Florida Division of Emergency Management Seeking Qualified Amateur Radio Volunteers

Florida’s Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has notified the state’s Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) groups that it’s soliciting in-state Amateur Radio volunteers to assist with emergency communication in preparation for Hurricane Dorian. The storm is predicted to make landfall on the southeastern Florida coast on Monday. Volunteers must registerwith the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Interested volunteers must have completed IS-100, IS-200, IS-700, and IS-800 and have undergone a background check. There are no exceptions to these requirements. Radio amateurs should not self-deploy.

The ARRL Emergency Preparedness Department is sending two additional Ham Aid kits — one HF and one UHF-VHF — in response to a request from the West Central Florida Section ARES.

ARRL Headquarters remains in monitoring mode and has been in regular contact with ARRL’s partner agencies. The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) has been closely watching the progress of Hurricane Dorian.

Over the past 24 hours, the hurricane’s forecast track has shifted slightly, which will take the storm over the northern Bahamas before it strikes southeastern Florida.

As of 1500 UTC, Dorian was some 480 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas and about 660 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida. Maximum sustained winds were 110 MPH (making it a Category 2 hurricane) and moving to the northwest at 10 MPH.

“The new forecast track does not look good,” HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, observed. “The Bahamas are forecast for a direct hit late Sunday afternoon when Dorian is a Category 4 hurricane. Next stop is currently forecast to be near West Palm Beach as a strong Category 3 hurricane.” Graves said that after it makes landfall, Dorian is expected to turn to the northwest and move up Florida’s east coast.

“No matter the location of landfall, suffice it to say that unless something major changes, a huge area of Florida will be impacted by this storm,” Graves said.

The Hurricane Watch Net will activate on Saturday at 2100 UTC and remain in continuous operation on 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz.

According to the National Hurricane Center:

Life-threatening storm surge and devastating hurricane-force winds are likely in portions of the northwestern Bahamas, where a hurricane watch is in effect. Residents should execute their hurricane plans and heed advice from local emergency officials.
Life-threatening storm surge and devastating hurricane-force winds are likely along portions of the Florida east coast by early next week, but it is too soon to determine where the highest storm surge and winds will occur. Residents should have hurricane plans in place, know if they are in a hurricane evacuation zone, and listen to advice given by local emergency officials.
A prolonged period of storm surge, high winds, and rain is likely in portions of Florida into next week, including the possibility of hurricane-force winds over inland portions of the Florida peninsula.
Heavy rains are expected over portions of the Bahamas, Florida, and elsewhere in the southeastern United States this weekend and into the middle of next week.

Amateur Radio Resources Ready as Dorian Poised to Become a Major Hurricane

[UPDATED: 2019-08-29 @1945UTC] Amateur Radio resources organized this week as Hurricane Dorian threatened Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and worked its way through the Caribbean. A change in direction spared Puerto Rico — still recovering from hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 — from taking a direct hit; the Virgin Islands suffered downed trees and widespread power outages. As of August 29, Dorian was a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds near 85 MPH with higher gusts. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Dorian was expected to become a major hurricane on Friday and remain an extremely dangerous hurricane through the weekend, reaching Category 3 or 4 by September 1. Heavy rainfall generated by Dorian could cause flash flooding, the NHC said.

“The risk of devastating hurricane-force winds along the Florida east coast and peninsula late this weekend and early next week continues to increase,” the NHC said on August 29.

“We are standing by in a ready-to-respond state, once a more definitive track is known,” Southern Florida Section Manager Barry Porter, KB1PA, told ARRL Headquarters on August 29. “We will be holding a tri-Section conference call tonight to firm up any plans.” Porter said Florida Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and Red Cross were in preparation mode.

On Wednesday, the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN), activated for about 9 hours on 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz, working in conjunction with WX4NHC at the NHC in Miami to provide “ground truth” weather data to forecasters. The VoIP Hurricane Net also activated.

The HWN has continued to closely monitor Dorian’s progress. HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said the HWN tentatively plans reactivate on August 30 at 2100 UTC.

The ARRL Headquarters Emergency Response Team is also monitoring the situation closely. ARRL officials are in regular communication with partner agencies, particularly FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, ARRL HQ remains in close contact with Field Organization officials in the affected region, where some ARRL Ham Aid equipment was previously positioned.

W1AW, which had already planned to be in operation for the Hiram Percy Maxim 150th Birthday special event this weekend, will remain ready to assist with emergency communications.