WBZ Boston meteorologist Eric Fisher said there’s never been a dull moment when it comes to the weather in our area.
“The thing about New England is a lot of job security for a meteorologist,” Fisher said during an appearance on WBSM. “We get everything here. Each calendar month can bring something different.
“The only thing we’re not getting here is dust storms, at least not yet,” Fisher said with a laugh. “It seems to be getting wetter and not drier over the decades. As for other types of weather, we are absolutely vulnerable to all of that.
The good news, however, is that meteorologists are constantly acquiring new tools to help them make more accurate, longer-range forecasts.
“There are ways to watch the weather and be prepared rather than just being at the mercy of what Mother Nature throws at us,” Fisher said.
On Saturday, June 18, Fisher will give a presentation at the Wareham Free Library on some of New England’s most powerful storms and weather events, and talk about all things weather and meteorology. Admission is free and the start is scheduled for 1 p.m. in the main library meeting room.
While June might seem like an odd time to discuss storms — it’s usually a relatively calm month weather-wise — it’s also the start of Atlantic hurricane season. However, Fisher said June is more about watching for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.
“The biggest example of this was in 2011, we had this monster tornado that went from Springfield to Charlton, and one of the most famous tornadoes, the Worcester tornado, also happened in early June,” said said Fisher. “So it’s a month that can keep us on our toes between sunny days.”
Are tornado occurrences increasing here?
“It’s a question we get as meteorologists here in New England, do we have more tornadoes? And the data actually says ‘probably not’ is the answer, but what we’re definitely getting the most is tornado warnings, and the reason for that is better detection,” he said. “Less than 10 years ago they deployed a new generation of radar called dual polarization radar, and it’s a way to look at storms with higher resolution. It’s much easier for us to see New England type tornadoes in particular, which are small, fast-moving, they don’t last very long, and they spin up quickly and dissipate within minutes.
In October 2021, Fisher released New England’s mighty storms: the hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards and floods that shaped the region.
“There are many books about individual storms and particular weather events where you can dig deeper,” he said. “It’s kind of like a catwalk book for any New England weather buff, someone who’s been through a number of storms, looking at a top 20 list. It’s 20 of the greatest events of New England history; there might be a few hundred great events in New England history, but these are some of the biggest and most outlandish storms we’ve seen.
He said that when he was thinking about writing the book, he wondered whether to make it more technical or more about people’s stories associated with storms.
“I tried to balance and look at each storm and the weather behind it — why it happened, the ingredients that came together,” Fisher said. “What we’re watching as meteorologists to see if something big is about to happen, to share some of the stories about what’s happened in certain communities, the impact of what’s happened on the pitch, but then share what happened afterwards.”
“What really struck me after writing it was that each of the biggest events led to some kind of societal change,” he said.
Fisher said some of those changes included the creation of the National Hurricane Center in the wake of hurricanes Carol, Edna and Hazel tearing through the East Coast in 1954, and the 1953 Worcester tornado led to the creation of the precursor to Storm Prediction. Center. and a rollout of the use of Doppler radar to track storms across the country. He said you can even go back to the 1888 blizzard that accelerated production of subway systems in New York and Boston.
So what was the most powerful storm New England has ever seen?
“As far as blizzards go, it’s still the Blizzard of 1978,” Fisher said. “There hasn’t been anything that’s really topped it, and even though there have been recent storms that have been pretty close to it in nature, you can’t really replicate the impact.”
“When it comes to tropical systems, I think ’38 is really top of the list,” he said. “The 1938 hurricane was just a very unique storm, a very fast moving storm that caused tremendous damage to trees. It’s even hard to imagine it happening again, what it would look like here.
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