Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and weather-spotting volunteers remain ready if needed as Tropical storm Hermine continues to make its way up the US Eastern Seaboard. A category 1 hurricane when it came ashore along Florida’s northern Gulf Coast, Hermine was downgraded to a tropical storm at 0842 UTC. The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN), which activated to gather ground-level reports on the storm as it approached landfall, now has secured after 19 hours of continuous on-air coverage. The net now is at Alert Level 2 — monitoring mode.
“[M]embers of the Hurricane Watch Net, operating under tough band conditions on 20 and 40 meters — mainly caused by a geomagnetic storm — transmitted advisories on Hermine to the affected area and received numerous weather reports — observed and measured,” said HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV. “Those reports were then forwarded to the National Hurricane Center by way of WX4NHC.”
Farther up the coast, the ARRL New York City-Long Island Section has been alerted to a Tropical Storm Watch.” We are in a monitoring mode at this time,” said ARRL N-LI SEC Jim Mezey, W2KFV. “All Districts have been asked to check their equipment and their availability.” Connecticut ARES also has gone on a Level 1 alert. “There is a lot of uncertainty in the forecast as to the impacts this storm is likely to have on our area, but we should be prepared for whatever it brings,” Connecticut SEC Wayne Gronlund, N1CLV, said. “Please maintain good situational awareness as this storm moves up the coast by watching/listening to your preferred weather forecast sources.” Gronlund advised Connecticut ARES members to be ready to assist by ensuring that radio batteries are charged, vehicles and generators are fueled.
“Now is the time to make preparations to keep your family safe should you be asked to deploy,” he said. “Remember, you should not deploy without direction from the appropriate ARES or local official.”
According to FEMA at 12:30 UTC, mandatory evacuations were ordered in Florida for five Big Bend counties, and voluntary evacuations in three others. Upward of 300,000 customers were reported without power, and Amtrak suspended rail service on Thursday in the US Southeast.
As of 1800 UTC, Hermine was reported headed into the Low Country of South Carolina. The National Weather Service (NWS) said dangerous storm surges are possible for portions of the Mid-Atlantic coast. The storm was about 30 miles north-northwest of Savannah, Georgia, and 80 miles west-southwest of Charleston, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 50 MPH. The storm is moving to the northeast at 18 MPH. Tropical storm warnings and watches remain in effect for parts of the Eastern Seaboard. The NWS said interests along the US northeast coast should monitor the progress of the storm, which could generate significant rainfall and the potential for flooding.
Graves noted that the last major hurricane to strike the US was Hurricane Wilma in 2005. He thanked daily users of the net’s frequencies —14.325 and 7.268 MHz — for their cooperation in keeping a clear frequency.
“The Hurricane Watch Net will be prepared for the next hurricane to threaten land in the Atlantic Basin,” he added.