ARRL: Hurricane Watch Net to Activate as Louisiana Braces for Marco and Laura

Update 8/25/20, Hurricane Laura has strengthened to a Category 3 4 and is expected to at least briefly rise to category 4 later today:

With Hurricane Laura set to make landfall late Wednesday or early Thursday, the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) will activate at 1300 UTC on Wednesday, on its primary frequency of 14.325 MHz, with simultaneous operation starting on 7.268 MHz at 2100 UTC.

“Of course, any change in the forward speed of this storm would change the timing of landfall,” HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, pointed out. “Laura is expected to be a [major] Category 3 Hurricane, well before landfall. After landfall, Laura is expected to remain at hurricane strength as it moves well inland, possibly as far north as Shreveport, Louisiana.”

Once the HWN activates, it will remain in continuous operation on both frequencies until the bands close, resuming operation on those bands as soon as propagation permits. Graves said that once Laura has been downgraded to a Tropical Storm, the net will focus on helping to gather any post-storm reports from affected areas.

“This includes the relaying of any emergency or priority traffic,” Graves noted. Net participants share observed ground-truth data from the affected area. Information that National Hurricane Center forecasters need includes wind speed, wind gust, wind direction, barometric pressure — if available, rainfall, damage, and storm surge. Measured data are preferred, but estimated data are acceptable.

From the American Radio Relay League, Hurricane Watch Net to Activate as Louisiana Braces for Marco and Laura

The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) will activate for Hurricane Marco today (Sunday, August 23) at 2100 UTC on 14.325 MHz, switching to 7.268 MHz at 2300 UTC, where operation will continue until 0100 UTC. Just barely a category 1 hurricane, Marco is forecast to make landfall on Monday afternoon.

“The purpose of this activation is to line up reporting stations for Marco as well as for Laura, which is to affect this same region most likely late Wednesday or early Thursday,” HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said. “The HWN will reactivate on Monday, August 24, at 1300 UTC on 14.325 MHz to collect and forward surface reports to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center.”

Louisiana Section Emergency Coordinator Jim Coleman, AI5B, reported earlier this weekend that Louisiana Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) was on alert status, and the LA-ARES HF net was on active standby, set to begin monitoring 3.878 MHz after 0100 UTC on Monday, August 24, [Sunday evening in North America]. ARES will go to stand-by status at that time. One ARES team in Manatee County, Florida, is on stand-by status.

In a message Saturday evening to Louisiana ARES members, Coleman said net coordinators for the Louisiana ARES Emergency Net, the Louisiana Traffic Net, and the Delta Division Emergency Net were being notified that their services will likely be needed this week.

“Emergency [Ham Aid] communications kits from ARRL Headquarters have been pre-positioned in Louisiana in preparation for this event,” he said. “The American Red Cross may need volunteers to provide emergency communications at shelters.”

As of 1800 UTC on Sunday, Marco was about 280 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and about 440 miles southeast of Lafayette, Louisiana, with maximum sustained winds of 75 MPH. Marco is moving to the north-northwest at 14 MPH.

The National Hurricane Center reported at 1800 UTC on Sunday that Marco is expected to continue on its current track and motion through Sunday night, followed by a turn to the northwest by Monday. “On the forecast track, Marco will cross the central Gulf of Mexico [Sunday] and will approach southeastern Louisiana on Monday. A gradual turn toward the west-northwest with a decrease in forward speed is expected after Marco moves inland,” the NHC said.

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for Morgan City, Louisiana, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and for Lake Borgne. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Morgan City to the mouth of the Pearl River

Tropical Storm Laura is not likely to make landfall in Louisiana until the afternoon of Wednesday, August 26. As of 1800 UTC on Sunday, TS Laura was heading toward eastern Cuba. Heavy rainfall and life-threatening flash flooding continue over portions of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

As of 1800 UTC, Laura was about 55 miles from the eastern tip of Cuba and 80 miles south east of Guantanamo Cuba, with maximum sustained winds of 50 MPH. The storm is moving west-northwesterly at 21 MPH.