HAMANET Report 10th December 2023

Reliefweb.int has reported that after a long period of drought, heavy rainfall hit the countries in the Horn of Africa in October and November 2023. The arid soil could not absorb the water, resulting in devastating floods in many areas.

The floods in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan have been particularly destructive. The people of East Africa waited in vain for the rainy season for several years, before the climate phenomenon El Niño brought abundant rainfall. The floods are a typical consequence of long periods of drought: The water cannot soak into the completely dried-out upper layers of the earth and eventually runs off in sometimes torrential streams. Weather forecasts predict even more rain in the coming weeks, meaning further flooding is expected.

In Somalia, over 450,000 people have left their homes and fled to higher ground. Two hundred and forty thousand people have evacuated in Ethiopia, and 150,000 in Kenya, where over 100 people have died. In the entire region between Sudan and Tanzania, over 3.1 million people have been affected by the disaster in one way or another.

The damage is enormous: in Kenya alone, the water has drowned over 2,000 farm animals and flooded large areas of agricultural land. There is **limited access to drinking water and **food, and many people have lost all their household items and valuables, making it a challenge to meet even the basic needs of those forced to evacuate. There is a risk of disease outbreaks. Members of vulnerable groups need accommodation and access to essential services.

There is an 80% probability that the effects of El Niño will last until at least May 2024. These effects could mean that those who have evacuated cannot return to their homes and earn a living for a long time. The last El Niño phenomenon in 2019 brought flooding and landslides, it affected 330,000 people in Kenya alone and 160,000 of them had to leave their homes. That number of people has almost already been reached again this year, after just a few weeks.

GDACS has been reporting since Tuesday this week on a new tropical storm named MICHAUNG which formed over the western Bay of Bengal on 3 December very early in the morning (UTC) and started moving north-west toward central-eastern India. On 4 December at 6.00 UTC its centre was located over the sea approximately 85 km east of the border between Tamil Nadu and Andra Pradesh States, with maximum sustained winds of 102 km/h as a tropical storm.

On the forecast track, MICHAUNG was forecast to make landfall over the area of coastal City of Nizampatnam, central-northern Andra Pradesh State on 5 December very early in the afternoon (UTC), with maximum sustained winds up to 92 km/h.

Over the following 48 hours, very heavy rainfall and strong winds were forecast over the northern Tamil Nadu and the whole Andra Pradesh States. Storm surges were also forecast over the central and northern coastal Andra Pradesh State.

According to media reports, at least 16 people died in Tamil Nadu State due to severe weather-related incidents, as heavy rains affected Chennai and surrounding areas. In Andra Pradesh State, authorities evacuated over 9,000 people to 236 relief camps in eight coastal districts and were preparing to evacuate 28,000 others.

Hamsci.org has reported that Dr. Nathaniel Frissell W2NAF, Lead Organizer for HamSCI and assistant professor of Physics and Engineering at the University of Scranton, has announced that its latest paper, “Heliophysics and Amateur Radio: Citizen Science Collaborations For Atmospheric, Ionospheric, And Space Physics Research And Operations,” has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers of Astronomy and Space Science*.

The paper reviews the history of amateur radio and science back to 1912, with the greatest emphasis on results that have emerged in the last decade. Dr. Frissell stressed the importance of this work by noting “This paper is the result of expanding and combining two white papers submitted to the National Academy of Sciences Decadal Survey for Solar and Space Physics (Heliophysics) 2024-2033, which helps the United States to establish research priorities for the next ten years. As such, this paper not only reviews past results, but also provides recommendations for amateur radio – professional science collaborations in the future from both technical and community-building perspectives.”

*Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences is a multidisciplinary journal that unravels the mysteries of the universe and explores planetary science and extragalactic astronomy in all wavelengths.

Yesterday, the 9th of December was an interesting day for those of you, who have wondered about comets, or who know what happened in 1911 or 1986. Those were the years in which the most famous comet of them all, Halley’s comet, came closest to earth as it swung by the son on its 75 year orbit. When close to the son a comet travels very fast and leaves a long dust tail that can be visible.

When a comet swings out away from the son, it slows down, and reaches its furthest point, called its aphelion very slowly. Well, yesterday Halley reached aphelion, 37 years after perihelion, and now starts the long trek back to swing past the son in the year 2061.

Because its dust tail gets less as it leaves the son, it becomes less and less visible, and was last seen in the Very Large Telescope in 2003 as a magnitude +28 object. That is frightfully dim.

A very clever chap born near Stuttgart in Germany in the middle fifteen hundreds, called Johannes Kepler, published his three laws of planetary motion, which are still valid today to calculate why Halley is where it is, between 1609 and 1619. It is astonishing that such intense mathematical ability was already available even before Isaac Newton was born. The equations are very complex for idiots like me!

HAMNET National Director Grant Southey ZS6GS has sent a note of greetings and thanks to his regional deputies as the year winds down.

He thanks them all for the hard work and dedication shown during the year, and expresses gratitude for the work done to make HAMNET a better organization. While wishing all a pleasant break, he reminds them that disasters and incidents do not have holidays, so all need to be ready always and prepared for any eventuality that may arise.

On behalf of the general HAMNET membership, I’d like to thank Grant for continuing to steer the ship in a forward direction, and greet him and all the regional staff on your behalf.

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