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    August 2016
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Big Island Amateur Radio Emergency Service Districts Activate to Support Possible Hurricane Response in Hawaii

ARRL Pacific Section Emergency Coordinator Clement Jung, KH7HO, has announced the activation of all four Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) districts on the Big Island of Hawaii, to support each other and served agencies as two hurricanes — Madeline and Lester — threaten. A hurricane watch remains in effect for Hawaii County.

amateur radioA SKYWARN net activated on August 31 as Hurricane Madeline approached the Big Island, and KH6SW went on the air from the National Weather Service (NWS) Honolulu Forecast Office on HF, VHF, and UHF. A second SKYWARN activation for Hurricane Lester will begin on September 2 at 10 PM (0800 UTC on September 3), continuing until Monday, September 5 at noon (2200 UTC).

As of 1200 UTC, Madeline, now a category 1 storm, was located about 200 miles east of Hilo and 410 miles east-southeast of Honolulu, with maximum sustained winds near 90 MPH. The storm is moving to the west at 12 MPH.

As of 0900 UTC, Hurricane Lester, a much stronger category 4 storm, was some 1160 miles east of Hilo, with maximum sustained winds of 140 MPH and moving to the west at 12 MPH. NOAA has advised interests in Hawaii to monitor Lester’s progress.

ARES teams were set to initiate local repeater nets, holding 146.52 MHz simplex in reserve in case repeaters go down. Plans call for using HF (7.180 and 3.975 MHz) to relay traffic via Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) nets to the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency Emergency Operations Center (EOC). SKYWARN traffic will use Fldigi MT63 1KL or voice on 7.080 MHz (USB), with 3.888 MHz (LSB) as an alternate frequency, and 7.095 MHz available to support informal and tactical traffic.

Jung said that if Hawaii Emergency Management Agency RACES is activated, it will monitor 7.088 MHz (LSB) for voice and Fldigi MT63-1KL. Until then, SKYWARN will be the statewide HF net control station on 7.080 MHz (USB) for voice and Fldigi.

Hawaii Gov David Ige has declared a state of emergency in the state, with the Big Island under a hurricane warning for Madeline. The National Weather Service has indicated that hurricane conditions could occur on the Big Island within the next 24 hours. Public schools in Hawaii have been closed, and the governor was urging residents of the Big Island to take steps to protect people and property. A dozen schools have been designated to serve as emergency evacuation shelters.

In addition to HF, KH6SW will operate on these repeaters:

  • 146.660 (EARC, Windward Oahu)
  • 146.760 (DEM RACES, Peackcock Flat, North Shore Oahu)
  • 146.800 (EARC, Manakapu, Oahu)
  • 146.880 (DEM RACES, Diamond Head)
  • 146.980 (DEM RACES, Downtown Honolulu)
  • 147.060 (State RACES, Diamond Head)
  • 444.350 (State RACES, Diamond Head)

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