HAMNET Report 2nd October 2022

Disasters of the natural type continue to occupy our attention.

Tropical Cyclone NORU is still active over the South China Sea, leaving 12 dead in Philippines, and 6 still missing, 16 fatalities in Northern Cambodia, and 1 in Thailand. Injuries in the region top 100, and more than 50 000 people are displaced. Moderate to heavy rainfall is still being experienced in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand

Tropical Cyclone FIONA did in fact reach Canada in the week, much to my surprise, impacting the eastern provinces, resulting in a few deaths and lots of structural damage to property. Fortunately, it has blown itself out now, and the Caribbean islands and Canada can proceed with mopping-up activities.

But in its wake, a new storm, to become Tropical Storm (or Hurricane) IAN, was given an orange alert level last Sunday, as it arose below Cuba on the map, crossed the western end of Cuba in a northerly direction, and strengthened to a category 4 storm before it struck the west coast of Florida. Wind speeds of up to 220 km/h were forecast in its path.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Cuba had activated its National Emergency Network, and was using the 40 meter frequencies of 7110 or 7120 KHz for emergency communications. Carlos CO2JC requested the amateur radio community to guard these frequencies until the network was decommissioned.

The entire island state of Cuba lost its electricity supply as a result of the storm, a few deaths were initially reported, and then a small boatload of migrants, some 23 in all, apparently went missing, as the boat apparently sank at sea during the storm. By Wednesday only a part of Cuba had regained power.

On Tuesday, the ARRL issued a communique noting that Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) groups and volunteers had ramped up preparations as the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) reported that Hurricane Ian continued quickly to intensify. The Hurricane Watch Net was active and operating on 14.325 MHz.

By Wednesday afternoon, IAN was just west of the Florida coastline, and a red alert for its forecast devastation had been issued. Florida’s Governor had activated the National Guard, and at least two and a half million people had been advised to evacuate their homes in IAN’s path. It was expected that IAN would cross the mid-zone of the Florida panhandle, move out into the Atlantic and then come ashore again on the border between Georgia and South Carolina on Friday afternoon.

GDACS was expecting that at least 5 million people would be exposed to wind speeds of 120km/h or more.

ARRL Director of Emergency Management Josh Johnston, KE5MHV, said many ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) volunteers and their groups were involved across Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. ARRL had previously deployed Ham Aid kits in the region. The kits include amateur radio equipment for disaster response when communications equipment is unavailable.

Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, Net Manager for the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN), said the net is now transitioning from receiving weather data to gathering post-storm reports. “These reports include damage and areas that are flooded,” said Graves. “This gives the forecasters additional information they need. Also, since FEMA has an office in the National Hurricane Centre, they look over these reports to get a bigger picture of what has happened, which in turn helps them to get help and humanitarian assistance where it is needed.”

Graves added that the HWN will be assisting with emergency, priority, and any Health and Welfare Traffic. The net may continue operations for days. The HWN will issue an after-action report to detail the number of amateur radio operators who participated on the net.

Thanks to the ARRL Newsletter for various aspects of these notes.

By Thursday night, at least 12 deaths had been reported, 700 rescues of individuals had taken place and 15000 were still sheltering in centres. Definitely not just your average storm!

And please accept my apologies for all this doom and gloom!

A planning meeting for the next National Nuclear Regulatory Koeberg Emergency Exercise, on 4th November, will take place this coming Thursday afternoon. HAMNET Western Cape is again invited to attend. Part of the agenda will surround a further debrief of the exercise held in September. More news, if there is any, next week.

I’m happy to report that, if you didn’t hear about it, NASA was extraordinarily accurate with its catty on Tuesday morning early, and managed to hit the little moon, Dimorphos, of the asteroid Didymos, slap bang amidships, with its DART satellite at a distance of about 11 million kilometres. Not too shabby, when you remember that Dimorphos is about the size of a rugby stadium, or roughly 30 giraffes in diameter!

Dart was travelling at 22500 km/h when it struck Dimorphos, and was expected to change the speed of the travelling moon, and thus its trajectory, by a fraction of one percent! The satellite adjusted its own trajectory to hit Dimorphos just slightly to the side of head-on, and is expected to shift Dimorphos’ orbit into a slightly lower, and thus faster one around Didymos.

So, we wait with baited breath to hear if Dimorphos’ orbit has been shifted by the impact of the satellite roughly the size of a vending machine, or perhaps one of our President’s prize buffaloes. I can hardly control my impatience.


Thank you to the BBC and NASA for this diagram.

Believe it or not, a cubesat called LICIACube, was launched with DART, and given the important task of taking pictures prior to the collision and then flying away and taking pictures of the wreckage left behind.3 days ago. You have to be impressed at the way NASA thinks of everything!

This is clearly a proof-of-concept mission. If Dimorphos is moved into a new orbit by the impact, then the world has a trump card up its sleeve to play one day if an earth-threatening asteroid is every discovered. That will be great news indeed.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR, reporting for HAMNET in South