June, 2012

Democrats open 3 field offices in W. Mass.

June 28th, 2012 at 6:15 am by under Politics

As the summer campaigning heats up, the Massachusetts Democratic Party has opened three new field offices here inWestern Massachusetts.  

They’re located inSpringfield,Pittsfield, and Greenfield.  

According to a news release from the Massachusetts Democratic Party, those three offices are part of sixteen new ones around the state.  

With big races this year for the Presidency and the U.S. Senate, the field offices will serve as local hubs for campaign and party staff and local volunteers.  

The Western Massachusetts Democratic Field offices locations are;  

Springfield:       24 Island Pond Rd.  

Pittsfield:           274 Wahconah St.   

Greenfield:        182/195 Main St.         


What is a heat wave?

June 27th, 2012 at 10:48 pm by under Weather

We’re looking at the POSSIBILITY of our second heat wave in two weeks. There actually is a definition we use for a heat wave and a definition that much of the northeast uses. 3 or more consecutive days of 90 degree temperatures or higher is considered a heat wave. Our local National Weather Service office in Taunton, MA uses this same definition as do many offices in this part of the country.

It’s important to know that a heat wave is not defined the same everywhere. If that was the case…areas like Dallas, Texas the desert southwest or the deep South would be in a heat wave almost all summer. The term would have little meaning if that was the case.

The importance of a heat wave can sometimes be lost, especially since we’ve just had one! However, the same things you had to think about during our last heat wave will be important if we get another heat wave later this week and this weekend.

-Drink plenty of water.
-Avoid strenuous activity, especially at the hottest times of the day (10AM-4PM)
-Check on your older neighbors
-Seek air conditioning when possible
-NEVER leave animals or people in a car when they would be unable to get out. Even if the windows are cracked or the doors are unlocked.
-Avoid alcoholic beverages which could lead to dehydration
-Use common sense

With two heat waves in two weeks…let’s not treat this one more lightly than the first.

Cold Air Funnels

June 27th, 2012 at 12:40 pm by under Weather

Courtesy: WHDH

It’sNew England- We know the weather can be temperamental, it can change from hour to hour, and sometimes it can be downright bizarre!  Case in point – Chatham, Massachusetts.  It was a rather cloudy and cool afternoon, but sure enough, some people spotted funnel clouds!!

..But not the same kind of funnel clouds you might see on a stormy summer afternoon..

These were cold air funnels!

Unlike typical funnel clouds/tornadoes that form within a super cell thunderstorm, cold air funnels develop in cool air masses, usually behind a cold front.  Cold air funnels don’t need thunderstorms to form – they form as a result of wind shear, which is when the wind blows in different directions through the atmosphere.  Cool air at the surface, moving in one direction, mixes with the air above moving in different direction, causing rotation.  This rotation spins up a funnel!  Water droplets in the atmosphere allow us to see the funnel!

It is difficult to predict and detect cold air funnels.  They don’t show up well on radar because of their weak rotation.  These funnels may look threatening, but they rarely touch down.  Can they touchdown?  Sure..so why take your chances??

- Eileen Carmody, 22 News weather intern

Snow on the Red Planet

June 26th, 2012 at 12:17 pm by under Weather

The weather on Earth can be a little crazy, a little unexpected.. 

..sometimes that’s nothing compared to the weather on other planets! 

Recently, scientists discovered evidence of snowflakes on the Red Planet!  These snowflakes, unlike OUR snowflakes, are made of carbon dioxide, or dry ice.

But, there are other differences..

A Martian snowflake is about the size of a human red blood cell.  Just so you know – human red blood cells are about 6 to 8 micrometers in diameter (that’s 0.0006 to 0.0008 centimeters!).  These Martian snowflakes ranged from 4 to 22 micrometers (0.0004 to 0.0022 cm).  Snowflakes on Earth can range from 0.1 cm to 10 cm –  MUCH larger than Martian snowflakes!  If a person were to stand on Mars while it was snowing, it would probably look more like fog!

So how do these teeny Martian snowflakes form?  Carbon dioxide clings to dust in Mars’ atmosphere, eventually causing it to fall to the surface.  This is similar to how snowflakes on Earth form – tiny water droplets cling to particles of dust or pollen in the atmosphere, eventually becoming heavy enough to fall to the ground.

Rain forms the same way – the difference between rain and snow involves atmospheric and surface temperatures.  Many raindrops actually start out as ice crystals, but melt as they fall to the ground.

Scientists hope to use what they learn from these Martian snowflakes to learn about dust in Mars’ atmosphere.

Clearly, our solar system is still full of surprises!

-Eileen Carmody, weather intern

Lightning Safety

June 25th, 2012 at 9:35 pm by under Weather

It’s lightning safety week this week (June 24th-30th)! Somewhat fitting given our recent thunderstorms, lightning fires like this one in Springfield on July 25th,  other house lightning strikes like this one in Longmeadow  and even golf course lightning injuries just over the state line in Connecticut.

So I thought it was a good idea to share some lightning safety tips…not just for when you’re outside, but when you’re inside too. These tips are courtesy of the National Weather Service.

If Outside: 
Go inside a sturdy building. If you can hear thunder, you’re close enough to a thunderstorm to be struck by lightning. You should head for a building that’s fully enclosed with a roof and four walls. A pavillion (for example) would not be a good place to protect yourself because it’s not fully enclosed. The building you go in should also have a floor and plumbing or wiring.

Go into a vehicle. Not just any vehicle, but one that’s fully enclosed with a metal top. Inside the vehicle you shouldn’t use electronic devices and you should keep your hands inside the car and not out the windows. It’s generally best, conditions permitting, to pull over to the side of the road in a thunderstorm.

If Inside a Building
You’re mostly protected, but there are some things to remember. Stay away from bath tubs, sinks, showers or other plumbing equipment and also avoid using electrical equipment if you can. The electricity from a lightning strike could travel through wiring or plumbing and affect you or damage the equpment while you’re inside your home. Also, watch out for fires. As we’ve learned lately, if your home is struck by lighting, there’s the potential that could start a fire. If you think that your home was struck, keep in mind that your home could have caught on fire as a result of lightning.


If you find someone struck by lighting, call 911 and don’t worry about any left over electrical charge…the victim isn’t dangerous to touch or assist.

For more tips as well as details on how lightning strikes happen…head over to the National Weather Service website here.

Tropical Storm Debby Takes Aim at Gulf Coast

June 24th, 2012 at 10:00 pm by under Weather

We are only in the first month of the official hurricane season and our fourth named storm of the year is barreling down on the Gulf Coast. Tropical Storm Debby currently sits about 115 miles SSW of Apalachicola, Florida and is packing winds of 60 mph.

Debby is a unique weather system for a couple of reasons. The storm itself currently remains stationary and is forecasted to do so over the next couple of days. In addition, there remains a great deal of uncertainty with regard to Debby’s storm track. Forecast models have been widely dispersed in how they have handled Debby’s track thus far. Some models forecast Debby to move eastward in the coming days while others project the storm to track westward.

Although its current track remains uncertain, Tropical Storm Debby has already begun to impact parts of the Gulf Coast. Heavy rains have raised flood concerns across portions of Northern Florida. Gusty winds and choppy seas have begun to batter coastlines in the vicinity as well.  However, the worst is yet to come as up to 2 feet of rain are possible across these regions by the time Debby finally moves on out.

Written by: 22News Storm Team Weather Intern Ben Adkins

Viewing The International Space Station

June 23rd, 2012 at 7:47 pm by under News, Weather

Now that the skies have cleared out it should be a great night to see the International Space Station.

It will be passing overhead at 9:59 p.m. Saturday night and it’ll be moving from the WNW to the SSE across the sky.

You can track its current position and check out when else you might be able to see it over the next few nights.

It’s A Heatwave!

June 22nd, 2012 at 9:39 pm by under Weather

It’s official! The high at Westover Air Reserve Base  this afternoon was 91 degrees.  The high on Wednesday was 97.  the high Thursday was 95.  So with 3 days of 90 or hotter, we have our first heatwave of the summer!

We’ll be in the 80s this weekend; and even cooler next week!

Ohhh The Frozen Irony

June 21st, 2012 at 8:23 am by under Weather

With temperatures surging into the 90s and heat indices in the 100s, many look forward to a tasty frozen treat to cool down.  But how ironic!  Some of our favorite ice creams flavors haven’t been available…partial thanks goes to the hot weather! 

When it’s hot, people will find anyway to cool off – they venture into air-conditioned buildings, hit the pool, and eat cold foods.  For those who sell ice cream, the warm weather is good for sales, but sometimes it’s a little too good!  Companies, like Good Humor, are experiencing an ice cream shortage!  It may be especially hard to find popular flavors like, toasted almond, chocolate eclair, cookies and cream, and candy center crunch.

 ..as long as there is no shortage of mint chocolate chip!!

 So what’s the scoop?

Obviously, the heat played a huge role here.  Then there is supply and demand – the flavors mentioned above are favorites in the Northeast.  But there is another reason for this shortage – Good Humor is in the process of shutting down one of its factories located in Maryland.  This combination of warm weather, increased demand, and company consolidation means that Good Humor customers will have to wait longer for their favorite frozen treats. Other ice cream companies are not affected by the shutdown, but they still have to make sure they are prepared for the hot weather and customers.

-Eileen Carmody, 22 News weather intern

New Record High

June 20th, 2012 at 9:05 pm by under Weather

It’s probably no surprise to you that we set a new record high at Westover Air Reserve Base Wednesday afternoon.   The high was 97 degrees, surpassing the previous record of 96, set in 1953.  FYI: It wasn’t hot enough to bake Shannon Halligan’s chocolate chip cookies under a car windshield.

Thursday’s record high is 97.  It could be broken too!

Did I mention that Summer started at 7:09pm, Wednesday???