An array of amateur radio public service assets are active as Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach on the Florida Panhandle today, with devastating winds of 155 MPH. The storm is believed to be the first Category 4 or greater hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle, and the National Hurricane Center has warned of potentially deadly storm surge as well as hurricane-force winds and heavy rain.
- The Hurricane Watch Network (HWN) resumed operations Wednesday morning and will remain active until further notice on 14.325.00 MHz and 7.268.00 MHz.
- WX4NHCthe National Hurricane Center’s amateur radio, is active in receiving observed weather information and data via amateur radio to assist forecasters.
- the VoIP Hurricane Net activated this morning to support communication with the National Hurricane Center.
- The Southern Territory Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) will remain active until 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday and will be reactivated on Thursday, if necessary. The network will manage emergency, priority and health and welfare traffic from the affected areas, provide field information from amateur radio stations and other sources in the affected areas for transmission to the leaders of the Salvation Army. SATERN was asked to provide amateur radio operators for Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee, and Tampa, as well as two to three local units in Georgia and a divisional headquarters in Atlanta.
- ARRL North Florida and West Central Florida chapters support SATERN with additional operators in Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee and Tampa. The North Florida Section ARES is at Level 1 (Full) Activation.
- The ARRL Emergency Response Team coordinated with the organization’s leadership on the ground in ARRL sections likely to be affected by the storm, as well as with WX4NHC, the HWN, VoIP Hurricane Net, Department of Homeland Security SHARES and US Army MARS.
In a Category 4 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center predicts that “catastrophic damage” will occur, with severe damage to “well-built frame homes” with “loss of most roof structure and/or certain exterior walls. Additionally, “most trees will be snapped or uprooted and utility poles knocked down. Fallen trees and utility poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages, possibly lengthy, are likely, and most of the area could remain “uninhabitable for weeks or months”.
The National Hurricane Center predicts that Michael will take a northeasterly turn this afternoon or evening, with northeasterly movement at a faster forward speed Thursday through Friday evening. On the forecast track, Michael’s core is now expected to move northeast across the southeastern United States tonight and Thursday, then move away from the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States on Friday.