As Hurricane Irma moves closer to the Florida Peninsula, ARRL West Central Florida Section Manager Darrell Davis, KT4WX, reports that Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) teams have been requested to provide communication support at evacuation shelters in Highlands, Hillsborough, and Polk counties.
“Other counties in the West Central Florida Section are considering shelter operations,” Davis said. “Therefore, in support of these activations or planned activations, West Central Florida Section ARES is going to a Level 2 activation to provide any needed support for these activations, either current or planned.”
As of 1500 UTC, Hurricane Irma was about 75 miles east-northeast of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, and about 120 miles southeast of Grand Turk Island. Maximum sustained winds have abated somewhat to 175 MPH. The storms present movement is west-northwest at 16 MPH.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC), has issued a hurricane watch for the Florida peninsula from Jupiter Inlet southward and around the peninsula to Bonita Beach, including the Florida Keys, Lake Okeechobee, and Florida Bay. A storm surge watch has been issued for the Florida peninsula from Jupiter Inlet southward and around the peninsula to Bonita Beach, including the Florida Keys.
A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds — conditions that make outdoor preparations difficult or dangerous.
Davis called on all ARES, ACS, and CERT personnel to continue closely monitoring National Hurricane Center advisories on Hurricane Irma and to be in communication with their respective leadership, in case their assistance with communication support is needed.
Davis said a special session of the ARRL West Central Florida Section ARES Net was being planned.