CQ zone 5 ITU zone 6 Grid Loc: FN41xq Lat: N 41 ° 40 ' 51 '' Lon: W 70 ° 3 ' 26 ''


Amateur Radio Station N2KNL / KB1VAJ  Harwich, MA

   DAVIS Model 6152C Cabled Weather Station and Weather Display software connect to Weather Underground. There are two different wind indicators. One wind sensor on the crank up / tilt over tower at 30-45 feet. The second wind sensor on the chimney at 31 feet which is used when the tower is on the ground for maintainance. The RM Young Model 05103 and Rainwise Windlog sensors also record wind data.

DAVIS Weather Model 6152CDAVIS Weather Model 6152C

Towercam 3 (south view) - Wind Sensors at 45 feet



Click for Forecast for 02645 from weatherUSA.net

Snowfall measured in Harwich,MA.
(Average Snowfall 25.7")

(Average Snowfall 25.7")
NWS Taunton, MA SKYWARN Spotter ID# 14-***


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What is SKYWARN?

    SKYWARN is a national network of volunteer severe weather spotters. The spotters are trained by local National Weather Forecast Offices on how to spot severe  thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail and flooding. In parts of the country, spotters also report snowfall and ice.


    During the early 1940's the Weather Bureau cooperated with the military in setting up volunteer spotter networks to protect military installations. After a tornado killed 80 and injured 273 people in Kansas in 1955,the Weather Bureau decided to train severe weather spotters. On March 8,1959, in Wellington, Kansas, the first training course for 225 severe weather spotters was held.

How does SKYWARN Amateur Radio work?

    Two-thirds of the volunteers are licensed amateur radio operators. Amateur radio plays a big role in the SKYWARN program. During severe  weather, amateur radio volunteers man a amateur radio station at the National Weather Service Office. They talk to the spotters in the particular area that the storm is occuring and request information needed by the forecasters. Large storms knock out phone service. SKYWARN amateur radio volunteers are there to relay severe weather reports to the national weather offices to keep communities informed of severe weather. The National Weather Service issues watches and warnings warnings, based in part on observations from storm spotters in the field. Your reports are important to warning forecasters who are making critical warning decisions.

How do I become a weather spotter?

    You must take a SKYWARN class. This class is a  free 3-hour  seminar that  teaches you  the basics of  how SKYWARN operates, how to spot severe  weather, what to report, how to report and when to report it. At the end of the class, you are given a special SKYWARN ID card with reporting instructions. There is no cost for the class. SKYWARN Training classes are held each spring.

What Spotters Look For

    Storm spotters play a vital role in the warning and information process by observing storms and making reports back to the National Weather Service and local public safety officials. Trained spotters learn about the physical structure of severe storms and how to identify the most likely areas for severe weather development. They also learn about visual clues that may precede tornado development, and learn to distinguish between real tornadoes and look-alikes. These types of details, when coupled with NWS forecasters’ expert radar interpretation, lead to better warnings and statements. Once SKYWARN Spotter observation reports are received by the National Weather Service office via a toll-free 800 number or web email, the reports are sent to the media (i.e., Weather Channel, etc..)


SKYWARN Reporting Criteria

How to report

When making a report, remember to answer three basic questions...

WHAT Happened? Type of Event (Tornado, downed trees, etc..)
WHEN did the event happen? Also, duration of the event.
WHERE did the event happen? Location of event (town or city, portion of county, major intersections)

What To Report

Funnel Clouds and Wall Clouds
Rotating Thunderstorms
Wind Gusts Greater Than 45 mph
Hail (any size)
Wind Damage
Heavy Rain
Power Outages
Any weather related deaths and injuries


Spotters Safety Tips

Safety should be first and foremost on the mind of a spotter. Remember, the N.W.S. values your safety more than your observations. It is essential that spotters proceed into the field armed not only with knowledge of the storms but also with an understanding of the dangers posed by thunderstorms. When spotting, travel in pairs if at all possible. When moving, this will allow the driver to remain focused on the chore of driving while the passenger keeps an eye on the sky and handles any communication with the dispatcher. When stopped, two sets of eyes are available for observation.

      Keep aware of the local environment at all times. When in the vicinity of a thunderstorm, keep a 2-mile "buffer zone" between you and the storm. Frequently check the sky overhead and behind to ensure no unexpected events (such as a new tornado) are developing. Always have an escape route available, in case threatening weather approaches or if you get within the 2-mile "buffer zone."

      Lightning is the number one killer among weather phenomena. During a typical year, lightning kills more people than hurricanes, tornadoes, and winter storms combined. The two main threats posed by lightning are the intense heat of the lightning stroke (about 15,000 degrees Celsius) and the extreme current associated with the stroke, estimated at 30,000 amperes (less than 1 ampere can be fatal).

      Lightning is also the biggest weather hazard facing the spotter. When in the field, the spotter will usually be in a preferred lightning strike area (in the open, on a hilltop, etc.). Whenever possible, remain in your spotting vehicle to minimize the chance of being struck by lightning. If you must leave your vehicle, crouch as low as possible to make yourself a less favorable target. Hail is usually not a direct threat to life, but hailstorms are the costliest weather element to affect the United States. Each year, hailstorms cause over $1 billion in damage primarily to crops, livestock, and roofs. Giant hailstones (2 inches or more in diameter) can reach speeds of 100 miles an hour as they fall to earth. If such a stone strikes someone, the results can be fatal. There have been only two documented hail related deaths in the United States, but a hailstorm in China killed over 100 people in 1976. A vehicle will usually offer adequate protection from moderate sized hailstones. Hail larger than golf ball size may damage windshields, so avoid large hail shafts if at all possible.

      Down bursts are underrated thunderstorm threats. A down burst is defined as a strong down draft with an out rush of damaging winds on or near the earth's surface. Down bursts are responsible for the "wind shear" which has caused a number of airliner accidents in the 1970's and early 1980's. When people experience property damage from a down burst, they often do not believe that "just wind" could have caused the damage, and they assume that they were struck by a tornado. In fact, the strongest down bursts have wind gusts to near 130 miles an hour and are capable of the same damage as a medium sized tornado.

      Down bursts are classified based on their size. If the swath of damaging winds is 2.5 miles or greater, it is called a macroburst. If the swath is less than 2.5 miles across, it is called a microburst. In general, macrobursts are long-term, large scale events, while microbursts are intense, quick hitting phenomena. Microbursts are subdivided as wet or dry microbursts, depending on how much rain falls with the microburst. If very heavy rain falls with the microburst, it is called a wet microburst, while a dry microburst has little or no rain reaching the ground.

      Flash floods are another example of an underrated thunderstorm threat. Over the past several years, more people have been killed in flash floods than in tornadoes. Two factors are responsible for this. First, we have urbanized. Where rain water used to have open fields in which to run off, it now has highway intersections, basements, streets, etc. Second, the public as a whole is apathetic about flash flooding. We simply do not treat flash flooding with the respect it deserves. Many of the recent deaths associated with flash flooding have occurred because people attempted to drive their vehicles across a flooded low water crossing and were swept away by the flood waters. Less than two feet of moving water is needed for a vehicle to be swept away. When spotting in a flash flood situation, follow these common sense safety tips. Remember that flash flooding is most dangerous at night when the effects of flash flooding are difficult to see. Since most flash floods occur at night, this problem is compounded. Avoid low water crossings and don't drive into areas where water covers the road. If you are caught in a flash flood, abandon your vehicle and quickly get to higher ground.

      Last but not least is the tornado. Again, a tornado is defined as a violently rotating column of air in contact with the ground and pendant from a thunderstorm (whether or not a condensation funnel is visible to the ground). If the violently rotating column of air has not touched the ground, it is called a funnel cloud. If a tornado is approaching your location, drive away from the tornado IF you are in open country, IF the location and motion of the tornado are known, and IF you are familiar with the local road network. If you are in an urban area and escape is not possible for some reason, abandon your vehicle and get into a reinforced building. If a reinforced building is not available, get into a culvert, ditch, or other low spot in the ground (that is not flooded).

      Spotting at night is obviously more difficult than spotting during the day. There are only a few allies available to help you when night spotting. If possible, use the light from lightning flashes to illuminate the important parts of the storm. Quite often, though, lightning strokes will be very brief and will illuminate different parts of the storm from different angles. This will make it even more difficult to accurately report what is occurring. If you are in large hail, the most dangerous part of the storm is near you and will probably move overhead within a few minutes. If you hear a loud roaring sound, then a tornado may be very close to your location. Use this tip with caution. Not all tornadoes have a loud roar, and some non-tornadic winds may also possess a loud roar. Finally, if you think there is a tornado not far from your location (i.e., within spotting range), search along the horizon for bright flashes of light as the tornado destroys power lines and transformers.


What is RACES?

    The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), is a public service provided by a reserve volunteer group of Amateur Radio Operators that is administered by local, county and state emergency management agencies, and supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the United States government. As a part of the Amateur Radio Service, it provides radio communications for civil-preparedness purposes only, during periods of local, regional or national civil emergencies. These emergencies are not limited to war-related activities, but can include natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, power outages, floods, victim searches, air crashes, and many others.


What is ARES?

    The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization, is eligible for membership in the ARES. The only qualification, other than the possession of an Amateur Radio license, is a sincere desire to serve. Because ARES is an amateur service, only amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.

    The Taunton, Massachusetts National Weather Service has a SKYWARN / ARES Spotting Program. The amateur radio call is WX1BOX. SKYWARN Spotters and amateur radio operators send reports to the weather service ops via phone or radio communication. There are many frequencies where the SKYWARN weather nets are run. Most are on the 2 meter (144-148 MHz) and 70 centimeter ( 420-450 MHz) bands.


The Southeast Massachusetts Weather Net Schedule

The Cape Cod and Islands Weather Net, 146.955 MHz Barnstable Repeater
       Monday-Friday 6:00-6:30 am.
The Fairhaven Weather Net, 147.000 or 145.490 MHz Repeaters
       Monday-Friday 8:00-8:30 pm.
The SKYWARN Rhode Island Weather Net, 146.760 MHz Cranston Repeater
       Wednesday Evenings at  8:30 pm
The National Hurricane Net, 14.325 MHz (Upper Side Band) Seasonal Broadcasts

Eastern Mass. ARES/RACES/SKYWARN Links

 Eastern Mass. ARES/RACES/SKYWARN Index

NOAA Weather Radio

KHB 35 Boston, MA. 162.475 MHz




High clouds above 18,000 feet are cirrus clouds.

  Cirrus clouds are the most common of the high clouds. They are composed of ice and consist of long, thin, wispy streamers. Cirrus clouds are usually white and predict fair weather. Sometimes called mares tails, they stream with the wind. By watching the movement of cirrus clouds you can tell from which direction weather is approaching. The appearance of cirrus clouds usually indicates that a change in weather will occur within 24 hours.
   Cirrostratus are sheet-like, thin clouds that usually cover the entire sky. The sun or moon can shine through Cirrostratus clouds. Cirrostratus clouds usually come 12-24 hours before a rain or snow storm.
   Cirrocumulus are small, rounded puffs that usually appear in long rows. They are usually white, but sometimes appear gray. Cirrocumulus are usually seen in the winter and indicate fair, but cold, weather. In the tropics, they may indicate an approaching hurricane.

Medium high clouds occupy altitudes of 6,500 feet to 18,000 feet

    An Altostratus cloud usually covers the whole sky. The cloud looks gray or blue-gray. The sun or moon may shine through an Altostratus cloud, but will appear hazy. An altostratus cloud usually forms ahead of storms with continuous rain or snow.

    Altocumulus clouds are grayish-white with one part of the cloud darker than the other. Altocumulus clouds usually form in groups. If you see Altocumulus clouds on a warm, sticky morning, be prepared for thunderstorms by late afternoon.

Low clouds, called stratus clouds, are at altitudes up to 6,500 feet

   Stratus clouds are uniform gray in color and almost cover the entire sky. Light mist or drizzle is sometimes associated with Stratus clouds. A Stratus cloud touching the ground is fog.
   Stratocumulus clouds are low, puffy and gray. Most form in rows with blue sky visible in between. Rain rarely occurs with Stratocumulus clouds, however, they can turn into Nimbostratus.
   Nimbostratus clouds are dark gray with a ragged base. Rain or snow is associated with Nimbostratus clouds.

Clouds with vertical growth

   Vertically developing clouds are the Cumulus (puffy) type. These small, lumpy clouds are low "fair weather" clouds. However, as they develop vertically (up) they may go from small, fair weather clouds to large, boiling, vertically-growing monsters called cumulonimbus.
   Cumulonimbus are generally known as thunderstorm clouds. High winds will flatten the top of the cloud into an anvil-like shape. Cumulonimbus are associated with heavy rain, snow, hail, lightning, and tornadoes. The anvil usually points in the direction the storm is moving.


   Thunderstorms are common in this part of the world, and most of us are quite familiar with them and the dangerous weather they can bring. Most individual thunderstorms only last several minutes, however some individual thunderstorms become very well-organized and can last several hours. These long-lived thunderstorms are called supercell thunderstorms. Supercell thunderstorms are responsible for the majority of significant severe weather, including very large hail and tornadoes. However, storms that form in organized lines (called squall lines) can also produce widespread strong and damaging winds.

Thunderstorm movement left to right.

What is a Severe Thunderstorm?

   A severe thunderstorm is defined by the National Weather Service as one that produces one or more of the following:

Hail ¾ of an inch in diameter (roughly the size of a dime)
Wind gusts of 58 mph (50 knots) or higher
Wind or hail damage
A tornado

Thunderstorm Life Cycle

The Developing Stage...

The Mature Stage

Disapating Stage

What is a Downburst?

   A downburst is defined as a strong downdraft from a thunderstorm with an outrush of damaging wind on or near the ground. Damaging downburst, although relatively rare, are much more common than tornadoes. Because of their small size and short lifespan, it is difficult to detect and warn for downbursts. Many confuse damage produced by "straight-line" winds and often erroneously attribute it to tornadoes. Wind speeds can reach up to 100 mph (161 km/h) with a damage path extending from hundreds of miles. Downbursts are divided into two categories.

    Macroburst-Swath of damaging wind is 2.5 miles or more wide.

    Microburst-Swath of damaging wind is less that 2.5 miles wide.



     In a typical year about 1000 tornados will strike the United States. The peak of the tornado season is April through June and more tornadoes strike the central United States than any other place in the world. This area has been nicknamed "tornado alley." Most tornados are spawned from supercell thunderstorms.

Here are my photos taken of the May 15, 2009 F2 Tornado in Kirksville, Missouri...

and the outflow of a 100 mile wide supercell in Garnett, Kansas on May 17,2009...

    Supercell thunderstorms are characterized by a persistent rotating updraft and form in environments of strong vertical wind shear. Wind shear is the change in wind speed and/or direction with height. The updraft lifts the rotating column of air created by the speed shear. This provides two different rotations to the supercell; cyclonic or counter clockwise rotation and an anti-cyclonic of clockwise rotation.


    When viewed from the top, the counter-clockwise rotation of the mesocyclone gives the supercell its classic "hook" appearence when seen by radar. As the air rises in the storm, it becomes stretched and more narrow with time. 



    Thunderstorms have very turbulent environments. Strong updrafts and downdrafts occur closely to each other. The updrafts transport small liquid water droplets from the lower regions of the storm to heights between 35,000 and 70,000 feet, miles above the freezing level. Downdrafts transport hail and ice from the frozen upper regions of the storm. When these collide, the water droplets freeze and release heat. This heat in turn keeps the surface of the hail and ice slightly warmer than its surrounding environment and small hail forms. It is believed that precipitation collides with each other causing an electrical discharge in the thunderstorm, known as lightning.

  Image 1 - The atmosphere is a very good insulator that inhibits electric flow, a high amount of charge has to build up before lightning can occur. A moving thunderstorm gathers another pool of positively charged particles along the ground that travel with the storm. As the differences in charges continue to increase, positively charged particles rise up taller objects such as trees, houses, and telephone poles.

  Image 2 - A channel of negative charge, called a "stepped leader" will descend from the bottom of the storm toward the ground . It is invisible to the human eye, and shoots to the ground in a series of rapid steps, each occurring in less time than it takes to blink your eye. As the negative leader approaches the ground, positive charge collects in the ground and in objects on the ground.

  Image 3 - This positive charge "reaches" out to the approaching negative charge with its own channel, called a "streamer" . When these channels connect, the resulting electrical transfer is what we see as lightning. After the initial lightning stroke, if enough charge is leftover, additional lightning strokes will use the same channel and will give the bolt its flickering appearance.




    Hail is precipitation that is formed when updrafts in thunderstorms carry raindrops upward into extremely cold areas of the atmosphere. Hail can damage aircraft, homes and cars, and can be deadly to livestock and people. One of the people killed during the March 28, 2000 tornado in Fort Worth was killed when struck by grapefruit-size hail.

  The hail nucleus, buoyed by the updraft is carried aloft by the updraft and begins to grow in size as it collides with supercool raindrops and other small pieces of hail.

Sometimes the hailstone is blown out of the main updraft and begins to falls to the earth.

  If the updraft is strong enough it will move the hailstone back into the cloud where it once again collides with water and hail and grows. This process may be repeated several times.

  In all cases, when the hailstone can no longer be supported by the updraft it falls to the earth. The stronger the updraft, the larger the hailstones that can be produced by the thunderstorm.


Spotter Weather Terms


The top portion of a mature thunderstorm that has the appearance of having been "blown off".


Also sometimes called a shelf cloud. This is usually the dark, ominous looking cloud formation the precedes the passage of a squall line or multicell thunderstorm formation. It is formed as warm moist air overrides cool downdraft winds at the leading edge of the thunderstorm (the gust front).


The basic thunderstorm, which consists of one updraft and one downdraft.


Area of dust, sand, and debris that forms near the ground at the base of a tornado.


A small area of rapidly descending air beneath a thunderstorm. Downburst winds hit the ground and spread out, often at speeds in excess of 100 mph. See also downdraft, macroburst and microburst.


Area within a thunderstorm where the predominant air motion is downward. Where there is precipitation there will always be a downdraft. Downbursts are localized areas within the downdraft of very rapidly descending air.


Generally the funnel is a visible tornado that hasn’t yet reached the ground. Funnels consist of water droplets that have condensed due to the rapid temperature and pressure changes in the vicinity. Also called condensation funnel.


The area near the leading edge of a thunderstorm where downdraft winds hit the earth’s surface and spread out. The gust front is the leading edge of the spreading winds. The gust front is usually found just below or very near the arc cloud.


Large ice chunks that grow within the thunderstorm until they are too heavy to be supported by the mechanics within the storm. Large hailstones fall at speeds greater than 100 mph.


Area of a thunderstorm where air from the surrounding environment is "sucked up" into the thunderstorm updraft. The inflow area is always void of precipitation and the cloud bases are dark and flat.


A downburst with a diameter of greater than 2.5 miles.


Downward protruding "bumps" usually on the underside of the anvil of a thunderstorm. Mammatus ("Mama") clouds are indicative of extreme turbulence.


A downburst with a diameter of 2.5 miles or less.


That portion of the thunderstorm where the downdraft winds hit the surface of the earth and spread out.


A protruding cloud area above the usually smooth anvil of a mature thunderstorm that indicates the presence of an intense updraft.


      A dark, horizontal cloud base with no visible precipitation beneath it. The rain-free base typically marks the location of the thunderstorm updraft. Tornadoes may develop from wall clouds attached to the rain-free base, or from the rain-free base itself - especially when the rain-free base is on the south or southwest side of the main precipitation area. Note that the rain-free base may not actually be rain free; hail or large rain drops may be falling. For this reason, updraft base is more accurate.


Clouds that appear to have broken off beneath the base of a thunderstorm. Scud (fractus) clouds often may reach to near the ground and can be easily mistaken for a funnel.


See Arc Cloud.


Scud-type cloud that forms near the base of a wall cloud and protrudes almost parallel to the earth toward the main precipitation shaft of the thunderstorm.


Rotating area of strong winds and rapid pressure change that sometimes forms in conjunction with a severe thunderstorm.


The area within the thunderstorm where the predominant air motion is upward.


An area of dry clear air that often forms between the main precipitation shaft and the rain-free base wall cloud.


A rotating cloud that forms beneath the base of the thunderstorm behind the main precipitation shaft where some of the inflowing air and outflowing air meet and mix. Tornadoes, if they occur, will appear to drop out of the wall cloud.


A weak tornado that forms over warm water. The formation mechanisms for waterspouts are different from those of land tornadoes, and waterspouts may form during relatively calm-looking weather