Special Announcement: Merry Christmas/Happy New Year/Happy Holidays to All SKYWARN Spotters & Amateur Radio Operators!
Hello to all..
On behalf of the entire Amateur Radio Group at WX1BOX, the Amateur Radio station for NWS Taunton Massachusetts, and the forecaster staff at NWS Taunton, we would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holiday season. 2014 was another interesting year for weather across the region. The winter was active with multiple moderate snowstorms and even two blizzards that affected portions of East Coastal Massachusetts and Cape Cod and the Islands (early January 2014 and late March 2014) with 4 blizzard warnings issued for our East Coastal Massachusetts and Cape Cod and Islands region over the course of the winter. While the summer of 2014 featured dry and pleasant weather with few very hot and humid days, the summer of 2014 can be characterized as the summer that had cases of significant severe weather events across our coverage area. As we wind down 2014, we had the nor’easter just before Thanksgiving that caused widespread power outages and tree damage across New Hampshire with pockets of tree and wire damage in northern and western Massachusetts from heavy wet snow accumulation and several other nor’easters that affected our region as the weather became milder for this time of year.
Many of you provided critical reports, pictures and videos that supported and resulted in the protection of life and property and timely warnings being issued based on the surface reporting and ground truth that is so critical in confirming what the radar is or is not seeing. This information was then shared with local, state and federal emergency management and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are always looking for situational awareness and disaster intelligence to gage the level of response and recovery required for an incident. They remain extremely impressed with all the work that all of you do and they extend their appreciation. That appreciation of the weather and damage reports is highly recognized by many of the media outlets as well who thank SKYWARN Spotters and Amateur Radio Operators on television and over social media such as Facebook and Twitter. This mission could not be done without all of your support.
A quick synopsis of 2014 showed an active winter weather pattern with numerous snow storms affecting the region in January into February 2014. The winter storms came at a fast clip with storms in the moderate to heavy snowfall category and some nor’easters that also caused coastal flood and wind impacts. Another item that was interesting to note with some of these winter storms were that temperatures during a few of these storms were extremely cold, in some cases in the single digits and lower teens which is fairly rare for this part of the country. There were three notable storms during this time period though there were a significant total number of storms during this time period. One of these notable storms was the January 2nd-3rd 2014 major winter storm which met blizzard criteria over portions of Cape Cod and the Islands and East Coastal Massachusetts. This storm had an area of ocean enhanced snow with much larger total storm accumulations over a localized area of the north shore of Massachusetts and a moderate coastal flood event over portion of East Coastal Massachusetts and Cape Cod and the Islands with pockets of wind damage. This storm also had high snowfall rates with temperatures near in the single digits to zero degrees which is very unusual for this region. The second notable storm was the January 21st, 2014 major winter storm which had blizzard warnings posted for portions of Cape Cod and the Islands and East Coastal Massachusetts once again with heavy snowfall totals and pockets of wind damage. The third notable winter storm during this period was the February 15th-16th, 2014 major winter storm which also had blizzard warnings up for portions of East Coastal Massachusetts and Cape Cod and the Islands with a heavier and wetter snow causing pockets of tree and wire damage in this area through the rest of southeast New England and snow totals in the 8-15 inch range. Other winter storms during this time period resulted in heavy snow accumulations across interior Southern New England.
As we transitioned from winter to spring, March was very quiet but ‘ended like a lion’ with two significant storms. The first storm on March 26th, 2014 was a significantly powerful winter storm that despite only giving a glancing blow to Southern New England caused hurricane force wind gusts on Cape Cod and the Islands with tree and wire damage and blizzard conditions with the fourth blizzard warning of the 2014 winter season. While snow amounts were in the 3-6″ range on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard and closer to 9-10″ on Nantucket Island, blizzard criteria was met in these areas. Had this storm been as little as 50-100 miles closer, the impacts in this region and across Southern New England would have been much greater. Its also noted that this storm event and the high winds that followed contributed to a fire that rapidly spread through a building in Boston killing 2 firefighters. Our thoughts and prayers remain with those families. Just 3-4 days later on March 29th-March 30th, 2014, another nor’easter affected the region with widespread heavy rainfall of 2-4″ with an axis of 4-7″ of rain in Southeast New England. This caused significant urban and poor drainage flooding and some small stream flooding in the region. Cold air then rushed into the area resulting in a period of light snow on March 31st 2014 as the storm departed.
As we moved into the summer, the summer severe thunderstorm season was characterized by a more active pattern than 2013 with several typical Southern New England type of severe weather events and outbreaks over the region. Some of the highlights over this summer of 2014 included a severe thunderstorm/large hail event that affected the region on Sunday May 25th, 2014 particularly in Central New England. Numerous reports of hail and some reports of large hail were received across the region. After some marginal severe weather events in June, the ‘first peak’ of the 2014 summer severe weather season occurred in July. Numerous severe weather events spanned the month of July. Some of the highlights include the July 3rd 2014 severe weather outbreak where severe thunderstorms caused pockets of wind damage and large hail across Western Massachusetts and Southwest New Hampshire in the late afternoon and early evening and after weakening over Central New England, intensified again over Eastern Massachusetts with additional pockets of tree and wire damage and large hail reported. Several Amateur Radio Operators homes were affected by down trees and power lines including on their cars and houses in Eastern Massachusetts with one Amateur suffering antenna damage to his home as the severe thunderstorms moved through. Several SKYWARN Spotters and Amateur Radio Operators provided damage photos from this event which was characterized as straight line wind damage and microburst related damage.
On July 4th, the cold front would interact with Hurricane Arthur passing a little less than 100 miles from Nantucket Island. This would cause significant heavy rainfall in Southeast New England with widespread 3-6″ of rain with higher amount as high as nearly 8″ in New Bedford, Massachusetts. This caused widespread significant flooding in urban and poor drainage areas and some small stream flooding. Numerous cars were stuck in flood waters particularly in New Bedford and Fairhaven causing a flash flood emergency to be issued for this area. As the heavy rainfall lessened in South Coastal Massachusetts and Rhode Island, tropical storm force criteria was met across Outer Cape Cod and Nantucket with winds as high as 61 MPH recorded in this area and sustained winds of tropical storm force. These winds caused pockets of tree and wire damage in that area.
On July 7th, another significant severe weather event impacted portions of Northwest, North-Central and Northeast Massachusetts. This caused pockets of wind damage across Franklin and Northern Worcester Counties of Massachusetts along with large hail. The town of Ashburnham Massachusetts was hit with significant wind damage from a microburst through the center of town. This spread into portions of Northeast Massachusetts with one hard hit community in Northeast Massachusetts being the city of Bedford, Massachusetts. Amateur Radio SKYWARN Spotter reports from this area were crucial in showing the area of significant damage caused by a microburst. This activity prompted a tornado warning into the Boston area with a funnel cloud spotted over Fenway Park in Boston. Other notable severe weather days that prompted a SKYWARN Activation and even a tornado warning was on Tuesday July 15th where pockets of significant wind damage occurred in locations such as Andover, North Andover, Methuen and Lawrence.
As we moved into late July, Sunday July 27th 2014 and Monday July 28th 2014 were an active period of severe weather for Southern New England. On Sunday July 27th, severe thunderstorms moved across the area particularly in the late afternoon and evening but initial thunderstorms in the early afternoon resulted in a funnel cloud spotted in Springfield that never touched down but the parent severe thunderstorm caused minor wind damage in the Springfield area and that storm along with a cluster of storms that organized in Worcester County caused flooding issues in the city of Worcester. Later that afternoon and evening, severe thunderstorms with wind gusts clocked at 60 MPH per Amateur Radio SKYWARN Spotters and winds of higher gusts caused a swath of wind damage extending from Huntington to Agawam Massachusetts and down through Enfield, Somers, Vernon and Tolland, Connecticut as well as reports of large hail. In Tolland, CT, roof structural damage was done to a restaurant along with tree and wire damage. This was one of the more active severe weather events for 2014 in Connecticut and the Southwest part of Massachusetts.
On Monday Morning July 28th 2014, the region had another impulse move into an unstable atmosphere. Initially, the activity was largely confined to significant flash flooding over a very tough time of day as it coincided with the morning commute and that was what was expected for the morning with a severe weather threat expected for the afternoon and evening. One thunderstorm, however, would become severe in Needham and cross into the Chelsea and Revere area. This severe thunderstorm would eventually spawn the rain wrapped tornado that caused significant damage in Revere and just over the line in Chelsea at the Revere line. Structural damage to buildings with windows blown out and roofs blown off buildings occurred with many trees and wires down. The tornado was short-lived despite the significant damage lasting only a few minutes. This same parent severe thunderstorm would cause straightline wind damage over parts of Essex County including Lynn, and Topsfield, Massachusetts. Amateur Radio SKYWARN Spotters working and contacting Revere Police Department over Twitter were some of the first reports received of the damage of this tornado allowing for an expedient survey of the extent of the damage and the EF-2 Tornado classification. Later on Monday, additional severe weather with pockets of wind damage and large hail affected portions of Southern New England during the late afternoon and evening.
As we got into August, a severe thunderstorm event with large hail affected portions of Southern New England on August 5th with heavy rainfall and flooding issues on August 13th. Later in August into early September, a ‘second peak’ of summer severe weather occurred. A marginal day for severe weather in Southern New England produced an EF-0 Tornado in Worcester, MA. Amateur Radio SKYWARN Spotters in Worcester and a SKYWARN Spotter who was significantly impacted by the EF-3 Tornado from June 1st, 2011 when he lived in Monson, Mass were the first to report this tornado on the ground and the damage that occurred including pictures and a preliminary view of the damage area. This made for confirmation of this tornado very quick and within a few hours of it touching down, it was confirmed as a tornado. The spotter reports in coordination with radar trends resulted in a tornado warning being issued as it was on the ground and lifted very quickly thereafter. After a marginal severe weather event on Tuesday September 2nd, the hottest conditions of the summer occurred and resulted in a severe weather outbreak in Southern New Hampshire and Northern Massachusetts on Saturday September 6th. The hardest hit areas included the Bernardston/Leyden/Northfield, Mass area, the Hollis New Hampshire area and Ipswich, Massachusetts which were all declared microbursts after storm surveys completed by NWS Taunton working with Amateur Radio SKYWARN Spotter Coordinators. Lightning also injured several people with one injury from wind damage when a tree fell on a person entrapping their leg. The last significant severe thunderstorm event occurred at an unusual time, in the early morning hours of Wednesday October 8th, where an unusual setup for Southern New England in October resulted in severe thunderstorms in Northwest Connecticut and Western Massachusetts with a microburst in Easthampton, MA rated at 100 MPH with widespread tree and wire damage on one side of Mount Tom and trees and wires down blocking Mountain Road in Easthampton. Other damage reports were received in Hadley and Hatfield, Mass with another microburst reported in Leyden, Massachusetts.
As we transitioned further into Fall and Winter, a significant nor’easter on October 22nd-23rd 2014 impacted Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island with heavy rainfall in the 2-5″ range with isolated 5-7″ amounts over parts of the region and strong to damaging winds with gusts over 60 MPH in parts of the region. Thunderstorms with small hail even occurred in portions of Rhode Island associated with this nor’easter along with minor to moderate coastal flooding in East Coastal Massachusetts. At the height of the storm, 50000 people were without power mostly in Eastern Massachusetts. Another nor’easter would impact the region on November 1st into November 2nd with the first light dusting of snow recorded near the end of the storm after strong winds, heavy rainfall and minor coastal flooding in East Coastal Massachusetts. On November 26th, 2014, the first significant winter storm impacted Southern New England particularly in Southern New Hampshire Northwest and North-Central Massachusetts with 6-10 inches of heavy wet snow with higher amounts up to 15″ in the higher elevations. The weight of the wet snow caused significant tree and wire damage particularly in Southern New Hampshire but also in Northern Massachusetts while after a period of snow and ice caused treacherous road conditions in Eastern Massachusetts, heavy rain and strong winds caused isolated flooding and wind damage issues in Southeast New England. As we moved into December 2014, another nor’easter significantly impacted the region on Tuesday December 9th with flooding issues in urban areas particularly in Northeast Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island with widespread 2-4″ of rainfall with isolated higher amounts as high as 6-7″ occurring in some areas. We are currently monitoring via SKYWARN self-Activation the storm system affecting the region this Christmas Eve into Christmas Day with the potential for heavy rainfall and urban and poor drainage flood issues and the possibility for some isolated pockets of wind damage.
As we look back at 2014, it is important to remember as well the significant contributions of N1FY-Carl Aveni and the send off done for Carl has he continues his travels in Europe. After 19 years of service, Carl left the NWS Taunton SKYWARN program to pursue travels across Europe. A link to his send off and pictures from the send off from the WX1BOX Facebook page appear here:
As we move forward in 2015, we will be continuing our commitment to SKYWARN training. Planning has already started with several sessions booked. The latest 2015 SKYWARN Training Schedule can be seen at the following link:
We also know that we’ve continued to have a large influx of SKYWARN Spotters and Amateur Radio Operators and will be documenting ways to communicate with us during activation and assure people understand the self-activation and activation protocols used today. It has been a long time since we’ve communicated these practices as active weather early in 2014 precluded this being completed so that will be done as we get into 2015 and during that time, we can also look at ways spotters and Amateurs can become more active in supporting efforts to gather critical reports from other areas beyond where they are located and do so in a precise manner.
We will also continue to embrace new technologies while maintaining all the other technologies utilized to gather as much real-time and precise meteorological and damage report information as possible. Over the course of 2013-2014, we completed work by bolstering our Amateur Radio HF and 6 Meters capabilities with both functioning at full capacity and continue to test out Amateur Radio simplex as well as continued usage of all the SKYWARN Amateur Radio Repeaters and radio linked systems via the Internet that are at our disposal as well as monitoring of weather stations ingested over APRS and into the Mesonet networks that have supported and helped with seeing what is happening on the ground. We are still looking at a new Amateur Radio technology called NBEMS, the Narrow Band Emergency Messaging System, as a potential means to gather weather spotter data digitally over Ham Radio.
We continue to have our twitter feed setup and you can follow WX1BOX on twitter by following our Amateur Radio Call-Sign, WX1BOX and have our WX1BOX Facebook page available as well. NWS Taunton has also continued the use of their Twitter and Facebook feeds as well over the course of 2014. SKYWARN Spotters and Amateur Radio Operators can follow WX1BOX and ‘NWSBoston’ on twitter and on facebook can ‘like’ these pages. They are available via the following links:
WX1BOX Amateur Radio SKYWARN Facebook Page:
NWS Taunton Facebook Page:
WX1BOX Amateur Radio SKYWARN Twitter Feed:
NWS Taunton Twitter feed:
We are also continuing to look at other ways to get near-real time video and pictures while also continuing to receive pictures and videos hours and days after a major severe weather event. This will further enhance our abilities to gather situational awareness and disaster intelligence information in a short period of time.
We, again, want to provide a tremendous THANK YOU to all of you that supported SKYWARN and the National Weather Service during 2014. We wish everyone once again, a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Holiday Season and hope people enjoy their time with family and friends during this joyous holiday season!
Robert Macedo (KD1CY)
ARES SKYWARN Coordinator
Eastern Massachusetts ARES Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator
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