Editor's Note & The Vallee Breeze

Welcome to the first edition of Weather Eye.  

Weather Eye is your newsletter. It is published exclusively for the community of Cooperative Observers that is serviced by the National Weather Service (NWS) at Taunton, Massachusetts.

The newsletter is called Weather Eye because we believe you are our eyes. You are the only people taking visual readings of the data we need in order to perform our duties at the NWS. Automation and computerization has taken over weather observations at all of the airports where the NWS personnel previously took manual weather observations. Except for the Blue Hill Observatory, you are now the only other people out in the field, still using your eyes and common sense to determine and gather measurements of temperature, rain, and snow. I include "common sense" because the automated station still does not know that we can’t have snow with a temperature of 87 degrees.

The initials for Weather Eye are WE. WE is an inclusive word meaning you and I or us. You are important to us. You are a fundamental and integral part of the NWS team. You have indeed become the eyes of the NWS. Together, WE complete the mission of the NWS.

This newsletter is intended to keep you, the observer, abreast of what’s going on in the Cooperative Program in our area, as well as what’s happening here at the NWS in Taunton (your service center). It is also hoped that through this newsletter we can keep you up-to-date as to the latest changes in the Cooperative Program, and provide you with a little training as well. Future issues will contain articles that explain what happens to your data once we receive it. How do the meteorologists and hydrologists here at Taunton use the data on a daily basis? What are the many other ways in which your data may be used?

Comments and suggestions are always appreciated. We hope you enjoy reading this little newsletter as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together for you.

~ Mike

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The WFO, The NERFC & You

The National Weather Service Forecast Office (WFO), in Taunton, MA has ownership of a very diverse service area, which extends from the Monadnocks of southwest New Hampshire south to Long Island Sound, and eastward to Cape Cod and the Islands. The characteristics of our rivers and streams pose a variety of challenges. These challenges include the threat of true flash flooding on the small streams of our northwest area, urban runoff in such metropolitan cities as Hartford, CT and Boston, MA to the challenges of the larger mainstem rivers which can take days or even weeks to crest (such as the Connecticut and Merrimack).

Your daily observations of temperatures, precipitation, snow depth and water equivalent are so vital to our ability to ascertain the current hydrologic state and to examine the potential for flooding. The WFO has responsibility for providing a summary of your observations every day. We also produce daily river forecasts for 28 locations on 20 rivers (which increases to 36 locations when flooding occurs). We are responsible for issuing small stream and river flood watches, warnings, follow-up statements, as well as flood and drought potential outlooks.

We are fortunate to be co-located with the National Weather Service Northeast River Forecast Center (NERFC). Their job is to assist us in our watch/warning effort by modeling the rivers and streams and by providing us with daily flash flood and river flood forecast guidance. Their guidance for flash flooding provides us with rainfall needed in a 1, 3, 12 or 24-hour period to induce flooding. The WFO has a locally driven small stream model which takes this information along with observed and forecast rainfall, then provides a local forecast for fast responding small streams in our area. The NERFC river flood guidance comes to us in two forms: one form provides us with a forecast of rainfall needed to bring a forecast location to flood, while the second form provides us with detailed 6 hourly river stage forecasts for our 36 locations. These forecasts are generated at least once a day, but as often as every 6 hours during flood episodes.

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