Register Account

Login Help


Amateur Radio Importance Highlighted at National Hurricane Conference


The National Hurricane Conference was held March 25 - 28, 2024, in Orlando, Florida. Amateur radio was well represented at the event. A series of workshops were held that focused on amateur radio's involvement in hurricane tracking, coverage, and recovery.

Among the presenters was the Assistant Amateur Radio Coordinator of WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) Julio Ripoll, WD4R.   Ripoll gave a history of amateur radio's involvement in NHC, including the use of tube radios in the 1980s and the Yaesu FTDX-1200 used today. WX4NHC is also equipped with VHF/UHF radios to access the Florida Statewide Amateur Radio Network (SARnet), as well as digital equipment to communicate with the VoIP Hurricane Net, IRLP, and Winlink to receive emails via amateur radio.  

"We were the only means of communication between the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service Field Office in Slidell, Louisiana, during Hurricane Katrina," Ripoll said. He went on to highlight other instances of reports given by ham radio that provided mission-critical information that had a major impact on the way NHC handled a storm.  

ARRL Director of Emergency Management Josh Johnston, KE5MHV, gave a presentation to the crowd of hurricane experts, meteorologists, and emergency managers about the Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®).  

He spoke of ARRL's role on the board of SAFECOM, a program managed by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) that sets the standards of interoperability procedures. Being a part of the group solidifies the Amateur Radio Service as a robust resource before and during times of crisis.  

Johnston shared that in 2023, ARES volunteers contributed at least $21.8 million in volunteer hours to their local communities. "Is amateur radio still relevant? Absolutely! Are we still involved in the places that are doing things the right way? Amateur radio absolutely is," he said.  

Johnston highlighted the relationship between ARRL and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as well as ARRL's position as a net control station within the SHAred RESources High Frequency Radio Program (SHARES) managed by CISA.  

Among other presenters was ARRL's The ARES Letter Editor Rick Palm, K1CE.  

He shared a harrowing tale of his family riding out a direct hit from Hurricane Idalia in August 2023. The damage and impact he felt gave him a new perspective on emergency communications, as he went from a volunteer communicator to a storm victim. Read more about his experience in the "Public Service" column in the January 2024 issue of QST.  

Watch a video of the amateur radio workshops at the 2024 National Hurricane Conference on YouTube, courtesy of Jim Palmer, KB1KQW.



Instragram     Facebook     Twitter     YouTube     LinkedIn