SKYWARN GAZETTE

Fall 1996/Winter 1997

Issue #1

Wilmington OH Spotter Program

Welcome both new and old members to the Wilmington OH Spotter. To begin with, I (Diane Innes), as the SkyWarn focal point, would like to thank you for your continued patience and support over the past two years. Many changes have occurred since Wilmington National Weather Service office obtained Warning responsibility for portions of Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Southeastern Indiana. Hopefully, as the office continues to grow and obtain more forecast responsibility, we will continue to improve the spotter program as well as the warning process.

One of the more recent changes with the spotter program is that I have finally finished the update and reorganization of the program, and have compiled all of the information onto a database system. Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the spotter questionnaire. Without your continuous support during changing weather conditions, we, as meteorologists, would not be as accurate or effective with the warning process. Your reports are greatly appreciated!

Another addition to the program is this newsletter. The purpose of the newsletter is to keep you, as a SkyWarn spotter, informed of any changes or interesting topics related to the program. Initially, I would like to publish the letter twice a year. However, in the future, I hope to write a newsletter every season. So feel free to give me input on what you like or dislike about the newsletter as well as interest articles which you would like to see in the newsletter.





SKYWARN ID NUMBERS

As members of the ILN Skywarn spotter organization, you are assigned spotter ID numbers which area geographically determined. Since many of you have not yet received your ID, the enclosed card indicates your spotter number. Whenever calling in with a report of the weather, please include your ID number along with the report. This will help us to better pinpoint the location of the weather phenomena. If you are not calling us from your residence, please include a geographical reference with your report and ID number. This reference can be a city or even a road junction. If you have any questions about the system, please call either myself, Diane Innes or Mary Jo Parker at (937) 383-0031 or write us at Box 1901, South SR 134, Wilmington OH 45177 attn.: Diane Innes.





ON LINE WITH NWS WILMINGTON!

The Wilmington Weather Service Office has recently opened a World Wide Web (www) Home Page. The address to visit the page is "http://www.ohrfc.noaa.gov". Our virtual home (like our actual office) is co-located with the Ohio River Forecast Center (OHRFC).

The home page has grown quickly since it began in June. Our web page now offers some of the most up-to-the-minute satellite pictures anywhere on the internet. Also, we provide detailed climatological information for all three of the major cities we serve (Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton). Many sections of the page are still under construction, as we try to work out the best ways to provide information to you.

    Some of the other interesting sections of our home page include:
  1. A page full of links to other weather service web sites (some are really outstanding !)
  2. The latest hourly Ohio River stage at Cincinnati
  3. Brief profiles (and some pictures) of our staff
  4. Radar information for the region (from an authorized government vending service)
  5. River Forecasts for the region
  6. Maps of the area that we cover
  7. In-depth information on NOAA Weather Radio

A few disclaimers:

Some of the information on the web page (especially the information from other links) can be out-dated. The climate information is also un-certified (i.e. unchecked by the National Climatic Data Center). Please use all this data with some caution. However, we would not provide the information on-line if we did not believe it to be as correct as possible.

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to visit, this is the NWSO Wilmington OH office.

Without your continous support...we would not be as effective or accurate with the warning process!





FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FROM SPOTTERS

Many people wrote in comments on their questionnaires which ranged from requests for an office tour to where one could purchase moderately priced weather observing equipment. The four most frequently asked questions are the following: 1) how does one schedule a spotter talk, 2) do you offer tours of the Wilmington office, 3) where can one buy wind measuring instruments, and 4) where can one find weather information on the internet.

To answer the first question, spotter talks are generally scheduled in the late winter and early spring. We try to complete most of the talks before the onset of severe weather. If you would like to set one up, please call Mary Jo Parker, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist, at (937) 383-0031.

Concerning the question of office tours, we welcome anyone who would like to visit the facilities. Tours are predominantly offered during the fall and winter months. We try not to schedule them during spring and summer months due the the probability of severe weather. To schedule a tour, just call the above number.

The answer to where one can by weather observing equipment was not as easy to find as I originally thought. However, after a couple of hours of asking my fellow coworkers and surfing the net, I did find a few companies which sold these instruments, for a somewhat reasonable price. The following are my suggestions, WX Wise, Main ST. New London, NH 03257, phone (603) 526-6778, Agri-Weather Inc., 1400 E. College Dr. Chyenne, WY 82007, phone 1-800-584-9331, Gadgets & Gizmos, phone 1-800-553-1841, e-mail http:/www.online-catalog.com/gadgets/index.html, Peet Bros. Company, Inc., 1308 Doris Ave. Ocean, NJ 07711, phone 1-800-USA-PEET, e-mail http:/www.peetbros.com, and Sensor Metrics, Inc. PO Box 1049 Lakeville, MA 02347, phone (508) 946-4904, e-mail Sensormet@aol.com.. If anyone knows of anywhere else, please let me know and I will include them in the next newsletter.

Finally, if the weather information is not available on our homepage, try looking on other NWS offices homepages. Another good source for meteorological information is the local universities which have a meteorology program. Some of the more extensive homepages include University of Wisconsin, Purdue, University of Oklahoma, University of Illinois, and Ohio State. Unfortunately, I do not have these addresses, so just try a key word search on weather. One last note about the internet information. A couple of people have asked about almost real time Doppler radar images. If the universities or NWS offices do not display the desired images, you can obtain the radar images, for a fee, from a private weather vendor.





WINTER WEATHER DEFINITIONS

With winter just around the corner, terms such as winter storm watch and winter storm warning will soon return to our vocabulary. So the following is just a quick reminder of what these phrases represent.

A Winter storm watch is to alert people of the possible occurrence of a heavy snow , freezing rain or heavy sleet event or even a blizzard. The definition of heavy snow is 6+ inches in 12 hours or less for West Central Ohio. For the remainder of Ohio and Southeastern Indiana as well as Northern Kentucky, heavy snow is categorized as 4+ inches of snow in 12 hours or less. Heavy snow can also be classified as 6+ inches of snow in 24 hours for all areas. A Winter storm watch will be issued for 36 to 48 hours out from the event.

A Winter storm warning is issued when frozen precipitation such as sleet, or freezing rain/drizzle is expected to accumulate to 1/4 of an inch or more. This warning will also be issured when heavy snow is likely. This product is disseminated when the storm is expected within the next 12 to 24 hours.

A Wind chill warning will be issued if wind chills of -35 degrees F or colder are anticipated within the next 12 hours.

A Winter weather advisory is to alert people of an event which will cause a significant inconvenient but does not meet the criteria for a winter storm warning. The criteria for a winter weather advisory can be any single evento or a combination of the following: 1) a snowfall accumulation of 1 to 3 inches, 2) wind chill readings ranging from -20 degrees F to -34 degrees F, 3) blowing and drifting snow with visibilities intermittently 1/4 of a mile or less, or 4) freezing rain/drizzle which causes hazardous driving conditions and/ or up to 1/4 of an inch of freezing rain accumulation on tree branches and power lines. An advisory will be issued when conditions are expected within 12 hours.





KUDOS TO THE SPOTTERS

All of you have done an excellent job in calling the office with reports when the weather conditions approached or exceeded severe weather criteria. However, during a couple of events, a few groups did an outstanding job in relaying their reports both during and after the event. So in this section, I would like to recognize those area for their efforts.

On April 29, thunderstorms developed during the late afternoon hours across much of southwestern Ohio and the Miami valley area. Spotters from Hamilton county called with reports of trees limbs and power lines down in Delhi around 415 PM and 60 MPH wind gusts near Coney Island at 435 PM. A spotter in Fairflield in Butler county at 418 PM reported a 60 MPH wind gust. Farther north at 501 PM a spotter from Clark county radioed in with a wind gust of 78 MPH. All of these reports aided in the verification of the severe thunderstorm warnings. High winds were not the only issue of concern that day. We also had to watch for flooding. Thanks to a report of the Miami River being out of its banks, just east of Tipp City at 516 PM, we were able to verify the Flash flood warning for that area.

For those of you who do not remember, the first part of May was a very active time which meant you as spotters were kept on your toes. Mother Nature unleashed her fury on the first of May across southcentral Ohio during the mid afternoon hours. Dime size hail was reported near New Vienna in Highland Co around 418 PM while walnut size hail was reported northwest of Bourneville in Ross county at 447 PM. Both of these reports verified the severe thunderstorm warnings.

The weather quickly took another turn for the worse during the early morning hours on the 4th and once again that afternoon. Flooding was the main threat in the early morning hours. A report of 6 ft. of water on Route 41 in Adams county Ohio just south of Bentonville aided in verifying the flash flood warning.. During the afternoon hours the main focus of severe weather was across northern Kentucky and southcentral Ohio. About 425 PM, golfball size hail was reported in Falmouth in Pendleton county Ky. While at 505 PM baseball size hail was observed in the northwest portion of Gallatin county. Both of these verified the severe thunderstorm warnings. At 536 PM, a report of a tornado between Hailford and Sciotoville in Scioto county Ohio caused ILN to upgrade a severe thunderstorm warning to a tornado warning.

Finally even the weather watchers in southeastern Indiana were busy during May. On the 28th, a spotter in Ripley county reported flooding near small creeks. This reports also aided in the verification of the warning issued at the time.

As previously stated, these are not all of the reports which were received over the course of the last couple of months. All of your reports are extremely valuable even if you do not think that they are. This article was just a way for me to randomly highlight a few areas which have done an outstanding job over the past 6 months.





WINTER WEATHER SAFETY

Flakes of snow will soon be falling, so the following are a few safety tips to prepare for those winter storms.

    At Home
  1. Have an extra flash light and batteries.
  2. Battery - powered NOAA weather radio and portable radio
  3. Extra food and bottled water
  4. Extra medicine and baby supplies
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. An emergency heating source such as a fireplace, wood stove or space heater.
  7. Fire extinguisher and smoke detector.


    In the Car
  1. Carry a winter storm survival kit which includes:
    • blankets or a sleeping bag
    • a flashlight with extra batteries
    • a first aid kit
    • knife
    • high calorie, non-perishable food
    • extra clothing
    • bottled water
    • a shovel
    • rope
    • jumper cables.
  2. Keep the gas tank filled 1/2 of a tank or higher to avoid ice formation in the fuel tank or lines and to add extra weight for traction.
  3. Try not to travel alone
  4. Let someone know your time table and intended routes.


    Dressing for the Cold
  • Wear several layers
  • Wear hats, and gloves (most of your body heat is lost through your head )
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from the extreme cold.






WILMINGTON NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE RECEIVES NWS MODERNIZATION AWARD

In August of 1996 the National Weather Service in Wilmington, OH Received the National Weather Service Modernization Award for exceptionally skilled and dedicated effort toward the NWS modernization. NWS offices nationwide are considered for this type of award. The establishment of the Wilmington office was a total team effort with the team concept used to start the Short Term Forecast program and the Severe Weather and Winter Weather programs. Also, NWSO was the first NWSO in Eastern Region to assume aviation forecast responsibility.

NWSO Wilmington has been innovative in accomplishing our modernization objectives. One of our forecasters has developed a severe weather display system called WarnView which enhances our severe weather operations and we have worked with private to put over 300 NWRs in the local public schools. Also, in conjunction with the Ohio River Forecast Center, we organized and implemented a major hydrologic users conference in Cincinnati. Major press conferences were held for the Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton media to provide explanation and detail for the specific events surrounding the NWS Modernization and Restructuring.

The staff at the Wilmington NWSO are gratified by this award and will continue our efforts to accomplish our mission, the protection of life and property, and provide the best service possible.





TITLE CONTEST

Now that we have a spotter newsletter, we need to come up with a catchy title. The title on the newsletter is only temporary, since my creativity was close to zero when I determined it. So instead of racking my brain for a title, I thought that I would let you, the spotters, give me some suggestions for a title. There are no restrictions to this contest; however, please mail in your entries by January 1, 1997 to Box 1901 South SR 134, Wilmington OH 45177, Attn.: Diane Innes. A selected panel will review all of the entries and decide upon the winner. The winner of the contest will receive a NWS mug.