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. 2015 was another interesting year for weather across the region. The winter was record breaking with a 6 week period of significant major winter storms and two blizzards that affected large portions of the NWS Taunton Coverage Area. While the summer of 2015 featured several hot and humid stretches of weather, it also featured several episodes of severe weather including the June 23rd, 2015 severe weather event and the August 4th, 2015 Severe Weather Outbreak, which was essentially 2 severe weather outbreaks in one day. In the early Fall of 2015, a couple coastal storms brought several inches of rain and pockets of flooding and wind damage to portions of Southern New England. As we wind down 2015, we have had a mild and relatively quiet weather pattern though that could change at least for a period of time as we get into next week as temperatures turn colder with a possible storm system to affect Southern New England.
As has been the case for the last several years, 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 the media, 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 2015 showed that after a period of relative quiet weather with cold temperatures in the first part of January and a few wintry mix/light icing events, the winter of 2015 would take a nasty turn. In late January, the first blizzard to strike the region would occur on Monday January 26th into Tuesday January 27th, 2015. This nor’easter resulted in blizzard conditions over an extended period much greater than 3 hours over many areas of Eastern New England with 1-3 feet of snow over a wide area with lesser amounts in western New England. Moderate to pockets of major coastal flooding affected East Coastal Massachusetts including Cape Cod and the Islands with the coastal towns of Scituate and Sandwich Mass most heavily impacted. Hurricane force wind gusts were recorded on Nantucket Island by Amateur Radio SKYWARN Spotters and the entire island lost power during this blizzard for a period of time. Damaging winds of up to 65 MPH were recorded in other parts of Southeast and Eastern New England.
After several more significant winter storms including a storm on Monday February 9th that produced a widespread 6-12″ snowfall and a bullseye of 12-24″ of snow with isolated higher amounts in the Metro Boston, North and South Shore regions and a period of near blizzard conditions, another blizzard would impact the region on Saturday Afternoon February 14th into Sunday Afternoon February 15th. Significant snowfall of 10-20″ with isolated higher amounts of 20-24″ occurred across much of Eastern New England. Wind gusts to 60 MPH caused pockets of wind damage and caused blizzard conditions in several locations from the Boston area south and east. This blizzard would be known for snowfall rates as high as 5″ per hour in several locations which resulted in the heavier snowfall totals in those locations. Roads were made impassable by snow drifts on roadways along coastal communities from this blizzard. By late March 2015, the city of Boston broke its record for snowfall previously set in the 1995-96 winter season. The winter of 2014-2015 will be known for its record breaking snowfall but also how fast the amount of snow fell over a series of major winter storms including 2 blizzards over a 6-8 week period as well as for the impacts of the 2 blizzards on the region.
Prior to the second blizzard on February 14th-15th, 2015, the National Weather Service in Taunton, SKYWARN and Amateur Radio all received excellent publicity on The Weather Channel via the AMHQ program on Friday Morning February 13th as AMHQ had segments of their program live at NWS Taunton. Amateur Radio and SKYWARN were one segment with several segments on different aspects of the upcoming potential blizzard and other NWS operations featured on the program. Jim Cantore was live at the NWS Forecast Office in Taunton interviewing the forecasters. Jim Cantore also participated in operating on Amateur Radio with an Amateur Radio Operator acting as a control operator and communicated with several Amateurs “third party” over Echolink.
The Spring of 2015 was relatively quiet with some smaller SKYWARN Activations and Self-Activations before we got into the summer season of severe weather in late May 2015. In Late May 2015, SKYWARN Activations with Ops at NWS Taunton occurred for several severe thunderstorm events with pockets of large hail and wind damage reported across portions of Northwestern, North-Central and Northeastern Massachusetts.
As we moved into late June 2015, a severe weather outbreak occurred on Tuesday June 23rd, 2015. Two tornadoes occurred with one in Wrentham, Mass and the other in Westminster, Mass and both were EF-0 in intensity. The parent cell that caused the tornado in Wrentham, Mass caused pockets of wind damage in Northern Rhode Island and other parts of Southeast Massachusetts. Pockets of wind damage were common over portions of the NWS Taunton coverage area. In Westfield, Mass, severe thunderstorms caused multiple trees down falling on trailers. Even parts of South Coastal Massachusetts and Cape Cod were affected by severe weather with wind gusts of 60 MPH recorded in Fairhaven – West Island and wind gusts as high as 65 MPH occurred in parts of Cape Cod with pockets of tree and wire damage common in parts of Falmouth, Hyannis, Woods Hole, Mashpee and Yarmouth. Just outside of the NWS Taunton coverage area, a bow echo caused widespread significant wind damage across Southern Connecticut.
A few days later, an unusual summer time nor’easter affected Southern New England on Saturday June 27th-Sunday June 28th coinciding with the annual Amateur Radio Field Day weekend event. Pockets of wind damage with wind gusts around and in excess of 50 MPH occurred with rainfall amounts in the 1-3″ range were common with reports of typical urban and poor drainage flooding. Some Amateur Radio Field Day sites were affected in Southeast New England with tents blown over or damaged by the high winds and heavy rainfall and underscores the safety required when setting up Amateur Radio Field Day sites in adverse conditions. A number of Field Day events over the past few years have been affected by severe weather and 2015 was no exception.
In July 2015, a number of localized SKYWARN Activations and severe weather events occurred though none of the events in July 2015 were particularly widespread. A microburst affected South Deerfield, Massachusetts on Tuesday July 7th 2015 with multiple trees down and a gazebo blown over from the strength of the winds. Reports of flooding from heavy rainfall in urban and poor drainage areas also occurred. On July 15th, 2015, numerous reports of urban and poor drainage flooding from rainfall of 1-3″ with isolated higher amounts in just a 1-2 hour period occurred across portions of Eastern Rhode Island and Southeast Massachusetts. Hardest hit was the Bristol and Warren, RI areas.
As we got into late July 2015, a number of SKYWARN Activations occurred over the period from July 24th-July 28th with 4 SKYWARN Activations with Ops at NWS Taunton over a 5-day period. On Friday July 24th, Rhode Island was impacted with severe thunderstorms with large hail and isolated pockets of wind damage with smaller hail impacting the North Shore and North-Central and Northeastern Massachusetts. On Sunday July 26th, isolated to scattered severe thunderstorms occurred across the North Shore of Massachusetts and portions of Western Massachusetts. On Monday July 27th, strong thunderstorms caused flash flooding across portions of both Southeastern New England and Western Massachusetts with an isolated severe thunderstorm causing large hail in Russell, MA with lightning damage reported with these strong thunderstorms. On Tuesday July 28th, scattered strong to severe thunderstorms affected Western Massachusetts and extended into Rhode Island and Southeast Massachusetts causing pockets of wind damage and urban and poor drainage flooding in these areas. A Tornado Warning was issued in Southern Rhode Island in Washington County. Measured wind gusts of 50-55 MPH were received in the Jamestown and Narragansett, RI area with pockets of tree and wire damage and 1″ diameter hail but no tornado touchdown occurred.
This brought us into August 2015 and to the August 4th, 2015 Severe Weather Outbreak which was the equivalent of 2 major severe weather outbreaks in 1 day by Southern New England standards. The first round affected Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts with widespread pockets of tree and wire damage and power outages. Hardest hit was Rhode Island which had power outages that were greater than what occurred in Hurricane Sandy. In Southeast Massachusetts, power outages and damage were more scattered but still significant in the spots that they occurred. Wind gusts as high as 83 MPH were measured in Charlestown, RI with widespread wind gusts in the 60-70 MPH range. A second round of severe weather would occur in a different part of the NWS Taunton coverage area across Western, Central and Northeastern Massachusetts with large hail as big as 2″ in diameter in many locations with pockets of tree and wire damage but the bigger severe weather mode was the large hail. A complete write-up appeared in the Fall 2015 edition of the Prevailing Winds SKYWARN Newsletter both from a meteorological and SKYWARN perspective with a post severe weather coordination message also sent on this significant severe weather outbreak across the NWS Taunton Coverage area. Links to this information appear below:
Fall 2015 Prevailing Winds SKYWARN Newsletter:
Post Severe Weather Coordination Message – August 4th, 2015:
This event also garnered national publicity for the SKYWARN program and Amateur Radio with an interview with the AMHQ team including Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel. The prior work during the winter season showed the clear value of all the volunteer efforts and how important our role is to understanding the impacts of severe weather in near real-time.
Additional events included on August 15th and August 25th, 2015. On August 15th, straight-line winds caused numerous trees down in Natick with trees falling on homes along with hail up to Nickel sized. Pockets of large hail and wind damage affected portions of Western, Central and Northeast Massachusetts with significant urban and poor drainage flooding in locations such as Framingham, Natick, and Worcester, Mass. On August 25th, 2015, reports of flooding and wind damage occurred from scatted strong to severe thunderstorms in Western Massachusetts and Northwest Connecticut.
September was a very quiet month overall with just one self-activation of SKYWARN for heavy rainfall from thunderstorms along South-Coastal Massachusetts in the September 10th-11th timeframe until September 30th and into October 1st-2nd, 2015 where a nor’easter system would cause 3-6″ of rainfall, urban and poor drainage flooding and pockets of wind damage and minor coastal flooding in the area. The brunt of the storm affected the area on September 30th but extended into October 1st and 2nd with several rounds of minor coastal flooding and strong winds with additional rainfall in Southeast New England. The storm in some ways brought beneficial rainfall after an extended dry period of weather but much of the rainfall occurred in a 24-hour period resulting in some of the urban and poor drainage flooding issues. Wind gusts in the 45-55 MPH range were common with this storm.
Later in October 2015, an isolated severe thunderstorm caused pockets of straight-line wind damage in Monson, Mass on the Wilbraham line with trees and wires down and 12 hours of clean up work on October 9th. One week later, a surprise strong to severe thunderstorm event caused hail, mostly sub-severe in South Coastal Massachusetts and Rhode Island and pockets of wind damage on Cape Cod in the Chatham Mass area where a 65 MPH wind gust occurred. In late October 2015, another coastal storm system brought 1-3″ of rainfall with isolated 4″ plus rainfall amounts, localized urban and poor drainage flooding and strong winds of 45-55 MPH with isolated higher gusts to 60+ MPH recorded. Minor coastal flooding also occurred with this storm and after the main thrust of heavy rainfall, strong to damaging winds and minor coastal flooding occurred, a low-topped line of showers brought wind gusts as high as 58 MPH measured to Westover Air Force Base and another round of tree and wire damage to portions of Western Massachusetts. An Amateur Radio SKYWARN Spotter Coordinator report of 54 MPH measured occurred in West Springfield, MA with this second round of activity. This brought us to a quiet November/December 2015 timeframe where the weather has largely been quiet with a few marginal wind events though our recent storm from 12/23/15-12/14/15 did bring a 1.5-3″ rainfall to portions of Southeast New England with rainfall amounts of 0.50-1.5″ common elsewhere in Southern New England.
Another significant piece of publicity for the SKYWARN program and Amateur Radio occurred with an article in the Boston Globe on the SKYWARN program on October 4th, 2015. This was supported by the NWS Taunton forecasters and management team and again shows the level of activity within our program. That article is listed below:
As we move forward in 2016, we will be continuing our commitment to SKYWARN training. Planning has already started with one training class booked and a second class that is nearing confirmation with several other classes in planning. The latest 2016 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. The active winter we had this past year coupled SKYWARN Training planning precluded this from being done in 2015 but as we move forward into 2016, we will be documenting ways to communicate with us during activation and assure people understand the self-activation and activation protocols used today. We will 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. We will attempt to look at DMR Amateur Radio and DSTAR Amateur Radio as an additional means for reporting during severe weather and 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. These are added capabilities that we will be looking at and will not replace the continued core technologies within VHF and UHF (2 Meters/440 MHz) SKYWARN Amateur Radio Repeaters and simplex capabilities, our usage of Echolink/IRLP Amateur Radio linked repeaters, Amateur Radio HF and 6 Meters capabilities 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 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 2015. 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 2015. 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
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)
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