REPORT 27 November 2016

The Earthquake off the shores of Japan on Monday the 21st November at 22h59 our time did not attract much attention. Originally described as a magnitude 7.3 quake, it was downgraded the next day to 6.9, and, being offshore at a depth of 10 kilometres, only 329000 people were within 100km of it. The original tsunami warning of a 3 metre wave, was also downgraded to a 1 metre swell, and so damage was mild and there was no loss of life, thankfully. Seven aftershocks of intensity more than 4.6 were reported in the next 24 hours. And interestingly, the Japanese Meteorology Agency says that the earth displacement from the earthquake has increased to 1.6 metres. This means the entire island of Japan has moved 1.6 metres from where it was previously located!

At the same time, Nicaragua and Costa Rica in the central Caribbean, have been suffering damage at the hands of Tropical Cyclone Otto. IARU Region One has received the following information from Cesar Pio Santos HR2P about preparations for Tropical Storm Otto. The storm will be threatening Nicaragua and Costa Rica through the remainder of this week. The Nicaraguan Government has raised the alert level for parts of the country to prepare for the storm and the Radio Experimenters Club of Nicaragua (CREN) is also activating their National Emergency Network on the following frequencies; 7098 Main Frequency 7105 Alternate Frequency 3798 Primary Frequency 3805 Alternate Frequency 146,520 Simplex The Radio Club of Costa Rica is also activating their Network on 7080kHz as an emergency frequency starting at 00:00 UTC 23 November.

At 22h43 local time on Thursday evening, we received news that Costa Rica had moved its primary frequency to 7082.5kHz because of interference from digital mode signals. Radio Amateurs are requested to listen carefully before transmitting and avoid causing QRM to emergency traffic on those frequencies. Thank you to Greg Mossop G0DUB for passing on that news.

In Frankfort, Free State, a search played itself out for the wife of one of our fellow hams on Tuesday evening and Wednesday of this week. Francois Botha ZS6BUU placed a notice on the Hamnet FaceBook page, and followed it up with further detail and a picture of the lady. She had apparently gone missing at 20h40 on Tuesday evening, and Rickus de Lange ZS4A, Provincial Director of HAMNET Free State asked Francois to help. Very fortunately, she was found on Wednesday morning by 11h00. Her very relieved husband informed Rickus that all was well, and, whether HAMNET’s involvement in any way contributed to her safety or not, we are very grateful to Rickus and Francois for being able to circulate the details and aid in the search.

The drought in South Africa continues, and South Africans are respectfully requested to think twice before opening a tap and wasting water. The dam summary for the week looks dismal, with percentages full as follows: Eastern Cape dams 61% full, with 77% this time last year, Free State 51% compared to 64% last year, Gauteng 83% compared to 81%, Kwazulu-Natal 42% compared to 56%, Lesotho at 38% compared to 68% last year, Limpopo 45% compared to 68%, Mpumulanga 50% compared to 66%, North West 57% compared to 51%, Northern Cape 53% compared to 70%, and the Western Cape 56% compared to 65% full last year at this time!

In contrast, the far North Western corner of the Northern Cape was battered by a very strange storm system on Tuesday evening. Cobus van Baalen ZR3CVB, of HAMNET’s Northen Cape Division, sent me some dramatic photos and a write-up of the storms that struck Port Nolloth. They were hit by two severe windstorms within an hour of each other, one at 18h30 lasting 30 minutes, and another at 20h00, also lasting about 30 minutes. The weather station at the lighthouse registered a wind shear of 156 kph, and roofs were torn off buildings in town and huge trees uprooted. The photos show pieces of corrugated iron torn off roofs and twisted up like bits of wet spaghetti in the streets.

Then, at about 21h00, a third storm struck with winds of about 60kph, and pelting rain which lasted half an hour before clearing completely, leaving a still evening and a clear sky! A large amount of damage was caused to the town, and the inhabitants continue to lick their wounds. It seems Division Three does nothing in halves!

Division Six should be on the receiving end of large amounts of rain at this time, but the weather-watchers there anxiously scan the skies for signs of developing storm clouds. There’s not much yet, although you’ll notice that Gauteng dams have increased their water level by 2% compared to this time last year, one of only two provinces to show a bit of promise. We’re having our share of strong South-Easters here in the Western Cape, so we’re doing our best to send you the rain, folks. Meanwhile, if you individually have any clever rain-dances which you know to work, please invoke them now!

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