Over the holiday weekend, WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami logged nearly 200 contacts throughout the US, Canada, the Caribbean, and even Europe, during its annual station test, conducted in advance of the 2017 hurricane season. The annual exercise on May 27 served to check out Amateur Radio Station equipment, antennas, and computer systems. The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on June 1 and continues through November 30.
“We had a very successful WX4NHC Radio Station Test,” Assistant WX4NHC Amateur Radio Coordinator Julio Ripoll, WD4R. “All of our radio and computer equipment and new main HF dipole antenna worked well. We feel that our equipment will perform well if needed during this hurricane season.”
WX4NHC was on the air for about 8 hours, Ripoll said, and utilized all communication modes available at the station on HF, VHF, and UHF, including EchoLink, IRLP, DMR, D-Star, D-RATS, and digital HF messaging via Winlink.
WX4NHC also tested the Florida statewide SARNet, which links more than 26 VHF/UHF repeaters and emergency operating centers. “Our UHF repeater on the Florida International University campus is part of SARNet, sponsored by the State of Florida Department of Transportation. Several stations throughout Florida, including the EOC in the state capital of Tallahassee went into the WX4NHC log.
From the Canadian Hurricane Center in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Bob Robichaud, VE1MBR, reported that it was 50° F (and 93° F in Miami at the time). Robichaud expressed appreciation for the cooperation between the hurricane centers and WX4NHC during the storm season, Ripoll said.
Rob Macedo, KD1CY, served as net control station for the VoIP Hurricane Net from WA1EMA at the Acushnet, Massachusetts, Emergency Management Agency. The Assistant Director of the Acushnet EMA, Ed Caron, KA1RSY, “also took time to make a contact and send his cool regards,” Ripoll said.
WX4NHC also contacted the Lafayette, Louisians EOC, the Slidell National Weather Service Office, the San Juan, Puerto Rico EOC, and stations in Germany and in Israel.
“Many of our contacts were with individual Amateur Radio operators who volunteer as SKYWARN spotters for their local NWS offices and also participate in the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) on HF during hurricanes,” Ripoll said. “One of them — Debbie Gray, WX9VOR, from Aurora, Illinois — was very active relaying surface reports during Hurricane Mathew last year.”
Ripoll thanked all who participated in the annual test. “We hope our services are not needed during this hurricane season,” he added, “but if needed, we are ready to provide NHC back-up communications and ready to receive those important surface reports from stations inside the hurricane. Your surface report or your relay can make a big difference.”
Earlier in May, the Amateur Radio Group at WX4NHC presented NHC Director Rick Knabb with an award of appreciation for his many years of support to the station. The award presentation took place on May 12, during the Hurricane Hunters Tour. Knabb is leaving the NHC to join the staff of The Weather Channel.