Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holiday Season to All!

Hello to all..

The National Weather Service (NWS) Taunton SKYWARN Coordinator team and the staff of forecasters at NWS Taunton would like to take a moment to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holiday Season to all. It was another extremely successful year for the NWS Taunton SKYWARN program in 2009.

While the summer of 2009 was not as active in terms of number of events versus the summer of 2008, it was still a fairly active summer with several significant severe weather episodes resulting in 2 tornadoes in the NWS Taunton County Warning Area and several microburst/macroburst events in the region. The winter has gotten off to a busy start with 3 significant SKYWARN Activations in the month of December including one as recently as this past weekend for the Blizzard of 2009. The reports that are received by the SKYWARN Spotter and Amateur Radio SKYWARN Spotter community are a very important part of the forecasting and warning process for the National Weather Service in Taunton and is becoming increasingly critical for local, state and federal emergency management officials to gather situational awarenes and disaster intelligence on events that start out significant at the local level and could become a more widespread incident over time when severe winter or summer weather strikes. This was recently acknowledged by the attendance of FEMA and MEMA (Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency) officials who attended the last SKYWARN Coordinators Meeting that coincided with SKYWARN Recognition Day. The high level of reporting from SKYWARN Spotters and Amateur Radio SKYWARN Spotters serves a tremendously important function for NWS, Emergency Management and Public Safety officials.

Speaking of SKYWARN Recognition Day, the SKYWARN Recognition Dya event at NWS Taunton was another significant success. There were 309 total contacts made with 271 unique contacts to 41 NWS Forecast Offices. Further details will be posted in the next SKYWARN Newsletter.

In terms of SKYWARN Training, we had another successful ‘year round’ cycle of SKYWARN Training. In 2010, a new SKYWARN Training Spotter guide will be issued at SKYWARN training sessions. The new guide is significantly modernized and will have new photos and data based on the latest severe weather research. Further details on SKYWARN training will be posted as we get into the new year.

We, once again, wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holiday season. We look forward to working with everyone once again in 2010.

Respectfully Submitted,

Robert Macedo (KD1CY)
ARES SKYWARN Coordinator
Eastern Massachusetts ARES Section Emergency Coordinator
Home Phone #: (508) 994-1875 (After 6 PM)
Home/Data #: (508) 997-4503 (After 6 PM)
Work Phone #: (508) 346-2929 (8 AM-5 PM)
Email Address: rmacedo@rcn.com
http://www.wx1box.org
http://ares.ema.arrl.org

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Blizzard Coordination Message #4 – FINAL

Hello to all..

..Major Coastal Storm and Blizzard to Pound Much of Southern New England with Heavy Snowfall, Near Blizzard to Blizzard conditions with whiteout conditions likely. Strong to damaging winds will occur near and along the coast. Travel is not recommended Saturday Night and Sunday and will become difficult and nearly impossible at times in the Blizzard Warning area and southern edges of the Winter Storm Warning area..
..A Blizzard Warning remains in effect through 1 PM Sunday for South Coastal Massachusetts and Cape Cod and the Islands and has been expanded to include all of Bristol and Plymouth Counties of Massachusetts and all except Western Kent and North Providence Counties of Rhode Island for 12-16″ of snow with higher amounts in heavier snow bands up to 18″ possible in isolated locations, sustained winds of 25-35 MPH with gusts to 50-60 MPH and the potential for pockets of wind damage and power outages..
..A Winter Storm Warning remains in effect through Noon Sunday for Northern Connecticut, North-Central Rhode Island and Eastern Massachusetts and now includes Hampden, Eastern Hampshire, Northern Middlesex and all of Worcester County for a widespread area of 6-12″ of snow and a band of 10-15″ of snow in the warning area particlarly across Northern Connecitcut, Northwest RI and parts of Eastern Massachusetts..
..A Winter Weather Advisory is now in effect from 10 PM this evening through 1 PM Sunday for 3-6″ of snow for Franklin and Western Hampshire County Massachusetts and all of Southern New Hampshire..
..SKYWARN Activation with Ops at NWS Taunton will commence at 6 PM Saturday lasting through early Sunday Afternoon. Overnight Operations will be done due to the severity of the storm..
..ARES/RACES Groups should closely monitor the progress of this major storm and seek advice from local/section ARES/RACES leadership. Eastern Massachusetts ARES will be placed on stand-by at 8 PM ET Saturday through Sunday Evening. Massachusetts State EOC and Region 1 and 2 offices will be in a partial activation starting around or before 9 PM..

A major coastal storm and blizzard will pound Southern New England with heavy snowfall and near blizzard to blizzard conditions. Along and near the coast strong to damaging winds will have the potential to cause pockets of tree and power line damage and power outages. The region from Boston to Providence south through the Cape and Islands will have a period of difficult to impossible travel overnight into Sunday Morning. The following is the latest information as of 5 PM this evening:

A Blizzard Warning remains in effect through 1 PM Sunday for South Coastal Massachusetts and Rhode Island and Cape Cod and the Islands and now includes all of Bristol and Plymouth Counties of Massachusetts and all of Rhode Island except for Northwest Providence and Western Kent Counties. This area will have the potential to see 10-15″ of snow with higher amounts in heavier snow bands of up to 18″ in a few locations and a period of whiteout/blizzard conditions. Winds will increase to sustained winds of 25-35 MPH with gusts in the 50-60 MPH range near the coast with 20-30 MPH winds with 40-50 MPH gusts in locations away from the coast. This will have the potential to cause isolated to scattered pockets of tree and power line damage. Travel will become difficult if not impossible during the Blizzard Warning timeframe and travel is not recommended.

It is noted that with the track a bit more northwest that portions of the Outer Cape and Nantucket Island may have a period of mixed precipitation with sleet and rain before changing back to snow. This may cut down amounts in these areas but should still achieve warning thresholds. It is noted that this may mean a wetter snow for portions of the Cape Cod and the Islands and along with the strong winds could cause some additional damage to trees and power lines. This is an aspect of the storm that is hard to know hours ahead of time but an item that should be monitored for portions of the Blizzard Warning region.

A Winter Storm Warning remians in effect through Noon Sunday for the remainder of Eastern Massachusetts, Northwest Rhode Island and Northern Connecticut and now includes all of Worcester County Massachusetts, Hampden and Eastern Hampshire Counties of Massachusetts. In this area, a widespread area of 6-12″ of snow with a band of 10-15″ of snow is likely with a heavier snow band in Northern Connecticut, Northwest Rhode Island and into Eastern Massachusetts. Winds will be strong in the interior parts of the warning area with sustained winds of 15-25 MPH with gusts up to 30-40 MPH and this will result in considerable blowing and drifting of snow. In the area of the Warning from Boston to the North Shore, winds may be similar to what is seen in the interior but there is also the possibility of sustained winds of 20-30 MPH with gusts of 40-50 MPH resulting in considerable blowing and drifting of snow and the potential for isolated to scattered pockets of tree and power line damage. If the stronger wind threat becomes more likely the Boston area and possibly the North Shore could be upgraded to a Blizzard Warning. Regardless, travel is not recommended in this area tonight and Sunday due to the heavy snow and significant blowing and drifting of snow.

A Winter Weather Advisory is now in effect for Southern New Hampshire and Franklin County Massachusetts from 10 PM Saturday Evening through 1 PM Sunday for 3-6″ of snow. This area will escape a much larger blow from this coastal storm and nor’easter but will still receive a light to moderate snowfall.

SKYWARN Activation with Ops at NWS Taunton will commence at 6 PM and last through early Sunday Afternoon. Overnight Operations will be done due to the severity of the storm. ARES/RACES groups should closely monitor the progress of this storm and seek advice from local and section ARES/RACES leadership. Eastern Massachusetts ARES will be placed on stand-by at 8 PM ET Saturday through Sunday Evening. Massachusetts State EOC and Region 1 and 2 offices will be in a partial activation starting around or before 9 PM.

This may be the last coordination message on this system as we move to storm operations mode. Below are the NWS Taunton Blizzard/Winter Storm Warning, Winter Weather Advisory Statement, Special Weather Statement and Hazardous Weather Outlook:

NWS Taunton Blizzard/Winter Storm Warning/Winter Storm Watch Statement:
http://kamala.cod.edu/ma/latest.wwus41.KBOX.html

NWS Taunton Special Weather Statement:
http://kamala.cod.edu/ma/latest.wwus81.KBOX.html

NWS Taunton Hazardous Weather Outlook:
http://kamala.cod.edu/ma/latest.flus41.KBOX.html

Respectfully Submitted,

Robert Macedo (KD1CY)
ARES SKYWARN Coordinator
Eastern Massachusetts ARES Section Emergency Coordinator  
Home Phone #: (508) 994-1875 (After 6 PM)
Home/Data #: (508) 997-4503 (After 6 PM)
Work Phone #: 508-346-2929 (8 AM-5 PM)
Email Address: rmacedo@rcn.com
http://ares.ema.arrl.org
http://www.wx1box.org

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Special Announcement: One Year Anniversary of the December 11th-12th 2008 Major Destructive Ice Storm

Hello to all…

It has been one year since the major destructive ice storm that had a major impact on the Northeast United States and portions of Southern New England and the NWS Taunton County Warning Area on December 11th-12th, 2008 with damaging ice in portions of Southern Maine, Central and Southern New Hampshire, Western, Central and interior Northeast Massachusetts, Northwest Connecticut and portions of New York and Vermont. It is important to remember the history of such a destructive storm. This special announcement has been written to recall the events of this serious storm over the region.

It became clear by December 9th and 10th of 2008 that the region had the potential to see a destructive ice storm over the interior region of New York and New England. In addition, Southeast Massachusetts, portions of Rhode Island and Connecticut were in the path for heavy rainfall with the potential of flooding and strong to damaging winds in these areas. Just prior to the major destructive ice storm/nor’easter event, a period of strong to damaging winds affected portions of Eastern New England with mild temperatures.

Winter Storm/Ice Storm Watches were issued on December 9th and 10th and these were upgraded to Winter Storm/Ice Storm Warnings. A Flood Watch and Wind Advisory/High Wind Warnings were also issued. The storm began to unfold on Thursday December 11th starting as plain rain and as the day wore on, the rain changed to freezing rain as colder air from Canada oozed southward and was wrapped into the major storm system. By early evening, locations began to get signifcant icing and reports gradually came in of ice storm damage starting as early as 7 PM that evening. By Midnight Friday December 12th, 2008, reports were rapidly increasing of significant icing damage in the NWS Taunton County Warning Area roughly from Amesbury to Haverhill to Hudson to Marlboro to Northboro and Worcester through Southwest Worcester County Massachusetts and northward through New Hampshire, Southern Maine and Southern Vermont particularly in the higher elevations. Power, Cable and phone outages mounted and it became clear this would be one of the biggest storms to affect the region in recent memory.

It is also noted that shortly after midnight, both local area Amateur Radio repeaters in Worcester County were off the air. Through the extraordinary efforts of the Worcester Emergency Communications Team (WECT), Amateur Operators activated the city of Worcester Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and with their Amateur Radio station at nearly a 1500 foot elevation, they were able to contact stations directly and maintain contact with the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Taunton until the repeaters were brough back on the air later on Friday Morning December 12th. If it were not for the efforts of the WECT, it is quite likely critical data of what the storm was doing and how severe the storm was would not have been known until hours later. Many Amateur Operators woken up by the storm to the sound of exploding electrical transformers and the snapping and knock down of large branches and trees from the icing got on the air to report what they were seeing, even in cases where some Amateur Operators, lost whole antenna arrays and suffered severe damage on their own property that they needed to go address. It is this type of effort that made the level of reporting so extraordinary and drew praise from many agencies.

At the height of the storm, over 500,000 people were without power in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. State of emergencies were declared in New Hampshire and Massachusetts where the ice storm had its most significant impact.

Amateur Radio SKYWARN Operations active throughout the storm was the first means of providing critical situational awareness and disaster intelligence information to the National Weather Service Taunton Massachusetts and Gray Maine forecast offices, state emergency management in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts and to FEMA Region 1. The first reports of significant damange and power outages were relayed by Amateur Radio Operators. Information was given by radio and other technological mechanisms to state emergency management officials. This information was also given to local media outlets. NWS Taunton SKYWARN Amateur Radio Operations were active for 27 straight hours.

In addition to the major icing in the interior, SKYWARN operations had to focus on a fairly significant and widespread moderate river and stream flood event and a major urban flood event timed for the Friday Morning December 12th, 2008 rush hour. Winds gusted to near 60 MPH downing pockets of trees and power lines. Coastal flooding occurred along south coastal areas with vulnerable shore roads closed and some homes that were not elevated getting coastal storm surge flooding. Coastal Flood and Flood Warnings for urban areas and small streams were issued. River Flood Warnings also went into effect. This added an additional dynamic to storm reporting on top of the disaster situation that occurred with the interior New England ice storm.

Amateur Radio Operators staged an ARESMAT (Amateur Radio Emergency Services Mutual Aid Team) to Gardner Massachusetts with ARES in Eastern and Western Massachusetts active supporting local shelters in specific cities and towns.  The ARESMAT that was staged to Gardner Massachusetts was the largest mutual aid team deployed since the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City. The North Shore ARES team affiliated with the North Shore Radio Association provided a significant amount of support to Gardner as did the South Shore ARES team. North Shore ARES Coordinators also served as the primary points of contact for staging people on the ARESMAT. Amateur Operators associated with RACES and Northern Middlesex County ARES supported local cities and towns severely affected by the ice storm in Chelmsford and Westford. Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services) were active at the State Emergency Operations Center and at Region 1 and Region 3/4 headquarters for almost a week due to the direct impacts of the ice storm.

It is important to know that some weather/storm situations or non-weather sitautions can evolve into a disaster without advanced warning or without the realization that a ‘run of the mill storm’ can become such a significant dusaster situation. The reporting of this data to NWS Forecast Offices and Emergency Management can be key in escalating the recovery response more rapidly when required and can help improve forecasts on severity of such storms or if conditions are not as severe as forecasted. This is why the SKYWARN program is such an important cog for both weather forecasting and Emergency Management.

There is a significant amount of data that remains online from this destructive ice storm. Links to that data appear below:

ARRL Web Articles:
http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2008/12/15/10506/?nc=1
http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2008/12/18/10511/?nc=1
http://ares.ema.arrl.org/node/441

Ice Storm Videos:
http://www.nsradio.org/video/features/icestorm08/rev2/
http://www.nsradio.org/video/features/icestorm08/

Ice Storm Reports:
http://nsradio.org/ARES/icestorm_121208/index.htm

Local Storm Report, Public Information Statement and Special Weather Statement
from NWS Taunton during that event:
http://www.wx1box.org/files/SPS_121208.pdf
http://www.wx1box.org/files/lsr_12_12_08.txt
http://www.wx1box.org/files/pns_12_12_08.txt

This ice storm resulted in a federal disaster declaration with over 32 Million Dollars in federal aid granted in Massachusetts, 10 Million Dollars in Maine and 15 Million Dollars in New Hampshire. The federal disaster declaration was given in early January to various states and the links below describes the aid given and to what areas by state:

Massachusetts:
http://www.fema.gov/news/event.fema?id=10968

New Hampshire:
http://www.fema.gov/news/event.fema?id=10948

Maine:
http://www.fema.gov/news/event.fema?id=11008

Vermont:
http://www.fema.gov/news/event.fema?id=11029

It is hoped that another storm of this magnitude does not affect the region. If one does, the importance of storm reporting during and shortly after the incident can not only help weather forecasts but can also support recovery efforts and expedite the arrival of resources to support an area adversely effected by dangerous severe weather. Thanks to all for your continued support of the SKYWARN Program, ARES/RACES/MARS/CERT and Emergency Management!

Respectfully Submitted,

Robert Macedo (KD1CY)
ARES SKYWARN Coordinator
Eastern Massachusetts ARES Section Emergency Coordinator 
Home Phone #: (508) 994-1875 (After 6 PM)
Home/Data #: (508) 997-4503 (After 6 PM)
Work Phone #: 508-346-2929 (8 AM-5 PM)
Email Address: rmacedo@rcn.com
http://ares.ema.arrl.org
http://www.wx1box.org

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