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Hurricane Redux: Amateur Radio Community Goes on Alert for Maria


Caribbean Island residents and the Amateur Radio community have hardly had a chance to catch a breath from Hurricane Irma as recovery operations continue, but now Hurricane Maria is knocking on the door. The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) activated today on 14.325 MHz, with plans to maintain operations on that frequency during the day and on 7.268 MHz after dark.

“As propagation dictates, we may operate using both frequencies at the same time,” HWN Secretary Stan Broadway, N8BHL, said in making the announcement.

The VoIP Hurricane Net will activate today at 1500 UTC until further notice, to track Hurricane Maria and its potential impact to the Leeward Islands. WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio Station at the National Hurricane Center, will activate at 2100 UTC. 

Maxim Memorial Station W1AW at ARRL Headquarters is monitoring the HWN, 60-meter interoperability channel 2, and Winlink for any traffic.

As of 1200 UTC, Hurricane Maria was about 85 miles east of Martinique and some 120 miles east-southeast of Dominica, with maximum sustain winds of 110 MPH. It’s moving west-northwest at 12 MPH. “Hurricane conditions are first expected within portions of the Leeward Islands by late today, with tropical storm conditions beginning during the next several hours,” the National Hurricane Center said. Heavy rainfall and storm surges are likely.

A Category 2 storm, Hurricane Maria is expected to affect the Leeward Islands this afternoon and this evening, tracking toward the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico later on Tuesday and Wednesday, with possible tropical storm conditions on some of the northern Leeward Islands during the day on Tuesday.

The International Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) SSB net will go to Delta II (extended monitoring) status on Tuesday at 1400 UTC on 14.265 MHz to support Caribbean residents as Hurricane Maria passes through. The net will remain in session until 2300 UTC. National SATERN Liaison Bill Feist, WB8BZH, said a decision will be made later in the week as to whether the Net will continue to be activated at a Delta II status.

“Hurricane Maria is a significant threat to many islands in the Caribbean that were devastated by Hurricane Irma just last week,” Feist said in announcing the SATERN plans.

At this point, it’s not clear that Hurricane Maria will be a threat to the US, although some computer models indicate that this is likely.

Hurricane Jose, now in the Atlantic Ocean, does not appear set for landfall along the East Coast, but its effects are anticipated in the form of tropical-force winds and heavy surf along the shore, especially the New England coastline.

Feist encouraged SATERN members to keep an ear on the Hurricane Watch Net.

Meanwhile, members of Argentina’s Yaguarete DX Group, who were expected to be active as PJ7T from Sint Maarten October 24 through November 4, have cancelled their plans due to the damage done by Hurricane Irma.

“Hurricane Irma destroyed 95% of infrastructure on the island, and it will be impossible to arrive and live there for a long time,” the group said in its announcement. It has changed the destination for its fall DXpedition to San Andres Island and is in the process of working out the formalities.




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