Amateur Radio News

The Cyclone Station that Keeps Us Safe, WX4NHC

Congratulations to Amateur Radio station WX4NHC as it celebrates its 40th year of public service at the National Hurricane Center (NHC), located on campus at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. The station is run by 30 specially trained volunteer operators and is activated when a hurricane comes within 300 miles of landfall in the western Atlantic, Caribbean, or eastern Pacific. WX4NHC’s sole mission is to save lives.

The volunteer operators work together with Hurricane Watch NetVoIP WX-Talk Hurricane Net, ON-NHC (Observers Network), and CWOP (Citizens Weather Observer’s Program) to collect real-time weather data surface reports from hurricane-affected areas. These reports are then relayed to hurricane forecasters. Dr. Richard Knabb, Director of the National Hurricane Center, describes the partnership between forecasters and Ham operators:

“They are key partners with us as we disseminate forecasts and warnings, and collect all available data both while an active tropical cyclone is out there, and after the event when the crucial task of documenting the impacts is conducted. Our Ham Radio friends are as passionate as we are at NHC about disaster safety and preparedness, and they provide a method of communicating that has withstood the test of time, even in the midst of other technological advances.”

Ham operators at WX4NHC use various modes to communicate during hurricanes, including HF, shortwave radio, VHF/UHF, VoIP (voice over internet protocol), EchoLink, IRLP, and Automatic Packet Reporting Systems (APRS). The station also provides back-up emergency communication to and from the National Hurricane Center during a direct hit on Miami, and provides hurricane advisories over Ham Radio to affected areas and governmental agencies when other methods of communication fail.

WX4NHC is nationally recognized for its international humanitarian efforts by the National Hurricane Conference and the South Florida Hurricane Conference. The station was the recipient of the National Hurricane Center Award in 1998 and 1999, and won the South Florida Hurricane Conference Award in 2001.

WX4NHC is currently looking for new volunteers. Read the station’s Hurricane Season Letter to Amateur Radio Stations in Hurricane Affected Areas to learn how to get involved.

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