This storm is already intense and predicted to hit the north-east side of the island tomorrow morning with hurricane force. For the last three years, we have been lucky with storms tracking to one side or the other of the QTH, but the track for this one cuts straight down the center of the island and should pass near the capital city, Antananarivo. The prediction has been consistent and is now close enough to be sure that we will experience some rough weather in the next few days.
To that end, for the first time, I have lowered the hex beam antenna. I collapsed down the telescoping sections of the heavy duty 10m spiderbeam mast and threw some additional guy lines over the central plate to which the arms attach. The wooden support beam goes two meters into the ground and is surrounded by buried concrete, so I am not worried about the base, but I do expect the fiberglass arms to be battered about. I considered dismounting the whole antenna, but that would have required more manpower than I have readily available, so it will have to ride out the storm.
After three years, the fiberglass arms look like they are in good shape, but they are “shaggy” – lots of bits of fiberglass sticking out. I wouldn’t want to touch the arms without some work gloves on.
Hopefully, surrounding trees and buildings higher than the antenna will help shield it from the worst of the wind. As for the 40m loop, I have checked that the guy lines to each vertex are secure. The top is supported by a tree, so it will likely be whipped back and forth quite a bit.
As for general infrastructure here, the year has been atypical, with little rain in our so-called rainy season. There is plenty of capacity to hold run off water and the ground should absorb water quickly, but nonetheless the sewer system and general drainage will be inadequate in the short term to handle heavy volumes, so there will be flooding. The way roads are constructed here, heavy rain is guaranteed to washout out most paved roads, so ground transportation will be compromised for some time. A few new roads were constructed hastily this year for the Francophonie event, which Madagascar hosted; I would not be surprised if little remains of these roads next week.
Power production in the capital has been marginal, attributable to failing diesel equipment and more recently to lowered hydroelectric output. The distribution grid here is brittle and typically goes down with heavy rain, particularly electrical storms, so I would expect that we’ll be running on the generator for a few days once the storm intensifies near Antananarivo.
Hopefully, these antennas will still be up at the end of the week! Update to follow.