ARES Activated in Eight Maryland Counties for Severe Flooding


Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) volunteers in the Maryland-DC Section activated in the wake of regional flash flooding on May 27. Hit especially hard was Ellicott City, where vehicles were reported to have been washed away by fast-moving flood waters upward of 10 feet deep. At least one person was reported to be missing.

“As many watched Alberto, radio amateurs in Maryland watched more and more rain locally,” said ARRL Assistant Maryland-DC Section Manager and Public Information Coordinator Ken Reid, KG4USN.

By 5 PM, heavy rain, as much as 8 to 10 inches, soaked portions of central and southern Maryland.” The flooding disaster was the second since 2016 in historic downtown Ellicott City, which was still recovering from the earlier event. High water also affected Arbutus, Dundalk, and Catonsville. Section leadership asked radio amateurs in the flood-affected areas to check on the health and welfare of their neighbors. Reid said high-water rescues were needed in Perry Hall and Patapsco State Park.

When the flooding quickly became serious in several locations, MDC Section Manager Marty Pittinger, KB3MXM, activated ARES in eight central Maryland counties at 6:30 PM EDT, and 15 minutes later, more than 40 ARES volunteers reported to their respective 2-meter nets in five counties. The majority of flood-affected communities were in Anne Arundel, Prince Georges, and Howard counties. Amateur Radio volunteers in the MDC Section provided additional situational awareness, and Pittinger interfaced with Atlantic Division leadership, Maryland Section Emergency Coordinator Jim Montgomery, WB3KAS, and state and local authorities.

“Many county [emergency operations centers] in affected areas were also activated. Anne Arundel County ARES and Howard County ARES were in communication with their local Emergency Management Agencies and were both told to stand by in case of need,” Reid said. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency.

“Regular situational awareness updates were shared throughout the nets to ensure communication readiness for served agencies, community leadership, neighbors, first responders, and fellow radio amateurs,” Reid said. Conventional telecommunications continued to function throughout the heavy weather, which caused road closures and power and natural gas outages.

The MDC ARES volunteers remained in duty until 10:15 PM on May 28. During the activation, radio amateurs made use of VHF, UHF, and HF capabilities, as well as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) modes.

Source: ARES Activated in Eight Maryland Counties for Severe Flooding

West Central Florida Section ARES Keeping Close Eye on Alberto

05/27/2018ARRL West Central Florida Section ARES® has gone to a Level 3 activation (standby) at 1800 EDT due to the issuance of Tropical Storm Warnings in advance of Sub-Tropical Storm Alberto for coastal areas of WCF Section counties and for all of Pinellas County, which is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa Bay, and Old Tampa Bay.

“At this time our respective ARES groups are in stand-by mode, but we have not received any requests for assistance from their respective Emergency Management agencies,” ARRL West Central Florida Section Manager Darrell Davis, KT4WX, told ARRL.

Davis said he is posting daily special bulletins to the Section’s website and Facebook page and mentioned on the Section’s Twitter page. “We will continue at the Level 3 activation until the Tropical Storm warnings are discontinued for all WCF Section counties,” Davis said. The WCF Section ARES page includes an Activation Level indicator.

The National Hurricane Center reports that as of 11:00 AM EDT, Alberto was 130 miles west-southwest of Tampa with maximum sustained winds of 50 MPH, moving north at 14 MPH. A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for Crystal River to the Florida/Alabama border. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Bonita Beach to the Mississippi/Alabama border.

Alberto is the first named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which does not officially begin until June 1.

Source: West Central Florida Section ARES Keeping Close Eye on Alberto

Montana ARES Group Activated in Advance of Anticipated Flooding


The Billings, Montana, Director of Emergency Services has activated the Yellowstone County Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES) group (YARES) to support radio communication for sand bagging stations and for possible river-level spotters over the next 5 days. The call came in advance of an anticipated significant flood event — “possibly the largest ever recorded,” Yellowstone County ARES Emergency Coordinator Ron Glass, WN7Y, told ARRL.

The call from County DES Brad Shoemaker came last evening, Glass told his team of volunteers, stressing, “This is not a drill.” Glass said the request from the County called for staffing five sandbag centers from 9 AM until 9 PM on Saturday and Sunday, “helping to coordinate logistics and supplies to get tens of thousands of sandbags into the hands of citizens and communities to prepare for the historic flooding to hit the area.”

The flooding is expected to strike on Memorial Day and continue through Wednesday, May 30. ARES resources may be shifted to serve as river-level-Spotters along the Yellowstone River and its tributaries.

Glass said YARES held a short net to sign up volunteers for the initial shifts and to coordinate plans to meet at the county emergency operations center (EOC) before dispersing to duty stations.

“This is what we train and practice for every year, so let’s go help our community in this time of crisis,” Glass told his volunteer team. YARES is sponsored by the Yellowstone Radio Club.

Forecasters are saying the Yellowstone and Clark Fork rivers both are expected to reach record levels over the next few days as a result of snow melt and rainfall. The potential for heavy rainfall over the weekend, especially in the Billings area, and it could cause flooding in parts of the city that have never seen flood waters from the Yellowstone River.

Source: Montana ARES Group Activated in Advance of Anticipated Flooding

Puerto Rico Radio Amateurs Honored by Lawmakers on “el Día del Radioaficionado”


The Amateur Radio community of Puerto Rico was honored by the island’s House of Representatives on May 8 in San Juan as part of the celebration of el Día del Radioaficionado (Radio Amateur Day), observed each year on the second Tuesday of May. The office of Representative Nestor Alonso-Vega, WP4BL, prepared a resolution. ARRL Puerto Rico Section Manager Oscar Resto, KP4RF, was among those on hand for the occasion. Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo A. Roselló Nevares had issued a proclamation earlier, noting that Puerto Rico’s 4,000 Amateur Radio operators “contribute to the art and science of radio,” and serve as “goodwill ambassadors of our island.”

Amateur Radio Day offers “the opportunity to exalt the valuable service of the radio amateurs of Puerto Rico and their contribution to the development and evolution of this important means of communication in our society,” the proclamation declared.

ARRL was recognized for providing Amateur Radio equipment following last fall’s hurricanes as part of the Ham Aid program, and for organizing the deployment of ham radio volunteers to help with Puerto Rico’s recovery.

At the event, Alonso related how — as a visually impaired youngster — local radio amateurs helped him get his license, enabling him to make new friends on the island and around the world that he now considers family members. Resto presented Alonso with one of the ARRL Ham Aid kits, similar to those sent to Puerto Rico with volunteers after Hurricane Maria last September. Resto later spoke about efforts to establish communication with the American Red Cross, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, and various agencies and hospitals on Puerto Rico, and he outlined preparations under way for the 2018 hurricane season.

The Governor’s 2018 proclamation was read and presented to the ARRL Puerto Rico Section team for its work during post-Maria relief and recovery efforts, as well as its active role in emergency nets and monthly meetings. The resolution of the House of Representatives in recognition of Radio Amateur Day was read, and personalized copies given to the amateurs present.

The resolution noted that, when Puerto Rico lost communication following Maria’s devastation, “it was the radio amateurs who first sent health-and-welfare messages to friends and families…and eventually served as volunteers [helping] agencies like the American Red Cross, FEMA, hospitals, and the Puerto Rico Energy Power Authority with emergency communications.” Resto accepted a resolution dedicated to the radio amateurs ARRL had recruited to deploy on behalf of the American Red Cross, with plans to deliver it to team members at Hamvention.

The President of the House, Carlos “Johnny” Méndez, offered gratitude for the help of radio amateurs in the wake of Hurricane Maria and hinted at the development of legislation favoring Amateur Radio in Puerto Rico. Congratulatory messages to the Amateur Radio community also were heard on several radio stations as well as distributed by social media. — Thanks to ARRL Puerto Rico Section PIO Angel Santana, WP3GW

Source: Puerto Rico Radio Amateurs Honored by Lawmakers on “el Día del Radioaficionado”

National Hurricane Center’s WX4NHC will be On the Air for Annual Station Test


WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, will be on the air for the annual station test on Saturday, May 26, 1300 until 2100 UTC. This will be the station’s 38th year of public service at the NHC. The purpose of the annual event is to test Amateur Radio station equipment, antennas, and computers in advance of the Atlantic Hurricane season — June 1 through November 30.

“This event is good practice for ham radio operators worldwide as well as for National Weather Service (NWS) staff to become familiar with the Amateur Radio communications available during times of severe weather,” said WX4NHC Assistant Coordinator Julio Ripoll, WD4R.

“We will be making brief contacts on many frequencies and modes, exchanging signal reports and basic weather data exchange (sunny, rain, etc.) with any station in any location.” WX4NHC will be on the air on HF, VHF, UHF, 2- and 30-meter APRS and WinLink; subject must contain “//WL2K”. The Hurricane Watch Net frequency of 14.325 MHz will be primary for WX4NHC. Operation also will take place on the VoIP Hurricane Net 2000-2100 UTC. (IRLP node 9219; EchoLink WX-TALK Conference node 7203). Florida Statewide SARNET and local VHF and UHF repeaters will be contacted.

QSLs are available via WD4R, with an S.A.S.E.

Source: National Hurricane Center’s WX4NHC will be On the Air for Annual Station Test

Informal Amateur Radio Nets Being Maintained in Wake of Volcanic Eruptions in Hawai’i


Two informal informational nets remain open on the island of Hawai’i (“The Big Island”) in the wake of recent and ongoing volcanic eruptions and seismic activity, Pacific Section Emergency Coordinator Clement Jung, KH7HO, reports. No formal traffic has been passed, but frequencies are being monitored. “All normal communications, i.e., cell, land-line phones, Internet, and public safety, are operational,” Jung told ARRL.

The Kilauea volcano on The Big Island erupted on May 3, spewing lava and venting high levels of sulfur dioxide. An Amateur Radio net is open on 7.088 MHz (SSB), and the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) 146.720 MHz repeater (100 Hz tone) on Mauna Kea was activated after Hawaii’s governor issued an emergency declaration. A federal disaster declaration has been approved.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports active venting of lava and hazardous fumes continues, with no end in sight. The Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park closed after roads and trails were damaged. Media accounts report that volunteers are assisting about 300 evacuees who have been staying at emergency shelters. Some 2,000 residents have been evacuated in all. The US Geodetic Survey has warned that new lava outbreaks could happen “at any time,” as well as “more energetic ash emissions.”

Source: Informal Amateur Radio Nets Being Maintained in Wake of Volcanic Eruptions in Hawai’i

Amateur Radio Parity Act Language Inserted in National Defense Authorization Act


ARRL is praising the work of US Representatives Joe Courtney (D-CT), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), and Mike Rogers (R-AL) for their successful efforts in securing language in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019 that aids in the survival and growth of Amateur Radio by giving radio amateurs the right to install an outdoor antenna at their residences with the approval of their homeowners associations. This language — text from the proposed Amateur Radio Parity Act (HR 555) — formed the basis for the Courtney-Hartzler-Rogers Amendment to the NDAA.

The amendment, offered by the bipartisan trio and accepted by the House Armed Services Committee by voice vote, will ensure that Amateur Radio operators will continue to play a vital role in disaster communication, when called upon. Amateur Radio has long-standing relationships with the Department of Defense through both the Military Auxiliary Radio Service (MARS) as well as spectrum sharing.

The Armed Services Committee passed the NDAA by a 60-to-1 voice vote after a 14-hour markup that ran well into the night. The bill now awaits House floor action. The Senate will begin its markup of the NDAA during the week of May 21.

Representatives Courtney and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) spearheaded the effort to include the Parity Act language in the NDAA. Both are cosponsors of the Parity Act, which has passed the House by voice vote twice in the past 2 years.

Recognizing the long-standing relationship between Amateur Radio and the Department of Defense, Congressman Kinzinger — who served multiple tours for the USAF as a fighter pilot and is still a Major in the Air National Guard, and Courtney, who represents the House district that includes ARRL Headquarters, have been champions of the legislation in Congress.

“The steadfast support of the Amateur Radio community continually demonstrated by Congressmen Kinzinger and Courtney has been a godsend,” said Hudson Director Mike Lisenco, N2YBB. “The Parity Act wouldn’t be anywhere close to this stage without their strong support, and our organization is extremely grateful.”

Lisenco, who serves as Chairman of the ARRL Board’s Legislative Advocacy Committee, also recognized other promoters of Amateur Radio, including House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, W7EQI (R-OR), Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX). “We are deeply grateful for their continued understanding and support,” Lisenco said.

ARRL will continue to press for support to enact the Amateur Radio Parity Act throughout the legislative process.

Source: Amateur Radio Parity Act Language Inserted in National Defense Authorization Act