Hurricane Watch Net Sets New Activation Record during Dorian

Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) volunteers set a new record for total hours activated during a single storm. The net was active for 157 hours — 139 hours of which were continuous. HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said the continuous activation record stands at 151 hours for Hurricane Matthew in 2018.

“During this marathon activation, members of the Hurricane Watch Net collected and forwarded countless surface reports to the National Hurricane Center in Miami,” Graves noted.

After devastating Abaco and Grand Bahama islands with winds clocked at 200 MPH or more, Dorian made its way slowly toward Florida, before sliding up the southeastern US coast and making a second landfall on Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. It wasn’t over, however. Dorian veered out into the Atlantic, affecting New England before hitting Maritime Canada, where it knocked out power and downed trees.

During its lengthy initial activation, the HWN attempted on numerous occasions to raise stations in the Bahamas but was unable to contact anyone in the most-affected area.

The HWN activated for the last time during Hurricane Dorian last Saturday, as the storm was, by then, speeding up the east coast of the US as a Category 1 storm. Poor propagation plagued net operations throughout the activation, even right up to the end. At one point, propagation was lost between net members and Nova Scotia on 40 meters, although the net continued for a while longer on 20 meters.

Early on, Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) volunteers went on alert along the US east coast, preparing for the worst. The major problem was storm surge-related flooding. Evacuations were ordered ahead of the storm.

The ARRL Headquarters Emergency Response Team convened early on to monitor the situation closely. ARRL officials were in regular communication with partner agencies, particularly FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. W1AW, which had already planned to be in operation for the Hiram Percy Maxim 150th birthday special event, remained ready to assist with emergency communications.

The VoIP Hurricane Net activated over the weekend in conjunction with WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center to keep on top of ground-truth weather information.

 

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