As Hurricane Ida moves into the Gulf of Mexico drawing a bead on New Orleans, the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) is ramping up preparations to track the storm during its approach.
“Sunday will be an “all hands on deck” situation for members of the HWN,” HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said on Friday. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) says a hurricane warning is in effect for Intracoastal City, Louisiana (Vermilion Parish), to the Mouth of the Pearl River as well as for Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Metropolitan New Orleans.
As of 1200 UTC on Saturday, Ida was some 440 south-southeast of New Orleans, with maximum sustained winds of 85 MPH — Category 1 — moving to the northwest at 16 MPH. The NHC says Ida is expected to rapidly intensify as it moves over the southeastern and central Gulf of Mexico through Saturday night. “Ida is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it approaches the northern Gulf coast on Sunday,” the NHC forecast says. Given the abundance of warm water in the Gulf, Ida could become a Category 3 or even a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 120 to 140 MPH with higher gusts, according to some predictions.
Graves said on Friday afternoon that he was placing the HWN on “standby alert,” which typically means that a hurricane is expected to affect land within the next 48 hours. Given the forecast, “I don’t want to be sorry,” Graves said.
The net will activate on Saturday at 2100 UTC on 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz. “Propagation on 20 meters has been goofy lately, so the band could close early or it may remain open well past sunset,” Graves said. “No matter, we will suspend operations at 0000 UTC.”
The Saturday activation will allow the net to line up reporting stations in the affected area as well as any storm shelters, emergency operations centers, and first responders who feel they could use the net’s assistance, Graves explained.
“Remember, Ida is forecast to be a major hurricane hitting a highly populated area. It will affect both Louisiana and Mississippi,” Graves said, noting that Louisiana was hit by hurricanes three times last year. Storm surge and heavy rain are forecast.
The HWN invites participating stations that can provide observed or measured ground-truth data from affected areas to assist National Hurricane Center forecasters.
Hurricane Watch Net: https://www.hwn.org/