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. 2016 was another interesting year for weather across the region though possibly one of the biggest highlights of this year may not have had to do with a particular storm or severe weather event but the severe drought conditions that affected much of Southern New England this year resulting in water restrictions and water conservation efforts across much of the NWS Taunton coverage area. While we have had the severe drought conditions, there were also notable weather events across the NWS Taunton coverage area during this past year.
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 gauge 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 2016 beyond the severe drought conditions that were noted is that there were several notable weather events over the past year despite the much below normal precipitation of the past year. Despite a relatively light snowfall season over the region, South Coastal Massachusetts and the Cape and Islands experienced two blizzards (Saturday January 23rd into Sunday Morning January 24th) and Monday February 8th. Each storm had wind gusts in the 65-75 MPH range along the Cape and Islands with pockets of tree and wire damage and power outages and 6-12″ of snow with isolated higher amounts. A sharp cutoff in the snowfall was noted north and west of these areas with much less snowfall. During the February 8th blizzard, the stronger winds were felt inland for a time as the storm had a very large envelope despite its well offshore track. In between these blizzards on Friday February 5th, a wet snow storm would impact much of Southern New England with widespread snowfall amounts of 6-12″ and tree and power line damage from the weight wet of the wet snow. There were two fatalities from this storm and over 100,000 people without power from this storm event. Later in the winter, a couple late winter/early spring snow events affected the region on Sunday April 3rd, where 3-6″ of snow occurred in portions of the area away from the immediate coast and strong to damaging winds caused tree and power line damage between the winds and the wet snow accumulation. There were 2 fatalities in that storm incident when a tree fell down on a moving vehicle. on Monday April 4th, a second late season snowstorm brought 4-8″ of snow in a narrow band of interior Southeast Massachusetts and South-Central Rhode Island near the rain-snow line. Some communities reported a wide range of snowfall within their same town due to the location of the rain-snow line and the depth of Amateur Radio SKYWARN spotters showed the difference in these communities and how the snowfall amounts varied within in certain communities.
The Spring and early summer of 2016 was relatively quiet with some smaller SKYWARN Activations and Self-Activations before we got later into the summer season of severe weather in mid-July with several SKYWARN Activations over the week of July 18th resulting in Ops at the NWS Taunton Forecast Office. Numerous reports of wind damage and large hail were received during SKYWARN Activations on Monday July 18th, Friday July 22nd and Saturday July 23rd. During the SKYWARN Activations of July 22nd and July 23rd, a problem with the Doppler Radar made strong to severe thunderstorms stronger than they appeared and made spotter reports during those events critical to determine the real strength of the strong to severe thunderstorms. Another active period of severe weather was the Friday August 13th-Sunday August 15th timeframe with several severe weather events during that period including 3 separate rounds of severe weather on Saturday August 14th extending into the early morning hours of Sunday August 15th with severe weather occurring out until 4 AM on that Sunday.
During the early Monday Morning hours of August 22nd as a cold front moved through the region, the environment was favorable for isolated severe thunderstorms and the possibility of an isolated tornado despite the unfavorable time of day for such a scenario as a cold front moved through the region. The potential would be realized as a severe thunderstorm took shape in Eastern Worcester county extending into Central Middlesex County Massachusetts. This would lead to a severe thunderstorm warning and later a tornado warning for central Middlesex County. Near real time reports of isolated wind damage in Marlborough and Sudbury turned into an area of concentrated tree and power line damage over Concord, Massachusetts. It was in Concord Massachusetts where an EF-1 Tornado was confirmed there with near real-time reports of tree and power line damage and roads blocked from fallen trees and wires came in from SKYWARN Spotters, Amateur Radio Operators and Concord police and fire departments. The near real-time reporting gave NWS Taunton an area of focus for a storm survey and resulted in a rapid confirmation of an EF-1 Tornado touchdown in Concord, Massachusetts.
On Labor Day, Post Tropical Cyclone Hermine would bring nor’easter like conditions to Southeast New England with wind gusts of 40-50 MPH with higher gusts of 50-60 MPH over the islands and portions of southern Cape Cod. This resulted in isolated pockets of tree and wire damage and isolated power outages with Tropical Storm Warnings for the Southeast New England coast. Other parts of Eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Northeast Connecticut would experience wind gusts of 30-40 MPH and with trees weakened by drought conditions also resulted in isolated pockets of wind damage in these areas but to a lesser extend than areas of Southeast New England. On Sunday September 11th, a short fused severe weather situation occurred that Sunday Morning as a squall line of strong to severe thunderstorms caused pockets of wind damage and hail across much of interior western, central and northeastern Massachusetts and Northwest and North-Central Connecticut.
The Fall edition of the Prevailing Winds SKYWARN Newsletter had a summary of the summer to early Fall severe weather season. A link to the newsletter can be seen at the following link:
In October, Hurricane Matthew tracked south of Southern New England but briefly brought concerns to our area as initial long range model guidance had a track near Southern New England but that did not materialize. Moisture from Hurricane Matthew would be brought into the region via cold front bringing beneficial rainfall to Southern New England. It also brought strong to damaging winds with wind gusts in the 50 to 65 MPH range over Southeast New England causing isolated pockets of tree and wire damage on Sunday October 9th particularly over Cape Cod and the islands but also in other parts of Southeast Coastal New England.
A strong cold front after very mild conditions brought a significant flash flood event across Central and Northeast Massachusetts and Northeast Connecticut and Northern Rhode Island on Friday October 21st. This event was associated with strong thunderstorms that trained over the same area. This led to one of the worst flash flood events in recent memory in the city of Worcester with multiple Amateur Radio SKYWARN Spotter and non-Amateur Radio SKYWARN spotter reports of measured rainfall between 4 and 5.2″ of rain in just 90 minutes. This led to significant flash flooding of urban areas in Worcester prompting activation of the Worcester EOC for several hours during the flash flood event. Many reports from SKYWARN Spotters and Amateur Radio Operators told of significant urban flooding up to car roof tops and cars floating on various roadways in Worcester. Other hard hit areas was in Shrewsbury and the Leominster to Fitchburg and Lunenburg area into Central Middlesex and Essex Counties of Massachusetts and parts of the Metro Boston area. The flash flooding occurred at night which made the flash flood event more dangerous motorists. The near real-time reporting during this event was very critical to the warning process. Later Saturday Evening into Sunday behind the storm, strong to damaging winds caused isolated pockets of tree and wire damage and power outages in the region. On Thursday Evening October 27th, the first snow storm would blanket parts of Western Massachusetts in the higher elevation and hill towns with 3-6″ of wet snow and with trees still having leaves on them, tree and power line damage would occur with over 7000 customers without power at the height of the storm. The month of October was one of the few above normal precipitation months of 2016. In December, we’ve had one activation with Ops at NWS Taunton for strong to damaging winds that reached High Wind Warning criteria in portions of the NWS Taunton coverage area on Thursday December 15th and the first widespread SKYWARN Self-Activation for snowfall reports on Saturday December 17th as we begin the 2017 winter weather season.
As we move forward in 2017, we will be continuing our commitment to SKYWARN training. Planning has already started with five training class booked and several other classes in planning. The latest 2017 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 after a full slate of SKYWARN Training classes. As we move forward into 2017, we will continue 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 utilized DMR during the 2016 SKYWARN Recognition Day event and will be looking to add that capability when possible during activations. We will attempt to look at DDSTAR 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 will also be looking at other ways to engage both Amateur Radio and non-Amateur Radio SKYWARN Spotters via other ways to get near real-time and historical spotter reports and near real-time video and pictures as well as historical video and pictures after a major severe weather event via a project the WX1BOX Amateur Radio team is working over the past 4 month period. Further details on this will be announced as the project progresses. This will further enhance our abilities to gather situational awareness and disaster intelligence information in a short period of time.
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 2016. 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, again, want to provide a tremendous THANK YOU to all of you that supported SKYWARN and the National Weather Service during 2016. 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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