and Disaster Response
Hurricane season offers a chance to highlight a critical service in the nation's disaster warning and response arsenal: Amateur Radio. 'Ham radio' operators - who serve as volunteers in all emergencies requiring Amateur Radio support - have operated the Hurricane Watch Net for decades, feeding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Hurricane Center (NHC) important data on impending storms that cannot be gathered otherwise, even with today's sophisticated weather tracking systems. Amateurs also operate out of NHC under the callsign WX4NHC , collecting hurricane reports from eyewitnesses and giving forecasters essential, real-time data to enhance the accuracy of their models.
WX4NHC offers backup communications to the NHC when a storm directly hits Miami. In the aftermath of a hurricane, Amateur Radio may be the only means of communicating with the affected area. After Hurricane Katrina, for instance, more than 1,000 hams assisted FEMA, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and local and state officials with desperately needed emergency communication. These activities, and more, preserve property and save lives before a hurricane; they also assist rescue efforts and initial community rebuilding.