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. 2017 was another interesting year for weather across the region. Some of the highlights included the 2 blizzards that affected portions of Southern New England in the winter season and the late October coastal storm that brought hurricane force wind gusts to portions of Southeast 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 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 2017 brought an interesting winter to Southern New England. A major winter storm shortly after New Year’s on January 7th brought a major winter storm across Southeast New England with snowfall totals ranging from 10-20″ with isolated higher amounts to 2 feet of snow and snowfall rates as high as 3-4″ per hour. Wind gusts to 35-45 MPH occurred at times but blizzard conditions were not met with this major winter storm. That would not be the case on February 9th where a storm rapidly intensified causing blizzard conditions in multiple locations and some of the most widespread reports of thundersnow in recent memory and snowfall totals between 10-20″ in many areas with isolated higher amounts. The blizzard also causing pockets of tree and wire damage with gusts in the 60-70 MPH range causing downed trees and power lines in Southeast New England and especially Cape Cod and the Islands with close to 70,000 without power in Massachusetts at the height of the storm focused on the Cape and Islands. Minor coastal flooding also occurred in localized areas at the time of high tide.
The weather would turn unseasonably mild for several weeks after the February 9th blizzard. That would come to an end with a powerful cold front which produced severe thunderstorm activity in Western Massachusetts. These severe thunderstorms caused straightline wind damage across portions of Berkshire and Franklin County Massachusetts and was also responsible for the first ever tornado to strike the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in recorded history as an EF-1 tornado tracked through Goshen and Conway Massachusetts. Colder weather followed and that would lead to a second blizzard affecting portions of Northeast Massachusetts and throughout interior Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut with a moderate snowfall down into the Boston to Providence corridor. The weight of the snow and wind gusts to hurricane force on Plum Island resulted in downed trees and power lines with close to 80,000 without power at the height of the storm in the North Shore region. Hurricane force wind gusts also occurred on portions of Cape Cod and the Islands with heavy rainfall and more isolated wind damage in this area from this coastal storm system.
The Summer 2017 severe weather season was near or a bit below normal in terms of severe weather reports and wind damage associated with severe thunderstorms. A few of the key severe weather events included the Wednesday May 31st severe weather event with numerous reports of hail and some reports of large hail in Western and Northern Massachusetts and portions of Northeast Connecticut. Another notable severe weather event was a cluster of severe thunderstorms that affected the Metro Boston area during rush hour. The cluster of severe thunderstorms caused pockets of tree and wire damage with a measured wind gust to 61 MPH recorded in Cambridge and numerous other wind gusts between 50 and 65 MPH across the metro Boston area into Northern Plymouth County Massachusetts. On Friday June 23rd, another round of severe thunderstorms with damaging winds moved through the metro west and north shore area of Massachusetts with pockets of wind damage and wind gusts in the 50-60 MPH range. A few additional severe weather events of note with both hail and wind damage were on Tuesday June 27th, Wednesday July 12th and Wednesday August 2nd. Both events featured large hail and pockets of wind damage with the severe thunderstorms over interior Southern New England into the Boston area. These events also had some flash flooding of urban areas. The summer 2017 season should also be noted for a number of flash flood events in the region including two events on Cape Cod and the Islands on July 7th and late Friday Evening August 18th into Saturday August 19th during the overnight hours.
The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season was extremely active with multiple landfalling hurricanes in the United States and Caribbean islands from Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. Amateur Radio Operators and SKYWARN Spotters from the Southern New England area assisted with relayed reports of wind damage, flooding, storm surge damage from many of these affected areas supporting the VoIP Hurricane Net. Southern New England also did not escape impact from the Atlantic Hurricane Season as tropical storm force conditions similar to a nor’easter occurred with Tropical Storm Jose which stalled a little over 100 miles south of Nantucket Island but had its large wind envelope affect Southeast New England with pockets of tree and wire damage and wind gusts in the 50-65 MPH range with isolated higher wind gusts.
As we went through late September into the Fall season, a slow moving thunderstorm caused a significant flash flood in Lynn, Massachusetts and spread to a less significant extent into the Winthrop area and parts of Boston on Saturday September 30th. The slow moving thunderstorm in Lynn, Mass was also severe with hail up to 1″ in diameter and covering the ground in mounds in parts of Downtown Lynn. A coastal storm in the Tuesday Evening October 24th to Thursday Morning October 26th timeframe brought heavy rainfall and pockets of wind damage to the region. The rainfall was largely beneficial as October was a dry month but in some areas the rain came down in a short period of time leading to urban and poor drainage flooding to flash flooding in some areas.
This brought us to the Sunday Evening October 29th into Monday October 30th coastal storm. This coastal storm system caused some of the most widespread significant wind damage of the year across Southern New England particularly in Eastern and Central Massachusetts and Rhode Island as the coastal storm received a boost in energy from the remnants of Tropical Storm Phillipe. Hurricane force wind gusts were recorded across Southeast New England coast with the highest wind gust of 93 MPH in Mashpee Massachusetts with multiple hurricane force wind gusts of 81 MPH at Conimicut Light – Warwick, RI, 76 MPH in Fairhaven – West Island and 75 MPH in Marstons Mills, Massachusetts and 74 MPH at Blue Hill in Milton Massachusetts. Rainfall amounts of 2-4″ with isolated higher amounts of 4-5.5″ occurred with reports of urban and poor drainage flooding and some small river and stream flooding. At the height of the storm over 320,000 were without power in Massachusetts along with over 100,000 in Rhode Island and in some cases it took several days for power to be restored. Despite low astronomical tides, there were significant impacts to the marine community with several large boats washed ashore in Padanaram Harbor in Dartmouth, Massachusetts due to the strength of the high winds.
The end of the year has brought an active weather pattern with the first significant snow for much of the region Saturday December 9th with a smaller storm on Thursday December 14th providing much of Southeast New England their first snowfall of the season. This past Friday 12/21 into Saturday 12/22 was a significant icing event for much of Southern New England away from southeast coastal Massachusetts and extreme South Coastal Rhode Island that caused some downed trees and wires and up to near 20,000 power outages in Massachusetts. As this holiday message is being written, a quick hitting but potent winter storm is affecting Southern New England on Christmas Day and between the prior storm system and the Christmas Day storm system, many interior locations through Northeast coastal Massachusetts are experiencing a White Christmas.
As we move forward in 2018, we will be continuing our commitment to SKYWARN training. Planning has started and sessions will be posted for 2018 SKYWARN Training starting in Janauary. The latest 2018 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 2018, the first priority will be to handle the NWS office move from Taunton to Norton Massachusetts and running communications tests from the Amateur Radio station setup at the new location. Information on the move is posted in this holiday message via the links below:
NWS Taunton Office Move with Link to Public Information Statement:
NWS Taunton Move – Public Information Statement direct link:
Once the move is completed, we will continue and reinvigorate 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 and this effort will be pushed more heavily after the NWS office move to Norton Massachusetts. We utilized DMR during the 2017 SKYWARN Recognition Day event and will be looking to add that capability when possible during activations. We will attempt to look at 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 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 year. Further details on this will be announced as the project progresses along with additional projects being worked over the past Fall as well. 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 2017. 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 2017. 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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