The Hurricane Watch Net and the operation of WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center in Miami are manned entirely by volunteers. We generally activate whenever a system has achieved hurricane status and is within 300 statute miles of populated land mass or at the request of the forecasters at National Hurricane Center.
To achieve mission goals, the HWN relies upon its members…experienced Net Control Operators. Some are seasoned ex-military and/or MARS operators. Others have gained their experience through public service roles. On average, there are 40 active members strategically located throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. To better assist those who speak Spanish only, HWN has a number of bilingual operators.
When activated, you will find us on 14.325 MHz (USB) by day and 7.268 MHz (LSB) by night. If propagation dictates, daytime operations will be conducted on both frequencies simultaneously.
Why do we state these frequencies without a plus or minus amount? Because those who are operating using marine radios have to program in the frequencies – marine radios do not have a VFO or RIT. Furthermore, these two frequencies come preprogrammed into many marine radios. Many non-hams listen in via shortwave radio and know this is where to find us when we are activated. Before any net activation, if either frequency is in use, we always ask permission to use them. Additionally, it is our practice of being on the air ahead of the amateur radio station at the National Hurricane Center – WX4NHC – for the explicit purpose to establish our net operating frequency, to issue advisory data, and to line up reporting stations. It helps us tremendously to know the operator's locations, names, and weather measuring capabilities in advance of the storm’s arrival.
During any Net activation, operations on 7.268.00 MHz will suspend @ 7:30 AM ET to allow the “Waterway Radio and Cruising Club Net – WRCC
” (aka, the Waterway Net) to conduct their daily morning Net. If required, due to poor daytime propagation on 14.325.00 MHz, operations on 7.268.00 MHz may be required at the conclusion of the Water Way Net, generally around 8:30 AM ET.
The Hurricane Watch Net serves three purposes:
- Disseminate the latest advisories issued by the National Hurricane Center. We do so for marine interests, Caribbean Island and Central American nations, and other interests where public media is not readily available.
- To obtain real-time ground-level weather conditions and initial damage assessments, from amateur radio operators in the affected area and relay that information to the forecasters at the National Hurricane Center by way of WX4NHC (the amateur radio station located at NHC).
- To function as a backup communications link for the National Hurricane Center, National Weather Service Forecast Offices, the Canadian Hurricane Centre, Emergency Operations Centers, Emergency Management Agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations, and other vital interests. This can involve military relief operations in the protection of life and property before, during, and after a hurricane event.
Along with the weather reports received often come reports on damaged roads, power outages, structural damage, phone and communications outages, and of course reports on casualties. These non-weather report items are usually relayed to other nets in operation on the 20, 40, and 80-meter amateur radio bands who are focusing on Health and Welfare, or by the crew at WX4NHC to the appropriate agencies that stay in touch with the National Hurricane Center.
Standard Operating Procedures for stations reporting from the affected area.
Reporting stations are requested to report the following elements of their observed weather conditions:
- Stations within a watch or warning area is encouraged to report your local weather conditions. Those who are already experiencing a wind speed 30 miles per hour or greater or a falling barometer should definitely report to the Net Control Station.
- As the hurricane approaches landfall, the Net will narrow requests to a specific area or call for stations experiencing certain conditions such as winds at 50 miles per hour or greater.
(Call Sign and/or First & Last Name)
Location (Latitude/Longitude):________N / _________W
Time of Observation:_______ (indicate time zone)
(GMT | UTC preferred)
Please indicate if your Wind Measurements are measured with
weather instruments or estimated.
( ) Measured ( ) Estimated
Sustained Wind Speed:_________MPH KNOTS KPH(Kilometers Per Hour)
(Over One Minute)
Gust Speed:_______________________ MPH KNOTS KPH
Wind Direction:__________ / ________Degrees
Barometric Pressure:_________________ Inches Millibars
(must be measured with calibrated barometer)
(Anemometer height, make, model, location)
(Rain Amount, Storm Surge, Damage Report, etc...)
Blank report forms are available at http://www.wx4nhc.org
Operating Procedures, Continued
Please be familiar with the following prior to checking in to the net
- Do not use VOX. Turn off VOX before checking into the Hurricane Watch Net. It seems, at least once during every hurricane, someone has VOX on and it is tripped by their two meter radio or some other service causing the Net to slow down with this interference.
- If you hear what you believe to be intentional jamming of the net frequency, DO NOT make reference to it, but simply ask the other station to repeat the transmission or missing parts to you. Jammers want recognition. If they don't get it they go off and find someone who will give them a reaction.
- Use UTC time, not local 24 hour time, in all reports. If you are not sure of the UTC time, go ahead with your local time, but, please be sure to tell the net control that you are using local time.
- If you are going to give a damage, injury, or casualty report and it is not based on your own personal observation, be prepared to provide time, name of person providing it, their call letters or official position, and if possible, a telephone number where this can be confirmed later.
- No matter how many times you have already said it, always state whether your wind speed and direction is "measured" or "estimated" and whether it is "MPH" or "Knots."
Note: Estimated wind speeds and direction are welcome but the Hurricane Watch Net and the National Hurricane Center place top priority on "measured" reports from amateur stations. Varieties of weather station products are available on the market and can be easily located on the World Wide Web. We strongly recommend that reporting stations be prepared to provide "measured" data.
- Please advise if your barometer has been calibrated recently.
- If reporting wind conditions of 70 knots or more, be prepared to give the brand and type of weather station unit being used for this report.
- Try to record the time of your most severe conditions, i.e., lowest barometer reading, highest sustained winds, or maximum gusts. When you are sure the worst has passed your location, please check back and report this either through the established route or directly on 14.325.00 MHz. The National Hurricane Center finds these follow up reports to be extremely valuable.
- Under no circumstances should you place yourself in physical danger in order to report your local conditions.
For any questions or comments regarding net operations, please click here