Each year in March, the National Weather
Service (NWS) offices serving New York and several
adjacent states join with the emergency management
community to sponsor Weather Hazards Awareness
Week. This year, the week of March 24 through
March 30 has been selected for that exercise in
Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont.
Governors of the respective states usually recognize the occasion in some way, and each NWS office County Warning Area (CWA) is placed in the spotlight for one day that week. On that day, test warning messages for that CWA are issued by that office, and in some cases backup offices test redundant communications by issuing tests for the CWA of the day.
As a resident of the Albany forecast office's CWA, you will be hearing test warnings on Monday, March 25, this year. When you hear the test warning - on Weather Radio, NYSPIN, VLETS, CGIS, or by other means - please try to respond as though it were a warning. That means activating your spotter net in a drill mode, activating your county EOC, or other actions you would take in response to a real warning.
If you have any questions about Weather Hazards Awareness Week, or would like assistance in planning for it, please call Dick Westergard, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at 518-456-5807.
The National Weather Service is constantly
seeking new Skywarn spotters to act as our eyes in the
sky. The complete list of training dates, times, and
locations can be found below. By attending a
Skywarn spotter training session a volunteer spotter
receives enough training and technical information to
be able to identify the characteristic weather
phenomena associated with severe thunderstorms and
tornadoes. If you are interested in Skywarn please try
to attend a Skywarn spotter training session in your
county or a neighboring county. Pre-registration is
required for each Skywarn spotter training session.
You may pre-register by calling 518-869-6347 from a
touch-tone phone, select the option to register for
Skywarn spotter training and choose the session you
wish to attend, you will then be asked to leave your
name and phone number.
The following Skywarn Spotter training sessions will be held between March 1st and April 27th. Friday, March 01, 1996 700 PM - 900 PM Bennington County VT Bennington Free Library 101 Silver St. Bennington Capacity 50 Tuesday, March 12, 1996 700 PM - 900 PM Windham County VT Brattleboro Middle School Atwood St. Brattleboro Capacity 30 Wednesday, March 13, 1996 700 PM - 900 PM Rensselaer County NY Hudson Valley Community College 80 Vandenburgh Ave. Troy. Braham Hall #1 Capacity 200 Saturday, March 16, 1996 1000 AM - Noon Washington County NY Office of Emergency Services Washington County Municipal Center 2nd Floor Classroom 383 Broadway Fort Edward Capacity 60. Wednesday, March 20, 1996 700 PM - 900 PM Warren County NY Boy Scout Complex Pearl St. Glens Falls Capacity 50 Thursday, March 21, 1996 730 PM - 930 PM Berkshire County MA Morningside School Cafeteria 100 Burbank St. Pittsfield Capacity 100 Saturday, March 23, 1996 900 AM - Noon Saratoga County NY Saratoga County Fire Training Center County Farm Rd. Ballston Spa Capacity 35 Tuesday, March 26, 1996 700 PM - 900 PM Ulster County NY Central Hudson Electric and Gas Route 28 Kingston Capacity 150 Thursday, March 28, 1996 700 PM - 900 PM Fulton County NY Fulton County Fire Training Center 133 Sun Valley Rd. Johnstown Capacity 75 Saturday, March 30, 1996 930 AM - Noon Schenectady County NY Schenectady City Library Mcchesney Room Liberty and Jay Sts. Schenectady Capacity 107 Tuesday, April 2, 1996 730 PM - 930 PM Albany County NY Va Medical Center Room 806c Holland Ave. Albany Capacity 50 Wednesday, April 10, 1996 745 PM - 1000 PM Herkimer County NY Herkimer County Boces Gros Blvd. East Herkimer Capacity 50 Saturday, April 13, 1996 1000 AM - Noon Dutchess County NY Gayhead Elementary School Rte 376 Hopewell Junction Capacity 200 Monday, April 15, 1996 700 PM - 900 PM Hamilton County NY Indian Lake Town Hall Assembly Room Pelon Rd. Indian Lake Capacity 45 Tuesday, April 16, 1996 700 PM - 900 PM Montgomery County NY Canajoharie Fire House Rte. 5 Canajoharie Capacity 100 Wednesday, April 17, 1996 700 PM - 900 PM Litchfield County CT Torrington City Hall 2nd Floor Auditorium 140 Main St. Torrington Capacity 300 Saturday, April 20, 1996 900 AM - Noon Columbia-Greene Counties NY Columbia-Greene Community College Room 202 Route 23 Greenport Capacity 110 Saturday, April 27, 1996 1000 AM - Noon Schoharie County NY Cobleskill Fire Dept Main St. Cobleskill Capacity 100
The winter of 1995-96 has featured an abundance of snow, in contrast to last winter. As of February 26, 65.1 inches of snow has fallen at The Albany County Airport, surpassing the normal season total of 63.8 inches. Remember, there are about five weeks of the winter weather season yet to come. Only 31.0 inches fell for the whole season in 1994-95. Total precipitation (rain and melted snow) for this season, has also averaged above normal for each month, November through January. Mean temperatures were slightly below normal at the beginning of the season, but moderated to above normal by the latter half of January.
The first snow of the season totaled only a trace on November 4. The first measurable snow was 0.2 inches on November 8. A low pressure system crossed the Great Lakes and New York state on November 12, followed by a powerful storm that intensified off the North Carolina coast and tracked north through central New York on November 13 and 14, dumping a hefty amount of rain and the first significant snowfall of the season on the Capital District. The total liquid precipitation for November 11 through 15 was 2.91 inches, and snowfall for that period was 3.0 inches. A coastal storm system brought 1.5 inches of snow on November 29.
At The Albany County Airport, total November precipitation was 3.76 inches (0.53 inches above normal), and snowfall was 5.8 inches (1.6 inches above normal). The mean temperature for the month was 35.7 degrees (4.0 degrees below normal). No record temperatures were set in November.
A cold front rotating around a strong low pressure system over Lake Superior moved through New York state on December 9, giving Albany 6.3 inches of snow. On December 14, a Great Lakes storm brought 6.6 inches of snow. A major storm cruised up the coast on December 19 and 20, with the heaviest snowfalls just missing the Capital District. Albany County Airport received 7.2 inches of new snow from that storm. December 25 was a "White Christmas," with 8 inches of snow on the ground.
For the month of December, total precipitation was 2.30 inches (0.63 above normal), and snowfall was 25.1 inches (10.5 above normal). The mean temperature for December was 23.9 degrees (2.6 degrees below normal), and no temperature records were set. January was a month of extremes. The new year started with a long sub-freezing spell. From January 1 to 13, all daily maximum temperatures were below 32 degrees. On January 6, a new record low of -6 degrees was set at The Albany County Airport. A low pressure system that travelled through Pennsylvania brought 12.1 inches of snow on January 2 through 4. The Capital District was spared the full fury of the "Blizzard of 1996" on January 12 and 13. Albany received 11.1 inches of snow as the intense storm hugged the coast from Virginia to Maine. Over 24 inches of snow fell only about 15 miles south and east of Albany with over 30 inches of snow falling in northern Berkshire County MA.
After the blizzard, temperatures took a sudden swing upward into a January thaw that resulted in a quick snow melt. On January 19, a Great Lakes storm pounded the region with 1.67 inches of rain at eh Albany Airport causing major flooding on rivers and streams, and a deadly mudslide in Schenectady. Also on January 19, Albany broke a high temperature record with a temperature of 60 degrees. On January 27, another storm traversing the Great Lakes dumped 1.08 inches of rain, to further complicate the hydrological problems. Total precipitation for January was 5.08 inches (2.02 above normal), making it the eighth wettest January on record. Snowfall was 28.4 inches (11.8 above normal), or the ninth snowiest January on record. The mean temperature for the month was 20.6 degrees, which is exactly equal to normal. But, this mean does not reflect the variability between the first and last halves of the month. The first 12 days were generally well below normal in temperature, while 15 of the last 19 days were above or much above normal.
The National Weather Service Office in Albany continues to expand its presence on the Internet. The office has set up a Home Page on the World Wide Web serving the residents of the Northeast. The amount of information supplied on the WEB by NWSFO Albany continues to increase. The Homepage contains a great deal of general weather information and education. Even more importantly, the Web page contains a wealth of current weather and forecast weather information. One of the new twists, is the inclusion of information on the NWSFO Albany Skywarn program.
The Skywarn page is designed to be a source of information for Emergency Managers & Storm Spotters. The page contains information on the Skywarn program, Skywarn news, current weather data and current forecast data. The page also includes an Online version of this newsletter, links to The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), storm spotter's handbooks, weather related newsgroups and other information.
The information is available to anyone on the Internet around the world and it is easy to get to. Those of you with Internet access, such as America On Line... Compuserve...or any other access provider can check it out at the following address:
NWSFO Albany Homepage
NWSFO Albany Skywarn Homepage
IFLOWS stands for Integrated Flood Local Observation Warning System. It is a growing system of remote rain gauges used to gather precipitation information for flood prediction and information. The network consists of remote rainfall gauging platforms connected via radio signals that allows the National Weather Service...local emergency management officials and state authorities to collect and gather precipitation information.
The New York IFLOWS system is comprised of seven remote terminals, one network controller, one alternate network controller, and thirty-one gauges. The gauges are located in Broome, Chenango, Otsego, Schoharie, Montgomery, Southern Herkimer, and Western Saratoga counties. Additional gauges in Orange and Rockland Counties are linked to the Passaic River Basin Flood Warning System.
Computer terminals are in the Emergency Operations Centers (EOC's) of Broome, Chenango, Otsego, Schoharie and Montgomery Counties, as well as the headquarters of the Chemung Flood Warning Service in Elmira. An additional terminal is also located in the State's EOC, in Albany. Computer Terminals are also located in the NWS offices at Albany, Binghamton and Buffalo.
Our gauges were manufactured by Handar. They were designed for reporting of liquid precipitation only. All of the local rain gauge communications circuits are designed to use existing county towers. In most cases, data is inserted into county micro-waves for delivery to connected users.
Currently, data flows from the southern tip of the network, in Kentucky and North Carolina, northward to our Computer site in Binghamton and from Albany across southern New England into our forecast Office in Brookhaven. Plans are in place to connect the Albany and Binghamton offices this spring.
The New York IFLOWS Network is one piece of a network of hydro-meteorological observing platforms which provide real time precipitation and stream levels to NWS Hydro-Meteorologists.
During the early morning hours of July 15, 1995 a series of severe thunderstorms crossed the Adirondacks and much of eastern New York. The meteorological phenomena which struck the region can be identified using the Spanish term "Derecho." A Derecho event stems from a larger family of storms called the Mesoscale Convective System (MCS).
As water vapor rises and cools, thunderstorms physically release warm air (latent heat) into the atmosphere by a process called condensation (as opposed to evaporation which is a cooling process). Warm, moist air is lighter than cool air. Therefore, this column of moist air becomes an area of low pressure relative to its surroundings. Cooler air, which is heavier (high pressure), rushes towards the MCS center from all directions, creating an environment in which winds converge much like approaching automobiles into a toll booth. Since air cannot be forced into the ground, it is reflected upward, thereby causing more air to rise, cool and condense (releasing more latent heat) within the MCS. The self sustaining process is actually similar to the processes within a hurricane.
Once a MCS has developed, bow shaped lines of convection (thunderstorms) may form. This is referred to as a bow echo. Inside of the of the bow, faster winds from mid levels of the atmosphere are transported towards the surface. The updrafts and downdrafts within the thunderstorm complex provide a conveyor bel mechanism of transporting high velocity winds to the surface. The system is labeled a Derecho if a bow echo is followed by an extended area of damaging winds.
On July 15th, a MCS developed over Ontario Province. Doppler Weather Surveillance Radar (WSR- 88D), then identified the formation of a Bow Echo east of Kingston. In addition, the WSR-88D archived color information displaying wind motion. This "Velocity Imagery" indicated the presence of a Derecho, as high velocity winds were contained over a large area inside the bow shape. In essence, strong jet stream winds were transported to ground level as the Derecho passed.
These storms continued moving southeast, reaching Thousand Island Park shortly after 4:00 am with wind estimates exceeding 60 knots (69 mph). During this period a Lightning Detection System (LDS) displayed flash rates of 3000 strokes per hour, while satellite photography depicted expanding cloud tops to 75,000 feet. The Derecho had a width of 50 to 100 miles and a nearly continuous path until reaching southern New England by 8:00 am.
A detailed investigation into this complex phenomena will be completed at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Albany, New York (NWSFO ALY) with a goal of publishing our findings in an atmospheric journal entitled "Weather and Forecasting." Photos documenting wind related damage will be examined in this project. If you wish to contribute, please send a any spare photos to NWSFO ALY attention J. Cannon.
Violent (F4 and F5) tornadoes are relatively rare in the northeast United States, but they do occur. The most recent occurred last Memorial Day when an F2 tornado ripped across Columbia County, New York. The tornado lifted as it approached the Massachusetts border. A short while later, an F3 to F4 tornado caused major damage across southern Berkshire County, Massachusetts.
The deadliest tornado in the Northeast, an F4, killed 94 people in Worcester, Massachusetts, in June 1953. In August, 1973, another F4 tornado struck Stockbridge, Massachusetts, killing 4. More recently in July, 1989, an F3 tornado moved across Schoharie County New York. The same thunderstorm complex that produced the Schoharie County tornado, later generated an F4 tornado in Hamden, Connecticut.
In addition to studying the meteorological conditions that produce violent tornadoes, meteorologists are studying the role that topography plays in their formation and intensity. New York and western New England possess complex topography. We have the Catskills, the Adirondacks and the mountains of western New England. The mountain ranges are separated by the Hudson and Mohawk River Valleys. To the west, Lake Ontario is the source of lake breezes that can help initiate summertime convection.
The State University of New York at Albany (SUNYA) has joined the NWS in a Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET) project to study the Memorial Day 1995 tornado. In particular, we will be looking at the hypothesis that terrain channeling, by the Hudson Valley can on occasion create unusually favorable conditions for severe weather. In the Memorial Day Storm, it appears the Hudson Valley played a key role in the storm's intensification.
At about 330 pm EDT on May 29, 1995, a thunderstorm developed over central New York, a little northwest of Binghamton. The storm moved to the east during the next few hours crossing the Catskills and reaching the Hudson Valley just before 630 pm EDT. During the 3 hours the storm produced isolated reports of severe weather. When the storm reached the Hudson Valley it encountered air that was especially favorable for severe thunderstorm and tornado development. Very moist air (dewpoints in the mid to upper 60s F) flowing northeast from New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania was funneled northward up the Hudson Valley. The added moisture made the air very unstable.
The wind flow in the lower atmosphere that day was from the southwest. However, since the Hudson Valley is oriented north to south, low level winds in the valley were more southerly. Turning the winds near the ground from southwest to south, increased the clockwise turning of the wind in the lower atmosphere. This increased turning of the wind and added instability, caused rapid strengthening of the thunderstorm as it reached the Hudson Valley. A tornado touched down in Columbia County at 640 pm EDT.
The National Weather Service's WSR-88D (Doppler radar) provided information on wind movement in the storm. Archived radar data was used to calculate the change in wind (shear) across the thunderstorm. As this shear value increases the strength of the storm's rotation increases. As the storm moved from central New York through the Catskills there was little change in the observed shear. However, when the storm reached the Hudson Valley there was a large increase in shear, indicating rapid intensification.
The first tornado lifted at 700 pm EDT. There was a large drop in the shear, shortly before the tornado dissipated. It appears that the area of high terrain in the southwest corner of Massachusetts, may have cut off the inflow of warm, moist air into the storm. Once the storm emerged into the valley to the east (where Great Barrington is located), it once again intensified and produced an F4 tornado.
The National Weather Service in Albany New York is in search of people who have an interest in the weather and who would be willing to assist the Weather Service in recording climatological information, as well as providing details concerning specific events.
John Companius Holm's weather records, taken without the benefit of instruments in 1644 and 1645, were the earliest known observations in the United States. Subsequently, such famous persons as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin maintained weather records spanning many years.
The first extensive network of cooperative stations was set up in the 1890's as the result of an act of congress in 1890 that established the Weather Bureau. Today, there are over 11,000 volunteer cooperative observers scattered over the 50 states, taking observations seven days a week throughout the Year.
The above observers regularly and conscientiously contribute their time so that their observations can provide the vital information needed to define the climate in their areas. The records are also used constantly to answer questions and guide the actions of public agencies, agricultural and commercial organizations, and individuals. Their records also form a basis for preparedness for national and local emergencies, such as flooding.
We are in need of cooperative observers in or near the following locations:
Litchfield County: The Sharon Area Goshen Warren Washington/Bethlehem Berkshire County: Lanesboro North Adams/Williamstown (near river) Peru Savoy West Otis/Beckett New Marlboro/Sandisfield Monterey Greene County: Lexington Herkimer County: Poland Newport Greensville Cold brook Middleville Mckeever Nobleboro Brandreth Fulton County: Stratford Caroga Lake Hamilton County: Morehouseville Lake Pleasant Raquette Lake Blue mountain Lake Long Lake Wells Southern end of Indian Lake Warren County: Brant Lake Pottersville Riverbank Washington County: Huletts Landing Pilot Knob Putnam/Putnam Station Montgomery County: Canajoharie Marshville St. Johnsville Fonda Schenectady County: Quaker Street Duanesburg Mariaville Albany County: New Salem/New Scotland Selkirk Preston Hollow Rensselaer County: Poestenkill Taburton Schoharie County: Middleberg Blenheim Welch Corners S. Jefferson/W. Jefferson Rensselaer County: Nassau Columbia County: Kinderhook/Stuyvesant Claverack Clermont Germantown Blue Stores Livingston Dutchess County: Pine Plains Dover Plains Millerton Armenia Standfordville Pawling Anyone interested, should please contact Steve Pertgen at: The National Weather Service Forecast Office Albany, NY Attn: Steve Pertgen Albany County Airport Albany, NY 12211Or by E-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your National Weather Service provides several different products to let you know about the threat of flooding....
FLOOD POTENTIAL OUTLOOK - When our forecast models indicate there may be concern about the river flooding, we will issue a Flood Potential Outlook one or two days before the storm starts. We'll do this to try to give you some extra time to prepare. Sometimes we will even do it to let you know that we don't expect problems, or to try to indicate the areas most likely to expect flooding. These are usually done for a rather large areas.
FLOOD WATCH - When it appears there is a reasonable chance (30 percent or greater) that weather conditions will cause flooding to occur, we will issue a flood watch. This is usually for the next 6 to 30 hours.
FLOOD WARNING - When Flooding is either OCCURRING or is FORECAST TO OCCUR. It may cover an AREA (such as a county or group of counties) OR A SPECIFIC RIVER. If it is for a specific river it will usually contain information on the water level at one or more locations and how high it is forecast to get.
FLOOD STATEMENT - We write Flood Statements to keep you informed once there is a WATCH or WARNING. We may also write one if very minor flooding may occur that is not considered severe enough to warrant a warning. An example of this might be one that gets onto one lane of a nearby road or puts some water into low lying fields next to the river.
RIVER STATEMENT - We write River Statements when an ice jam or storm will affect the rivers enough to be of interest but there is little or no danger of flooding.
For several years, the projected gage-heights of some of the most popular white-water rivers in the area have been broadcast during springtime to help those planning weekend outings select their waterway...
Some of the rivers and Locations we include:
The Hudson River at North Creek
The Sacandaga River at Hope
The Moose River at McKeever
The Schoharie Creek
The Esopus Creek
The Housatonic River
We normally do this broadcast on Thursday starting between 3 and 4 PM and ending around 8 or 9 PM over NOAA Weather Radio stations in Albany, High-land, and Mount Greylock. We start in mid to late April and usually conclude with the Memorial Day Weekend.
During the late summer months a survey was conducted of NOAA Weather Radio listeners. A total of 563 listeners requested a survey and 467 surveys were completed and returned.
The survey addressed general questions such as the most popular listening time and the reason for listening to the weather radio. The respondents ranged from accountants to utility workers; nearly a quarter of all those who responded are retired.
Many additional comments were made with suggestions for our broadcast style. There were several items people asked to include in the broadcast cycle in addition to our regular products; such as upper air conditions, national weather summaries and road conditions.
Two overwhelming requests were made regarding our long identification recording and the inclusion of more hourly observations from around the region. Because of this, the identification is now played every 30 minutes with a short identification appended to the local forecast. The hourly roundup of observations has been expanded to seven locations from around our region.
The primary reason listeners cited for turning on the weather radio is to hear about hazardous weather information. The listeners commented on hearing the safety tips too often during severe weather. A number of comments tended toward the inclusion of the local forecast periodically during severe weather. The availability, credibility and special details of the broadcast also appear to be some of the most important reasons why listeners tune into the weather radio. And, of course, the general interest in the weather prompts listeners to tune in.
If you have any comments or suggestions regarding the NOAA Weather Radio program please write:
The National Weather Service Albany
Attn: NOAA Weather Radio
Albany County Airport
Albany, NY 12211