SKYWARN Volunteers Muster as Severe Weather, Tornado Hit Southern New England
When severe weather erupted in Southern New England on July 27 and 28, SKYWARN volunteers went on alert to help forecasters track conditions and, afterward, to assist authorities with assessing the damage. A super-cell storm system organized over northern Norfolk County, Massachusetts, on the morning of July 28 and raced through portions of northeastern Massachusetts, causing wind damage in sections of Needham, SKYWARN Coordinator and ARRL Eastern Massachusetts Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator Rob Macedo, KD1CY, reported.
“The storm was tracked using the SKYWARN self-activation protocol,” he said. The system subsequently generated an EF-2 tornado, which swept through Revere, Massachusetts, leaving a swath of significant damage in its wake. “Within 15 or 20 minutes of the storm’s passage, the Amateur Radio SKYWARN network received reports of many trees and wires down and structural damage in Revere,” Macedo said. “Other pockets of straight-line wind damage and flash flooding occurred elsewhere in Southern New England, rounding out a 2-day stretch of severe weather in the region.”
SKYWARN Spotters Jim Palmer, KB1KQW, and Marek Kozubal, KB1NCG, worked with National Weather Service-Taunton Warning Coordination Meteorologist Glenn Field, KB1GHX, local first responders, and Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency personnel in surveying the damage. All are associated with WX1BOX, the Amateur Radio Station at NWS-Taunton.
According to the NWS-Taunton office, the tornado, with winds estimated at between 100 and 120 MPH, affected both Chelsea and Revere, but most of the damage was in Revere. The NWS said the tornado traveled 2 miles, leaving a path some 3/8-mile wide. The Weather Channel said the tornado affected a 3-square mile residential area of Revere, damaging more than 60 homes and business and leaving upward of 3000 residences without power. A temporary shelter was opened to handle those displaced by the storm. In addition, significant flash flooding affected the Boston Metro West region, with rainfall of up to 3.5 inches recorded in less than an hour.
Macedo said another round of severe weather occurred later in the day on July 28, affecting northwestern and north-central Massachusetts through southern New Hampshire, with additional severe thunderstorms taking place across north-central Connecticut. “These severe thunderstorms caused pockets of flash flooding and straight-line wind damage,” Macedo’s report said. “Particularly hard hit were parts of Westford, Littleton, and South Chelmsford, Massachusetts, as well as part of Enfield and Somers, Connecticut.”
A tornado warning was issued for parts of eastern Hampden and southwestern Worcester counties in Massachusetts, but only pockets of straight-line wind damage were noted.
Monday’s severe weather events followed an 8-hour severe weather episode that had affected parts of Western and Central New England the previous day. A warm front passing into Southern New England the morning of July 27 brought severe thunderstorms with it. A funnel cloud was sighted and minor wind damage occurred in Springfield, Massachusetts — also in Hampden, County — and there were reports of flooding and some lightning-caused fires in Central Massachusetts. Another round of scattered severe thunderstorms affecting parts of Western Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut occurred during the late afternoon and early evening hours of July 27. “SKYWARN self-activation handled the storm activity across the region,” Macedo said. Areas reported hardest hit in the second round of storms were West Springfield, Agawam, and Longmeadow — all in Massachusetts — extending into Enfield, Somers, and Tolland, Connecticut. Pockets of wind damage reached the Storrs/Mansfield, Connecticut, area — home to the University of Connecticut.
“We wish to thank all SKYWARN spotters, local police and fire departments, and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency for their help and support during this active 2 days of severe weather in our region,” Macedo said. “All of us working together makes a significant difference for our communities b y providing accurate ground-truth information for better warnings and forecasts.”
The NWS-Taunton Forecast Office also had kind words for the Amateur Radio SKYWARN volunteers. “The National Weather Service would like to extend its appreciation to our North Shore and Boston SKYWARN Amateur Radio coordinators, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Region 1 Office, and the Revere Police Department for helping us tremendously with this storm survey,” the office said.