May 31st, 1998 Severe Weather Outbreak Report
The following is a complete write up on the SKYWARN Activation from
Sunday May 31st, 1998. This was one of the longest and most widespread
activations in many years. Damage was reported over a large area and
feature formal/stand-by activations that spanned a fourteen hour period
on Sunday May 31st.
SKYWARN Operations from NWS Taunton
The day started at 7 AM with a phone call from the National Weather
Service in Taunton meteorologists Walter Drag and Bill Simpson. They
indicated the need for SKYWARN personnel in the office first thing
in the morning and the need for SKYWARN personnel in the office
throughout the entire day. The first threat areas were Connecticut
and Rhode Island and then later in the day for the entire area.
Head's up notification was given early that Sunday Morning to Len
Mathieu, N1PTG, Assistant SKYWARN Coordinator for Connecticut and Harvey
Broverman, K1PZS, Alternate NCS for the Soapstone, 147.00 SKYWARN Net.
Jeff Mitchell, N1YDU, from Rhode Island SKYWARN was also called as
activity moved into Rhode Island. I called for William Dohr, KB0UYO,
to go into NWS Taunton for the early morning hours as I gathered data
and alerted all personnel throughout the rest of NWS Taunton's Warning
Area of Responsibility which is Southern New Hampshire, All of
Massachusetts except for Berkshire County, all of Rhode Island
and Hartford, Tolland and Windham counties of Northern Connecticut.
Utilizing our Alpha Pager Contact list, a head's up page of dangerous
weather for the region was sent out to coordinators and spotters. In
that page, I asked people to refer to their email, since everyone on
that list has email, for details on this very serious weather situation.
The information featured a Public Severe Weather Outlook bulletin for
Southern New England and Convective Outlook from the Storm Prediction
Center in Norman Oklahoma, Forecast Discussion from NWS Taunton and
a Special Weather Statement from NWS Taunton.
Following this action, head's up notification calls were given to
Western and Central Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire. The
network was now on stand-by alert.
I then went up to the National Weather Service, along with Tony Duarte,
N1XRS, Dartmouth Communications Officer, and Mike Leger, N1YLQ, Acushnet
RACES Radio Officer. By 10:15 AM, we were at the National Weather
Service in Taunton, MA.
Approximately 30 minutes later, a Severe Thunderstorm Warning was issued
for Northern Worcester County. Hail was reported with dime sized hail in
Gardner, MA. Severe Thunderstorm Warnings were then issued for Middlesex
and Essex county Massachusetts as the thunderstorm intensified along the
warm front. Dime sized hail was reported in Chelmsford Center, with 3-4"
diameter trees down in Littleton, Mass, then reports of dime to nickel
sized hail were reported in Peabody, Mass. verifying 3 of the 4 warnings
issued that morning. Waltham SKYWARN on the 146.64 Repeater, Danvers
SKYWARN on the 145.47 Repeater, and Haverhill SKYWARN on the 146.625
Repeaters were the focus for this portion of the activation.
There was then a lull in the action for several hours which gave us time
to man our NWS Open House booth. Special thanks to Howard Baker, W1JVW,
and Bob Metivier, N1XZJ, for manning the booth for the best share of the
day on Sunday.
Activity then began moving in from Eastern New York. Tornado Watches
were posted through New York, with an additional Tornado Watch posted
for Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties of
Massachusetts. At this time state director, Peter LaPorte, asked for
RACES Activation statewide for this event. N1CPE, Tom Kinahan, Mass.
State RACES Radio Officer, and Mike Baril, Area III East RACES Radio
Officer went to man the MEMA Bunker in Framingham and activated RACES.
With RACES activated, this meant that the Waltham Repeater, 146.64,
would need to either be utilzed by RACES or jointly by RACES and
SKYWARN. KB1CIE, Bill Fernandez, in his first stint as net control,
asked Terry Stader, KA8SCP, Area I RACES Radio Officer if he
should relinquish use of the repeater. Terry politely declined and
had RACES utilize the MMRA linked repeater system so that SKYWARN
Operations could continue on 146.64. Special thanks to Terry, KA8SCP,
for doing this for us. Meantime, Bill, KB1CIE, did a fine job in
his first stint as net control and handled weather traffic very well.
Special thanks to Bill for being net control as needed.
Given the fast motion of the thunderstorms (50-70 MPH), I asked for
all nets from Worcester County Massachusetts westward to go into formal
nets. Shortly after 5 PM, a liaison network was established with KE1FO,
Al, and KA1SWR, Steve, setting up this network. Al did liaison work
from the Mount Greylock Repeater, 146.91, and the Mount Tom Repeater,
146.94 and Steve, KA1SWR, provided liaison to the Keene, New Hampshire
repeater, on 146.805. All liaison work was relayed into the Worcester
County SKYWARN linked Repeater System, which operates on the 145.37
Templeton and 146.925 Worcester Repeaters. Also utilized was the
6 Meter 53.31/448.175 Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency
Linked Repeater System for liaison to far reaching areas of Western
Mass., Northern Connecticut, and Southern New Hampshire, as well
as keeping liaison with MEMA Framingham, and RACES.
Through this liaison work, we had plenty of time to warn counties in
Taunton's Warning Area of Responsibility. Reports came streaming in
from the Mount Greylock net of dime to nickel sized hail, winds 50-70
MPH, possible tornado touchdowns in Bennington County Vermont, possible
tornado touchdown and airport evacuation in Pittsfield, Mass. and many
other reports. Don Horton, N1ISB, did a fantastic job in handling the
situation on the Mount Greylock Repeater, for Berkshire County
Activity moved eastward into Franklin county with numerous power outages
and trees reported down in Charlemont, Rowe, Heath Orange and many other
communities in Franklin County. Jim Bernotas, N1VMH, Western Mass.
SKYWARN Coordinator, and Ray Weber, KA1JJM, provided excellent liaison
to NWS Taunton to forward the reports.
Activity then moved into Northern Worcester, Cheshire, and Hillsborough
Counites. Trees went down in the Winchendon, Mass. area and fell onto
a car causing an accident and two fatalities. This report was made via
amateur radio and later confirmed by the Winchendon Police Department.
Activity then streaked into Middlesex and Essex counties, which were
already hit once by severe weather activity. In Methuen, Mass. there
were several trees downed. This was another report first mentioned
by amateur radio and later confirmed by the Methuen Police Department.
The Waltham, Danvers, and Haverhill Repeaters were again used for this
The night was not over yet. A third line of thunderstorms then made
its way over Southern New England. This line covered the widest area
and spread its destruction over a wide area. This line would track
along the Southern Berkshire County, Hampden, Hampshire, Southern
Worcester Counties of Massachusetts and into Northern Connecticut
and Northern Rhode Island.
As this line approached, activity once again increased on all the
SKYWARN nets. Many reports of trees down and dime sized hail were
liaisoned in by KE1FO, Al, and KA1JJM, Ray from Hampden and
Hampshire Counties of Western Massachusetts. N1VRK, Brian
Skalarski, ran net control on the Mount Tom 146.94 Repeater,
during the height of the event and forwarded reports for Ray,
KA1JJM to liaison in to NWS Taunton. Numerous reports
of wind damage and hail came streaming in from Brian. As this occurred
more activity spread into portions of Southern New Hampshire.
Our New Hampshire liaison, KA1SWR, Steve, reported numerous
wind damage reports, and then golf ball sized hail damaging
cars in Walpole, NH. The Worcester County Linked Repeaters,
145.37 Templeton, and 146.925 Worcester were again used for
this portion of the operation. The pinnacle of activity, however,
was yet to follow.
KBOUYO, William Dohr, a SKYWARN Spotter as well as a storm chaser
from South Dakota went 'in the bear's cage'. After monitoring
activity along the southwest side of the storms in Amherst,
Massachusetts, he proceeded south to the line of storms
that slammed into Southern Worcester County Massachusetts where
some of the worst destruction was done. Will ran right into
the storms, which knocked down 3-4 Foot diameter trees in the
town of New Braintree. Will's account was that the lightning
lit up the sky and he saw a funnel cloud right in front of him,
following that, a roaring sound and the winds increased causing
major damage. Will then reported a possible tornado on the ground
in New Braintree. Upon immediate reciept of this information,
NWS Taunton issued a tornado warning. The storm producing the
strong winds and the possible tornado slammed into the New Braintree,
Spencer, Worcester, Oakham, Sutton, and Oxford areas with winds
measured up to 104 MPH, hail, Heavy rain in excees of 1 inch per
hour and intense lightning. Several towns along the path of this
storm were left powerless and several local town state of emergencies
were declared in its wake.
Liaison was then kept with Worcester County, Area III East RACES,
to keep everyone in the County informed of what was happening. The
146.97 Paxton Repeater was utilized for this purpose. Mike Baril,
N1PSE, was the RACES Net Control. We also utilized this repeater to
contact Connecticut SKYWARN, and N1PTG, Len, Assistant SKYWARN
Coordinator came in with several reports of trees down in the
Manchester, CT area, and some small hail reports.
Activity then slammed into Northern Rhode Island and Northeast
Massachusetts. Numerous reports of trees down were reported
in Hopkinton, Ashland, Waltham, Brookline and Newton, Ma. Woonsocket
and Cumberland Rhode Island also had reports of trees and wires
downed from the storm and in Cranston, RI, dime sized hail fell.
Net control, N1FWV, Jeff Arnold, on the 146.64 Waltham Repeater,
N1HWA, Phil Knight, on the 145.47 Danvers Repeater, N1VDX, Steve
Woodward on the 146.625 Haverhill Repeater, and Bruce Herrick,
N1SMK, on the 146.700 Cranston RI Repeater, all did an exceptional job
in relaying reports. Also the 147.165 South County SKYWARN Net
was active but no reports meeting criteria occurred.
Activity began to weaken as it moved into Southeast Massachusetts,
but damage was still done and Norfolk County SKYWARN on the
146.895 Walpole Repeater was there to cover it. Reports of trees
down came in from Medfield and Walpole and SKYWARN Net Control
Dave Doe, K1HRV, reported a peak wind gust to 41 MPH measured on
his Davis Weather Station.
Stand-by nets on the Bridgewater Repeater, 147.18 and the Fairhaven
Repeater, 145.49 were setup to pick-up any residual reports from
the affected areas as well as to monitor activity in their own areas.
Special thanks to Louie, WA1GDE, Ted, N1WAI and other spotters and
alternate NCS's for their efforts in keeping SKYWARN nets on stand-by
in these areas and picking up reports from the affected areas as needed.
Mercifully, at approximately 12:15 AM, Monday June 1st, 1998, I asked
for all nets to secure as the threat for severe weather had diminished.
This was the best SKYWARN activation in my two years as coordinator
for this office. A hearty THANK YOU to all the SKYWARN Spotters,
Coordinators, and Net Control Stations for making this SKYWARN
Activation a HUGE Success. The Amateur Radio SKYWARN Network was
responsible for 43 out of 73 of the severe weather reports, which
is 62% of all the reports given by Public Safety and SKYWARN Spotters.
This is an unprecedented accomplishment!!!! THANKS to all coordinators,
spotters and 'chasers', for making this possible.
Here are report breakdowns from the various coordinators around the NWS
Taunton Warning Area of Responsibility:
Eastern Massachusetts SKYWARN
* ARES INCIDENT REPORT FORM * [per Field Resources Manual]
NATURE OF EMERGENCY/DISASTER:
Severe Thunderstorm Warning
DATES OF ACTIVITY:
1998 May 31, 12N-1PM
PLACES OR AREAS INVOLVED:
N Middlesex, Essex Counties of EMA
NETS AND/OR FREQUENCIES USED:
WARA Waltham 146.64
NUMBER OF PARTICIPATING AMATEURS:
NUMBER OF MESSAGES HANDLED:
National Weather Service
ARES LEADERSHIP MANAGING DEPLOYMENT:
Rob KD1CY/DEC-Skywarn, Activating Nets
Jeff N1FWV/Skwyarn NM, supervising
Bill N1VUX/Skywarn NCS (ARES EC) Skwyarn
Coordination: N1QIR/DEC, N1OHN(MVARG ERT Coord), N1HWA NM Danvers, N1VDX
NM Haverhill, KB0UYO
BILL RICKER N1VUX 6/1/98
* This was the first, short, "warmup" round for the day.
* We coordinated staffing for second round as it was winding down.
* Thanks to WA1GEP & crew for getting 146.64 up and back to full
* ARES INCIDENT REPORT FORM *
NATURE OF EMERGENCY/DISASTER:
Tornado Watch / Severe Thuderstorm Warning
DATES OF ACTIVITY:
May 31, 1998, 6pm-9pm EDT
PLACES OR AREAS INVOLVED:
Middlesex, Essex, Suffolk counites
NETS AND/OR FREQUENCIES USED:
NUMBER OF PARTICIPATING AMATEURS:
34 Stations from 17 towns (in 3 states: 2 NH, 1 RI)
NUMBER OF MESSAGES HANDLED:
10 reports at or near criteria delivered to NWS including
2 rain (volume)
1 Lightning damage
1 wind damage
3+ relays from Haverhill, Danvers net
multiple relays via N1FWV & Worcester net
NWS Taunton WFO (primary)
MEMA RACES AREA I (forwarding stations to their alternate
Am.Red Cross (Jeff relayed Skywarn damage reports to them too)
ARES LEADERSHIP MANAGING DEPLOYMENT:
KD1CY/DEC, N1FWV Net Coord, N1VUX/EC&Alternate for this net
KB1CIE/NCS, informal from 1PM to 6PM;
KB1CIE/NCS Formal (on instruction of N1VUX/M) from Warning to
N1FWV/NCS 2046EDT until deformalized on KD1CY advise around 9PM.
Other ARES leadership activity heard on frequency: W3EVE/SEC,
RACES stns logged: KA8SCP/A1-RO, WC1ABL/A1-NCS, N1LLG/Groton
Bill Ricker N1VUX June 1 1998
* Haverhill and Danvers skywarn were in operation also.
* Bill F., KB1CIE, did a great job for his first net under trying
conditions. He kept information flowing during the lull in EMA while the
action was all in NY, WMA during the afternoon and established effective
control once we had the warning in the county.
* Now that we have effective nets in Haverhill and Danvers, I should
probably take Waltham down to standby (or request to do so) sooner when
the action moves from Middlesex into Essex; in this case, it wasn't
clear to me if it had completely. (Wish I could see Radar at my
* As noted, the Worcester net was doing a meticulus job distinguishing
current versus time-in-past on all reports; we let a 3rd party report
slip through underqualified and overprecise.
* MEMA RACES AREA 1 requested a rollcall, but was interrupted by KD1CY
urgent NWS query. RACES voluntarily moved to MMRA linked system to leave
us operational; we repeated that announcement, sent one EOC station that
couldn't make Stoneham to Marlboro link.
* N1VUX took and relayed via N1FWV one further report from NH after this
net closed, before next net (N1FWV, 10PM-?) started.
I took over the Waltham net at 10:15 from N1VUX
10:25 Marlboro T&L hvy rain medium trees bending
Chelmsford hvy rain low wind
Dracut hvy rain low wind
Kingston NH garage blown onto road about 10 min ago
10:34 Framingham very hvy wind
10:36 Bellingham hvy rain wind gust to 10
10:37 Littleton hvy lightning heavy rain light wind
N. Framingham high wind hvy rain
10:38 Holliston high wind hvy rain
S. Acton half in rain in 15 min low wind
Marlboro trees down
10:42 Lexington 1 inch of rain/hr
Tewskbury & Dracut gust to 30 mph
Littleton hvy rain lightning 24 mph wind 1inch rain/30 min
10:44 Beillingham lightning wind gust to 25
10:45 Hudson route 495 high wind hvy rain
Waltham hvy rain
10:46 Bedford 1inch/20 min rain
Lexington 1 icnch/hr
Billerica 1 inch/hr
10:50 Framingham 1/2 inch /15 min rain some trees down
Weston hvy rain 25 mph wind a lot to thunder
Wayland vy rain 1/2 inch / 1/2 hr T&L
10:53 Brookline very hvy rain 30-35 mph wind
10:54 Framingham light wind
Brighton light rain
10:56 Watertown hvy rain low wind
10:57 Reading hvy rain low wind a lot of lightning
Quincy hvy rain light wind
Woonsocket RI wires and trees down
11:00 Chelmsford lightning strike to a shed with fire
Bellingham 3/4 inch rain / 1/2 hr
Brighton hvy rain lightning
11:04 Brookline branches down hvy rain 2inches of rain so far
11:10 Hopkinton power outages
11:11 Waltham trees down on Myrtle St. about 11:00
11:13 Belmont 3 trees down from wind 15 minutes ago
Hopkinton trees down about 11:00
Ashland/Hopkinton line high line wire poles down about 11:00
11:16 Brookline trees down about 20 minutes ago and Brookline EOC
11:24 Newton Trees down on Grove St. Kingsford Rd. Monroe St.
11:47 Upton branches and small trees down no power outages
Net secure at 11:55.
Very nice job done by all the nets and NWS thruout the incident.
TO: Rob Macedo
ACTIVATION REPORT FOR 31-MAY-98
SKYWARN NET CONTROL STATION, N1VDX, activated SKYWARN in "stand-by" mode
at 11:50 (all times are in 24 hour format).
SKYWARN NCS fully activated SKYWARN at 12:06. Multiple check-ins with
rain estimates and wind estimates were received. I forwarded only
reports meeting the National Weather Service's criteria for reporting
severe events (winds greater then 40 MPH ,rain greater then 1 inch
per hour, ect). Many reports of frequent ground to cloud lightning were
gladly taken, with reporting stations thanked, but not forwarded to National Weather.
Reports were forwarded to National Weather via the Waltham 146.64
repeater or via SKYWARN NCS Waltham for relay.
SKYWARN NCS Haverhill placed net on "stand-by" 12:26, with NCS staying
on frequency for late reports.
SKYWARN NCS closed the net at 12:50.with National Weather being
notified. Info from National Weather about a second front arrival time
and re-activation times were received.
SKYWARN NCS re-activated SKYWARN in a "stand-by" mode at 18:10
(after a great outdoor B-B-Q). At this time multiple check-ins were
recorded with all stations standing by for the BIG ONE.
SKYWARN was fully activated at 18:35. Multiple reports of heavy rain,
and high winds were reported. All reports meeting the reporting
criteria were again forwarded to National Weather, by direct contact
though Waltham 146.64 repeater, or relayed though SKYWARN NCS Waltham if
National Weather was not on frequency.
At 19.03 a station from Methuen reported the Methuen police had
dispatched cars to a "possible tornado" touchdown.
I called this report into National Weather via the telephone spotters
line for two reasons. 1)--This was an "unconfirmed" report, overheard
ONCE, on a police frequency, reported to the police by a home owner that
had a big tree hit his house. (My personal thinking on this was, the
home owner could think of nothing else that would do this type of damage
except a tornado).
2)--- I didn't want to use the word "tornado" over the Waltham repeater
unless I had a good, solid, report. (If you tell some one not to think
of a "pink elephant", that's all they think about).
SKYWARN NCS placed the net on "stand-by" at 21:30.
One report of Pea sized hail was received and forwarded to NWS at
(NCS Haverhill ran on emergency power from 21:18 to 22:39).
SKYWARN Haverhill went into FULL activation on the 146.625
repeater at 22:20 with heavy rain and strong winds reported. NWS
Taunton issued a "severem thunderstorm warning" at 22:51 for Essex
county (this repeater area). Only one (1) report meeting the reporting
criteria was relayed to National Weather.
The main storm front track south of Haverhill and was dealt with by
Waltham. (we just sat back and listened to the controlled mayhem).
NCS Haverhill released the Net into "stand-by" mode at 23:40
when the "Severe Thunderstorm Warning" time (and the severe weather)
The Net was closed at 00:05 1-June-98 when KD1CY came on the
146.64 repeater and told everyone to close down and have a well
deserved rest.( I never realized how nice those words sounded)
Total time on "stand-by"-----------2 hours 20 minutes
Total time on "Full Activation"---4 hours 59 minutes
Thanks again to the Pentucket Radio Assoc. for the extended use of their
repeater and to all the amateur radio operators involved.
Steve Woodward N1VDX
SKYWARN Net Control Station Haverhill
Hillsborough County NH SKYWARN
On 31 May the net operated from 1800 to 2000 with 31 check-ins,
reverting to stand-by status until 2300.
Reports of significant tree damage in Nashua. One report of tree on van,
second tree on roof of home. One store window reported blown out in
At 1823 report of tree damage in Hollis with winds estimated at 50 mph.
At 1828 reported winds of 40 to 45 mph in south Nashua.
Additional reports of tree damage 1833 in the towns of Hollis and
Brookline, N.H., and Fitchburg, Mass.
Further tree damage in Merrimack near Exit 11, F.E. Everett Turnpike.
Route 122 in Pepperell, Mass., blocked by tree, further tree damage in
Further reports of tree damage in the towns of Hudson and Litchfield,
N.H., and scattered power outages in Hudson, Merrimack and Nashua.
2113 spotter report from Londonderry, N.H., states pea-sized hail
accompanying rain and lightning.
Donald Dillaby, EC E-Hillsborough County, Nashua Area Skywarn
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: email@example.com
Packet Address: KD1CY @ AA1FS
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