Amateur Radio Response Continues as Hurricane Matthew Moves Up East Coast
Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas are helping or gearing up to support communication during the response to Hurricane Matthew. Governors have declared states of emergency for some or all counties, and multiple shelters have opened in all four states. Florida avoided a direct hit, but, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports, the western eyewall of the dangerous category 3 storm is brushing portions of the state’s northeastern coast. A hurricane warning has been extended to Surf City, North Carolina. The Northern Florida ARES Net has been called up on 3950 or 7252 kHz, and the Statewide Amateur Radio Network (SARnet) also has been activated. Up to 500,000 Florida residents are without power, and many have evacuated to shelters. KX4EOC at the St Johns County, Florida, emergency operations center in St Augustine, is reported to be operating on auxiliary power.
As of 1500 UTC, Hurricane Matthew was about 35 miles east-northeast of Daytona Beach, Florida, and some 95 miles southeast of Jacksonville, Florida. The storm boasts maximum sustained winds of 120 MPH and is moving to the north-northwest at 12 MPH. Matthew is expected to diminish in strength as it moves up the East Coast.
The storm’s current projected path shows it looping around toward the east, opening up the possibility of a second strike on the Bahamas and Florida sometime next week, likely in a much-weakened state.
Hurricane Matthew had a devastating impact on Haiti, with more than 500 known fatalities reported so far. Many villages and towns were seriously damaged or destroyed.
The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) on 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz has been active continuously for the past 5 days gathering real-time ground-truth weather data and passing it along to the National Hurricane Center via the Center’s WX4NHC.
The Salvation Army Team Emergency Network (SATERN) remains active at a DELTA II (extended monitoring) status, which will include continuous monitoring of the net frequency of 14.265 MHz while propagation lasts. At this point the SATERN Net is looking for any emergency, priority, or health-and-welfare traffic from hurricane-affected areas. SATERN is only handling outbound messages from the affected area. It will not accept inbound traffic.
The VoIP Hurricane Net is supporting the NHC on the WX-Talk Conference, Node #7203 on Echolink and IRLP Reflector 9219. IRLP Reflector 9553 is the backup. (Due to the limited number of routes to the Echolink node for mobile devices, monitor WX-Talk on a desktop computer if possible.)
All radio amateurs are asked to avoid transmitting on or near any emergency net frequencies. In addition, stations should not check into any emergency or weather information net unless they have something to contribute
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced it may use several 60 meter frequencies for interoperability with other authorized stations, federal government stations, and Amateur Radio stations during the Hurricane Matthew response. It is requested that all stations stay clear of these frequencies unless they have emergency traffic relative to Hurricane Matthew. The Amateur Radio Service has secondary status on 60 meters.
The suppressed-carrier frequencies (dial frequencies) are 5330.5 kHz, 5346.5 kHz, 5357.0 kHz, 5371.5 kHz, and 5403.5 kHz (USB).
FEMA Region 4 in Atlanta (Southeastern US) will be using the Amateur Radio call sign KF4EMA to allow FEMA-licensed amateurs to provide situational awareness on various Amateur Radio nets within Region 4 relative to the Hurricane Matthew response.