With the 2013 hurricane season approaching, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami and the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) are gearing up for what could be a very active storm season.
In preparation for the upcoming season, the HWN is currently seeking new members who can serve as net control stations.
The HWN provides on-the-ground, real-time weather data from Amateur Radio operators who volunteer their time to monitor their calibrated home weather stations. The stations report that data to the HWN, who in turn reports it to WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio station at the NHC.
"The Hurricane Watch Net relies on volunteer operators -- our members -- who serve as our net control stations," HWN Net Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, told the ARRL. "HWN members are hams who have above-average stations, are capable of effectively conducting HF net operations and are willing to commit their time to operating in support of the HWN's mission during net activations. The net sessions can be long and, at times, very stressful."
The HWN primarily operates on 14.325 MHz, but Graves said that given the current solar activity, the HWN is looking for new members who can help with net control station duties on the low end of the 40 meter phone band. "If 20 meters goes away, we lose the ability to effectively communicate with our reporting stations or the NHC," he said. "By expanding our operation to 40 meters, we can easily change over when propagation changes."
Graves told the ARRL that the HWN is especially looking for new members with stations that can effectively communicate with Central America and the Caribbean, Mexico, the Gulf Coast, the East Coast and South Texas. "As we head into the 2013 hurricane season, we're looking for qualified amateurs who are located anywhere within North America or the Caribbean," he said. "We are also looking for bilingual hams. We recognize that some Latin American operators hesitate to check in and send reports to us if they aren't fluent in English, so we're also interested in hearing from hams who are fluent in both Spanish and English. When we're working storms that are either affecting or threatening areas where Spanish is the language of choice, we always try to have one or more bilingual HWN members on hand to help with reporting."
While HWN membership is required to serve as a net control station, radio amateurs do not need to be an HWN member in order to participate as an HWN reporting station that provides observed or measured weather reports, or relay assistance as required by HWN net control.
The Hurricane Watch Net is activated either at the request of the National Hurricane Center and/or when an Atlantic basin hurricane is within 300 miles of landfall. Although hurricanes can happen any time of the year, hurricane season for the Atlantic and Caribbean runs from 1st June - 30 November 2013, and usually peaks anywhere from late August through September. The Pacific hurricane season runs from 15 May - November 2013.
Hurricane Watch Net - http://www.hwn.org/