HAMNET Report 5 May 2019

From World Vision come reports of Cyclone Fani-19, which formed as a tropical depression in the Indian Ocean near Sumatra. The Joint Typhoon Warning Centre in Hawaii first tracked the developing storm on April 26. As it drifted west, it began to strengthen, and, from April 30, it has been an extremely severe cyclonic storm, the first of the 2019 season.

Cyclone Fani made landfall on the Bay of Bengal coast of India about 8 a.m. local time on Friday, May 3. The storm hit Puri city in Odisha state with heavy rain and wind speeds exceeding 130 mph, equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane. More than a million people in India were evacuated from the coastal zone.

The cyclone tracked north along the north coast with diminishing force before reaching Bangladesh. Rain and possible flooding are expected to continue in Bangladesh throughout the weekend.

Storm warnings were issued for 19 districts of India’s Odisha, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh states, the most likely to be in the storm’s path. In Bangladesh, the national government sounded warnings for coastal cities, including Cox’s Bazar, home to more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees.

As of yesterday (Saturday), no reports of loss of life have been received. Perhaps the coastal evacuations, and the way in which the cyclone stayed just off-shore before disintegrating into a tropical depression at the Bangladeshi coast, accounts for the relatively minor effects of the storm.

Meanwhile, members of the West Bengal Radio Club, are en route to Odisha. Once there, they will link up with the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) control room in Bhubaneswar, and will also relay information to Delhi and Kolkata.

A team from Andhra Pradesh is also scheduled to join them later. They will be there to establish radio communication, when all other modes of communication fail following the cyclone. Initially they will be posted to set up radio stations in the OSDMA control room at Rajiv Bhawan in Bhubaneswar, Purim and Kendrapara which are expected to be hit severely. They will also visit the areas which will be worst hit after the cyclone comes.

Further reporting from Mozambique after its two Cyclones in the space of a month comes from the website BRIGHT, which notes that 38 people have been killed by Cyclone Kenneth. More than 35,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged.”

Cyclone Kenneth came just as hundreds of thousands of civilians, left homeless and hungry by Cyclone Idai — which turned huge swaths of the country into an inland sea — were starting to put the pieces of their lives together. World Vision estimates that flooding from both cyclones have affected nearly 3 million people and the death toll is said to exceed 843 people.

But many experts believe that the death toll from Cyclone Idai alone is much higher than the official figure since countless missing bodies have never been discovered and are believed to have been washed away, and many of the hardest hit regions remain unreachable.

As victims of the storms are struggling to come to terms with the scale of the tragedy, the biggest fear remains the outbreak of communicable diseases such as cholera. At least 1,428 people have been infected with the waterborne disease as government and aid agencies work around the clock to contain the outbreak.

The international community has been slow to react to the unfolding humanitarian disaster in what is one of the poorest countries in the world. So far, aid remains “drastically underfunded, with only about $88 million received of the $390 million needed”..

Here’s excellent news from the medical field. Univadis Medical News reports that the Government of Malawi has launched the world’s first malaria vaccine this week in a landmark pilot programme. The country is the first of three in Africa in which the vaccine, known as RTS,S, will be made available to children up to two years of age. The vaccine will be introduced in Ghana and Kenya in the coming weeks.

RTS,S is the first, and to date, the only vaccine that has demonstrated it can significantly reduce malaria in children. In clinical trials, the vaccine was found to prevent approximately four in 10 malaria cases, including three in 10 cases of life-threatening severe malaria. The pilot programme is designed to generate evidence and experience to inform World Health Organization (WHO) policy recommendations on the broader use of the RTS,S malaria vaccine.

This should be a space worth watching. Remember, you heard it here first!

From that master of digital modes involving RF comes a new brother to FT8, this one called FT4. It is available as part of Dr Joe Taylor’s WSJT suite and freshly announced this week. There is a YouTube video called “FT4 vs FT8 – A new mode: What’s the difference?” So if you are looking for advances in digital messages and new countries contacted, watch the video and see if it will meet your requirements.

Now, some news from the Western Cape Division of HAMNET.

Due to circumstances outside our control, we no longer have a storage facility for HAMNET radios, antennas, mobile masts, banners and the likes. We are also working towards acquiring a trailer to carry our kit to a call-out or sporting event of one or other sort. So the decision was taken at a recent Western Cape HAMNET meeting to acquire a 40 foot container, for these purpose. The Western Province’s Emergency Medical Service has allowed us to place the container in the grounds of the Provincial Emergency Management /Centre at Tygerberg Hospital, and it was delivered on last Thursday. Grant Southey, our Divisional Director, has encouraged all HAMNET members locally to join a work party after voting on this Wednesday, to spruce it up with some paint, install a lighting system, and transfer our possessions from their current storage.

The President’s Trophy Air Race took place on Friday the 3rd and Saturday the 4th of May, in an around the Saldanha air field, and HAMNET Western Cape was asked to man all the turning points of the races on the two days.

We mustered about 16 operators, who manned the beacon points at which the airplanes changed direction along the two routes, kept secret from the airmen until 20 minutes before they took off. Unfortunately, Friday’s weather was overcast and misty with variable rain and cloud height, and the day’s event was cancelled. Saturday dawned bright and clear, and the planes took off at short intervals, and were tracked by the HAMNET ops at each turning point, between 11 am and about 2 pm. Attempts to identify planes by their race numbers were not always easy, and more clear forms of identification will need to be implemented in future races. Nevertheless, a great weekend was enjoyed by all!

This is Dave Reece  ZS1DFR  reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.

HAMNET Report 28 April 2019

The most important news in our country this week surrounds the heavy flooding in KwaZulu Natal, in which up to 280mm of rain fell within 12 hours on Monday. It seems the maximum rainfall was just South of Durban central, and the news media were full of pictures of parts of Amanzimtoti washed away, water coming down in floods from high-lying areas, and a slowly increasing death toll.

On Wednesday morning, Keith Lowes ZS5WFD, Regional Director of HAMNET KwaZulu Natal, reported that search and rescue missions were continuing around the Durban area.

Members from DBN Search and Rescue along with DBN K9SAR, Metro Police SAR, NSRI, RescueTech, Life Response EMS, IPSS Medical Rescue and DUT Emergency Medicine Instructors responded to 28 callouts ranging from Structural Collapses, Drownings, Mudslides and Entrapments, all related to the Extreme Weather conditions in and around the Durban area.

Keith reported that the Members had worked right through for a total of 38 continuous hours. On Wednesday morning members from Pietermaritzburg (PMB) SAR, and PMB and Umhlali K9SAR were mobilized to assist in the Rescue and Recovery efforts.

A total of 24 bodies were recovered and 15 people were rescued from life threatening situations. By that time there were still 3 people missing, presumed deceased at various places.

Later in the week, the death-toll was raised to about 50, and clearing of debris at collapsed sites, and on the local beaches, continues.

The most important news in our region this week, surrounds Cyclone Kenneth, which arrived from the East, and battered the Northern coast of Mozambique. Business Insider reports that Kenneth, classified at one stage as a category 4 cyclone, smashed into the northern parts of Mozambique on Thursday evening with wind speeds of up to 280 km/h.

Three people are dead in northern Mozambique after Cyclone Kenneth made a historic landfall late on Thursday, and flooding rain will put more lives and property in peril in the coming days.

Kenneth is the first tropical cyclone with the equivalent of hurricane strength to strike Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado since modern record-keeping began 60 years ago. According to the U.N., the strike by Kenneth marked the first time in recorded history that Mozambique has been hit by two powerful cyclones in the same season. Last month, the central part of the country was slammed by Cyclone Idai, which resulted in hundreds of fatalities.

The dangerous cyclone made landfall in Cabo Delgado, about 100 km north of Pemba, at the end of the day on Thursday, local time. Kenneth had 10-minute maximum sustained winds of 200 km/h, the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic or eastern Pacific oceans, as it moved onshore.

Meteo France estimates a life-threatening storm surge of 3-5 meters occurred along the coast, just south of landfall.

Red Cross teams in northern Mozambique are reporting serious damage in towns and communities that were struck by Kenneth on Thursday night. One woman was killed by a falling tree in Pemba, according to The Associated Press. Two other people were killed on Ibo Island. Prior to reaching Mozambique, Kenneth killed three people in the island nation of Comoros on Wednesday night.

About 90 percent of homes, which were mostly made of mud, may have been destroyed in the main village on Ibo Island, Mozambique. Ibo is located near where Kenneth barrelled onshore.

Electricity was cut on Ibo Island, where many residents also lost cell-phone service when the cyclone downed a tower. There are also reports of “extensive damage” to homes in Quissanga, according to AP. Four ships sank offshore of Palma, but everyone survived.

Significant power outages plagued Pemba, where winds gusted to 70 km/h weather-recording instruments stopped reporting.

While its strong winds have dramatically weakened, Kenneth will crawl through north-eastern Mozambique this weekend and continue to unleash downpours. More lives and property are at risk as the heavy rain can trigger new, or exacerbate ongoing, flooding problems.

“A flooding disaster can unfold in Cabo Delgado where Kenneth slammed onshore,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski. “Additional downpours into this weekend can push the AccuWeather Local StormMax™ to 600 mm of rain.

The heavy rain can cause streams, rivers and coastal waterways to flood neighbouring land and communities.

“This is a life-threatening situation as the hardest-hit areas can be put underwater,” Pydynowski warned. “Those needing to be rescued may only be able to be reached by boat or helicopters.”

Flooding downpours from Kenneth can also stream into eastern parts of the Mozambique province of Nampula, as well as graze neighbouring southern Tanzania.

Muidumbe, Mucojo, Nacaroa, Montepuez, Pemba and Nacala are among the communities facing flooding. All evacuation orders are to be followed.

Mudslides can be triggered and endanger those living on hillsides.

“A few thunderstorms can also rumble around Kenneth’s centre, which can further hinder rescue, recovery and storm clean-up efforts,” Pydynowski said.

Prior to Kenneth striking Mozambique, Reuters reports that around 30,000 people were evacuated to safer buildings such as schools.

“Aside from storm damage, the greatest risk will immediately be from flooding due to heavy rains. Rivers within this region of Mozambique may flood, especially as at least one of the dams is already close to full capacity, preventing flood water from being retained. This will make it almost impossible to distribute aid as roads will become impassable,” said Marc Nosbach, CARE Mozambique’s country director.

The areas being affected by Kenneth were largely spared from any of former Tropical Cyclone Idai’s destruction in March.

Kenneth first brought heavy rainfall to parts of Madagascar from Monday into Wednesday. The cyclone then lashed the island nation of Comoros, killing three people. Several other people sustained injuries, according to Reuters.

Thank you to Accuweather for these reports.

HAMNET South Africa is not aware of any activations of ham nets during the storm, but operators were asked to avoid frequencies around 7090 to 7100 kHz LSB in case they unintentionally caused QRM.

And finally, another shameless plug for vaccinating your children. Celebrated in the last week of April, World Immunization Week aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. Immunization saves millions of lives every year and is widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions.

Yet, there are still nearly 20 million unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children in the world today. This year’s #VaccinesWork campaign comes at a critical time. It will involve all of us – from governments, to health workers and individuals, in our role as parents, teachers, family members or friends – to ensure every person is vaccinated at the right time, and that we remain protected together.

This is Dave Reece  ZS1DFR  in Division 5, reporting for HAMNET South Africa.