & Welfare messages outbound from the impacted areas
2. Support of The Salvation Army if needed or requested
3. Support of our partners, including emergency communications partners, if needed or requested.

People interested in participating can check into the International SATERN SSB Net from 0900 to 1100 (CT) each day or contact the Net leadership team at <>.

This activation beginning on Thursday, 13 September is being initiated based on SATERN’s Hurricane Activation Protocols. The protocol is for one or more Nets within the SATERN Network to be activated in the event of a forecasted landfall by a major hurricane (category 3, 4 or 5) within the area covered by SATERN.

The Salvation Army is beginning to stage personnel and equipment in major deployments to North Carolina and Virginia. These assets are coming not only from the North-South Carolina (NSC) and National Capital-Virginia (NCV) Divisions but other Divisions within the Southern Territory (the 15 southeastern states). Depending upon the scope of the impact, it is possible that assistance may be requested from the other Territories in North America as well.
Remember - stay safe. Follow instructions of emergency management officials if you are in an area likely to be impacted by this major hurricane. You can't help if you become a storm victim as well. 

Keep an eye on the CQ Newsroom for additional updates and always listen before transmitting on any of the frequencies listed above.