Emergency Communications

Hurricane Patricia - Final

FMRE have advised that the Amateur Radio response to Hurricane Patricia which passed over their country this weekend is now complete and all frequencies are returned to normal use.

The storm downed trees, flooding streets, and buffeted buildings as a category-5 storm, but lost strength in the mountains and was downgraded to a tropical storm. Initially when it made landfall in western Mexico with rain and winds of up to 266km/h, it was one of the strongest ever hurricanes.

The remnants of the storm were also being watched in case they caused flooding in the US state of Texas but this only caused limited damage and no amateur radio activity has been reported from that state yet.

Thanks are expressed for keeping the requested emergency frequencies clear.

Sources: XE2PNA, XE1VP, VK3PC

Hurricane Patricia - Mexico

The strongest ever hurricane recorded in the Americas is heading towards Mexico's Pacific coast causing a state of emergency to be declared in three states in its path. Hurricane Patricia is expected to make landfall on Friday afternoon with winds of 200mph/325kph.

Radio Amateurs in Mexico are already starting operations on 7.060MHz LSB in preparation for the storms arrival and all are encouraged to keep this frequency clear as the situation develops.

UPDATE -  14.120 and 21.120MHz may also be used according to information from FMRE.

Typhoon warning in the Philippines

Authorities are concerned about the effects of Typhoon Koppu that may last three days, as the weather system is trapped in its movement by another typhoon.

So far it's a wait and see matter, but the Philippine Amateur Radio Association (PARA) has activated its HERO (Ham Emergency Radio Operations) Network DX1PAR is monitoring 7.095 MHz.

Joho DU1VHY said the HERO Network has also been set up at the request of the National Telecommunication Commission's Deputy Commissioner.

HERO traffic so far only has one significant report from the province of Aurora where there is an increase in rain and wind velocity.

Typhoon Koppu is expected to track upwards through the centre of Luzon Island. It made landfall early on Sunday and is not expected to leave the archipelago until Tuesday.

The weather forecast is for there to be heavy to intense rainfall and possible storm surges in coastal areas. Due to its interaction with the nearby Typhoon Champi, it may move slowly across the northern end of Luzon, and be almost stationary once it hits.

-Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee.

Italy-Malta Co-operation in Emergency Communications

Following their successful involvement in an Earthquake simulation exercise in September Maltese Radio Amateurs were invited to take part in a second phase of the exercise on the Italian island of Lampedusa between 28th September and 1st October.

The team was very limited in the mass of equipment they could take with them and had about 100 kg of equipment including radios, power supplies , antennas/dish, coax , masts , tools , laptop excluding personal belongings in a backpack. Using this they were able to maintain contact between Malta and Lampedusa on 40m whereas signals on VHF/UHF and microwave were unstable even with yagis on both sides. Malta had an Amateur Radio caravan located at Dingli which had a clear take off to Lampedusa. The caravan is equipped from hf to microwave and had radio contact with the Maltese Civil Protection base of operation where messages were relayed to.

To avoid problems all exercise emails were passed from Lampedusa to Malta via fldigi and flmsg and emails would then originated from Malta with replies being passed back the same way. They also passed test messages to other amateurs who were willing to pass email messages on their behalf.

'Real world' problems included a 1 hour scheduled power cut at Lampedusa which the team were unaware of so they had to resort to borrowing a car battery to power up the base station for more than an hour as their other batteries were being used by the portable station at the site of the exercise. Mobile phone connections at Lampedusa were unstable but this just added to the realism of the exercise.   

The Maltese team operated with 2 persons per site in 12 hour shifts for the duration of the exercise which was again supported by the European Union. 


Chile Earthquake - 16 Sept 2015

At 2245 UTC on 16th September an 8.3 Magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Chile causing Tsunami waves along the coast up to 4.5m high in places. 11 people are known to have died with many more evacuated from coastal areas.

According to reports from Chile, Radio Amateurs from "RED Chilena de Emergencia de Radioaficionados" are operational on 7050 and 7080/85kHz working with ONEMI, the Chilean Governments Interior and Public Safety ministry to gather reports from rural communities. The networks have been supported by radio amateurs in Argentina and Peru.

The Amateur Radio community in Chile is well prepared for disasters with frequent drills, in recognition that the country is in a zone where seismic activity occurs frequently. Although most of the activity was immediately after the earthquake and tsunami warnings please remember that aftershocks may trigger an amateur radio response again.

Source: Marisa Tobella Pinto CE2MT, Cesar Pio Santos HR2P, Jim Linton VK3PC