Major March 5th-6th, 2001 Nor'easter SKYWARN Activation Report
Major Nor'easter SKYWARN Activation Report from March 5th and 6th, 2001
by: Robert Macedo, KD1CY, ARES SKYWARN Coordinator for NWS Taunton
The most significant nor'easter to hit the region since April 1st, 1997
affected much of Southern New England on Monday March 5th and Tuesday March
6th of 2001. While falling short of being as strong as the Blizzard of 1978
in Southern New England as originally advertised, lives across the region were
affected for several days as this long duration major nor'easter hit the
region and caused significant problems for the region.
Weather models called for this significant storm as much as 10 days ahead of time
and by Friday Evening, the National Weather Service in Taunton began gearing
up SKYWARN and Emergency Management people for a long duration event starting
early on Monday March 5th and lasting through Wednesday March 7th.
The biggest concern for this storm from a commuications standpoint was going
to be the amount of communication resources required for such a long duration
event. Plans were rolling as early as Sunday Afternoon to get resources in place
for the activation.
The storm hit some areas with a spurt of snow that was heavy at times
in some locations as early as Sunday Evening. The snow then mixed with sleet and
freezing rain over parts of the region. SKYWARN was asked to formally activate with
operations at the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts at 4:30 AM. A
Blizzard Warning was posted for the Greater Boston and Worcester Metropolitan areas
and covered the major highways including the I-495 and I-95 belts and Hillsborugh
County New Hampshire and the rest of Northeastern Massachusetts.
Later Sunday Evening, the Governor of Massachusetts declared a state of emergency
starting at Midnight Monday Morning and formal RACES activation was requested to
start at 11 AM as Tom Kinahan, N1CPE, Massachusetts State RACES Radio Officer
received the request from MEMA Headquarters in Framingham.
I began operations at NWS Taunton at 4:30 AM. Considering the potential situation of
having people not being able to get to places quickly by late Monday Evening, two other
operators would be brought in by late afternoon to keep operations going in the event
that roads and conditions would be too dangerous for travel. Phil Mclaughlin, KB1CYO,
and Brad Anselmo, N1VUF, were slated to assist in NWS Taunton SKYWARN Operations with
Phil coming in at 3 PM and Brad coming at 6 PM on Monday.
Reports in the morning were fairly slow as precipitation was light over the region.
Precipitation, however, fell as freezing rain over portions of the region. Reports
in Rhode Island showed icing occuring with a 1/4-1/3 inch of radial ice occurring
in those locations. 1-3" of snow fell in interior areas of Eastern and
Central Massachusetts. Reports were obtained from the 146.64 Waltham Repeater
and the 146.76 Scituate, RI Repeaters.
Precipitation took longer than expected to intensify so SKYWARN was left in an informal
state until Monday Evening. Region 1 RACES was active on the 53.31 Mount Wachusett
Repeater at 8:30 AM with the rest of the RACES regions and MEMA Headquarters in Framingham
coming online at 11 AM. Hourly check-in roundups were initiated on 6 meters starting at
11 AM and went through the entire activation until Tuesday Evening.
In the early afternoon, temperatures were above freezing in several areas of southern
Rhode Island and South Coastal Massachusetts as the storm was taking longer to develop.
As the storm developed, precipitation grew offshore. Prior to this occurring, several
south coastal locations experienced high wind gusts. ML Baron, KA1WBH, reported a peak
wind gust of 61 MPH at his location and at Burgess Point in Wareham later in the afternoon
a 64 MPH wind gust was recorded. These reports were obtained from the 145.49 Fairhaven
Temperatures slowly fell back as light rain and freezing rain gave way to snow and sleet
with numerous reports of thunderstorms as the storm started winding up. Reports of
thunderstorms were obtained by several amateurs in Southern Rhode Island including Martin,
N1JMA, on the 146.76 Scituate Repeater who stated that the rumblings and occasional
lightning flashes were occurred for almost a 2 hour period between 4-6 PM.
Precipitation rapidly got organized and moved from southeast to northwest across the
region. Snowfall rates increased to 1-3" per hour across the region particularly over
Northeast and Central Massachusetts. Near white-out conditions occurred. The bands
moved very slowly and eventually covered much of the NWS Taunton County Warning Area.
Reports and call-ups for snowfall totals and any damage were done every 1-2 hours at
the discretion of SKYWARN Coordinators across the region. Many nets were active including
the 146.76 Scituate, RI Repeater, the 147.18 Bridgewater Repeater, the 145.49 Fairhaven
Repeater, the 146.64 Waltham Repeater, the 145.47 Danvers Repeater, the 146.625 Haverhill
Repeater, the 146.925 and 145.37 Worcester-Templeton linked repeater system, the 146.94
Mount Tom Repeater and the 146.985-Greenfield Repeater. Several nets were also active
in Cheshire and Hillsborough County on 146.805-Keene and 147.045-Nashua with the 448.000
Pack Monadnock Repeater used as an alternate with the 443.350 main Pack Monadnock
Repeater down prior to the storm.
The RACES Activation assisted efforts of SKYWARN and NWS Taunton very well. Region 3 in
Belchertown and Region 4 in Westboro took snowfall reports from EMA's and forwarded
them to NWS Taunton throughout the evening and this was of great assistance to the SKYWARN
Reports of damage started coming by late evening as snowfall accumilations were 12" or greater
across portions of Northern Middlesex and Northern Worcester Counties of Massachusetts per
the 146.925 Worcester and 146.64 Waltham SKYWARN nets. The snow was heavy and in combination
with wind gusts of up to 35 MPH started to cause some minor damage of small branches in the
region. RACES and SKYWARN successfully shared the 146.64 Waltham Repeater with Bill Ricker,
N1VUX, and Andy Donovan, WA1GEP working RACES and SKYWARN nets on the repeater as needed.
Minor coastal flooding occurred along portions of the North Shore during the evening high
tide. WA1ESU operated from the Newburyport EOC and sent EMA units to various locations
in Newburyport to check on coastal flooding. While minor splashover occurred, no damage
or road closures were required.
Western Massachusetts SKYWARN had a huge call-up where close to 24 reports were received
across Hampden and Hampshire Counties in Massachusetts at 10 PM Monday Evening.
Ray Weber, KA1JJM, and Eric Tuller, N1QKO, ran SKYWARN nets on the 146.94 Mount
Tom Repeater. MEMA Region 4 Belchertown took the data from the 146.94 Mount Tom Net and
forwarded it to NWS Taunton using the 53.31 Mount Wachusett Repeater. Region 4 MEMA
and N1KKY, Tom Pratt from Worcester County SKYWARN both took reports from the 146.985
Greenfield Repeater and passed the information to NWS Taunton via the 6 meter Mount
Wachusett Repeater. Brad Anselmo, N1VUF, left around 10:30 PM as conditions were
not dangerous in the area between NWS and his home and he was not needed to stay for
operations and needed to leave. He was on-call in case we needed him on Tuesday.
New Hampshire SKYWARN was active and kept communication throught the Mount Wachusett 53.31
6 Meter Repeater. Numerous snowfall accumilation reports were funneled in from N1IIC,
Jason Greene and KB1DFE, Marc Slater. Also Tom Pratt, N1KKY funneled reports in from the
146.805 Keene, NH Repeater to get snowfall information from Cheshire County New Hampshire.
Rhode Island SKYWARN continued to be active through, Martin Mendelson, N1JMA, and contact
was maintained by either calling on the 146.76 Scituate, RI Repeater or by calling Mike,
N1YKH at the Smithfield, RI EOC as Mike worked with Martin to pass data to us also through
the 53.31 Mount Wachusett Repeater. Rhode Island EMA was active with Brian, N1VSX, at the
state EMA office in Rhode Island.
Connecticut SKYWARN was active on the 147.000 Repeater with Roger Jeanfaivre, K1PAI
and Harvey Broverman, K1PZS active on the Soapstone Repeater with reports every 1-2
hours. Bernie Dubb, KB1DGY and Wendy Jalette, KB1FEP were active on the 147.225 Killingly
CT Repeater. Reports of snowfall were funneled into NWS Taunton via Bernie, KB1DGY on
the 53.31 Mount Wachusett Repeater and by the spotter line.
Contact was made with Frank O'Laughlin, WQ1O who manned the Hyannis Red Cross shelter under
the call sign of K1PBO and he was on the 146.955 Barnstable Repeater. Requests were made to
monitor the coastal flood threat and to monitor for any wind damage with the strongest
winds preparing to enter the region during the overnight hours Monday Night into
By 12:30 AM, reports had dried up and Phil and I deactivated SKYWARN at that time and planned
on reactivation at 6:30 AM for the entire region.
At 6:30 AM, SKYWARN was reactivated with Phil, KB1CYO and I again handling the traffic into
NWS for all of Tuesday's activation. The first steps were to obtain information from the
6 AM, Cape Cod and Islands Weather Net collective on the 146.955 Barnstable Repeater. Once
those reports were obtained contact was reestablished with Frank, WQ1O at Hyannis Red Cross
with a request once again to monitor the coastal flood and possible strong wind threat.
Yarmouth EMA came on the air on the 146.955 Barnstable Repeater and reported minor flooding
on the north side of Yarmouth with parts of shore roads impassable. While rocks and
debris were thrown on to the roads, no structure damage or other serious damage occurred.
N1FY, Carl, at the Bridgewater EOC came on the 53.31 Mount Wachusett Repeater and got
several reports from Scituate Harbor. Reports from there stated water was splashing over
the sea walls and splashing the nearby shore houses with water in the parking lots and
flooding of shore roads. Boats were taken off moorings and floated freely but no
structural damage was reported.
WA1ESU and Newburyport EOC came on the air on the 53.31 Mount Wachusett Repeater and
reported the causeway to Plum Island had to be closed as a precautionary measure and
water and debris flowed on to the causeway but no structure damage was reported. In
Martha's Vineyard, Jeff, N1PRM, reported some minor shore road flooding in Oaks Bluff
but no other serious coastal flooding or beach erosion on the island.
SKYWARN was reactivated on the 146.64 Waltham and 145.47 Danvers Repeaters during the morning
with heavy snowfalls of 12-18" with higher amounts of up to 25" recorded across the Merrimack
Valley region of Masschusetts and parts of Southeast New Hampshire. N1FWV, Jeff Arnold
handled reports out of the Danvers Repeater and relayed information through the 53.31
Mount Wachusett Repeater and N1VUX, Bill Ricker handled reports on 146.64 working with
WA1GEP Andy Donovan as he is the RACES Net Control.
A final wrapup net was held on the Mount Tom Repeater, 146.94, through Eric Tuller,
N1QKO and the reports were sent into NWS via Region 4 MEMA on 53.31, 6 meters. Region
4 then obtained numerous reports of snowfall throughout the morning hours via the
146.91 Mount Greylock, 146.985, Greenfield and 146.94 Mount Tom Repeaters.
N1KKY, Tom, reported 19.5" of snow in Athol, Massachusetts and obtained a few other
reports via the 146.925-145.37 Worcester-Templeton link and forwarde reports from the
146.805-Keene, NH Repeater where WA1ZYN-Bruce Bohannon in Swanzey, NH had around
20" of snow. Paul Topolski, W1SEX, and Gardner EMA also gave a report on snowfall
and reported no damage or power outages.
Reports from New Hampshire SKYWARN continued to come in throughout the day through
the efforts of Marc, KB1DFE and Jason N1IIC. Reports were given from several locations
with amounts in the 15-25" range across much of Southeast New Hampshire.
The combination of heavy snow and strong winds caused many
reports of trees and wires down to occur across Northeast Massachusetts with up to
80,000 people without power at the height of the event. Also, the snow was very heavy
and contributed to several roof collapses including one in Peabody, Massachusetts reported
by Jeff Arnold, N1FWV, North Shore SKYWARN Coordinator and another one in Rhode Island.
SKYWARN was also active on the 146.895 Walpole Repeater with numerous reports of large
branches and trees down along with sporadic power outages in Walpole. Snow piled up
throughout the day reaching over 12" amounts by evening. K1HRV-Dave Doe, and W1ZSA-Roger
Turner were on the air from Walpole throughout the morning and afternoon hours.
KB1EKN, Mark Duff, reported no significant coastal flooding in Hingham but did report
precautionary evacuations in Scituate and Hull with Hull having the most significant
flooding as the school was cut off from the rest of the town for a while as coastal
flooding affected the city. No reports of structural damage were received, though.
In Wakefield, Massachusetts, a huge high tension wire setup was damaged by heavy snow
and strong wind causing a large portion of the power outages in Northeastern Massachusetts
while other reports of wires down contributed to other pockets of power outages across
N1FWV, Jeff Arnold, had several callups every 2-3 hours on the 145.47 Danvers Repeater
and relayed reports on the 6 meter Mount Wachusett Repeater. Reports of damage and snowfall
totals were numerous out of Essex County from the event. Also, Jim Thomson, KA1BSH and
Haverhill SKYWARN on 146.625 had reports that were forwarded on the 53.31 Mount Wachusett
Repeater as well.
During the late morning and early afternoon, Winter Storm Warnings were continued for another
5-10 inches of snow to fall by Midnight with the bulk of it falling through 6-7 PM but snow
continuing through Midnight.
Snowfall rates picked up once again across parts of Northeastern Massachusetts, the Greater
Boston area and Northern Bristol and Northern Plymouth Counties of Massachusetts. 1-2"
snowfall rates with near blizzard conditions occurred in this region. The precipitation
eventually changed to snow across East Coastal, South Coastal Mass. and Cape Cod
and the Islands as well with 2-4 inches of snow expected in the coastal areas.
Bernie, KB1DGY, forwarded several reports from the 147.225 Killingly CT Repeater a couple
of times during the afternoon for Connecticut SKYWARN and a final roundup of reports
from the 147.000 Soapstone CT Repeater was done late in the evening.
Continued reports of additional snowfall were received from the Waltham, Haverhill, Danvers,
and Walpole SKYWARN Nets throughout the afternoon. By late afternoon, power was being
restored to much of the region. In the early-mid afternoon a steady stream of damage
reports with trees and wires down occurred by slowed dramatically by late afternoon.
RACES was deactivated at around 4:30 PM after Tom Kinahan, N1CPE, verified deactivation
with communications personnel there. KA8SCP-Terry Stader forwarded pictures to myself
and NWS forecasters on the high tension lines damaged in Wakefield from the storm and
NWS was appreciative to get that information.
Further SKYWARN reports were obtained and then SKYWARN operations at NWS Taunton ceased
at 5:30 PM with a request to self-activate nets as needed during the evening and a final
roundup of reports to be sent into NWS Taunton during the evening and tomorrow morning
as the worst of the storm had passed and no further coastal flooding or damage reports
Special thanks to Phil McLaughlin, KB1CYO, and Brad Anselmo, N1VUF for their assistance
at NWS Taunton. Special thanks to the RACES Radio Officers at the regions, HQ, and town
level who gave information pertinent to SKYWARN and NWS and for full cooperation on
co-existing on repeaters where needed. Special thanks also goes out to all the SKYWARN
Coordinators, Net Controls and Spotters who provided vital information to NWS Taunton.
While not the blizzard of 78, this storm produced some significant damage and heavy
snowfall and the information from SKYWARN allowed forecasters to better protect
life and propery which is our most important mission.
An update to this report with net reports from other sections will be added as they
come in from the various coordinators and net controls.
Robert Macedo (KD1CY)
ARES SKYWARN Coordinator
SEMCARES Emergency Coordinator
Pager #: (508) 354-3142
Home Phone #: (508) 994-1875 (After 6 PM)
Home/Data #: (508) 997-4503 (After 6 PM)
Work Phone #: 1-800-445-2588 Ext.: 72929 (8 AM-5 PM)
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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