Amateur Radio Emergency Service and SKYWARN respond to Major Nor’easter




A major northeast hit eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island this week, with fierce winds stronger than those Tropical Storm Henri brought to the area in August.

Starting the evening of October 26, ham radio operators in eastern Massachusetts on the SKYWARN ™ storm watch teams from the Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) and the National Weather Service (NWS) have joined forces to help emergency services provide a targeted and effective response as the mighty nor’easter has caused extensive damage. Damage to trees and cables, trees falling on houses and cars, and a few cases of direct structural damage to weakened structures have been reported. Operations ARES and SKYWARN will continue until the impact of the weather system abates.

“We have processed several hundred damage reports, and damage photos are being provided by operators ARES and SKYWARN to support damage assessment efforts and keep Norton’s NWS informed of extreme weather conditions affecting the area,” a said Rob Macedo, KD1CY. , Emergency Coordinator for the Eastern Massachusetts ARES Section and ARES-SKYWARN Coordinator for NWS Boston / Norton.

ARES-SKYWARN operators relayed reports of hurricane-force wind gusts of up to 94 MPH at Edgartown, Mass., At Chappy Ferry Point; 84 MPH in Dennis, Massachusetts; 79 MPH in Sandwich, Massachusetts, and 78 MPH in Rockport, Massachusetts. Amateur operators with WX1BOX, the NWS Boston / Norton amateur radio station; Cape Cod ARES and SKYWARN, and South Coast SKYWARN ended their operations at night when the peak winds occurred.

“The dedication of our volunteers to providing this vital information during a major storm like this to the NWS, the media and emergency officials during such a grueling time is essential in keeping people informed of what is happening. during such a severe storm when they wake up. in the morning, therefore, they will hopefully make sure decisions to avoid being in a situation of strong and significant wind, ”said Macedo.

Cape Cod ARES was activated by the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee (BCREPC) to staff the Multi-Agency Coordination Center (MACC) of the Barnstable County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Damage, power outages and intermittent cellular service from some providers could mean extended activation for ARES members on Cape Cod and the Islands, Macedo explained.

According to Cape Cod and ARES Islands District Emergency Coordinator, Frank O’Laughlin, WQ1O, “Damage assessments in the area will give us a better idea of ​​how long it will take to restore power and in some cases. case, the communication service to Cape Town [Cod] and islands, and that will determine how long Cape Cod ARES will be needed, and whether additional support from Eastern Massachusetts ARES will be required.

Macedo called nor’easter “one of our most extraordinary weather systems in recent years, and the most severe of several other major SKYWARN / ARES activations in the past year”.

Up to 500,000 customers have lost power in the ARRL Eastern Massachusetts section, with the hardest hit areas in Southeast Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands, and the Cape Ann area north of Boston , where hurricane-force gusts of wind struck the area for several hours. . Maximum sustained winds were 50 and 65 MPH. Rhode Island reported nearly 93,000 customers without power at the peak. These outages were an order of magnitude greater than Tropical Storm Henri in Rhode Island, and about five orders of magnitude more severe than Henri in Massachusetts.

Storm conditions eased by the evening of October 27, allowing the process of restoring power on a larger scale to begin.

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