HAMNET Report 27th August 2023

There has been an orange alert out all week for Tropical Cyclone Franklin, with maximum wind speeds of 175Km/h, active in the Atlantic, and threatening Turks and Caicos Islands, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. By Friday it was not yet near enough to any of these islands to threaten the local populations. GDACS reports daily on its progress.

Media and WHO report, as of 25 August, one confirmed fatality, two persons still missing, two injured people, approximately 600 evacuated people (of which around 300 are in 15 evacuation centres) and nearly 550 damaged houses across the Dominican Republic.

A new tropical storm named SAOLA (also called “Goring” in the Philippines) formed over the northern Philippine Sea on 22 August and started moving west toward the northern Luzon Island and the Luzon Strait, as a tropical depression. On 25 August at 3.00 UTC, its centre was located over the sea, approximately 230 km north-east of the far north-east coast of Luzon Island, with maximum sustained winds of 105 km/h (as a tropical storm).

On the forecast track, SAOLA is expected to turn and to continue moving southward off the coast of Luzon on 25-27 August, strengthening, with maximum sustained winds up to 195 km/h (reaching typhoon status). The storm may affect areas that are still recovering from Typhoon Doksuri.

Over the next 72 hours, heavy rainfall and strong winds are forecast over northern and eastern Luzon Island. PAGASA issued a tropical cyclone alert for this area. China is also in its distant sights, where upwards of 3.8 million people are in its path.

Japan was to start releasing treated radioactive water from the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean on Thursday, despite opposition from its neighbours.

The decision comes weeks after the UN’s nuclear watchdog approved the plan.

Some 1.34 million tonnes of water – enough to fill 500 Olympic-size pools – have accumulated since the 2011 tsunami destroyed the plant.

The water will be released over 30 years after being filtered and diluted.

Authorities will request for the plant’s operator to “promptly prepare” for the disposal to start on 24th August if weather and sea conditions are appropriate, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday after a Cabinet meeting.

Mr Kishida had visited the plant on Sunday, prompting speculation the release was imminent.

The government has said that releasing the water is a necessary step in the lengthy and costly process of decommissioning the plant, which sits on the country’s east coast, about 220km north-east of the capital Tokyo.

Japan has been collecting and storing the contaminated water in tanks for more than a decade, but space is running out.

In 2011, a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake flooded three reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The event is regarded as the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Shortly after, authorities set up an exclusion zone which continued to be expanded as radiation leaked from the plant, forcing more than 150,000 people to evacuate from the area.

I received a report for Keith Lowes, ZS5WFD, he of the busy HAMNET KZN division.

He writes: “Sunday 20th August, HAMNET KZN had 12 stations assisting the 193 runners in the 15/22Km event and 71 runners in the 6Km fun run of the Krantzkloof Trail Run.  55 entrants failed to start although they had registered for the event. 

“It was indeed a pleasure once again to team up to support the Honorary Officers of Ezemvelo Wildlife, S.T.A.R.T Rescue and Netcare 911.  Race Control was situated at Forest Hills Sports Club with all supporting agencies represented in a Joint Operations Centre (JOC).  Communications was with operators stationed at strategic points within the scenic but very challenging course through the Kloof Gorge and Nature Reserve.  The Reserve is still not open to the public because of storm damage that occurred last year.

“Communications were via the Highway Amateur Radio Club’s 145.7625 repeater situated at the Telkom Kloof Tower and 145.550 simplex.  We also had access to Ezemvelo’s VHF repeater which had just recently had the antenna replaced.

“I am pleased to report that we had very good radio coverage of the whole route

“The only medical incidents resulted from a couple of runners suffering head lacerations after hitting a low hanging branch and who promptly received medical attention from START and Netcare 911 officials.

“This is now an annual event on the HAMNET KZN calendar and we look forward to the next one.  My sincere thanks to all of the operators who contributed to the successful outcome that was achieved, especially those members who had to hike a couple of kilometres to their position whilst I was able to remain within walking distance of the bacon and egg rolls and coffee.  Sometimes one have to work under difficult conditions whilst ‘Getting the message through’.”

Well done Keith and your team. It sounds like you are running like a well-oiled machine!

Under the heading of “robotics”, comes a report from newatlas.com, written by Ben Coxworth, who talks about a technology which is being developed by German startup FORMIC Transportsysteme, which is affiliated with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

While forklifts do work well for lifting and moving heavy loads indoors, they’re bulky (in close quarters), expensive, and can’t lift loads over a certain footprint size. That’s where the FORMIC modular robotic transportation system is designed to come in. It incorporates multiple six-wheeled robotic transport modules, each one of which is equipped with cameras, a radio communications chip, and a jack that is capable of lifting up to 2.5 tons.

As many as 15 of the modules can be placed under a single load, as long as there’s a sufficient vertical gap beneath it for them to squeeze in. If all 15 are used, they can manage a total load weight of 37.5 tons.

A human operator steers the swarm of robotic modules in real time via an included joystick remote. Because the modules’ cameras and radios allow them to track one another’s positions at all times, they autonomously coordinate their movements – so in other words, the user just controls them as a group, not as individual units.

Thanks to newatlas.com for the write-up.

The word “FORMIC” (from Latin FORMICA, meaning “ant”) refers to the ant-like activities of these robots scurrying around a task, and ganging up to get the job done, as ants are often seen to do.

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