HAMNET Report 26th December 2021

In a report following up on Cyclone Rai-21, Digitaljournal.com reports that the death toll from the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year surged to 375 on Monday, as desperate survivors pleaded for urgent supplies of drinking water and food.

The Philippine Red Cross reported “complete carnage” in coastal areas after Super Typhoon Rai left homes, hospitals and schools “ripped to shreds”.

The storm tore off roofs, uprooted trees, toppled concrete power poles, smashed wooden houses to pieces, wiped out crops and flooded villages — sparking comparisons to the damage caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

“Our situation is so desperate,” said Ferry Asuncion, a street vendor in the hard-hit seaside city of Surigao, which was devastated by the storm.

Residents urgently needed “drinking water and food”, he said.

As mentioned, 375 people were killed and 56 are missing in the latest disaster to hit the archipelago, with 500 more injured, the national police said.

More than 380,000 people fled their homes and beachfront resorts as Rai slammed into the country on Thursday.

One of the hardest-hit islands was Bohol — known for its beaches, “Chocolate Hills” and tiny tarsier primates — where at least 94 people have died, provincial Governor Arthur Yap said on Facebook.

In Bohol’s coastal town of Ubay, a state of calamity has been declared, with many wooden houses flattened and fishing boats destroyed.

Rai hit the Philippines late in the typhoon season. Most cyclones develop between July and October.

Scientists have long warned that typhoons are becoming more powerful and strengthening more rapidly as the world becomes warmer because of human-driven climate change.

The Philippines — ranked among the most vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change — is hit by an average of 20 storms every year, which typically wipe out harvests, homes and infrastructure in already impoverished areas.

The Philippines has an established disaster management system that provides early warnings of approaching storms and moves vulnerable communities into evacuation centres.

But the storm has dealt a savage blow to the tourism sector, which was already struggling after Covid-19 restrictions decimated visitor numbers.

“SOS” has been painted on a road in the tourist town of General Luna on Siargao Island, where surfers and holidaymakers had flocked ahead of Christmas, as people struggled to find water and food.

“There’s no water anymore, there’s a water shortage, on day one there was already looting in our neighbourhood,” Siargao resort owner Marja O’Donnell told CNN Philippines.

There has also been widespread destruction on Dinagat and Mindanao islands, which along with Siargao bore the brunt of the storm when it hit, packing wind speeds of 195 kilometres (120 miles) per hour.

With electricity knocked out in many areas, there is no signal or internet, hampering efforts to assess the storm’s damage.

Thousands of military, police, coast guard and fire personnel were deployed along with food, water and medical supplies, while heavy machinery — including backhoes and front-end loaders — were sent to clear roads.

Southgate Amateur Radio News notes that the WIA, notified by the German regulator through their regulatory committee, alerts them to be aware of radio interference. One unfortunate side effect of the Christmas celebration is the dumping on the market of cheap devices emitting radio interference.

At the moment, USB battery chargers and action cameras are particularly conspicuous with the German Federal Network Agency. At first glance, many electrical products are very cheap bargains. In reality, however, they are inferior products that cause radio interference.

In recent weeks, the Federal Network Agency has increasingly found LED products of all kinds, but especially Christmas lighting, that do not meet the legal requirements. The spectrum ranges from simple LED lamps to LED recessed and ceiling lights to outdoor lighting (LED floodlights). Colour-changing and other Christmas lighting for indoors and outdoors are also popular items to buy in the run-up to Christmas. The prices of these products are usually significantly lower than those of well-known brand products, especially in online retail. This can be an indication of inferiority and undercutting of legal requirements.

So don’t forget to go round your house, switching off new random electronics in the house, if the noise floor on your HF radio is now so high that you can’t hear for noise!

Chris Burger ZS6EZ and Hans van de Groenendaal ZS6AKV are to be congratulated on having produced a paper ‘Amateur Radio as a Vehicle for Technology Literacy‘ which looks at the situation in Africa.

Africa faces a shortage of technologically-proficient people who can develop and maintain our ICT infrastructure and drive innovation to facilitate manufacturing and services.

Amateur Radio offers a vehicle for technology training that has reaped great rewards for many countries. The barriers to entry are continuously dropping.

The article explains the potential of Amateur Radio for technology development, looks at the current state of Amateur Radio in Africa and suggests avenues that might be explored to allow wider access on the continent.

The PDF can be downloaded here: https://ur.booksc.eu/dl/68281938/e2535a

Space weather physicist Dr Tamitha Skov has forecast that seven sunspots could cause Christmas chaos for radio and GPS users.

She pointed out that a massive coronal hole in the Sun’s core has been rapidly “rotating into the Earth’s strike zone”, warning that there is a “big flare potential”. Dr Skov said the fast solar wind coming from the large coronal hole has threatened up to a 45 percent chance of a major storm. She added that there are up to seven sunspot clusters on the Earth-facing disk, including several that are “big flare players”.

And she warned that, while one “massive solar storm” is not Earth-directed, we could even get some more big flares that have “blackout risks”.

She added: “Flares are starting to pop again, almost being like little paparazzi bulbs, and that could signify that we could get some bigger flares coming in here soon and cause some radio blackouts for GPS users and amateur radio operators, so stay vigilant.”

Finally, I wonder if you, like me, held your breath and watched with anxiety as the James Webb Space Telescope was launched on Christmas day at 14h20 CAT, from the European Space Agency launch facility at Kourou. Well the launch was absolutely flawless, but there are still so many control activities, 344 of them in fact, that have to occur consecutively and correctly, for the telescope to start functioning correctly at an orbit of 1 million miles from the earth. And remember, there is no “fix-it” mission possible if it doesn’t work. We continue to hold our breath over the next several weeks as it is progressively commissioned.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR wishing you all a Happy New Year, and reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.