A Newsletter for Emergency
Managers & Storm Spotters
Summer Edition, 1996
Vol 2, ed 2.
StormBuster Returns !
The StormBuster Newsletter has returned.
This edition is the first version that has been published
and disseminated to all of our spotters. Two earlier
editions, during the Winter and Spring, were sent to
emergency managers and Skywarn coordinators. Extra
funding and assistance has been acquired which now
allows us to mail the newsletter to all of our spotters.
We are very excited about the opportunity this
newsletter gives us to directly communicate with our
The aim of this newsletter is to keep
Emergency Managers and Skywarn Spotters up to
date and informed about the happenings in our office
and in the world of weather. Since our circulation will
increase nearly 30 fold with this issue we have
included a few rewritten versions of our most popular
articles. We have also posted an electronic copy of
this and past issues of StormBuster on our Homepage;
the address is listed on Page 8.
StormBuster will be published four times a
year, just before each new season, previewing the type
of weather in store for us, reviewing the weather of
the past season and hopefully including all sorts of
information that you will find interesting and useful. If
you have any ideas or suggestions, just drop us a note
and tell us what you would like to see and we'll gladly
include it. Write to...
Albany County Airport
Albany, NY 12211
New Leadership at NWSFO Albany
Mr Eugene Auciello recently arrived as the
new Area Manager/Meteorologist In Charge of the
National Weather Service Forecast Office Albany,
NY. Mr Auciello last served as the Service
Implementation Manager for the Office of
Meteorology of the National Weather Service. Before
that assignment he previously held other positions in
the National Weather Service Headquarters, including
Modernization Communications Manager,
Congressional Affairs Officer, and Operations Officer.
Mr Auciello also has extensive field experience,
including 10 years at NWSFO Boston, MA and a few
years at the Center Weather Service Unit at the
Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center. Gene and
his family will reside in Saratoga Springs.
Mr Auciello arrived on April 28. The staff
here looks forward to a new era as the National
Weather Service continues its modernization program
providing improved forecasts, warning services and
public service programs. We are excited about his
arrival and welcome Gene and his family back to the
AzRanWhiz is a locally developed program
that uses the latest advances in Doppler Radar
technology to produce site specific, time specific,
storm track forecasts. This program, created by
our local programming guru, Glen Wiley, is used to
produce highly detailed forecasts of thunderstorms
and other localized meteorological phenomena.
AzRanWhiz takes alphanumeric output
generated by the WSR-88D Doppler Radar,
processes the data and then generates a series of
highly detailed forecasts of a storm's future
position. These highly specific forecasts include a
listing of towns and municipalities to be affected as
well as the times to be affected. You have probably
heard these very specific forecasts on NOAA
Weather Radio or seen them on Television. This
forecast information is then included in numerous
products ranging from Severe
Thunderstorm/Tornado Warnings, to Short Term
Forecast or other Hydrometeorological products.
The following examples illustrate how this
information is included in two very important
products. In the first example...the information is
used within the text of a Severe Thunderstorm
A Severe Thunderstorm Warning is in effect for
the following locations...
In Central New York...
Herkimer County...Fulton County... Saratoga
At 10:05 PM A Severe Thunderstorm Was about 10
Miles North of Cherry Valley...
Near Starkville in Southern Herkimer County.
At 10:20 PM this Severe Thunderstorm Will Be
about 5 Miles Northwest Of Fonda...Near
Spimmonsville in Southern Fulton County.
At 10:35 PM this Severe Thunderstorm Will Be
About 2 Miles South of Broadalbin...Near Hill
Corners in Southeastern Fulton County.
At 10:50 PM this Severe Thunderstorm Will Be
About 4 Miles West of Saratoga Springs...Near
Pages Corner in Southwestern Saratoga County.
The following example illustrates how the
program can be used within the text of the Short
Term Forecast product to generate specific
information on a storm or event.
A thunderstorm with gusty winds, small hail and
very heavy rain was just North of Richfield
Springs at 5:25 PM. This storms will be...
5 Miles North of Cherry Valley at 5:35 PM
5 Miles South of Canajoharie at 5:45 PM
10 Miles North of Cobleskill at 5:55 PM
7 Miles North of Schoharie at 6:05 PM
Over Duanesburg at 6:15 PM
5 Miles North of Voorheesville at 6:30 PM
Just North of Albany at 6:35 PM
National Weather Service Albany Joins the Net
The National Weather Service Office in
Albany continues to expand its presence on the
Internet. The office has set up a Homepage on the
World Wide Web serving the residents of the
Northeast. The Homepage contains a great deal of
information on the NWS mission, general weather
information & education as well as climate
information. Even more importantly, the Web page
contains a wealth of current weather and forecast
data focused especially on the Northeast. Current
Doppler Radar images, raw numerical model
output, forecast model graphics, experimental
forecast products and real time GOES-8 satellite
images are just a few examples of the specialized
meteorological data available on the Homepage.
The Homepage can be especially useful to
emergency management officials and storm spotters
since it contains the latest National Weather
Service Forecasts, and the most recent warnings,
watches and advisories. Since the Homepage is on
the Internet and data transmissions can sometimes
be slow, the Web Page should not be used as a
replacement for your current information
providers. However, it does contain Doppler radar
images, satellite images, current observations and
many detailed NWS products. It provides a
valuable resource to anyone interested in, or
affected by, the world of weather.
Of special note to Skywarn Spotters is the
inclusion of information on the NWSFO Albany
Skywarn program. The Skywarn section 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
NWSFO Albany Homepage (s)
Hurricane Season Arrives
Renowned Hurricane Forecaster, Dr.
William Gray has released his forecast for the 1996
hurricane season. It calls for ten named storms,
including six hurricanes, two of which he predicts
will be major. Major hurricanes are defined as
having sustained winds of at least 116 miles an hour
(category 3 on the Safir Simpson Scale).
Last April, Dr Gray predicted 12 named
storms, including six hurricanes, two which would
be major. The actual 1995 hurricane season was
one of the worst on record, producing 19 named
storms, including 11 hurricanes of which five were
major storms. Dr Gray will revise his 1996 forecast
Here's a list of the names selected for the
Tropical Storms and Hurricanes in the Atlantic
Ocean, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico during the
1996 Hurricane season:
Thunderstorms Can Be Lethal
by Hugh W. Johnson IV
Spring and warm weather is finally here!
After a long cold winter in Eastern New York and
Western New England, many folks will be heading
outdoors to play golf, to go boating or just lay in
the sun. While warm weather may bring a smile to
many faces, it also brings the increased chance of
Severe Thunderstorms, which contain wind
gusts over 57 mph, large hail, or Tornadoes are the
most dangerous storms, but they are not the only
storms that should be heeded. Lightning generally
kills more people each year than high wind or hail
from a thunderstorm.
Lightning is present in one form or another
during all thunderstorms. There are four types of
lightning; cloud to cloud, in-cloud, cloud to air, and
cloud to ground. Thunder is the sound that results
from the rapid heating and expansion of air that
surrounds the lightning.
While thunder itself is basically harmless,
lightning definitely is not. The heat generated from
lightning is greater than that of the surface of the
sun. The electrical output from lightning is greater
than that of most transformers. Lightning can
strike several miles away from its source, within the
thunderstorm. There have been several cases of
lightning killing people underneath a clear sky, in
situations where lightning strikes from
thunderstorms over 10 miles away.
With all this in mind, it is imperative for all
of us to be a little weather wise this summer,
especially if outdoors. A great idea is to bring along
a battery operated NOAA Weather Radio so you
can hear up to the minute weather information.
Short Term Forecasts, which are highly specific
forecasts that pinpoint locations and tracks of
thunderstorms are one set of forecasts that are
broadcast on NOAA Weather Radio.
Always keep an eye to the sky, especially on
those hot humid days when thunderstorms may
quickly develop. Do not wait until the rain
starts. Once you hear thunder, it is time to seek shelter inside a
sturdy place. If caught out in an open field, it is
best to lay low. Stay away from any tall objects. If
you feel your hair stand on end, lightning is about
to strike you. At this point, the best procedure is
NOT to lie flat, but crouch down on the ground
with your head between your legs. This will tend to
guide the high voltage from the lightning strike
around you and, not into your body.
You are ready to enjoy the summer! Remember,
however to carry that NOAA Weather Radio with
1996 Spring Skywarn Training Classes Were a
by John Quinlan
The National Weather Service at Albany,
NY conducted 18 SKYWARN Spotter Training
Sessions during March and April of 1996. They
were held in each county within NWSFO Albany s
County Warning Area. During the Spring of 1996,
staff at NWSFO Albany, NY trained more
SKYWARN Spotters than at any other time in the
station s history. A total of 576 SKYWARN
Spotters were trained this spring compared with
401 SKYWARN Spotters trained during Spring of
1995 which represents an increase of nearly 44
percent. We are in the process of mailing
SKYWARN Spotter Identification Cards to all of
those who attended the Spring 1996 SKYWARN
Spotter Training Sessions. If you attended a session
and you have not received a card by July 15,
contact Dick Westergard at the National Weather
Winter Weather Review
Seasonal Climate Series
by Tom Janus
Spring got off to a slow start; it seemed as if
Old Man Winter just wouldn't die! Snow flurries
fell as late as May 12 in Albany. February was
warmer, drier, and less snowy than normal. March
and April returned to the colder and wetter than
normal trend that characterized most of this past
February gave the region a chance to dry
out after the floods of January. Precipitation for
February at the Albany County Airport totaled
1.49 inches, which was 0.78 inches below normal.
Snowfall totaled 5.8 inches, less than half of the
normal 14.1 inches for the month. The only real
snowstorm of the month was an Alberta Clipper
system that brought a total of 5.1 inches of snow to
Albany over four days, (February 14 - February
17). The storm produced icy road conditions that
caused numerous traffic mishaps and one fatality in
The most damaging weather of the month
was produced by dangerous winds. On February
24, a intense storm hit the region with winds
averaging 25 to 50 miles per hour with many gusts
in excess of 55 miles per hour and higher. Gusts of
72 miles per hour were recorded by National
Weather Service cooperative observers in
Rensselaerville and Platte Clove. Wind blew off a
barn roof in Berne, and demolished a garage in
Troy. Numerous trees and electric lines came down.
Temperatures during February averaged
25.2 degrees Fahrenheit; 1.7 degrees above normal.
The highest temperature recorded at Albany was
51 degrees on February 21. The lowest was 1 degree
below zero on February 19. Daily mean
temperatures were 14 to 20 degrees above normal
from February 20 to 25.
In March, Old Man Winter returned from
vacation! 20.3 inches of snow fell during the
month, that was 9.6 inches above normal. However,
total precipitation, rain and melted snow totaled
2.10 inches, or 0.83 inches below normal. At the end
of the first week of March a storm tracked through
Pennsylvania and then redeveloped off the Virginia
coast. This system dropped a total of 17.3 inches of
snow on Albany from March 5 to 8. This was the
only notable snowstorm of the month. From March
9 to 31, only 0.7 inches of snow fell.
March was chilly, with a mean temperature
of 31.0 degrees or 3.3 degrees below normal. The
warmest day was on March 25 when the
temperature reached a balmy 66 degrees. The
temperature dropped to zero on March 10.
April was wet to say the least.! Total
precipitation at the Albany County Airport was
6.34 inches, or 3.35 inches above normal; more
than twice the normal for the month. One storm
was right on the heels of another, as measurable
precipitation fell on 15 of April's 30 days. A total of
1.1 inches of snow fell from a nor'easter on April 7
and 8. At higher elevations, accumulations ranged
from 3 to more than 6 inches. This was the only
measurable snow of the month at the Albany
Then the rain came. A series of low pressure
systems travelling through the Great Lakes to the
Atlantic coast dumped a total of 3.26 inches of rain
on Albany for the period of April 13 to 16. Showers
and thunderstorms on April 22 - 24 brought a
three-day total of 1.19 inches. Some places had
heavy downpours, like 1.5 inches in 90 minutes in
Rotterdam. On April 29 and 30, another major
storm dumped 2.02 inches on Albany. There were
6 days during the month with 1/2 inch or more
rainfall, and 2 days with more than an inch. These
heavy rains swelled creeks and rivers, causing
The cloudy, cool, and damp trend continued
into May, and precipitation amounts were again
above normal. For May 1 through May 15,
temperatures averaged 4.5 degrees below normal
for each day, and precipitation averaged 1.91
inches above normal. There were snow flurries on
May 12. That weekend, 2.47 inches of rain washed
out Albany's Tulip Festival.
The Super Seven
The National Weather Service Office here
in Albany has some of the newest meteorological
technology available. Tools like the WSR-88D
Radar, new GOES satellites and other remote
observing platforms. These new pieces of
technology gives us a tremendous amount of data
about atmospheric conditions. However, we still do
not have all the information we need about
conditions at the ground, this is where the
Skywarn Spotter network helps us.
Skywarn Spotters are asked to report any
occurrence of severe weather to your Skywarn EC,
Skywarn Net Controller or directly to us at the
National Weather Service. These reports are of
tremendous importance to us since they firmly tell
us what the weather is like at the ground and aid
us in understanding what we are seeing on our
radar and satellite images.
During the Spring and Summer convective
season there are seven events in which we ask you
to call us and make a report. Most importantly,
remember that if you are not sure whether or not
to give us a call, call us. We would much rather
receive more phone calls than no phone calls at all.
You can call us toll-free at 1 - 800 - 342 - 4511 in
New York and 1 - 800 - 833 - 9880 in Vermont,
Connecticut and Massachusetts.
If you see any of the following seven types
of events, please call:
1. Tornadoes, Water Spouts, Funnel Clouds and
2. Damaging Winds that down trees, large limbs
and power lines as well as any that cause property
3. Hail of any size
4. Lightning that cause property damage, personal
injury or death.
5. Flooding, Ice Jams, Bankfull Rivers or Streams.
6. Measured Rainfall that exceeds 1.5 inches in a
4 hour period.
7. Any other event that you feel may help us
determine the severity of storms.
Family Disaster Plan
by Dick Westergard...WCM
With the release of the movie, "Twister,"
we have seen a surge of interest by the public in
what people should do to protect themselves and
their families from nature's most violent storms.
The 1995 Memorial Day tornadoes in our region
demonstrated that tornadoes can happen here.
Letters to newspapers and broadcasters in
mid May from your WCM emphasized creating a
"Family Disaster Plan." I reminded people that
the sturdiest part of a home is the basement and
it's one of the best places to take cover. As
Skywarn Spotters and Emergency Managers, you
all know that the best way to be aware of tornado
warnings and other severe weather events is
through NOAA Weather Radio.
If Emergency Managers, or Skywarn
groups, would like to offer disaster planning
assistance to schools or other institutions in your
area, your WCM is available to help with ideas
and general planning information. Call Dick
Westergard at 518-456-5807.
Call for Monthly Precipitation Data
by Michael Caropolo
The Hydrology program is working on a
new endeavor to accurately diagnose precipitation
amounts across our County Warning Area. This
project which will complement the existing
network of surface stations and cooperative
observers will more accurately determine soil
moisture conditions. Since many Skywarn Spotters
have their own weather stations or rain gauges; an
obvious location to begin work on this project is
with you. We are looking for only 3 or 4 items. 1)
The total monthly liquid precipitation. 2) The
total monthly snow fall. 3) The greatest 24 hour
liquid precipitation. 4) And your location. We
would like to collect this information via either
post paid mail or through the Internet. Once we
get some feedback and look into this further we
will determine the best method of data collection.
You can mail your observations to the NWS,
attention Michael Caropolo at the address on the
page 8. Or send your observations to us on the
Internet at the following address, thanks for your
StormBuster is a quarterly publication for
Emergency Management Officials and Skywarn
Spotters in the National Weather Service Forecast
Office Albany's County Warning Area.
Warning Coordination Meteorologist
They Make StormBuster Happen!
Hugh W. Johnson IV.
Address comments to:
Albany County Airport
Albany, NY 12211