Successful Woods Hole Intercept
Posted on Saturday, July 26, 2008 at 5:00 PM MST
WOODS HOLE, MA -- When I fired up Weather Underground this past Saturday, I looked at Sunday's forecast and saw that there was an 80% chance of thunderstorms, as well as a huge batch of storms (some severe) stretching from upstate New York back into central New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
The storm line was still there on Sunday morning. The National Weather Service had issued Severe Thunderstorm Warnings for western Mass and Connecticut, and by the time the storms reached us, I was waiting and ready to spring into action.
At 3 PM, the skies were darkening and there were three very distinct cells marching straight towards the Woods Hole area, so my dad and I sprang into action.
According to the radar, the first cell would hit slightly north of Woods Hole. We headed south on Sippewissett Road and stopped at Racing Beach to get a view to the west and get a better bearing on where the storm was going.
The first cell was falling apart and not going to hit that far north, so we continued south to try to intercept the second and third cells. We got to the Woods Hole Yacht Club, set up for the intercept, and waited.
We did not have to wait long for the spectacular lightning display to start. The display featured beautiful cloud-to-ground and cloud-to-cloud bolts, which lit up the harbor and the sky like the fourth of July. Many bolts struck pretty close to the yacht club.
After about 45 minutes of spectacular lightning in minimal rain, Nonamessett disappeared behind a wall of white approaching from the south. The white squall was here.
Just before the white squall hit, a very small wall cloud drifted across the harbor. It was spinning very slowly, but was nowhere close to spitting out any tornadic activity.
As the wall of white approached, we watched the buoys in Woods Hole Passage disappear, followed by Devil's foot, Grassy Island, Can 9, and the NOAA boat on the end of the fisheries pier. Finally, the boats in Great Harbor disappeared and then it hit us.
The squall itself did not pack a whole lot of wind, with max gusts topping out in the 35-40 knot range, but it did pack plenty of rain (66 dBZ max reflectivity) and pretty frequent lightning. It was enough to send everyone on the yacht club porch running for cover inside.
All in all, it was a very successful intercept. I guess you can say any storm that takes an hour and a half to intercept is a good one. This was by far one of the top two storms of the summer so far, and hopefully there will be more before it's time to head back to Florida.
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