Provide real-time or near real-time measured weather data and damage reports to WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio Station at the National Hurricane Center.
Provide a means of interoperability for EOC’s, Red Cross/Salvation Army agencies/shelters and National Weather Service forecast offices to communicate between each other and send appropriate data up to WX4NHC as required.
Liaison to other net operations that maybe on EchoLink and IRLP and pass that information to WX4NHC as required.
Disseminate National Hurricane Center advisories and updates as needed for stations in the affected area.
The VoIP Hurricane Net meets on the *WX-TALK Node: 7203, IRLP Reflector 9219 system.
The backup system is IRLP reflector 9508 with EchoLink Conference server *VKEMCOMM* Node: 270177. This system is also used for listen-only capability for net activations.
The *WX-TALK* Node:7203 conference server can be aliased to the backup system when required.
An additional backup system is the IRLP 9123/*NEW-ENG* EchoLink Conference server node: 9123.
The VoIP Hurricane Net has the following activation policy:
The VoIP Hurricane Net will activate upon activation of WX4NHC provided there are EchoLink stations/nodes and IRLP nodes in the affected area of the hurricane.
The VoIP Hurricane Net will self-activate if the net manager and/or director of operations see a threat from a hurricane over an area and there are EchoLink station/nodes and IRLP nodes in the affected area.
The VoIP Hurricane Net will self-activate if approached by a region affected by a hurricane requesting support.
That support could be net controls to support their local operations for a hurricane or other disaster related incident or an actual net activation on the *WX-TALK*/IRLP reflector 9219 or backup IRLP 9508/*VKEMCOMM* system.
Control or lead the net, NO station is recognized without the permission of the Net Control Station.
Designate other hams to run and do things as required.
Examples: Have backup net control/liaison stations look for weather reports on other EchoLink/IRLP nodes and have stations looking for other priority emergency stations on other frequencies or be ‘liaison’ to the Net control Station.
Dictate and control whether a net is formal or informal.
Home Stations offer the best form of Net Control Stations.
Net Controls at home can typically perform net control for longer periods of time.
Allows “immobilized” Amateurs to participate in the VoIP Hurricane Net and serve a vital function.
Provide tremendous assistance to VoIP Hurricane Net operations.
As NCS, ALWAYS be on the frequency, if you need to leave the frequency, have someone else take the net over.
As NCS, ALWAYS respond to the station calling, if you are unsure who is calling or if two stations were double keying, ask for more stations to check into the net.
As NCS in a formal net, you control how stations conduct themselves to you as net control and to other stations on the net.
If there are stations that are weak and you cannot hear the stations, look for stations on the given node that can check on the input of the repeater to see if they can be heard and have the appropriate information relayed. Also have all other net stations do the same in case someone can relay to you as net control.
Utilize backup net control/‘liaison’ stations wherever possible to assist you in doing tasks, such as making phone calls, sending or receiving information to served agency liaison stations, checking on other repeaters for emergency info etc.
As NCS, you must be aware of the stress the stations in the affected area are experiencing.
Be patient with the stations.
Empathize with their situation and check on their health and well being along with requesting for any information from the station in the area in times of light traffic.
The stations may make requests that maybe unusual. Do your best to answer those requests provided they are legal. Even if they are somewhat beyond the scope of the net, any help provided to the station in the affected area means they will do more to help the net further.
Keep in mind as a Net Control you will sense and feel the stress they are feeling being involved in the operation.
Try and control that stress and be kind and considerate to the stations in the affected area that need our support.
There is an AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) VoIPWXNet chat room for net controls and net management to utilize during the weekly VoIP Hurricane Net and Net activations.
To access the chat room do the following:
Add your AOL Screen name to your buddy list.
Right click on your name and choose the selection that says either chat and then select “Buddy Chat” or a selection that simply says “Send Chat Invitation”.
A chat invitation box will appear. In the Chat Room row you will see text that says “chat” and a long #. Replace the long number so it reads “chatvoipwxnet” without the quotations and click send.
You will then be brought into the chat room. You may need to click an accept to the invite after you do step 3.
Sysop Control of the IRLP/EchoLink Conference System
System can be controlled easily through the EchoLink side of the system.
To control the system do the following:
Type .sysop <password>
If you have put in the correct password, the system will reply with the statement “By Your Command”.
Be sure to enter the period before the word sysop or the sysop password will be passed over the system. If this happens, please notify the net management team that this has happened so the password can be changed.
If you type in the .sysop <password> and you did not get a reply from the system, you have not obtained sysop access. Try again and make sure you have the correct password.
Once you have access you can mute, unmute, kick and disconnect stations. Some examples follow below:
.mute kd1cy or .mute stn6390 (stations listed as stn and the number are IRLP nodes.)
For muting of links or repeaters be sure to include the –R or –L if linked via echolink such as .mute KD1CY-L or .mute KD1CY-R
To unmute stations do .unmute kd1cy or .unmute stn4159.
You may also disconnect or kick nodes off the system by doing .kick kd1cy, .kick stn4260 or .disconnect vk3rtl-r.
Assuring Proper Audio/Config Settings on Your EchoLink/IRLP Node or Station
Net Controls need to make sure their EchoLink PC station or EchoLink/IRLP node has loud enough and crisp enough audio.
You can check and make sure your audio is correct by doing the following:
On the EchoLink side, connect your node or PC to the *ECHOTEST* conference server, node #9999.
If you’re on an EchoLink node, listen to the audio to check for quality. If you’re on a PC, listen to the audio and make sure when you talk, the meter touches into the yellow when you speak. Adjust volume levels in EchoLink by going into Tools->Adjust Volume->Microphone.
For IRLP, you can check into any IRLP Reflector channel from 9990-9999 and talk and the audio will be played back for you with channels 8 and 9 being. Channels 9998/9999 are GSM channels.
Please be sure to disable conferencing on an EchoLink PC/node by going into Tools->Preferences->Connections. Make sure allow conferences is not checked.
If you are coming in through an EchoLink or IRLP node/link and the audio needs work or conferencing needs to be shut off, you will need to work with the node owner to make sure the audio levels/conferencing configuration can be corrected.
There is a specific reporting criteria that is similar to most SKYWARN reporting criteria that should be utilized when sending reports to WX4NHC.
The reporting criteria is posted on the VoIPWXNet web site at http://www.voipwx.net and click reporting criteria from the main menu.
To send in the reports go to http:// www.voipwx.net and click on the reporting form which will appear in the main menu or go to http://www.wx4nhc.org and then click on online reporting form.
Reporting forms are taken offline from the various web sites when the net is not active to prevent spammers from putting false reports or erroneous information.
If the reporting form link is not visible, contact net management for the link to the reporting form on the voipwx.net web site and to turn the link to the webform on for the main menu of the voipwx,net web site.
After the training session, net controls may want to add the reporting form link as a favorite in case the link to the form has not been turned on to the web site.
Let’s take a moment to go through the reporting criteria and the criteria notes and then the two entry forms for data.
Net Controls should try and get as much information as possible if the Amateur is at a safe location and has time to provide the information.
Be sure to select the right ocean for the voipwx.net webform and get the town and state of the reporting station and fill out the correct date and time for the report.
Have a map available to look up the location and possibly provide the county of the report. This will also allow you to spell the location correctly.
With estimated or measured wind reports, try and get an approximate wind direction and a sustained and peak wind gust if the Amateur has the information.
If the Amateur has a weather station, be sure to get the wind direction, sustained wind and peak wind gust, barometric reading (if available) and rain gauge total for the event (if available).
If the Amateur is reporting tree and power line damage, ask for the diameter of the trees or tree branches, whether its wires down or whole utility poles and the diameter if utility poles are reported blown down.
Have the Amateur estimate the winds sustained and in gusts if any damage is reported.
If the Amateur is reporting structural damage to a home, business, school, shelter or other structure, try and get as much information as possible provided the station has the time and is at a safe location. Some key points to ask:
If the roof is damaged, the type of roof and how much damage (is it a flat roof, flat tar roof, is it shingles blown off the roof as a few example questions.)
Is there any structural damage to doors, windows or walls of the structure.
If a tornado, funnel cloud or waterspout is reported, ask the Amateur where its located and the direction of travel possibly giving landmarks or major routes in the area of where its being reported. Also, give any damage that can be seen from the Amateur’s location if they are in a safe place.
For storm surge flooding, determine a rough depth to the flooding and any damage to coastal homes, docks, boats and other structures.
For river/stream/urban flooding, determine the depth of the flooding, what roads are affected, what rivers or streams are out of their banks or if its flooding caused by poor drainage/excessive rainfall in the area.
Remember, gauge the situation on the Amateur’s ability and amount of time to give you more specific information.
Make sure their well-being is not in danger and that you are concerned about their well-being and very much appreciate that they are giving you this information in a potentially dangerous situation.
If the report meets criteria but is incomplete, fill out the reporting form and state in the report that you tried to obtain as much info as possible and no further information is available.
Use judgment in determining whether the report should be filed online. There may be cases where the report is so incomplete it should not be filed at all or shouldn’t be filed until more details are known.
Ask WX4NHC if the report should be filed online or go direct with the Amateur giving the report when WX4NHC is on the system and copy down the report and request whether the report should be put in the online form.
This is one of the most difficult tasks of net operation.
National Hurricane Center Advisory and Updates
The National Hurricane Center issues advisories and tropical cyclone updates at different time intervals depending on the intensity of the hurricane and its proximity to land areas.
There are three different products all net controls/backup net controls and liaisons should understand:
Tropical Cyclone Advisories (Includes Public and Marine advisories, a Technical Discussion and Tropical Cyclone probabilities.)
Tropical Cyclone Position Estimates
Tropical Cyclone Updates
We will break down each of these products and teach how important it is to know when each product is issued and to be monitoring and updating the net with the key information from these products as they issued.
It is important to pass on the latest information to the net. Stale information via the net can result in confusion and can hurt the integrity of the net.
The source of the upcoming slides on National Hurricane Center products is via the following web link:
Advisory packages include a public advisory, a marine advisory, a technical discussion and wind speed probabilities.
Public advisories are typically the only advisories read over the air.
When first issue, the advisory can be read in abbreviated form at the Net Control’s discretion as required if traffic on the net is heavy. Should also be read periodically in abbreviated form if traffic on the net is light.
Other parts of the advisory package can be used as a precursor for watching for the issuance of the public advisory which can be read over the net.
Advisories are typically issued by the National Hurricane Center every 6 hours when no coastal watches and warnings are in effect.
When coastal watches/warnings are in effect, advisories are typically issued every 2-3 hours.
Special public advisories are issued anytime there are significant changes in the system or changes in watch/warning information.
The end of each advisory contains when the next scheduled advisory is expected.
Net Controls should make sure they are monitoring for the next advisory when they are not busy fielding reports and utilize their backup net control/liaison to monitor for new information from the National Hurricane Center.
From the VoIP Hurricane Net Operations manual, here is a sample of reading the key elements of an advisory in abbreviated form:
This is KD1CY, Net Control for the VoIP Hurricane Net. We will now read a brief summary on the latest conditions for Hurricane Frances, At 8 PM EDT, 0000z, the center of Hurricane Frances was located near Latitude 25.1 North/75.4 West or about 300 miles east of Daytona Beach Florida, Frances is moving toward the west-northwest at 10 MPH and this expected motion will continue with a turn toward the north later tonight. Maximum Sustained winds are 105 MPH with higher gusts; little change in strength is forecast for the next 24 hours. Hurricane Force Winds extend outward up to 105 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 250 miles from the center. Minimum Central Pressure is 980 MB or 28.80 inches.
Above sample reading can be broken up into two parts if required.
NHC Tropical Cyclone Position Estimate Description
Tropical Cyclone Position Estimates are issued between 2-hourly intermediate advisories whenever a tropical cyclone with a well-defined radar center is within 200 nautical miles of land-based radar in the United States.
These estimates give the following:
Center location in map coordinates.
Distance and direction from a well-known point.
If you note advisories being issued at 2 hour intervals in the public advisory, look for these tropical cyclone estimate products.
They are short and provide the latest position of the system.
Should replace abbreviated advisory reading at 15 minute time intervals if traffic on the net is light.
Gather the maximum sustained wind information and minimum central pressure information utilizing the previous full public advisory.
Check the date and time and click on appropriate link and look for data on the system we are actively monitoring.
Updated advisory links are now posted right to the VoIPWXNet web site.
Links to Radar and Local Warning Information for the Affected Area
The following are links to local radar, satellite and warning information to assist with tracking of the hurricane:
Every radar site (delayed by 10 minutes) is available via this link:
Satellite information is available via this link:
Warning information is available via the following sites:
http://kamala.cod.edu/svr for local Tornado and flood warnings.
http://kamala.cod.edu/SPC for SPC Tornado Watches and discussions
http://twister.sbs.ohio-state.edu/severe.html for various watch and warning information
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/ select the state and click go for watch/warning info.
As time allows Net Controls/backups can pass along this data keeping in mind the main goal is to gather weather and damage reports and connect agencies together and to provide these agencies with the data if required.
Radar and Local Warning Information for the Affected Area
Net Controls may have access to WeatherTap, EMWIN, StormLab, Gibson Ridge and other premium or local sources for warning information for the affected area of hurricanes.
Net Controls can utilize those resources as required provided they are timely and precise.
This presentation gives a sampling of the links and resources that are available.
There maybe other resources that may be of use to the Net Controls not mentioned in this presentation and provided those resources are timely, they can be utilized as well.
The VoIP Net Management team is working on making more resources to pertinent severe weather information available via the web site, http://www.voipwx.net
Questions and Comments on This NCO Training Seminar
This NCO training seminar is a work in progress and more changes and work will be done to this seminar as things change and as we get feedback.
Now that we are at the end of this seminar, we’d like to ask for any questions or comments on this session.
A list of contacts for the net and the VoIPWXNet web site is listed on the last slide.
VoIP Hurricane Net Contact Us KD1CY-Rob Macedo – [email_address] Director Net Operations K2DCD-Dennis Dura – [email_address] Assistant Director Net Operations KB3MSE - Matt Hoppes – [email_address] Net Control Training Coordinator KB1KQW-Jim Palmer – [email_address] Weekly and Activation Net Control Schedule KC5FM – Lloyd Colston – [email_address] Public Information Officer VK3JED – Tony Langdon – [email_address] Technical Coordinator http://www.voipwx.net