*Presidentís Day 2003 Major Snow Storm SKYWARN Activation Report


President's Day Major Snow Storm SKYWARN Activation Report from February 17th and 18th, 2003

by: Robert Macedo, KD1CY, ARES SKYWARN Coordinator for NWS Taunton

 

The President's Day Snow Storm was one of the more historic major snow

storms to hit Southern New England in the past few years. The storm

was well forecasted by NWS Taunton Meteorologists and its impact was

felt from Virginia and Washington DC through Philadelphia, New York

City, Hartford CT, Providence RI, Springfield, Worcester and Boston,

Massachusetts. The storm brought a period of blizzard or near blizzard

conditions to coastal areas and brought snow drifts of up to 4 feet to

the region. Winter Storm Warnings were posted Sunday Evening and on

Monday Morning, East Coastal Massachusetts including the Greater Boston

Metropolitan Area was upgraded to a Blizzard Warning due to strong winds

expected to reduce visibility significantly.

 

NWS Taunton SKYWARN Operations were coordinated with MEMA Framingham

Operations and began between 1-1:30 PM. Delilah Maldonado, KB1IQC and

myself were the operators through the early-mid afternoon. At approximately,

6:30 PM, Phil Mclaughlin, KB1CYO, joined us at NWS Taunton until we

secured operations at 10:30 PM on Monday Evening. SKYWARN Nets

were activated across the region at 1 PM. With the President's Day holiday,

many Amateur Operators were home to give reports of snowfall and any other

potential disruptions to the region.

 

For a historical snowstorm, historical SKYWARN Operations were put

together using IRLP. Ray Weber, KA1JJM, from Western Massachusetts

SKYWARN utilizing a IRLP reflector, had 12 IRLP nodes linked together

to provide coverage across large portions of Southern New England,

the New York City-Long Island area, Connecticut and Eastern New York.

A node from Chesterfield, Virginia, which was in an area hard hit by

the storm, monitored the event, as did nodes in Indianapolis, Indiana

and California. Local nodes in the area that were linked included the

145.39 Scituate, Mass. Repeater run by W1QWT-Bob Callahan and the

Barrington, RI Simplex Repeater run by Jed Barton-N1JBC.

 

With this IRLP net, we had advanced warning of heavy snow bands from

the New York City, Long Island area as well as Connecticut. This was

important since the NWS Taunton Radar was down during the entire event

and we had to rely on radars from NWS Brookhaven and WCVB-TV5 to know

where the heaviest snowfall bands were in the region. Also during

the event, solid communication was established between NWS Taunton,

Massachusetts and NWS Brookhaven, New York was realized during this

event. Scott Reynolds-KC2JCB, one of the forecasters at NWS

Brookhaven, NY, was on the air during the event as he accepted

snowfall reports and wind information from spotters on the IRLP

network from the NWS Brookhaven, NY area. He also coordinated with

NWS Taunton during the event for a couple of hours. W1AMF-Bob Munro,

the New London County SKYWARN Coordinator, gave numerous snowfall

reports from New London County SKYWARN and these snowfall reports

were forwarded to NWS Brookhaven utilizing the IRLP Net. Since Scott

Reynolds is also one of the forecasters for NWS Brookhaven, he went

back to forecasting later in the event.

 

The Massachusetts RACES HF Net was established on 40 Meters (7255 Khz)

and 75 Meters (3955 KHz). NWS Taunton coordinated with the RACES HF Net

with MEMA Framingham and with the net controls running the HF Nets.

Coordination with MEMA Framingham was also done on the 6 Meter Wachusett

Repeater on 53.31 MHz. Due to radio limitations at NWS Taunton, we could

not monitor both HF and 6 Meters at the same time and this is something

that is hoped to be addressed in future activations. Liaison was made

with the HF Net and on 6 Meters periodically during the event.

 

SKYWARN Nets in Western Massachusetts were activated at 1 PM with

Ray Weber, KA1JJM, Jim Bernotas, N1VMH, Eric Tuller, N1QKO, and WB1EHD,

Dennis Malone, were active running nets on the 146.94-Mount

Tom, 146.985-Greenfield and 145.13-Amherst Repeaters. Nets were

run every 2 hours with many reports gathered through 10:30 PM when

the SKYWARN Net was secure. Reports of snowfall and snow drifts

were the main pieces of information. In several areas, reports of

3-4" per hour snow occurred including in Deerfield, Massachusetts where

this occurred for 2 hours resulting in a 13" snowfall report increase

to 21" in just 2 hours! While there was some wind, the wind and snow

did not cause any infrastructure damage to trees and power lines

but did significantly hamper travel in the region.

 

SKYWARN Nets in Connecticut were active on the 147.000 Soapstone

Mountain CT and 147.225-Killingly, CT Repeaters. Roger Jeanfaivre-K1PAI,

CT SKYWARN Coordinator for Hartford and Tolland Counties of CT and

Bernard Dubb-KB1DGY, Windham County CT SKYWARN Coordinator, were active

forwarding snowfall reports. Roger utilized the IRLP link while Bernie

utilized the 146.76-Scituate, RI Repeater. Snowfall reports were

forwarded through 10:30 PM. No damage was reported but snow drifts and

significant impediments to travel were reported.

 

SKYWARN Nets in Eastern and Central Massachusetts were active across

the area. SKYWARN was active on the 146.97-Paxton Repeater where

reports of snowfall were obtained. W1SEX-Paul Topolski was also on

6 Meters and forwarded snowfall reports from the Templeton Repeater

into NWS Taunton and these nets covered much of Worcester County. Tom

Pratt, N1KKY, was also giving reports from this region as well. In

Eastern Massachusetts, SKYWARN Nets were active on the 146.64 Waltham

and 145.47 Danvers Repeaters. Bill Ricker, N1VUX, handled net control

on the Waltham Repeater with a quasi-formal net running through until

10:30 PM with numerous snowfall reports forwarded to NWS Taunton. Also,

along East Coastal Massachusetts, reports of visibility below a 1/4

mile with near whiteout conditions were also reported both in Dorchester

and Quincy Massachusetts. Jeff Arnold-N1FWV did occasional call-ups

on the 145.47 Danvers-Repeater.

 

Continuing in Eastern Massachusetts, the 146.895-Walpole Repeater's

Norfolk County SKYWARN Net was active with Dave Doe-K1HRV and Roger

Turner-W1ZSA active on frequency. Reports of snowfall were forwarded

from across Norfolk County through 10:30 PM. Significant impediments

to travel were reported but no damage to trees or power lines and this

was the trend with this storm across much of the area. SKYWARN was

active on the 147.18-Bridgewater Repeater, where reports of snowfall

were forwarded from the South Shore. The 145.49-Fairhaven Repeater

was active with SKYWARN through the day with Tony Duarte-N1XRS active

on the frequency. The 8 PM Fairhaven Repeater Weather Net had

numerous reports of snowfall forwarded to NWS Taunton with Louie

Whitlow-WA1GDE active as net control. Reports from this net resulted

in an upscaling of snowfall totals across South Coastal Massachusetts

and Cape Cod and the Islands as the predicted mix to sleet and rain

was less than expected with only a mix of sleet reported in some

areas and only a mix of sleet and rain across Nantucket and the

extreme Outer Cape. SKYWARN was also active on the 146.955-Barnstable

Repeater with reports forwarded from the Cape Cod area. We also

monitored the 146.655-Falmouth Repeater and obtained snowfall

reports from Cape Cod shortly after their weekly net.

 

SKYWARN Nets were active in Rhode Island through the efforts of Eddie

Cayer-WX1USA and Rhode Island SKYWARN. Snowfall reports came in every

1-2 hours with numerous reports during each net. No damage to trees or

power lines were reported but several reports of poor visibility and

impassable secondary roads were reported. One report of very strong

winds were received from Little Compton, RI with sustained winds of

35 MPH with gusts to 49 MPH. This corresponded well with a wind

report received from George Allen, N1NBQ on Nantucket Island where

ther was a peak wind gust to 46 MPH. These winds occurred in the mid-

afternoon hours from 2-5 PM but then subsided to a threshold of 20-30

MPH with gusts of 35-40 MPH.

 

SKYWARN Nets were also active in Southern New Hampshire with snowfall

reports forwarded from Cheshire and Hillsborough County into NWS

Taunton. In New Ipswich, NH, Hillsborough County, snowfall of 30" was

reported by Bill-KB1EOI. 14" of snow had falled by 8:30 PM and then

in a 5 hour period an additional 16" of snow fell as 3-4" per hour

snowfall rates occurred during the event in New Ipswich, NH and this

was reported in other parts of Southern New England. In Cheshire County

NH, reports were relayed from Bruce Bohannon, WA1YZN, and the

146.805-Keene, NH Repeater through W1SEX-Paul Topolski.

 

During the event, Coastal Flooding was also monitored on SKYWARN

nets in East Coastal Massachusetts and Cape Cod and the Islands but the

combination of winds backing around to the North and Northwest and

slackening a bit along with iced over harbors dampened the waves

across coastal communities preventing a moderate coastal flood event

along north and east facing beaches of the shoreline. Had winds

remained stronger and stayed out of a more Northeasterly or Easterly

direction, there would've been more issues and the ice that actually

mitigated wave action could've caused more damage. Luckily, this

scenario did not occur during this storm.

 

SKYWARN was secured at 10:30 PM on Monday Evening and a brief

reactivation was done from 9-10:30 AM to cover final snowfall reports

across the region. WB1CHU-Mitch forwarded final snowfall reports from

the HF New England Weather Net and reports via email and Amateur Radio

were collected during this period. The 146.955-Barnstable Repeater had

the usual 6 AM collective of the Cape and Island WX Net and final

snowfall reports from this net were forwarded.

 

When the event was over, 1-2 feet of snow was recorded across much of

the region. Isolated amounts of 25-30" occurred across portions of

East Coastal Massachusetts from Glocuester to Plymouth. Boston broke

their record 24 hour snowfall set during the Blizzard of 78. Isolated

25-30" amounts also occurred in sections of Southern New Hampshire

and Western and Central Massachusetts particularly in the higher terrain

and where the slopes of the mountains enhanced snowfall. In terms of

impact, since the storm did not have the hurricane force winds or severe

coastal flooding that the Blizzard of 78 had, it falls far short of having

that kind of impact. In terms of snowfall, this storm rivals the April

Fools Day Storm of 1997, the Blizzard of Jaunary 1996 and the

Blizzard of 78 in some areas. Its impact was along the lines of the

Blizzard of January 1996 and probably a stage lower than the April Fools

Day Storm as the President's Day Storm did not have a heavy wet snow

that caused some infrastructure damage in some areas. The storm will

be known for creating blizzard to near blizzard conditions across

portions of the area, particularly along the coast, very heavy

snowfall rates and snow drifts of 4 feet causing travel to be totally

avoided and causing state workers to stay home the next day and many

closures of colleges as the storm passed and as people dug out from

the storm.

 

While it is impossible to list all of the Amateur Operators and SKYWARN

Spotters who gave snowfall reports and information forwarded for

this event, there were 20 pages of log sheets used for reports and a

HUGE thank you goes out to the ARES, RACES and SKYWARN people who

assisted in this event and gave reports, manned nets for many hours

and kept the National Weather Service informed of what was happening

during the President's Day Storm.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

 

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: rmacedo@rcn.com

http://users.rcn.com/rmacedo

 


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