The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) activated on Thanksgiving Day for Hurricane Otto. The Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 110 MPH made landfall on the southern Nicaraguan coast on November 24 and passed over Central America with no reported fatalities but generating flooding. The net stood down at 2200 UTC. Otto was the strongest Atlantic hurricane on record this late in the year.
“All members of HWN gave their best effort to obtain weather data from the affected areas of Nicaragua and Costa Rica,” said net Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV. He said that, with poor propagation on both 20 and 40 meters, the only station in the affected region the HWN was able to contact was in Costa Rica.
Graves said that during the off-season, he would reach out to all hurricane-prone countries in the Atlantic Basin, to encourage their radio amateurs to participate in the net during hurricane emergencies. The HWN meets on 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz, depending upon conditions. Graves thanked the amateur community for cooperating in keeping those frequencies open.
“Your help in keeping the frequency clear allows us to hear those affected by hurricanes,” he said. “For instance, when commercial power goes out, some reporting stations have to revert to battery backup and perhaps operate at QRP power, as was the case [on November 24].” Graves expressed hopes that Otto would be the last storm of the 2016 hurricane season, which ends on November 30.