Hurricane Watch Net Enters 47th Season
Amateur Radio’s Hurricane Watch Net is geared up and ready for its 47th year of activity. Formed in 1965 by Jerry Murphy, (Amateur radio call sign K8YUW), during Hurricane Betsy, the Hurricane Watch Net was an informal group of radio amateurs who recognized a need to provide communications to and from hurricane affected areas. Over the years the net has relayed reports in to the National Hurricane Center and just as importantly out to the many Amateur Radio stations located in the path of hurricanes.
While the net continues to use original HF radio frequencies, typically 14.325 MHz, the inner workings have grown with today’s technologies. To the casual listener the net is anchored by a single net control station, but there might be as many as a dozen net control stations located all over the United States and in the islands all connected to an Internet channel while this is going on. This instant “back-channel” communication helps accommodate the shifting radio coverage on the HF bands. It also helps coordinate operation on multiple HF frequencies. When a maritime Amateur Radio operator or one on an island reports weather conditions in a storm all of those net control stations are listening. At times, the acting control operator will lose propagation and another will pick the report up. The control stations will then coordinate a ‘shift’ with the better positioned station picking up the net. All together there are 37 control operators, spread from Florida to Arizona to Canada all with the idea of adequate communication into the storm affected area.
The back channel communication also serves as a conversational link to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, FL where hurricane experts can request information and reports from our net stations, and confirm the data we supply.
Many of the tools we use to conduct the net are available to all through the official Hurricane Watch net website, http://www.hwn.org. These tools include color graphics of a storm’s position and forecast direction, conversion tools to handle different measuring standards, and the latest detailed reports and forecasts from the NHC. The HWN is also working to keep a database of our frequent contributors so that we don’t need to repeatedly ask your location and details, but get right to your reporting.
This technology of Internet-relayed satellite pictures, radar positions and statements may raise the question of why maintain contact on “old fashioned” HF radio. The storms of last year again proved to answer that- by taking out power, blocking satellite signals and otherwise interrupting technology. As we’ve come to expect, it left the Ham Radio Operator who has the ability to put a signal out with trained, detailed observations to keep the rest of the world appraised.
The primary reason for our overwhelming success over the 46 years of our existence is hundreds of fellow amateur radio operators in the affected area who monitor the storm's progress and voluntarily bring to us that data which is so vitally important. You need not be a member to enable those vital reports to us. Additionally, we often find ourselves needing relay assistance to capture essential information. We always appreciate your cooperation by allowing a clear frequency so that we can hear weak and impaired signals which might be coming from an affected area. For more information on how you can participate in the Hurricane Watch Net, visit http://www.hwn.org.
Congrats on many years of fine service. Keep it up.
Use any technology you can, as they are all a good mesh with amateur radio.
Caribbean Emergency & Weather Net -- 55 years of service and continuing.....
Thank you 'Hurricane Watch net', for your service to this hemisphere ......... J85K
Originally Posted by N8BHL
CARIBBEAN EMERGENCY AND WEATHER NET
This net exists by virtue of the dedication, skills, voluntary service and goodwill of its members, who are drawn primarily from the amateur radio fraternity in the Caribbean.
This net was founded in 1958 by the late Colonel Frew Henry, KV4BZ, for the purpose of having an emergency and general calling frequency for the area, including our North and South American friends. The net was used for exchanging weather information amongst ham operators, as well as feeding meteorological data acquired by particular hams into the region's met services. During the hurricane season, the net was considered very important. As the region's met services became more sophisticated, the net's function evolved into providing, during the "season", detailed daily weather information obtained from official meteorological services, as well as personal WX observations. Such WX data is utilized by many mariners and yachtsmen, some of whom are also hams visiting the region. The net also retains its core function of providing emergency communications, and as a general net for routine amateur radio use. Nets are conducted on a daily basis, on 3.815 Mhz, at 10.30 U.T.C. and at 22.30 U.T.C. Under exceptional circumstances, or when propagation so requires, the net is conducted on 7.162 Mhz
Whatever happened to the use of one of the channels on 60 meters as a dedicated hurricane communications frequency?
There was a huge push by the ARRL when it made its case for our being authorized to use that band, that it has the propagation characteristics to facilitate the regional communications infrastructure you have described.
Enjoying wholesome AM on shortwave hobby radio.