HAMNET Report 27 August 2017

Dave Holliday ZS5HN has sent in a report on last week’s iSimangaliso four day mountain bike event. He writes:

HAMNET KZN assisted with Communications for the 2017 iSimangaliso MTB 4 Day Event held from the 17 – 20 August, this year starting in Mkuze Reserve, going through Phinda Reserve, both home to the Big 5, on past Lake Sibaya and then Lake St Lucia. Our communication channels were good, using VHF Simplex with a High Site Relay, Mike ZS5MB and Rob ZS5ROB running Ops Control, and with Communications with the Phinda Rangers on their Radio Network. Dave says he was at the JOC, John ZS5J served as a Rover, and Craig ZS5CD and Guy ZR5GB drove the 2 Sweep Vehicles patrolling the route.

The JOC and Ops Control also had communications with the Doctor, Medics & Ambulances on Event VHF Portables.

Each day both the JOC and Ops Control Relay moved to new positions to cover the route as it progressed Southward towards St Lucia. On the 4th day the route was around St Lucia so HAMNET was not required, and returned back to Durban.

Early on the second day, Guy ZR5GB was injured when the vehicle he was in hit a tree in Mkuze Reserve, when the driver lost control. Guy suffered bruises to his left & right ribs, but is apparently making a good recovery at home.

The formal report issued also refers to all kinds of minor accidents and damage to vehicles, broken axles, lots of vehicle and cyclist punctures, and minor injuries to riders and sweeper crews. Animals got in the way, routes had to be changed on the fly, as trees fell across the tracks, and the ambulances were kept busy with a total of 44 injuries amongst the riders.

All in all, an eventful race, I’d say! Thank you Dave for your work and the report.

Two tropical storms in both Western and Eastern Hemispheres are demanding attention. Off the coast of China, Tropical Cyclone Pakhar -17 is manifesting winds of up to 139km/h and sweeping westwards towards Vietnam. Two point six million people are being threatened by wind speeds of up to 120km/h.

And in the Bay of Mexico, Hurricane Harvey is making landfall over Southern Texas with wind speeds in excess of 200km/h. Half a million Texas inhabitants are in its path. Thursday’s warnings carried recommendations on safe behaviour, making communications plans with your family, stocking up with essential household goods and food, and preparing your house for the strong winds. Even distant family members have been advised on how to maintain contact if possible, and how to support their Texas families during the hurricane’s traverse of Southern Texas. Mandatory evacuations have been announced of areas expected to be hardest hit, and Red Cross workers have been mobilised in preparation for shelter management.

Our usual source of information, Greg Mossop, G0DUB, IARU Region 1 emergency communications coordinator notes that, as Hurricane Harvey approaches the Texas coast in the USA, various nets are activating as part of the emergency response. In addition to tropical and hurricane-force winds along the Texas coast and further inland, the main concern with this storm is heavy rain and flooding in an area which has not has a hurricane make landfall for nine years.

Many of the frequencies used will be outside Region 1 allocations in 80m and 40m but there are some on 20m which may suffer from Region 1 QRM if operators are not careful. The US National Hurricane Centre station WX4NHC activated at 1900 UTC 25th August on 14.325 MHz. The Hurricane Watch Net operates from 1500 UTC on their daytime frequency of 14.325 MHz. When the 20 meter band closes they are likely to move over to 7.268 MHz. The VoIP Hurricane Net was expected to activate at 2 PM EDT/1800 UTC on Friday 25th August.

The Southern Territory SATERN Net was due to activate for one day on Saturday, 26 August 2017 during local daylight hours on its regular frequency of 7.262 MHz.

And shortly before making landfall on the Texas coast yesterday morning early, our time, the Hurricane was upgraded to a category 4 storm, exceeding all previous predictions.

At ARRL Headquarters, the Emergency Preparedness Staff continued to keep a close watch on Harvey and on Amateur Radio Emergency Service preparations in Texas and neighbouring states. ARRL staff had been coordinating with the American Red Cross, where some 600 Red Cross Volunteers were en route to South Texas. W1AW has been in monitoring mode but will activate, if needed. The ARRL New Mexico Section remains on standby and has offered assistance, if needed. Mexico’s national association for Amateur Radio, FMRE, has also offered assistance.

As of yesterday afternoon, nearly 100 evacuees were in seven open shelters. Another 50 shelter locations were on standby. ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, reported yesterday that it anticipated some 20,000 individuals will require sheltering for 4 days, and 10,000 will require sheltering for 14 days. “This is expected to be a long-haul event, up to 6 weeks,” he said in an afternoon update.

It is also possible that Harvey may retreat into the Gulf of Mexico after hitting Texas, regain strength, and then make a second landfall in Louisiana. That state is at a Level III activation.

All these notes were written on Saturday afternoon. You, the reader or listener, may have far more information by the time this bulletin is made available.

After my mention of 47% of statistics quoted being inaccurate last week, National  HAMNET Director Paul van Spronsen, ZS1V, has written in to point out to me that this is mainly due to the fact that 99% of all statistics are invented on the spot! I wonder if he made that up….?

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