[UPDATED 2019-09-03 @1320 UTC] With Hurricane Dorian essentially stalled over the northern Bahamas wreaking havoc, the waiting game for the dangerous Category 3 storm continues in the US Southeast. Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) teams in the ARRL South Florida Section are reported fully activated, and more than 20 evacuation shelters have been opened. Northern Florida is at a Level 3 status — monitoring the situation, and West Central Florida (WCF) has opened shelters opened in several counties and is at a Level 2 alert.
ARES organizations in all three ARRL Florida Sections convened via conference call on Monday to continue coordination of preparedness activities for Amateur Radio emergency communication. Another conference call is scheduled for tomorrow morning following the 1100 EDT advisory to assess the situation at that point. An online Florida ARES Operator Application is available. Applicants should be Florida residents and meet all qualifications stated on the application.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) The National Hurricane Center (NHC) indicated at 1200 UTC today (September 3) that the eye of Dorian was “beginning to inch northwestward,” while the southern eyewall “continues to pound Grand Bahama Island.”
At 1200 UTC, Dorian was about 40 miles northeast of Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, and some 110 miles east-northeast of West Palm Beach, Florida. The storm has been downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 120 MPH, and is moving to the northwest at 1 MPH.
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from Lantana, Florida, to the Savannah River. A Hurricane Warning continues in effect for Grand Bahama and the Abacos Islands in the northwestern Bahamas, and for Jupiter Inlet to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
The NHC reports: “Dorian is beginning to move northwestward at about 1 MPH, and a slightly faster motion toward the northwest or north-northwest is expected later today and tonight. A turn toward the north is forecast by Wednesday evening, followed by a turn to the north-northeast Thursday morning.
“On this track, the core of extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian will gradually move north of Grand Bahama Island through this evening. The hurricane will then move dangerously close to the Florida east coast late today through Wednesday evening, very near the Georgia and South Carolina coasts Wednesday night and Thursday, and near or over the North Carolina coast late Thursday.”
Activation of the Florida Tri-Section ARES Net that was scheduled to commence on 3.950 MHz or 7.242 MHz, depending upon propagation, and another net on the statewide SARnet repeater system has been postponed at least until Tuesday morning, ARRL West Central Florida Section Manager Darrell Davis, KT4WX, reports. WCF Section Emergency Coordinator Ben Henley, KI4IGX, and his staff are continuing to closely monitor the situation and are staying in communications with local ARES Emergency Coordinators and the state emergency operations center (EOC), while ECs are in close contact with their respective emergency management offices, Davis added.
“All ARES, ACS, and CERT groups should continue to stay in communication with their respective leadership for their groups in case that group is requested to activate,” Davis said. “Any equipment checks, supply replenishment, and or home mitigation activities should already be at completion. As we have seen, the risk to the ARRL West Central Florida Section may be reduced, at the moment, but it is by no means past and can change at any time.”
The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) has been in continuous operation since Saturday and will remain so until further notice, HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said Monday evening. “This morning, we had hoped to hear stations on Abacos Island and perhaps some stations on Grand Bahamas Island. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans.”
Graves said a G2 geomagnetic storm over the weekend has hampered the ability to communicate on both 20 and 40 meters. “Thankfully, our net members are scattered across 20 US states and nine countries, including some islands in the Caribbean,” he noted. “We’ve been able to switch between stations that have the best propagation to work the affected area.”
In Georgia, “it’s just kinda wait and see,” Section Manager David Benoist, AG4ZR, told ARRL on Monday evening. He said the state emergency management agency is fully activated. A statewide D-Star network is in place for passing emergency traffic, should it be needed.
ARES operators have been deployed to two Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) sites. GEMA will listen for assistance calls on HF, but the primary method will be to submit an ICS 231 form via Winlink. GEMA will monitor 3.975, 5.335, 7.287, and 3.583 MHz (MT-63 1K), as well as D-Star, and the *Georgia* EchoLink conference node 4544.
Coastal counties in Georgia are under evacuation orders, and highways have been reconfigured for one-way traffic to move inland away from the coast.
The South Carolina Emergency Management Agency has issued a civil emergency message due to the potential threat from Hurricane Dorian, and mandatory evacuations have been ordered in several counties.
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