Mount Holly, NJ Edition March 2008
From the Editor Newsletter Contents
Welcome to the Third Edition of the Mt. Holly Skywarn Alphabet Soup………...1, 2
Newsletter. I sincerely hope that our storm spotters have Request for Submissions…2
found the previous newsletters to be helpful and informative. Who’s Who ………..….... 3
Please feel free to send any comments, suggestions or Eyes in the Field………….4
questions to phi.skywarn.noaa.gov. I hope to continue to Climatology/Winter Wx.…5
publish this newsletter twice yearly. The main purpose of Severe Wx/CoCoRaHS.….6
this publication is to provide useful information to our Skywarn ListServer/Severe
spotters and to review reporting criteria. Furthermore, we Weather Stats…………….7
will include directions and times for upcoming basic and Upcoming Classes……..…8
advanced storm spotter training classes, as renewing your La Nina/Winter Recap……9/10
spotter ID every two years is strongly encouraged. I am
trying a few new features with this edition, including a
biography of a current or past Mt. Holly NWS staff member
or someone important to the Skywarn program. Any
feedback on these features is appreciated.
Larry Nierenberg, Editor
There are many acronyms and abbreviations used in today’s world such as PC, I-Pod, and DVD.
However, one of the most important acronyms for meteorologists and storm spotters alike is SPC.
What is SPC, you ask?
SPC stands for the Storm Prediction Center, which is located in Norman, Oklahoma. The Storm
Prediction Center is part of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), which is
headquartered near Washington, DC. The National Hurricane Center is also part of NCEP. So what
does SPC do, and how does it affect you?
The mission of SPC is to provide timely and accurate forecasts and watches for severe thunderstorms
and tornadoes over the contiguous United States. The SPC also monitors heavy rain, heavy snow, and
fire weather events across the U.S. and issues specific products for those hazards. SPC uses the most
advanced technology and scientific methods as well as the vast expertise of the staff meteorologists in
order to achieve this goal.
The SPC uses its suite of products to relay forecasts of organized severe weather as much as three days
ahead of time, and continually refines the forecast up until the event has concluded. All products
issued by the Storm Prediction Center are available on the World Wide Web at www.spc.noaa.gov.
SPC products are commonly used by local National Weather Service offices, emergency managers,
TV and radio meteorologists, private weather forecasting companies, the aviation industry, storm
spotters, agriculture, educational institutions and many other groups.
SPC has a very specialized mission which requires meteorologists with a high level of expertise in
convective storm forecasting, as well as excessive precipitation, winter weather, and conditions
leading to high fire dangers. The staff also is active in research into severe and dangerous weather.
All SPC forecasters have at least a Bachelor of Science degree in atmospheric science, and several
have done graduate-level studies or hold a Master of Science degree. Most of the forecasters at the
center have at least 5 years of specialized experience, with our more veteran forecasters having over
20 years of severe storm forecasting wisdom. The Operations Branch at SPC consists of 5 lead
forecasters, 10 forecasters, 5 assistant forecasters, as well as administrative staff.
So, while warnings for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in our 34 county warning area originate
from Mt. Holly, severe thunderstorm and tornado watches come from the fine group of forecasters at
the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma. Nevertheless, even though they are thousands of miles
away, their products also directly impact the lives and properties of the citizens of New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland as well as every other state in the contiguous United States.
Reader Submissions Wanted
While many of our staff here at the National Weather
Service will be writing articles for the newsletter, we are
persuading any of our readers to send in their storm stories and
pictures to be included on our next newsletter. The stories should
be from one to three paragraphs long and provide personal
accounts of the severe thunderstorm or severe winter weather
experienced. Also, any pictures to illustrate the story would be
All submissions will be evaluated for their content and the
best will be chosen to have a section within our newsletter. It will
be quite exciting to have a newsletter dedicated to storm spotters,
as well as have portions of the paper written by storm spotters.
Send all submissions to: email@example.com
Do you know what happens to your “white form” after you provide us with your contact information at
Skywarn Training??? Upon returning to the office, I give all the sheets to a very familiar face in the Mt.
Holly office to compile the information, assign the ID numbers, send out the information packets and update
The individual I am speaking of is Harry G. Woodworth. Harry Woodworth, known as “Woody” to his
friends and colleagues, is a fixture in the Mt. Holly NWS and spent his entire career in the service of Uncle
Sam. Woody was born in Brockton, Massachusetts, and like many future meteorologists his interest in
weather began early when he kept weather observations as a child.
In 1964, Woody enlisted in the United States Air Force. He served his country in the military until 1968.
Harry had stints in Korea, Spokane, Washington, and Bangkok, Thailand. Shortly after leaving the Air
Force, Woody began serving his country again, this time as a civilian. He became a weather observer at
Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island in 1969. In 1972, he transferred to Lakehurst Naval Air
Station in New Jersey.
Harry’s career in the National Weather Service began in January 1980 when he became a Weather Service
Specialist at the Weather Service Office at Newark Airport, NJ. He held that position until January 1994
when he was hired as a Hydrometeorological Technician (HMT) at the National Weather Service in Mt.
Holly, NJ. He remained an HMT until 1996, when with the completion of some additional coursework he
became a meteorologist intern. After 10 more years in Mt. Holly (and a total of 42 years in government
service), Woody retired from paid federal service on January 3, 2006.
However, Woody continues to serve today. Harry volunteers his time to maintain the spotter database,
make corrections, additions and subtractions as well as assign the Spotter ID numbers and do the needed
mailings. His goal is to reach 50 years of government service, including his volunteer time.
When asked if he had any advice or suggestions to include in this newsletter, Woody quickly replied “print
legibly” and “let us know if you move.” As editor of the newsletter, I second those thoughts. Information
packets have been mis-sent due to illegible handwriting. Also, while we know notifying the National
Weather Service is lower on the list than calling the phone company, power company and credit card
companies, a timely call to us with your updated information is greatly appreciated.
Woody, who is also a registered spotter and a former class instructor, also has interests outside of weather
and the spotter program. He is very involved in genealogy and is very interested and knowledgeable on the
subject of tsunamis. In fact, Woody’s expertise with tsunamis catapulted him into the national spotlight
when he became a primary contact for the regional and national media after the devastating tsunami that
struck Indonesia and Southeast Asia back in 2004.
Harry’s ultimate goal as database focal point is to keep all the information up-to-date so that in a severe
weather event, someone is reachable at the provided contact information or the person reached knows where
the person we are trying to contact is.
Maintaining the database is a difficult and time consuming task, due to the thousands of spotters we have.
Woody does an absolute meticulous job and I am grateful for that. Both Joe Miketta and myself are very
thankful that Woody volunteers to perform a very time consuming task, allowing the both of us to spend
more time on equally important projects. So everyone should be thankful that all their information and
changes are maintained by a very friendly and experienced person who dedicated his life to serving his
country in one capacity or another, and even after his retirement, continues to do so today.
The NWS’s Eyes in the Field
By: Lee Robertson, Meteorologist Intern
Weather affects us everyday. However, severe weather, whether it is thunderstorm activity, flooding, or
winter weather, does not affect everyone. For this reason, we have two types of volunteer observer
programs that are in essence the National Weather Service’s “eyes in the field.” The groups are the Skywarn
Spotters and the Cooperative Observers Program (COOP). Both are volunteer based, and both are greatly
SKYWARN, founded in the early 1970s, is a National Weather Service sponsored group of volunteers who
report observations of hazardous weather to their servicing forecast office. Amateur radio operators are a big
part of Skywarn because their communications infrastructure provides a dependable network over which to
collect and relay weather reports, especially during widespread events that can knockout land-based phone
lines. However, Skywarn is open to EVERY resident who has an interest in weather and wishes to help their
neighbors by submitting reports of hazardous weather to their local NWS forecast office or local law
The all-volunteer Cooperative Observing Weather Program provides base weather data, incorporated with
other scientific and atmospheric data, into our computer models. Weather data is the vital life-blood for
nearly all of the National Weather Services internal severe weather warning and general forecast programs.
Cooperative Weather volunteers will record the temperature and rainfall each morning, anywhere between 6
and 8 AM. Those rainfall amounts, for instance, help in determining the amount of soil saturation within
your area, which in turn, helps with determining how much rain is needed before flooding conditions are
expected for your community. Early flood and flash flood watches and warnings are then very timely issued
so residents can take the proper precautions. There are nearly 12,000 volunteer Cooperative Weather
Observers providing this information for Weather Service offices nationwide.
Even though they are two different programs, there are a number of similarities between the two groups.
Both record weather phenomena at some point, whether it is rainfall totals, temperatures, snow totals, severe
weather events such as hail, damaging winds, or tornadoes, as well as other weather occurrences. The
equipment they both use is very similar. Generally, the National Weather Service will install for every
COOP observer a rain gauge and temperature sensor. Many Skywarn observers have their own weather
stations that include the same instruments as COOP observers; however, Skywarn observers are not required
to have any instruments at all. The one important instrument that both Skywarn observers and COOP
observers have that is a must is their own eyes. They are the National Weather Service’s “eyes in the field.”
While there are many similarities between the two, there are a number of differences as well. While they
both report the weather they observe to the National Weather Service, COOP observers generally call in
everyday to report temperature and rainfall. On the other hand, Skywarn observers call in only when
adverse weather is affecting their area. COOP observers are strategically placed approximately every 20
square miles, however, Skywarn observers can be anywhere.
Many COOP observers are Skywarn observers; however, most Skywarn observers are not COOP observers.
One does not need to be a COOP observer in order to be a Skywarn observer. The National Weather
Service is always looking for enthusiastic weather observers to assist in times of hazardous weather and
report any severe weather they observe. If you would like to find out more information about either
program, follow the links below:
Severe Weather Just How Hot (or Cold) Was it?
Safety Tips!! Here is climatological information for the last 12 months for
-All thunderstorms produce
lightning. Even if the March 2007
lightning can not be seen, Temperature 43.7 degrees Departure from Normal +0.5
no place outside is safe near Precipitation: 3.82 inches Departure from Normal +0.01
-Use the 30-30 rule. If there April 2007
is 30 seconds or less Temperature 50.8 degrees Departure from Normal -2.3
between lightning and Precipitation: 9.05 inches Departure from Normal +5.56
thunder, go to a safer place.
Wait at least 30 min. from May 2007
hearing the last thunder Temperature 66.1 degrees Departure from Normal +2.6
before leaving the safer Precipitation: 2.68 inches Departure from Normal -1.21
--Lightning first aid: Call June 2007
911, Perform CPR and Temperature 73.8 degrees Departure from Normal +1.4
mouth-mouth resuscitation Precipitation: 4.02 inches Departure from Normal +0.73
if possible, and don’t worry
about touching the July 2007
lightning victim they can Temperature 77.3 degrees Departure from Normal -0.3
not electrocute you. Precipitation: 3.44 inches Departure from Normal –0.95
--Flash flood—never drive
through standing water. It August 2007
could be very deep and fast Temperature 77.0 degrees Departure from Normal +0.7
moving and a deadly Precipitation: 2.94 inches Departure from Normal -0.88
combination for ANY
vehicle. Flash floods are #1 September 2007
cause of weather related Temperature 72.0 degrees Departure from Normal +3.2
deaths in the US. Precipitation: 0.58 inches Departure from Normal -3.30
--Tornado— if there is a
tornado touch down near October 2007
your area get to a safe Temperature 64.5 degrees Departure from Normal +7.3
location either underground Precipitation: 4.66 inches Departure from Normal +1.91
or in the center of a
building-a closet, or November 2007
bathroom without windows Temperature 45.7 degrees Departure from Normal -1.4
and use the coats to shelter Precipitation: 1.45 inches Departure from Normal -1.71
you from debris. If driving,
do not attempt to outrun the December 2007
tornado...find a ditch or low Temperature 37.6 degrees Departure from Normal +0.2
lying area and lay flat and Precipitation: 4.41 inches Departure from Normal +1.10
face down. Cover your
head to shield from debris. January 2008
Temperature 35.9 degrees Departure from Normal +3.6
For these and more tips for Precipitation: 1.74 inches Departure from Normal –1.78
severe weather safety visit:
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ov February 2008
n/severewx/safety.php Temperature 36.9 degrees Departure from Normal 2.1
Precipitation: 3.93 inches Departure from Normal +1.19
Measuring snow An Opportunity to Participate in a NJ
After a relatively snowless Precipitation Observation Network
winter in many areas and by
with the approach of spring, Dave Robinson and Mat Gerbush
it is important to remember NJ Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network
how to measure snow. Coordinators
Please keep these Rutgers University
instructions with you for
use next winter. A new precipitation observing network began in New Jersey on
Groundhog Day. Coordinated by the Office of the NJ State
Snowfall should always be Climatologist at Rutgers, CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative
measured on a snowboard Rain, Hail, and Snow network) is a community-based precipitation
or other flat surface away observing network that has rapidly expanded throughout a number
from trees and other of states, including Pennsylvania and Maryland.
obstructions. Snow should
be measured with a ruler CoCoRaHS observers are trained to collect high-quality daily
placed vertically into the precipitation data. Observations are entered onto a web form via
snow. the CoCoRaHS website, archived, and displayed on the site for end
users that include meteorologists, hydrologists, farmers, water
Ideally, you should use a resource managers, and as well as you! The CoCoRaHS website
snowboard to measure also allows observers to report hail and intense precipitation
snow. If you do not have a events, observations that are immediately relayed to the National
snowboard you can make Weather Service for use in the issuance of warnings.
one using plywood or other
objects around the house. All that is needed to participate is an internet connection, a 4”
2’x2’ to 3’x3’ is the ideal diameter plastic precipitation gauge, and a ruler for measuring
size for a snowboard. snow. CoCoRaHS observations are taken in the morning,
preferably at 7 AM, though any time between 5 AM and 9 AM will
Snowfall is measured to the work (observations at other times are accepted, however the values
nearest tenth (0.1) of an will not be displayed on the maps). The national CoCoRaHS
inch. office has arranged for precipitation gauges to be available for
purchase at a low cost of $22 plus shipping once you sign on as an
After the snow stops, snow observer.
depth is measured to the
nearest WHOLE inch and Please consider becoming a NJ CoCoRaHS observer! You may
always round up. You sign on by going to http://www.cocorahs.org. While we realize
should measure in several you’ve already received NWS Spotter training, you may wish to
places and take an average attend a CoCoRaHS training session or take advantage of the
of the measurements. training slide show found on the CoCoRaHS main web site. We
will inform all observers of future training sessions around the
When you are finished, call state. Of course no one should hesitate to contact us with questions
your measurement in to the (firstname.lastname@example.org). Finally, please pass along word
National Weather Service. of this new volunteer program to friends and family who might be
interested, whether they live in NJ in other CoCoRaHS states. For
more information on CoCoRaHS In New Jersey, Pennsylvania or
Maryland, please visit www.cocorahs.org.
Basic Spotter Courses Reporting Procedures
April 9, 2008 When calling the National
Camden County, NJ Weather Service, have your
7 PM name and spotter ID ready.
Camden County Boat House, Pennsauken, NJ Also have an approximate time
when the severe event took
April 12, 2008 place along with the type of
Sussex County, DE severe weather. Lastly, be
10 AM prompt about calling as every
Place: Delaware Fire Marshal’s Office, Georgetown, DE second counts.
April 26, 2008
New Castle County, DE
Christiana Hospital, Christiana, DE
May 3, 2008
Cape May County, NJ Contact Information
Tuckahoe Community Center, Tuckahoe, NJ If you have any questions,
comments, suggestions, or
Check the NWS Mt. Holly website submissions, please contact us
via e-mail at
for additional information on upcoming classes.
Also, please send any name,
Advanced Spotter Courses email, phone or address
changes to this email address as
April 26, 2008
New Castle County, DE
Christiana Hospital, Christiana, DE
May 3, 2008
Cape May County, NJ
Tuckahoe Community Center, Tuckahoe, NJ
Check the NWS Mt. Holly website
www.nws.noaa.gov/phi for updated information
on upcoming classes.
PHI SKYWARN Advisory Committee List Servers
By Joe Miketta,
Warning Coordination Meteorologist
Several years ago, members of the Mount Holly SKYWARNTM Advisory Committee created a list
server which facilitates the exchange of information between volunteer severe weather observers
(“SKYWARN” Spotters), and between Spotters and forecasters at the NWS Weather Forecast Office
(WFO) in Mount Holly, NJ. This list server, known as the MTHOLLYSKYWARN list, is currently
comprised of well over 160 subscribers. Through this list, participants find information posted about
SKYWARN Advisory Committee meetings, training sessions, changes in SKYWARN-related websites,
preliminary storm reports, the SKYWARN newsletter in txt format, weather discussions, questions
about SKYWARN and the Advisory Committee, weather phenomenon, issues about the Mount Holly
Forecast Office APRS/WX2PHI station and other pertinent discussions. In addition, forecasters at the
NWS WFO in Mount Holly use this list server to request certain types of observations during hazardous
or potentially hazardous weather situations. Such observations provide “ground-truth” to forecasters and
are critical for the protection of life and property. For example, when severe thunderstorms threaten the
region, forecasters at WFO Mount Holly will request Spotters, via this list server, to send in reports if
they happen to observe hail, damaging winds or a tornado. In a similar fashion, when winter weather is
about to move in, forecasters use this list server to request Spotters to submit snow and/or ice reports
AND the time these reports should be made. Messages from this list server can be sent to email
accounts, pagers, blackberries and PDAs, whatever works best for the individual user. Please note that
this list server is maintained by SKYWARN Advisory Committee volunteers completely independent
from the NWS.
To learn more about this list server (and others), please go to the SKYWARN section of the NWS
Mount Holly homepage (www.weather.gov/phi) by clicking on “SKYWARN” on the left hand side,
then clicking on “List Servers” near the top of the SKYWARN page.
Mount Holly Severe Weather Statistics-2007
Severe Thunderstorm Warnings
Lead Time 19.8 Minutes
Flash Flood Warnings
Lead Time 33.7 Minutes
One of the most important reasons we need storm spotters and accurate and timely reports from them is
to help verify our warnings. Despite Doppler Radar and advanced technology, eyes on the sky are still
the best way to determine the occurrence of severe weather. An accurate and timely report from a
spotter, not only helps downstream residents, but can help NWS meteorologists determine if additional
warnings are needed.
Winter of 2007-8, did it follow a typical La Nina pattern?
By Tony Gigi,
The winter of 2007-8 featured a moderate to borderline strong La Nina across the Pacific Ocean. La Nina is
defined as the unseasonable cooling of the waters along the equatorial Pacific particularly from around the
International Date Line east to the North and South American Coast. It is the opposite of its more familiar
brother, El Nino which often causes more extreme winter weather across the United States.
When La Nina is present, the stronger than normal northeasterly trade winds near the Equator increase the
upwelling of the cooler waters underneath the ocean surface. They accomplish this by pushing the warmer
surface waters farther to the west toward Australia and Asia. Because this reduces the temperature contrast
between the central and equatorial Pacific, La Nina winters normally have a weaker subtropical jet. They
also have a polar jet stream that is often displaced farther north in the Pacific Ocean. This makes it easier
for warmer air to bathe the southern part of the continental United States.
The effect of La Nina across the northeastern United States increases as it increases in strength. Normally
we find winters during a moderate to strong La Ninas in our area to be warmer, drier and less snowier than
normal. Moderate to Strong La Nina winters normally feature less larger scale winter storms (defined as 6"
or greater as measured at Philadelphia International Airport). Part of the reason is that the weaker
subtropical jet does not as efficiently bring Gulf of Mexico moisture into the area and has a harder time
combining (or phasing) with the polar jet stream. From a climatological perspective, winters that feature
either a weak or moderate El Nino are more prone to larger winter storm events.
While La Nina=s influence increases as its strength increases, our winter weather is also influenced by the
oceanic state of the rest of the Pacific Ocean (measured as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation) and the northern
Atlantic Ocean (known as the North Atlantic Oscillation). Its difficult to find a specific index number to
take into account their affect on our weather, so we have used with some success equating October and
November temperatures (which are affected by these oscillations) and the Enso (El Nino/Southern
Oscillation) state to find analog winters in the past. It has been found that about seventy percent of warm
Octobers and seventy-five percent of both warm Octobers and warm Novembers have been followed by a
warmer than the long term median (the highest half of all winters since 1872) winter in Philadelphia. In
order to qualify as a warm month, the month must be in the warmest tercile (or third) of all historic months.
This past October (2007) was warmer than normal while November 2007 was near normal.
When we looked at similar past autumns and La Ninas, the analog group featured a December close to
normal, a January much warmer than normal, a February warmer than normal and a colder than normal
March. Precipitation and snowfall averaged less than normal. This is typical La Nina climatology we have
found where the warmest month relative to normal (remember January is by average the coldest month, so
as a pure number it might still be lower than December or February) is January. February was the second
warmest relative to normal while March (even though not a winter month) averaged the coldest..
By the time you read this newsletter, you=ll have the results in hand. The one part of Nina climatology that
has not been working so far has been precipitation. At the day that this was composed, this winter has been
wetter than normal.
So did this winter live up to its La Nina expectations?
Look on the next page to find out…