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Blue Hill
March/April 2009
Issue 5
The July 24, 2008 New Hampshire Tornado
Blue Hill Observatory on Facebook
Notes from the Observer's Office
Can You name 5 Women Scientists?
The Observatory Store
Help Wanted - Paid and Volunteer Positions Available
Future Events
About The Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center
The Green Box - The Freecycle Network
Violent New Hampshire Tornado Levels Homes and Kills One
The July 24, 2008 New Hampshire Tornado
Dr. William Minsinger, President, Blue Hill Observatory

Early on July 24, 2008 a tornado rated as strong as F2 with a width of upwards of 1/3 to 1/2 mile cut a 50 mile path through 5 counties and 11 towns in southeastern New Hampshire resulting in one fatality and damage to over 100 structures, some of which were completely destroyed. The funnel was on the ground for upwards of one hour twenty minutes.
This E-F2 tornado, packing winds up to 135 MPH, moved north-northeast out of Rockingham County, crossed into Merrimack County near Route 202, and continued north-northeast for a little over 5 miles before entering Belknap County. The tornado crossed into Carroll County and finally dissipated in Freedom, NH.  Homes and buildings sustained damage in the tornado's path, which was up to a half mile wide.
The super cell thunderstorm had downed large branches in Candia, NH around 11:35 AM. At 11:38 AM, trees were reported down with homes damaged in Deerfield, NH and damage was noted north of Northwood, NH, both in Rockingham County. The tornado first touched down about 5 miles southwest of Northwood Narrows and moved north-northeast for a little over 5 miles before crossing into Merrimack County. Numerous trees were downed and as many as 100 homes were damaged or destroyed in Epsom, NH in Merrimack County. A woman was killed there when the house she was in collapsed; she was protecting her infant grandson who was unhurt. Her husband was blown out of the house as he was descending the stair case from the second floor. He was not seriously injured.
To view damage information for each town affected, follow this link:

(The complete text of this article along with maps, charts, and pictures will be distributed to members as a Blue Hill Observatory Bulletin in May. If you are not yet a member you may join by following this link:

Blue Hill Observatory on Facebook
Please visit us on blue hill logo and become a fan of our page and join our groups.

The Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center Page has general information about the Observatory, including hours, programs, membership, special events, and contact information.
Follow this link to the BHOSC Page and and become a fan today!

There is also a Discussion group where you can go to let the Observatory staff know what you think.  Follow this link to the BHOSC Discussion Group and join in the discussion.

Anyone who is interested in the Women in Natural Science (WINS) program can follow this link to join the BHOSC WINS Group to learn about WINS and get program updates.

We would like to thank Blair Talcott Orloff, daughter of Executive Director Charles Talcott Orloff, for creating the Facebook page and groups for the Observatory.
Notes from the Observer's Office
2nd Sunniest January through March on Record
The combined sunshine total for the first three months of 2009 is the second greatest on our entire record.  All three months have had well above average sunshine with an average of 59% of the possible.  The combined total hours for the sunniest first three months of any year on record are:
(total hours of sunshine based on uncorrected card minutes)

1.  559.7 in 1978
2.  548.2 in 2009
3.  538.5 in 1964 (minus leap year day)

New Daily Records for March 2009
3/2: DAILY SNOWFALL 8.2 INCHES; surpasses previous record of 7.1 inches in 1948
3/7: DAILY MINIMUM TEMPERATURE 42 DEG F; ties record high minimum for the date previously set in 1974 and 1987
3/8: DAILY MINIMUM TEMPERATURE 42 DEG F; ties record high minimum for the date previously set in 1995

Houghton's and Ponkapoag Pond Thaw Dates
Both Houghton's Pond and Ponkapoag Pond to the southeast of the Observatory thawed during the month of March.  Ponkapoag Pond was considered thawed on March 12 (the average thaw date for Ponkapoag is March 17).  Houghton's Pond was considered thawed on 3/19 (the average thaw date for Houghton's is March 21).
  The ponds are considered thawed when less than 1/10th of the surface is covered with ice.
Can You Name 5 Women Scientists?
WINS logoStephanie Radner, WINS Program Mentor

I recently asked my friends on Facebook if they could name 5 scientists who are women.  It was surprising to many of them how difficult it is to come up with just 5 names (think about how easy it is to answer the same question about scientists who are men).  One wise guy even asked me if my question was an April Fool's Day joke!  Almost all of the laws, theorems, principles, and techniques in science are named after men.  Only 13 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to women in the sciences (Marie Curie received two of them).  Can you name 5 women scientists?  If you need help, here are a few female scientists that my friends were able to name: Marie Curie, Maria Mitchell, Elizabeth Blackwell, Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, Admiral Grace Hopper, Phyllis R. Brown, Sally Ride, Amelia Earhart, Mish Michaels, and Rosalind Franklin.

The Women in Natural Science (WINS) program is an educational initiative of the Blue Hill Observatory geared toward middle- and high-school-aged girls from Boston and surrounding communities.  WINS seeks to inspire girls to learn about math, science, and technology using a natural science curriculum and "hands-on minds-on" learning experiences. 

If your school, church, or community group would like to participate in the WINS program, please contact
Stephanie Radner by phone (617) 696-1014 ext. 4 or
 From the Observatory Store
blue hill logoNew Merchandise Arriving Every Day!
We have a lot of great new merchandise arriving every day in the Observatory store, including a wide range of science kits, a collection of geology lessons and materials (including several rocks and minerals kits), books, and fun toys including Whirl-o Hurricanes.  We also have a fresh supply of snacks and beverages for hungry hikers, including TerraPass certified Climate Change Chocolate from Bloomsberry & Co.

Gift Shop Buy One Get One Half Off (BOGOHO) Specials
Buy any book by Blackdog & Leventhal, Blue Hill Observatory Publishing, Charlesbridge, Klutz Press, Storey, or Workman Publishing and you can get any other book of equal or lesser value for 50% off. The same special applies to all juggling equipment and yo-yos. You can mix and match the merchandise. There is no limit to the number of BOGOHO specials you can buy.

Other Specials

Buy 2 Flying Discs, gliders or kite accessories, and get a third (lowest priced item) for just $2.00.
Buy any fabric kite and get a plastic delta kite for free.  Buy two Tyvek kites and get a plastic delta kite for free.  Come and see or call about daily specials also!

The Observatory gift shop is open from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM on weekends and many holidays.  You can arrange to visit the gift shop by appointment 7 days a week. For more information, to get a product list, place an order, or schedule a visit to the gift shop, please contact Don McCasland by phone: (617) 696-0562 or email:
Help Wanted at the Observatory
Are you interested in the weather? Do you have computer or office skills, or like to work outdoors? Do you share our goal of educating the public about meteorology? Then you can help us! Paid and volunteer positions are available at the Observatory for tour docents, greeters, sales associates and other help.

Things are very busy here at the Observatory as we continue to excite and enthrall people with the amazing history, exciting weather, high-flying kites and more. We have groups scheduled almost every day from now until early summer.  During the week, we need help with school groups.  This is an ideal opportunity for parents of school-aged children because our busiest hours are during the school day. 
We especially need help on the weekends and holidays for greeting guests, leading tours, and staffing and stocking the gift shop.  We have paid positions available for those who can commit to a regular schedule and we have a wide range of volunteer opportunities available for anyone who can spare even one or two hours a month.

If you or your group would like to be paid or to volunteer to help these efforts, then please contact Don McCasland for more information by phone (617) 696-0562 or email
Future Events
Monday April 20, 2009
Patriot's Day Kite Fly and special kite tours of the Observatory.
Hours: 10AM - 4 PM
Kite Tours: $5/adult, $3/youth (not recommended for age 6 or younger)
Regular Tours: $3/adult, $1.50/youth
Build and decorate your own kite for just $5.   

April is National Kite Month.  BHOSC will be participating in most events.  For a full list of events, please check the NKM website:

Saturday May 9, 2009
Astronomy Day at the Clay Center Observatory in Broookline
For more information:
Saturday May 16, 2009

Annual Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center Spring Open House.
Hours: 10AM - 4 PM
Admission is free.  There will be many activities throughout the day, including crafts, kite building, self-guided tours, and more.  Enjoy lectures on the weather, make lightning with Mount Washington Observatory, and see exhibits from the National Weather Service, Neponset River Watershed Association (NepRWA), and more.
Visit the BHO Events page for updates:    

Monday May 25, 2009
Memorial Day Kite Fly and special kite tours of the
Hours: 10AM - 4PM
Kite Tours: $5/adults, $3/youth
Build and decorate your own kite for just $5.

Saturday October 3, 2009
Annual Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center Fall Open House.

The gift shop, educational programs, and tours of the Observatory are available by appointment almost every day of the year. Please call ahead (617-696-0562) if there are questionable weather conditions.
About The Blue Hill Observatory
Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory, located at the top of a scenic mountain range south of Boston, is a unique American institution. Founded in 1885 by Abbott Lawrence Rotch as a private scientific center for the study and measurement of the atmosphere, it was the site of many pioneering weather experiments and discoveries. The earliest kite soundings of the atmosphere in North America in the 1890s and the development of the radiosonde in the 1930s occurred at this historic site.

Today, the Observatory is a National Historic Landmark and remains committed to continuing its extensive, uninterrupted climate record with traditional methods and instruments. The recently established Science Center expands this mission by enhancing public understanding of atmospheric science.

We are grateful for the generous support of members, friends, and corporations who make it possible to continue our benchmark climate observations and educational outreach programs.  Please contact Charles Orloff by phone: (508) 776-1879 or email: if you would like to make a donation to the Observatory.
The Green Box
blue hill logo Do you have something that you don't want to throw away because you are sure that someone out there can use it?  The Freecycle Network (TM) is a great resource for anyone who is looking to donate usable goods or find an item being offered by another member of the local community.  You can join your local Freecycle network at and help reduce the amount of "stuff" that gets thrown into landfills. 

The following statement is from the Freecycle FAQ page:  The Freecycle Network (TM) is a grassroots and nonprofit community gifting movement made up of thousands of entirely local and individual city groups that promote reuse through local gifting among their members. Members have the opportunity to give and get items for free, in an effort to keep unnecessary waste out of landfills. Numerous local nonprofit organizations in each community are also members of local groups. Each group is run by a local moderator and membership is free.
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     (508) 776-1879

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