Hello to all..
On behalf of the VoIP Hurricane Net Management Team, we would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holidays to all. Thanks to all of you for your support of the VoIP Hurricane Net during 2017.
The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season was the most active year for the VoIP Hurricane Net since the mid-2000s. There were 4 formal activations of the VoIP Hurricane Net for the year. The formal VoIP Hurricane Net activations included Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Nate.
Hurricane Harvey tracked across Eastern Texas making landfall in Rockport Texas. Harvey produced major hurricane force conditions and several weather stations recorded measured wind gusts over 100 MPH. These winds caused significant, tree, wire and structural damage as well as a significant storm surge for the area around Rockport Texas and the immediate coastal areas. As Harvey weakened, his track slowed significantly and tapping into Gulf of Mexico moisture it caused tremendous rainfall amounts across portions of Texas including greater than 50″ of rain in the Houston Texas area and greater than 50″ of rain in the Beaumont, Graves and Port Arthur Texas. This led to catastrophic river, stream and urban flooding in these areas with tremendous damage. While Harvey was a tropical storm as this occurred, the VoIP Hurricane Net maintained a listening watch for several days handling a number of rain gauge, flooding and even a small number of rescues by informing the United States Coast Guard of the needs of a small number of residents. Harvey would be the start of a very active period of hurricanes in the Atlantic and Harvey was the first major hurricane to impact the US in 12 years.
Hurricane Irma formed during and shortly after Harvey’s impacts in Eastern Texas. Irma would cause massive destruction on the island of Barbuda where wind gusts as high as 155 MPH occurred there before the wind instrument malfunctioned. Many of the structures on Barbuda were destroyed by Irma. Some damage was also reported on the island of Antigua to trees and power lines and a few structures by Amateur Radio Operators but Antigua escaped the worst of Irma’s wrath. The islands of Anguilla and St Maarten/St Martin sustained very significant damage to trees, power lines and structures including storm damage to their airports. The Anguilla Department of Disaster Management weather station maintained by VP2EL-Larry had a sustained wind of 82 MPH with wind gusts to 117 MPH before that wind instrument failed. St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands had sustained winds of 82 MPH with gusts to 113 MPH before that instrument failed and had similar damage to Anguilla and St Maarten/St Martin. These areas would take weeks to months to recover from the damage brought by Irma. Irma would then go on to batter much of the state of Florida with widespread tree and power line damage and damage to structures from both the damaging winds and storm surge. Flooding from heavy rainfall was also an issue particularly in inland portions of Florida and where storm surge with the heavy rainfall caused further flooding issues. Close to 6 Million people were without power in Florida for numerous days and some would not get power back for over a week. The VoIP Hurricane Net was active through these various landfalls and got a number of reports from Amateur Radio Operators and SKYWARN Spotters in Florida and into Southern Georgia and included damage photos posted to the VoIP Hurricane Net Facebook page with credit given to those that shared storm damage photos.
Hurricane Maria formed shortly after Irma and would affect the Caribbean islands a bit south and west of the path of Maria. The island of Dominica would take a direct hit from Maria with significant damage to trees, power lines and structures from high winds, storm surge and heavy rainfall caused landslides in some of the villages on Dominica. Reports monitored by the Caribbean Emergency Weather Net were relayed by J69DS-Frans into the VoIP Hurricane Net along with reports monitored off of modern social media were collated and sent into WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center. Many Amateur Radio Operators on the island of Dominica suffered significant property losses yet continued to operate their Amateur Radio stations during and after the storm to support their communities and to relay information about the state of the island. The same would be said for the Amateurs in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands and other Amateur Radio stations affected by hurricanes this season. As Maria rolled into the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico significant infrastructure damage occurred in these areas causing significant communications and power issues. Wind gusts of over 100 MPH were recorded in Puerto Rico as Maria tore through the island. NP3OD-Francisco, long-time VoIP Hurricane Net participant, gave live updates and reported damage to his home and neighborhood. KB2WUS-Francisco provided many relayed damage reports and information from Puerto Rico as well providing high situational awareness. NP3OD-Francisco has managed to support efforts with his local Red Cross despite the damage at his location and is holding up well. He lost electrical power and had trouble at times finding gas for his generator but he maintained running water at his residence throughout the event. The infrastructure damage from Maria in Puerto Rico required the ARRL Force of Fifty mission supporting Red Cross.
A complete archive of the different Hurricane responses across the Amateur Radio community from Harvey, Irma and Maria can be found at the following links:
Hurricane Nate was the last formal VoIP Hurricane Net activation. Nate’s main impacts were across the Southern Mississippi and Southern Alabama gulf coast with storm surge flooding, heavy rainfall causing river and stream flooding and damaging wind gusts and tornadoes from the convective bands of the hurricane. Impacts across Southeast Louisiana were negligible as the main conditions were along and to the east of the center leaving Louisiana on the weaker end of the storm system. A number of reports were handled from US Gulf Coast region along with interaction with local/regional SKYWARN teams out of the Mobile Alabama NWS Forecast Office and the Crescent City Amateur Radio Group (CCARG) in New Orleans Lousiana. It was also the first time experimenting with the Zello application using Amateur Radio procedures working with the CCARG team and will be something that will be reviewed as a use case to cast a wider reach to gather information for both Amateur Radio and non-Amateur Radio people that could provide information during hurricanes.
A complete archive of reports compiled via the VoIP Hurricane Net can be seen in our report viewer in the following link:
As occurs yearly, we did support WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio Station at the National Hurricane Center with the WX4NHC Communications Test at the start of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. As our main client, we appreciate WX4NHC’s support of our net and thank WX4NHC Coordinators, Julio Ripoll-WD4R and John McHugh-K4AG for their support. They have been an incredible partner with the VoIP Hurricane Net dating back to the net’s inception in the 2003-2004 timeframe. We also had another successful SKYWARN Recognition Day event on the home of the VoIP Hurricane Net, Echolink conference: *WX-TALK* Node: 7203/IRLP 9219. Many NWS offices rotated on the system making contacts with Amateur Radio Operators and SKYWARN Spotters from around the country thanking them for their support as well as making contact with different NWS offices around the country.
As we move into next year, we will again have a presence at the 2018 National Hurricane Conference which will be in Orlando Florida. As we move into 2018, we will look at doing training presentations particularly on the non-hurricane season months in 2018 and continue the question of the week format for the weekly nets and possibly do a few training sessions during the weekly nets that we have during the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. We will also look at boosting more stations and contacts within the affected areas of hurricanes to provide critical surface reports to WX4NHC. We will also be factoring in many lessons learned from the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season for net activations in 2018 and this information will be factored into an updated NCO training for the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season. We will also be looking further at how stations outside of the affected area can assist with weather station, public safety and social media monitoring to provide more information for situational awareness and disaster intelligence during hurricane net activations and further investigate the experimentation with Zello utilized during Hurricane Net with CCARG. We would like to ask folks that might be interested to be a net control for the weekly/monthly VoIP Hurricane Prep Net and for net activations to please contact me directly as a reply to this email or at email@example.com
We look forward to working with everyone again in 2018. The next VoIP Hurricane Prep Net will be will be Saturday January 6th, 2018 at 8 PM ET/7 PM CT/6 PM MT/5 PM PT which also equates to 0100 UTC Sunday. The net will meet monthly through May and then become weekly during the Atlantic Hurricane Season. We again wish all of our reporting stations, net controls and supporting stations that listen to the VoIP Hurricane Net a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and a Happy Holiday season!
Director of Operations for the VoIP Hurricane Net