|FROM THE DESK OF
Robert M. Thompson,
appeared in the last issue, too. We have reprinted it because you, our Spotters, are so
valuable to us!]
Like many organizations in this decade, the National
Weather Service has undergone dramatic change. Our science, technology, and service
expectations have changed from yesterday and will undoubtedly be on a higher level
tomorrow. You, our SKYWARN spotters, are an integral part of this rapid evolution. Our
ability to assess new scientific techniques, validate the information from our radar and
other technologies, and measure our progress toward higher expectations depends critically
upon the information you provide. You continue to be our eyes and ears where the
weather really counts: the community and neighborhood level. For example, with a
winter storm, your snowfall or ice accretion report provides key input when I and others
evaluate our performance . During every spring/summer severe weather outbreak,
spotter reports are used extensively to calibrate our radar warning thresholds. Warning
verification studies confirm enhanced performance. Im convinced that warning
performance improvements are the result of more intelligently assimilating your spotter
reports with better science, more powerful remote sensing technology, and a commitment by
our staff to raise the "bar" on warning accuracy and timeliness. On behalf of my
staff at the Taunton office, THANK YOU and keep up the great work. Together,
we really do make a difference.
Written and edited by:
Glenn Field, WCM
Newsletter design by: Alexis Andronikos, former ASA, NWS Taunton, MA
Thanks to the hard work
of several people, training sites have been almost completely finalized for this year. It
is recommended to be re-trained every two years. There are a few spotters who still have
the older numbers, dating back to before 1994, assigned by the Providence, Worcester,
Hartford, or Concord WSOs, which no longer exist. If you are one of these people and
you do not attend training this season, we will be forced to remove you from our database.
You now must be at least 16 years of age to become a spotter.
All sessions below are from 7-10 PM in the evening:
APRIL 12 FOXBORO, MA (Norfolk Co.)
Foxboro Companys Bristol Park Cafeteria
Rt. 140 across from Bradlees/Papa Ginos plaza
APRIL 24 WOONSOCKET, RI (Providence Co.)
Bernon Heights School
APRIL 26 SHIRLEY, MA (Middlesex Co.)
Lura A. White Elem. School, 34 Lancaster Road
MAY 2 HUNTINGTON, MA (Hampshire Co.)
Gateway Regional High School, Littleville Road
MAY 10 WEST BOYLSTON, MA (Worcester Co.)
Central MA Safety Council, Wachusett Plaza
186 West Boylston Street (Route 12)
MAY 11 MANSFIELD, CT (Tolland Co.)
E.O. Smith High School, 1235 Storrs Road
MAY 16 LEXINGTON, MA (Middlesex Co.)
Location to be determined
MAY 17 MILFORD, NH (Hillsborough Co.)
Milford High School
MAY 24 NEWINGTON, CT (Hartford Co.)
Old Newington Childrens Hospital Amphitheater
Curtis Professional Bldg., 181 East Cedar Street
CHECK www.nws.noaa.gov/er/box FOR THE LATEST STATUS OF SKYWARN TRAINING
OF WARM SEASON SPOTTER REPORTING CRITERIA
Spring & Summer, please report:
- Tornadoes or funnel clouds
- Wall clouds specify whether rotating
- Hail specify the size
- Wind gusts > 40 mph from thunderstorms
- Structural damage (trees/wires down; large branches down
(specify the diameter of branches); roof or
window damage, etc.)
- Rainfall of 1" or greater in an hour (not a
1"/hr rate for 10 minutes)
- Rainfall total of 2" or more
- Flooding of small streams (also when nearing bankfull)
- Street flooding (when more than just the usual poor
on your reports to help us issue...or not issue... Warnings to help protect lives and
property. While most SKYWARN reports are very timely and accurate, we continue to receive
several calls for events that do not meet the above criteria. Please keep in mind that
your exact wording can be critical. Some examples are:
- A "DRIZZLE SHOWER" at my house
- "Its the hardest rain I have ever seen in my
- "Severe lightning"
During Tropical Storm Floyd last September, we received a
report that "Every stream in my county is in flood." Without access to a
helicopter, this certainly seemed exaggerated.
Hail has been reported several times during the winter, in
the absence of thunderstorms or showery type of precipitation. The reports should have
been sleet, or ice pellets, which form when rain falls through a thick enough cold layer
near the ground.
Some of the previous years spotter cards listed
approximate wind speeds at which branches sway, twigs are snapped, etc. (Beaufort Scale).
The wind has been reported to us, therefore, as "39 to 46 mph." It is quite
important for you to state whether this is an estimated wind or a measured wind gust,
since 46 mph is the threshold for the issuance of our "Wind Advisory."
During the winter, we have been told many times that
"roads are treacherous." Please be more specific. Side roads? Main roads? Cars
slowing down? Cars spinning around/sliding? Not plowed yet? Etc.
WEATHER EVENTS IN 1999 IN OUR AREA
Storm Floyd (Sept. 16-17, 1999)
At one point, Floyd was a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. It
caused much loss of life from flooding in North Carolina. Luckily for New England, it had
weakened to tropical storm strength by the time it moved northward along the coast...into
western Connecticut, then moving northeast across Massachusetts. Flooding rains occurred
in Connecticut and western Massachusetts, along and west of Floyds track. Bristol,
CT reported 10.80" of rain; Southwick, MA had 9.16"; and Whately, MA had
7.70" . Wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph were common along the south coast, but the New
Bedford Hurricane Barrier (elevation 95 ft.) had a wind gust to 76 mph.
2. Snowstorm on Feb. 24-25, 1999
Southeastern Massachusetts bore the brunt of this storm. A whopping 18"-24"
occurred on Cape Cod & the Islands. Harwich had 24"; 20" in West
Dennis; 19" in South Edgartown on the Vineyard; and 17" even on Nantucket! A
foot of snow was common over the rest of eastern MA and RI.
3. Summer Drought - this ended with moisture from Tropical Storm Floyd.
|DONT MISS OPEN HOUSE 2000 !!!
that time again...every 2 years, NWS-Taunton hosts a spectacular Open House. This year, it
will be held
SATURDAY MAY 20 10 AM 5 PM
SUNDAY MAY 21 NOON 5 PM
at our office at 445 Myles Standish Blvd. (exit 9 off
Taunton. More than 3,000 people came both in 1998 and 1996.
Its far more than just a tour of the forecast office.
Tents are set up outside, with many different venues. Slide shows on severe storms and
hurricanes will be given every half-hour. Internet demonstrations will be given. There are
weather balloon launches. A coloring contest for kids. Meet the Thermometer Man from Cape
Cod, who has a museum of thousands of thermometers. Want to learn about amateur radio
speak with our ham coordinators. Presentations about River Forecasting will be
given. The FEMA multi-radio response vehicle will be here again, provided it is not needed
for a true crisis elsewhere in the
world. Other weather/safety related agencies will be here,
such as the MA Emergency Management Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S.
Geological Survey, Blue Hill Observatory, the American Red Cross, and the MA Coastal Zone
Management (from Exec. Office of Environmental Affairs). Interested in studying the
weather? Speak with representatives from U-Mass at Lowells Meteorology Department.
Also, there will be a few door prizes for some lucky
Sounds great? See you there! [Nice weather is planned.]
|Project: WINDThere are many factors that can lead to a significant variability in wind
gust values. A few examples include: sampling rate of anemometer (1 second averaging vs. 2
or 3 second averaging); size of the cup; Where it is mounted roof mounting
can exaggerate speeds since air blowing up roof; length of wire strung can cause
additional resistance; topography of surrounding area. Mountings on a stand-alone tower
are best. Because of the variability, we have differentiated between "official
NWS/FAA ASOS sites" and "other sources," such as SKYWARN," in our
Public Information Statements. This should not diminish the importance of SKYWARN wind
We would appreciate information about your
wind equipment, especially siting and brand name/sampling rate. See phone # or email
directly below this article.
|2000 Hurricane Names
||When was the last reported tornado in Worcester County?
tornado on 8/10/90 !
move or change your phone number, please notify Glenn Field at 508-823-1983 or
|AMATEUR RADIO OPERATIONS
Last year, we added the 6-meter capability, which allows us to directly reach farther into
our County Warning Area of responsibility. Recently, we added paging software, which
allows our coordinators to be paged from our office now. useful for SKYWARN
activations. Also, the PC that runs the APRS system will soon be upgraded from a 486 to a
low-grade Pentium, which will allow the Windows version of APRS to run. We still are
looking into ways to get the valuable HF antennas installed...the process has not been as
simple as it might seem. Approximately one-third of our spotters are amateur radio
operators...and they do a great job!
|AUTOMATED NOAA WEATHER RADIO
The automated voice of
NOAA Weather Radio will be improving. National Weather Service Headquarters has decided to
upgrade the system nationwide...to a concatenated voice. The two best voices in the NWS
will spend a lot of time in Washington recording towns and cities and all words that could
be used in meteorological products, etc. Although the voice will still be automated, it
will sound more like your bank telephone recording...much more like a human. This system
is being field tested at two sites this summer. The goal is to have it make its debut for
severe weather warnings by Fall, 2001 and for all products in the 2002-2003 time frame.
WEATHER RADIOS WILL ALERT FOR MORE SITUATIONS
For those of you who bought the more expensive, programmable NOAA
Weather Radios from your favorite electronics outlet...then were confused at why it never
alarmed this winter...here is some good news.
These newer radios utilize what is called
SAME (Specific Area Message Encoder) technology. We, at the NWS, have the ability to issue
the regular 1050 Hz tone alarm (that triggers the lower-grade models) independently of the
SAME encoding. In other words, while we still do not wish to issue a tone alarm (1050 Hz)
and wake everyone up at 3:00 AM for the fact that a Winter Storm Watch has been issued
(for a storm that might come tomorrow), we will now trigger the SAME tones. This will send
off an alert only for those radios which have been programmed to receive Winter Storm
Watches and that have the alarm "on" and not disabled for the night.
Other products that will now be
"SAMEd" for the programmable radios include Winter Storm Warnings and High Wind
|WEATHER COMMUNITY DEEPLY SADDENED
Penelope Thompson, wife of NWS
Meteorologist-In-Charge Bob Thompson, recently lost the battle with ovarian cancer. She
was in her mid 40s. Pen, who also was a federal government worker, often helped with NWS
office activities, such as the Open House. But most importantly, she was the backbone of
love and support for Bob.
Dawn Cummings, long-time Cooperative
Observer and amateur radio coordinator for Cheshire County, NH, succumbed to a heart
attack. She was in her early 50s. Dawn was a ham since
Age 15, a member of many wireless
organizations, and a volunteer for the American Red Cross.
Both touched our lives in many ways and
will be sorely missed.
|NOAA WEATHER RADIO LIVE
MONDAY MAY 15 2000
730 PM EDT
Jason Franklin and Glenn Field will
discuss severe weather in southern New England, how severe weather is forecast, and the
|Tornadoes never strike big cities, right?
Wrong! There is nothing preventing a big
city strike. Just ask the people in Fort Worth, TX (3/28/00); Milwaukee, WI (3/8/00); Salt
Lake City, UT (8/11/99); Oklahoma City, OK (5/3/99); Cincinnati, OH (4/9/99); Little Rock,
AR (1/21/99); Nashville, TN (4/16/98); Birmingham, AL (4/8/98); Daytona Beach, FL
(2/22/98); Miami, FL (2/2/97); Tampa, FL (12/7/96). Farther back in history, Worcester, MA
(June, 1953 94 dead); St. Louis, MO (May, 1896 400 dead); Natchez, MS (>
300 dead)...and many others.