An array of Amateur Radio public service assets is active as Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach on the Florida Panhandle today, boasting devastating 155 MPH winds. The storm is believed to be the first Category 4 or stronger hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle, and the National Hurricane Center has been warning of life-threatening storm surge as well as hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall.
- The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) resumed operations Wednesday morning and will remain active until further notice on 14.325.00 MHz and 7.268.00 MHz.
- WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio at the National Hurricane Center, is active to receive observed weather information and data via Amateur Radio to aid forecasters.
- The VoIP Hurricane Net activated this morning to support communication with the National Hurricane Center.
- The Southern Territory Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) will remain active until 9 PM ET on Wednesday and will reactivate on Thursday, if necessary. The net will handle emergency, priority, and health-and-welfare traffic from impacted areas, provide ground-truth information from Amateur Radio stations and other sources in the impacted areas for forwarding to Salvation Army leadership. SATERN has been requested to provide Amateur Radio operators for Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee, and Tampa, as well as two to three local units in Georgia, and Divisional Headquarters in Atlanta.
- The ARRL North Florida and West Central Florida sections are assisting SATERN with additional operators in Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee, and Tampa. North Florida Section ARES is at Level 1 (full) activation.
- The ARRL Emergency Response Team has been coordinating with Field Organization leadership in ARRL Sections that may be affected by the storm, as well as with WX4NHC, the HWN, VoIP Hurricane Net, Department of Homeland Security SHARES, and US Army MARS.
In a Category 4 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center predicts “catastrophic damage” will occur, with severe damage to “well-built framed homes” with “loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls.” In addition, “Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas.” Power outages, possibly lengthy, are likely, and most of the area could remain “uninhabitable for weeks or months.”
The National Hurricane Center predicts that Michael will take a turn toward the northeast this afternoon or tonight, with motion toward the northeast at a faster forward speed on Thursday through Friday night. On the forecast track, the core of Michael is expected now to move northeastward across the southeastern US tonight and Thursday, and then move off the mid-Atlantic coast away from the US on Friday.