Thursday, September 17, 2020

Hurricane Watch Net Secures (for Now)

 The Hurricane Watch Net has secured operations for Hurricanes Paulette and Sally. The net frequencies of 14.325 and 7.268 MHz are now available for normal amateur use. 

The following update is from Hurricane Watch Net Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV:

(Update: Thursday, September 16, 2020 @ 10:30 AM EDT – 1430 UTC)

The Hurricane Watch Net has completed another mini-marathon session…71 continuous hours. Seems like these long activations are coming around all too often. I suppose Mother Nature hasn’t been getting the attention she desires.

During this activation, we worked 2 hurricanes – Paulette and Sally. Sally was an unusual storm. Unusual in the sense that it all but stalled and meandered 100 miles offshore for a while before finally moving towards the shore. This makes planning for an activation a nightmare. One never knows when a storm will stall, slow, or speed up.

We activated Sunday at 5:00 PM EDT (2100 UTC) using both 14.325.00 MHz and 7.268.00 MHz. During the opening hours, we lined up reporting stations on the island and made sure we had good propagation to Bermuda as Hurricane Paulette was heading their direction.

Hurricane Paulette made landfall Monday morning, September 14th on the island of Bermuda around 5:00 AM AST (0900 UTC) as a Cat 1 Hurricane with sustained winds of 90 mph. We received numerous reports of widespread power and internet outages along with minor damage.

Once we completed operations for Hurricane Paulette, we quickly shifted our focus to what was soon to be Hurricane Sally. And within an hour of shifting our focus Sally was upgraded to a Cat 1 Hurricane with sustained winds of 90 mph.6

Sally was a forecasting nightmare with regards as to where it was headed. On Sunday, the forecast called for Tuesday landfall southeast of New Orleans. Then the track would shift to Bay Saint Louis on Tuesday evening. As time went on, the track kept shifting more to the east. Of course, Sally finally made landfall at Gulf Shores, AL Wednesday morning around 4:45 AM CDT (0945 UTC) as a strong Cat 2 Hurricane with sustained winds of 105 mph.

After landfall and Sally was downgraded to a Tropical Storm, we began calling for stations with reports of damage, storm surge, and flooding. The Net officially secured operations for Sally at 3:00 PM CDT (2000 UTC).

We are now keeping a close eye on Hurricane Teddy. Bermuda could be affected by another Hurricane by late Sunday night or early Monday morning. Also, we are keeping a close eye on a system that seems to be getting better organized in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico.

As a side note, the next storm to be named will be Wilfred. After that, we start using the Greek Alphabet in which the first name will be Alpha. If we reach Alpha, it will be the 2nd time in history to use that name…the first was in 2005.

As always, our most sincere thanks to all who normally use 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz for their daily Nets and rag-chews. Having a clear frequency helps us with our mission and I know those in the Affected Area greatly appreciate it as well!

And lastly, please keep all who have been affected in your prayers.

Bobby Graves - KB5HAV

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Northern Florida ARES Requests Clear Frequencies for HF Nets for Sally

The following is from ARRL:

Northern Florida Section Emergency Coordinator Karl Martin, K4HBN, is requesting that stations not directly involved in the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) response to Hurricane Sally please avoid 3.950 MHz (primary) and 7.242 MHz (backup).

ARES has activated in four Northern Florida counties. Shelters are open, and power and  telecommunications outages are widespread, Martin reports.

5-MHz Interoperability Channels Designated for Wildfires and Hurricane Sally Response

The following is from the ARRL:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced that two 60-meter channels have been made available, as necessary, for interoperability between US Government stations and US amateur radio stations involved in emergency communications related to the wildland firefighting response in California, Oregon, and Washington, and to Hurricane Sally. These interoperability channels will remain active until the need for these channels no longer exists:

*  Channel 1 - primary voice traffic 5332 kHz channel center, 5330.5 kHz USB voice.

*  Channel 2 - digital traffic 5348 kHz channel center, 5346.5 kHz USB with 1.5-kHz offset to center of digital waveform.

Frequencies may be modified or added to by FEMA Region 10 for their area or operations due to existing 5-MHz/60-meter interoperability plans for their region.

Amateur radio is secondary on the 5-MHz band and should yield to operational traffic related to wildland firefighting and hurricane response. Although the intended use for these channels is interoperability between federal government stations and licensed US amateur radio stations, federal government stations are primary users and amateurs are secondary users.

The Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS - ) is following FEMA's lead on the interoperability channel designations for the wildfire and hurricane response. Army MARS Program Manager Paul English, WD8DBY, says he has alerted all MARS members of the FEMA channel designations and MARS members are prepared to support response efforts as needed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Hurricane Watch Net Activated for Sally

The Hurricane Watch Net ( has been activated for Hurricane Sally as the storm - packing potentially historic flooding - approaches the coastlines of Mississippi and Alabama. It is also continuing to collect damage reports from Bermuda, which was just hit by Hurricane Paulette.

The net is active on 14.325.00 MHz & 7.268.00 MHz. All amateurs without hurricane-related traffic are asked to keep these frequencies clear.

FCC to Hams: That'll be $50, Please

The FCC is proposing a $50 fee for all amateur radio license applications, 
modifications and upgrades, under terms of a law passed by Congress in 2018. It would not include administrative updates such as address changes, but according to the ARRL Letter, the proposed fee would also apply to requests for printed licenses. Over a 10-year license term, the fee would be the equivalent of $5 per year. Hams have had to pay fees as high as $70 in the past for vanity licenses, but licenses with sequentially-issued call signs were exempted. The FCC eliminated all fees for amateur licenses several years ago. The fee proposal is contained in a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in MD Docket 20-270. The full NPRM is at <>. Comments were being accepted for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Leadership Changes at ARRL

The ARRL has a new CEO and a new editor of QST magazine. David Minster, NA2AA, of Wayne, New Jersey, began his new role as ARRL Chief Executive Officer on September 28. According to the ARRL Letter, he had previously been Managing Partner at a management consulting company and Chief Information Officer at Unilever, a multinational conglomerate, among other top management positions. Licensed since 1977, Minster holds an Extra Class license and is involved in a wide variety of amateur radio activities, from contesting to traffic-handling.
Steve Ford, WB8IMY, the longtime editor of QST and ARRL Publications Manager, announced his retirement in the September issue of QST. He is being succeeded by longtime Managing Editor Becky Schoenfeld, W1BXY, who took the reins as QST Editorial Director as of the October issue.

The League also announced that Paul Gilbert, KE5ZW, of Cedar Park, Texas has joined the staff as ARRL's first Director of Emergency Management. Gilbert is currently ARRL South Texas Section Manager and was most recently Radio Officer for the Texas State Guard headquarters staff. The Texas State Guard is part of the state's military department, along with the Army and Air National Guard branches.

Solar Minimum "Probably" Occurred Last December

The Royal Observatory of Belgium reports that the solar minimum marking the end
of Cycle 24 and the beginning of Cycle 25 "most probably" occurred in December 2019. The ARRL Letter reports that the observatory's Sunspot Index and Long-Term Solar Observations branch, or SILSO, based its call on this past January's increase in the 13-month smoothed sunspot number, the first time that number has increased since the last solar maximum in April 2014. SILSO also reported that since last November, more new-cycle sunspots have been observed than old-cycle spots. They are differentiated by their location on the sun's surface and their magnetic polarity.