Hurricane Season Shortwave Radio Listening...

When hurricane season descends upon the Caribbean and the Southeastern United States, it brings a mix of anxiety, preparation, and vigilance. The power of nature can be both awe-inspiring and devastating, as seen in places like Carriacou, Grenada, and other surrounding areas. During these times, reliable communication becomes essential, and shortwave radios have proven to be invaluable tools for information gathering. Brands like Tecsun, Grundig, ETON, and C. Crane are at the forefront of this technology, providing crucial support for both emergency services and the general public.

In this post, we will delve into the importance of shortwave radio listening during hurricane season, explore the capabilities of some of the best radios available, and highlight the essential role played by networks such as the Hurricane Watch Net.

The Importance of Shortwave Radio During Hurricane Season

Shortwave radios are crucial during hurricane season because they operate on frequencies that can travel vast distances, especially at night. These radios can pick up transmissions from thousands of miles away, making them perfect for receiving updates when local communication infrastructure is down.

During hurricanes, power outages and the destruction of cell towers can sever communication lines. Shortwave radios, however, can still receive broadcasts, providing critical information about the storm’s path, intensity, and emergency instructions. This can be lifesaving, especially in remote areas or islands like Carriacou, where other forms of communication might be completely unavailable.

Tecsun Radios: Reliable and Affordable

Tecsun radios are renowned for their reliability and affordability. They offer a wide range of models suitable for both novice and experienced radio listeners. Here are a few standout features:

- High Sensitivity and Selectivity: Tecsun radios can pick up weak signals and differentiate between closely spaced stations, which is crucial during emergencies when many broadcasters might be transmitting simultaneously.

- Portability: Many Tecsun models are compact and battery-operated, making them easy to carry and use during power outages.

- Ease of Use: These radios often feature simple interfaces and intuitive controls, allowing users to quickly tune into essential broadcasts.

Recommended Tecsun Models

1. Tecsun PL-880: Known for its excellent sensitivity, selectivity, and audio quality. It also includes a rechargeable battery, making it a practical choice during extended power outages.

2. Tecsun PL-330: Offers a good balance between price and performance, featuring SSB (Single Side Band) capability, which is essential for picking up amateur radio broadcasts.

Grundig Radios: Quality and Performance

Grundig has a long-standing reputation for quality and performance in the world of shortwave radios. These radios are designed to offer clear reception and robust features, making them ideal for hurricane season listening.

- Superior Audio Quality: Grundig radios are often praised for their sound clarity, which is crucial when trying to understand emergency broadcasts.

- Durability: These radios are built to last, with many models featuring sturdy construction that can withstand rough handling.

- Advanced Features: Grundig radios often come with additional features like multiple bandwidth settings and digital signal processing, enhancing their versatility.

Recommended Grundig Models

1. Grundig Satellit 750: A high-end and hard to find model with excellent reception capabilities and a wide range of features, including SSB and multiple antenna inputs.

2. Grundig G3 Globe Traveler: Portable and user-friendly, this model offers great performance for its size and price, making it a popular choice for emergency preparedness.

C. Crane Radios: Specialized for Emergencies

C. Crane radios are specifically designed with emergency use in mind. They combine durability, functionality, and ease of use to ensure reliable communication during critical times.

- Weather Alerts: Many C. Crane models include NOAA weather alerts, providing automatic updates on severe weather conditions.

- Long Battery Life: These radios are designed to operate for extended periods on battery power, which is vital during prolonged outages.

- Versatile Power Options: Some models can be powered by hand cranks, solar panels, or rechargeable batteries, ensuring they remain operational in any situation.

Recommended C. Crane Model

1. C. Crane CC Skywave: Compact yet powerful, this model includes AM, FM, shortwave, and NOAA weather band reception, making it a versatile tool for any emergency kit.

The Hurricane Watch Net: A Lifeline in the Storm

The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) is a critical component of emergency communication during hurricane season. This network of amateur radio operators provides real-time surface reports to the National Hurricane Center, as well as handling emergency traffic and health and welfare messages.

Activation and Operations

The HWN activates whenever a hurricane is within 300 miles of landfall or poses a significant threat to populated areas. For instance, during the first activation of the 2024 season, the HWN was on-air, ready to receive surface reports and handle emergency communications as Hurricane Beryl approached Jamaica.

How It Works

The HWN operates on designated frequencies, such as 14.325.00 MHz and 7.268.00 MHz. During activations, trained volunteers monitor these frequencies, relaying critical information and assisting with emergency coordination. This network plays a pivotal role in areas where other communication methods might be compromised.

Practical Tips for Using Shortwave Radios During Hurricanes

Knowing how to effectively use your shortwave radio during a hurricane can make a significant difference. Here are some practical tips:

1. Stay Updated on Frequencies

Frequencies used for emergency broadcasts can change depending on the situation. It's important to stay updated on the latest frequencies used by the HWN and other emergency networks. Ex: The Hurricane Watch Net will activate tomorrow, Wednesday, July 3rd, at 7:00 AM EDT (1100 UTC) on 14.325.00 MHz, and at 8:30 AM EDT (1230 UTC), or just as soon as the Waterway Net has completed, on 7.268.00 MHz.

2. Practice Tuning Your Radio

Before a hurricane hits, spend some time practicing how to tune your radio. Familiarize yourself with the controls and how to quickly switch between frequencies.

3. Keep Spare Batteries

Ensure you have an ample supply of spare batteries. Consider investing in rechargeable batteries and a solar charger to maintain power during prolonged outages.

4. Use External Antennas

External antennas can significantly improve your radio's reception. During a hurricane, positioning an external antenna in a safe, elevated location can help you pick up clearer signals.

5. Stay Informed

Regularly listen to weather updates and emergency broadcasts. Pay attention to instructions from local authorities and be prepared to act on their advice.

The Role of Amateur Radio Operators

Amateur radio operators, or "hams," are an integral part of emergency communication networks during hurricanes. These skilled volunteers use their equipment and expertise to provide real-time information and support.

Training and Certification

To become a licensed amateur radio operator, individuals must pass a series of exams that test their knowledge of radio theory, regulations, and operating practices. Many operators also undergo additional training in emergency communication protocols.

Community Involvement

Amateur radio clubs often work closely with local emergency services, providing vital communication links during disasters. They participate in drills and simulations to ensure they are ready to respond when needed.

Listen to my Hurricane Katrina HamRadio 360 episode

Why Shortwave Radio Is Still Relevant

In an age dominated by digital communication, shortwave radio might seem outdated. However, its unique characteristics make it an indispensable tool during emergencies, especially during hurricane season.

Independence from Infrastructure

Shortwave radios do not rely on local infrastructure like cell towers or internet connections. This independence ensures they remain operational even when other communication methods fail.

Global Reach

Shortwave signals can travel thousands of miles, crossing oceans and continents. This global reach allows for the reception of international broadcasts, providing a broader perspective on unfolding events.

Resilience to Interference

While shortwave signals can be affected by atmospheric conditions, they are generally resilient to local interference, making them reliable during widespread power outages and communication breakdowns.


As hurricane seasons grow increasingly unpredictable, the importance of reliable communication cannot be overstated. Shortwave radios from brands like Tecsun, Grundig, and C. Crane offer a lifeline, ensuring that critical information is accessible even in the worst conditions. The efforts of networks like the Hurricane Watch Net and the dedication of amateur radio operators highlight the vital role of these technologies in safeguarding lives and property.

By understanding the capabilities of these radios and preparing effectively, individuals can stay informed and safe during hurricanes. Investing in a quality shortwave radio and learning how to use it can make all the difference when facing nature’s fiercest storms.

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Listen to my Hurricane Katrina HamRadio 360 episode

Cale(b) is an author, speaker, longtime stay at home dad and small business owner. He and his wife of over 25 years, Carla, have 5 beautiful children and 2 Goldendoodles. Caleb is a FM Radio veteran and licensed Amateur Radio Operator (K4CDN). In the days before kids and radio, he spent nearly a decade in the Professional Fire Service as an Engineer and EMT. Caleb’s heart to serve and to teach shines in his work, whether on the page or over the air.