Irene's rains heaviest on record in Vermont; Tropical Storm Katia forms

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:40 PM GMT on August 30, 2011

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Record flooding continues in the Northeast from Irene's torrential rains. Hardest hit was Vermont, where heavy rains in the weeks prior to Irene's arrival had left soils in the top 20% for moisture, historically. Irene dumped 5 - 8 inches of rain over large sections of Vermont, with a peak of 11.23" at Mendo. The reading from Mendo was the greatest single-day rainfall in Vermont's history, according to wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt, beating the 9.92" that fell at Mt. Mansfield on 9/17/1999 during the passage of Tropical Storm Floyd. The 13.30" that fell on East Durham, NY during Irene was just shy of New York State's all-time 1-day rainfall record: 13.70" at Brewster on 9/16/1999, from Tropical Storm Floyd.


Figure 1. Wunderphotographer 43BJAGER recorded this image of a house in Sharon, Vermont, that started out the week on the other side of this underpass.

According to the final Hurricane Irene summary from the NWS, the storm dropped 20" of rain in two locations, one in North Carolina and one in Virginia. Here are the highest rain amounts from the hurricane for each state:

Virginia Beach, VA: 20.40"
Jacksonville, NC: 20.00"
East Durham, NY: 13.30"
Freehold Twp, NJ: 11.27"
Mendon, VT: 11.23"
Ellendale, DE: 10.43"
New Hartford, CT 10.15"
Baxter St. Park, ME: 9.91"
Savoy, MA: 9.10"
Lafayette, PA: 8.82"
Pinkham North, NH: 7.33"
Warren, RI: 5.37"

Tropical Storm Katia forms
Tropical Storm Katia formed this morning in the far Eastern Atlantic off the coast of Africa. Katia will be in a moist, low wind shear environment with ocean temperature 1 - 2°C above the threshold needed to support a hurricane, and should be able to intensify to major hurricane strength when it passes to the north of the Lesser Antilles Islands 5 - 6 days from now. It is possible that some of the outer spiral bands of the storm might bring heavy rain squalls to the northern Lesser Antilles, but it would be a surprise if the core of the storm passed through the islands. The long term fate of Katia is unknown. Dr. Bob Hart's Historical Tropical Cyclone Probability web page suggests shows that tropical storms in Katia's current position have a 19% chance of hitting North Carolina, a 16% chance of hitting Canada, an 11% chance of hitting Florida, and a 47% chance of never hitting land.


Figure 2. The morning run of the GFS Ensemble prediction. The ensemble prediction was done by taking a lower-resolution version of the GFS model and changing the initial distributions of temperature, pressure, and humidity randomly by a few percent to generate an ensemble of 20 different computer projections of where Katia might go. The operational (highest-resolution) version of the GFS model (white line) is usually more accurate, but the ensemble runs give one an idea of the uncertainty in the forecast.

Katia is the 11th named storm this year, and comes a full twelve days before the half-way point of the Atlantic hurricane season. Climatologically, September 10 marks the half-way point. A typical hurricane season has just 10 - 11 named storms, so we've already had a whole season's worth of storms before reaching the half-way point. At this rate, 2011 will see 25 named storms, making it the 2nd busiest season on record, behind 2005. Katia's formation date of August 30 puts 2011 in 5th place for earliest date of arrival of the season's 11th storm. Only 2005, 1995, 1936, and 1933 had an earlier 11th storm.

Gulf of Mexico development possible late this week
Several of our best computer models for predicting formation of tropical cyclones, the GFS and ECMWF, are predicting that an upper level pressure interacting with a tropical wave now over the the Western Caribbean could combine to spawn a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico late this week or early next week. The formation location is likely to be off the coast of Louisiana or Texas, but the track of the system is hard to predict at this point.


Figure 3. Portlight volunteer Thomas Hudson clears a driveway yesterday in Hollywood, Maryland.

Portlight disaster relief effort in Maryland
Hurricane Irene heavily damaged the town of Hollywood, Maryland, when a tornado cut off electric power, water, and phone service. Portlight and Team Rubicon volunteers arrived before emergency personnel, after following up on a local tip. What they found was an isolated area whose plight was unknown to the larger community. Most residents were trapped at their homes by heavy debris. Portlight and Team Rubicon worked for two days to clear paths to each address, extract vehicles from debris, and cut down trees that constituted safety hazards. Portlight also instructed local residents how to operate and maintain chainsaws and safely clear debris. No other volunteer organizations or emergency personnel arrived at any time, and Portlight succeeded in meeting the specific needs of the underserved, unserved, and forgotten. Visit the Portlight blog to learn more; donations are always welcome.

I'll have a new post on Wednesday discussing if the evacuations and media hype surrounding Irene were excessive.

Jeff Masters

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2215. GetReal


GFDL is also on board with the more westerly CMC and NOGAPS solution.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Well, Irene has killed twice as many people as Andrew did, so that certainly counts for something when folks are looking back at and assessing the Hurricane Hype-O-Meter.

Dr. Masters promises to write about this in today's blog entry. I very much look forward to seeing what he has to say.



In reality, I don't really blame the media. The NHC was forecasting a possibly strong Cat 2 hitting the NYC area. So the media is naturally going to hype that. I don't blame the NHC because we know intensity is really tough to predict. Even when they thought the storm would weaken, you can't unring the bell at that point.

My real issue with the media is A) not at least mentioning the serious inland flooding threat in the mountains prior to the storm, and B) Not immediately focusing on the truly effected areas. They still had folks 'reporting' from Long Island long after the storm passed when it was obvious the real storm damage was further south and also in the mountains of NY and VT.

They dropped the ball there bigtime. It's still hard to get news on Upstate NY.
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Quoting P451:
Ummmm....yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhh... That's um, interesting.



ECMWF 0z: Atlantic and GOM.










GFS 6Z: Atlantic (384hr) and GOM (cut short).











Note the difference here. The ECMWF forms a third entity on the Gulf coast which heads NE to link up with Katia and head out to sea. The GFS does the same but it's not a third entity it is the original GOM system which the ECMWF leaves behind separately.




Imagery from Allan Huffman's WX site.


hmmmm, that second frame is interesting. That isn't Lee right? something else?
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Quoting FLdewey:


That is such a ridiculous scare tactic. As I first responder I can assure you we don't care if you write your SSN on yourself or not. It doesn't help, or hurt us.

I can also assure you that the medical examiner isn't going to take the SSN on a body as proof - they still have to confirm it.

It is fun to see people go crazy as a storm approaches. Inevitably Emergency managers pull out the Sharpie trick in the final 24 hours.

Hmmm... I might have to buy some Sharpie stock.
Well said!
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Quoting MahFL:


Not drought, just "abnormally dry".
Little to no rain the past year equals major drought. Saying this is like telling someone that went thru a Hurricane and lost everything that it was just a little rain.
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1348
Quoting emcf30:


Sharpies?



Yes, to write your name address and next of kin contact on the inside of your arm. That way, when they find your body, they can use it as a shipping label.
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Quoting FLdewey:


That is such a ridiculous scare tactic. As I first responder I can assure you we don't care if you write your SSN on yourself or not. It doesn't help, or hurt us.

I can also assure you that the medical examiner isn't going to take the SSN on a body as proof - they still have to confirm it.

It is fun to see people go crazy as a storm approaches. Inevitably Emergency managers pull out the Sharpie trick in the final 24 hours.

Hmmm... I might have to buy some Sharpie stock.


Actually the best place to write anything like your SSN is on your heal. In most disasters, plane crashes and such, the heal/foot remain intact. Just an FYI ...
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2206. WxLogic
12Z 850MB VORT:



Disturbance being drawn towards the C GOM.

Interesting to note that the 500MB VORT on the W Coast of FL is increasing along the diffuse frontal type boundary as the NW Carib. disturbance moves closer to the S GOM. Would be interesting to see if these combine together to spin up a low or if one or the other decays and the other picks up from there.

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2205. scott39
Quoting Vero1:
looks like that map is from Aug 18th. COULD have changed since then.
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2204. hydrus
Quoting FLPandhandleJG:
















Good post.:)..The European model..
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2203. GetReal


The last run of CMC is nearly a ditto of the NOGAPS.
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Quoting Vero1:

It's definitely already more humid here today. Rain will be welcomed.
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Good morning

Some interesting possibilities opening up as to the long term solution for Katia. Several of the model runs have the ridge building to the West as Katia tries to turn NW keeping the storm fairly far to the West and just North of the PR area.

The GFS has a potential collission between Katia and the GOM system just off the SE coast which, if it did play out as shown on the GFS runs, would probably cause a Fujiwhara effect between the two. When this happens the two systems rotate around a common center point between them cyclonically but they might then merge and Katia as the stronger of the two would dominate.

The danger of this scenario playing out is that it would occur close to the SE coast and could produce a radical track shift for Katia that could bring it close to a landfall. I am very interested to see the future runs of the GFS to see if it hangs on to this as well as how it handles the Fujiwhara interaction between the two.
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Irene is moving at a very swift 18 kts...errr 21 mph this a.m. (sorry, I'm at work). She simply *must* be struggling to develop with that kind of rapidity. I don't have all the models here with me. Are any forecasting a turn back to the west after the islands still. And, if the GOM thing develops, will the "Texas High" steer it back to the NE eventually? TIA.
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Quoting FLdewey:


Yes, it was very much over hyped by certain news outlets, TWC for example. Irene was compared to Andrew, Katrina and of course the Long Island Express. In the days leading up to Irene we were told by TWC that Manhattan would, not could, be under 10 feet of water.

I cannot fault the TWC as their job is to sell advertising, and they get more viewers by convincing people if they don't watch, they'll probably die.

The odd thing in all of the hype and hysteria about "The Katrandew Express" they really never talked about flood dangers outside of the Eastern Seaboard.

As bob said, they freaked out the wrong people.

In the end please don't take my word for it - there are quite a few good and surprisingly objective articles out there that talk about the Irene coverage. Welcome to weath-fo-tainment.
I believe that was out there, but I remember alot of the TWC people saying that this was going to be a major fresh-water-flooding event. I also saw Cantore and others showing the areas in New York that would be flooded IF the surge is such-and-such, and IF the tides are Such-and-such. Not to mention that this storm impacted a MUCH higher percentage of the population than Andrew and probably Katrina.
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2196. Vero1
Quoting scott39:
I read on here yesterday, that rain should come back in the forecast for Texas in October. I know that seems like a long time away, but it will be here before you know it.
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2195. GetReal


The last run of the NOGAPS shoves Katia further west. That ridging indicated would bring Katia very close to the CONUS.
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Quoting Allyson00:


No worries I won't be posting anymore....it's not worth the aggravation. But FYI, we have more than 38,000 employees who all have access to these updates so not too concerned with how many "extra" people read it. It's a summary anyway, it's not like I'm posting the tons of graphics and tools that go along with it, nor posting a link to their server with login information. I'm also posting their copyright info so they get the credit and future business.

Back to being a lurker only ....hope you all have a good day !


Wundermail me those reports if you don't mind.
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Quoting wxobsvps:


also to write your SSN on your arm, if you choose to stay rather than evacuate.


Love it! Should be added to the list of things to do.
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Quoting FLdewey:


Yes, it was very much over hyped by certain news outlets, TWC for example. Irene was compared to Andrew, Katrina and of course the Long Island Express. In the days leading up to Irene we were told by TWC that Manhattan would, not could, be under 10 feet of water.

I cannot fault the TWC as their job is to sell advertising, and they get more viewers by convincing people if they don't watch, they'll probably die.

The odd thing in all of the hype and hysteria about "The Katrandew Express" they really never talked about flood dangers outside of the Eastern Seaboard.

As bob said, they freaked out the wrong people.

In the end please don't take my word for it - there are quite a few good and surprisingly objective articles out there that talk about the Irene coverage. Welcome to weath-fo-tainment.

Well, Irene has killed twice as many people as Andrew did, so that certainly counts for something when folks are looking back at and assessing the Hurricane Hype-O-Meter.

Dr. Masters promises to write about this in today's blog entry. I very much look forward to seeing what he has to say.
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Good morning! I see that the GOM is finally gonna' wake up - not good..guess I will start watching and waiting..sitting here in Mobile watching is like waiting to cross the street - you have to look both ways to see what is coming!..lol
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2189. vince1
Quoting Neapolitan:

1) Green jobs initiatives aren't really "flailing"; there are already several million people worldwide working "green" jobs, and the numbers continue to rise. However, to the extent that they are "flailing", that can be blamed almost entirely on the fossil fuel industry working overtime to ensure that they do, indeed, "flail".

2) There's no such thing as "safe domestic drilling", period. There may be "safer", but that's a relative term; even if every single drop of oil could be extracted from the earth without the spillage of so much as a single drop, there's the not inconsequential matter of CO2-induced warming. No, "safe domestic drilling" is an oxymoron.

3) While I agree with much of what you say, the term "heavy-handed environmentalism" sorta bothers me. After all, when is the last time "heavy handed environmentalists" ever befouled the Gulf of Mexico, or hundreds of miles of the Yellowstone River, or turned hundreds of square miles of pristine Alberta wilderness into a flat, barren, gravel-covered parking lot? Seems to me that perhaps environmentalists haven't been heavy-handed enough.

Neapolitan, there are 3 recent developments off the top of my head that suggest to me they're flailing.

1) Studies like the following based on the results of green job initiatives in countries like Spain, where every green job attained resulted in an average job loss of 2.2: Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources

2) Evergreen industries (solar producer that MA was banking on and possibly the admin also) has closed shop: Evergreen Solar files for bankruptcy, plans asset sale

3) Another govt. backed entity (this time an electric car maker), Green Vehicles, files for bankruptcy: Electric Car Maker Folds, Salinas Loses $500,000

I know investments need to be made before breakthroughs can be realized, but not when the economy is on the brink (and I say this knowing almost every area of govt. spending needs serious cuts)

Secondly, I am a GW skeptic (much to your chagrin and others, I'm sure). There is not conclusive, undeniable evidence confirming CO2 emissions are responsible for any perceived climatological changes that the planet is undergoing (when the planet has undergone even more extreme climatological phenomena in the past).

Finally, wind turbines are actually death traps to migrating (and otherwise) birds. Should we therefore shut them all down because of this clear and present danger to fowl? Battery production is environmentally costly in other ways as well, should this be abandoned in our pursuit to wean ourselves off fossil fuels?

And yes, I've seen some photos of oil spills gone wrong (Africa) and understand your skepticism on the lack of "safe" drilling. I should perhaps addend it to "as safe as possible," because our need for fossil fuels (which goes well beyond transportation) is nowhere near being replaceable by any other alternative in the near-term. Do I think the energy companies like it this way? Heck yes. I would love it if some enterprising entrepreneurial individual could evade their vice grip and produce a viable alternative that could be as ubiquitous as fossil fuels (hemp anyone? ;)). Hydrogen, solar and wind are still underdeveloped (and limited) and the resources to invest in them are not infinite.

When I say "heavy-handed," I'm referring to regulations that put undue pressure on the average citizen like enforcing the purchase of expensive toxic mercury-laden fluorescent bulbs. On an industry note: Water restrictions to farmers in CA in order to save a certain fish. Oil drilling restrictions in west TX and NM to protect a lizard. CO2-reduction measures against coal producers so as to make energy prices "necessarily skyrocket" (regardless of whether this CO2 reduction ensures any kind of return to climatological "normalcy"). Stiff penalties, cleanup costs and even charges of criminal negligence (if warranted) should be levied against any company that causes environmental damage on the scale of BP and the Yellowstone spill (particularly those that directly threaten human habitat and the food chain). Is that the Alberta Sands you're referencing? Okay, this is a fascinating article on that project (from June 2008): Alberta%u2019s oil-sands

There are measures to take as outlined in the article to minimize environmental impact. Halting all production is just not anywhere near feasible at this time considering the world's fragile economies, not to mention demand. Perhaps throwing more money into green/renewable energy would help us to avoid some future economic/environmental cataclysm, but it might actually contribute to the former. I certainly understand your point of view on localized environmental impact (we are at odds on global impacts) and will conclude by saying there are few easy answers.
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Rita I know you are fairly smart and knolegable where the weather is concerned. Don't give up on that Texas rain just because the models don't have a handle on it yet. Steering is weak troughs might not be as pronounced and these things change by the minute. All i'm saying is give LEE a chance he might be good for Texas but then again who knows he hasn't even knocked on the door yet.
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Quoting Bayside:
Good morning all. Thought I'd check the models for Katia this morning and the ECMWF show's something odd at 192 hrs. I don't understand what is right off the VA/NC coast in this image, is it frontal? It seems like it pops out of nowhere.

I'd post the picture, but the preview showed the image size off and it would screw up the blog. So here is the Link


Is that Lee ??? and a new system off Texas Since that map is for the 8th of Sept ??
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Quoting aspectre:
Allyson00 "I'm not copying from another site, I get email updates 3 times a day from a subscription service (that's not open to the public) that several large companies subscribe to and thought I'd share the info since they usualy really hit the mark on these storms. If it's going to cause a problem then I'll stop....just thought more info the better."

BIG problem with copyright issues. While the fair use doctrine allows posting snippets as kernels promoting further discussion, ya sure as heck can't post an update in its entirety.

Depending on the terms of use, those large companies could even be charged per reader amongst their employees. ie If the company is paying for 5 readers, it can't distibute the updates to their entire staff. Heck it can't even allow a 6th employee to read it.


No worries I won't be posting anymore....it's not worth the aggravation. But FYI, we have more than 38,000 employees who all have access to these updates so not too concerned with how many "extra" people read it. It's a summary anyway, it's not like I'm posting the tons of graphics and tools that go along with it, nor posting a link to their server with login information. I'm also posting their copyright info so they get the credit and future business.

Back to being a lurker only ....hope you all have a good day !
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2184. scott39
Quoting TexasHurricane:


from what I can tell it doesn't look good. I am about ready to give up.....
I read on here yesterday, that rain should come back in the forecast for Texas in October. I know that seems like a long time away, but it will be here before you know it.
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2182. hydrus
Quoting BobinTampa:


unfortunately, it was overhyped for the wrong areas. From what I hear, the water in the Schoharie Creek rose so fast many people got trapped. A friend up there said it was 10X worse than 1996 (Floyd I think).



This is a long way out, but the system behind Katia should take the more southern route. If this where to occur,another possible U.S. landfall.
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2181. Vero1
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2179. Bayside
Good morning all. Thought I'd check the models for Katia this morning and the ECMWF show's something odd at 192 hrs. I don't understand what is right off the VA/NC coast in this image, is it frontal? It seems like it pops out of nowhere.

I'd post the picture, but the preview showed the image size off and it would screw up the blog. So here is the Link
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Quoting BobinTampa:
I know nobody cares anymore because there is a storm 2500 miles away and another that hasn't even formed yet but might, but here is a link to some photos of the devestation in upstate NY including my hometown:



Link


Those pictures are amazing. Anyone who says Irene was over hyped should look at each and every one of them!
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Quoting aislinnpaps:


I love anyone who considers me a younger person. *G* I looked it up, got it. After carrying a military ID card for 27 years, I still don't remember that term. Guess I was sheltered somehow. *S*



The term "military industrial complex" is usually associated with President Eisenhower's farewell speech.
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Let's do a quick comparison of the global SST anomalies in the world ocean on August 30 for 2011, 2010 and 2005, a quick glance.

2011:



2010:


2005:


Notice anything?
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Quoting Autistic2:
1945 set off atom bomb.
1950 set off hydrogen bomb.
1960 went to the bottom of the ocean. (36,000, feet down!)
1961 put man in space
1964 first Supercomputer.
1969 put men on moon.
1981 first PC (maybe, disputed)
2011 Still cant predict hurricane generation with accuracy, why is it so hard?


It's called Mother Nature....
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Models have no clue on GOM, therefore discounting everything and assuming TX will continue to cook and burn thru the weekend into next. Looks reasonable
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2172. hydrus
Quoting BobinTampa:
I know nobody cares anymore because there is a storm 2500 miles away and another that hasn't even formed yet but might, but here is a link to some photos of the devestation in upstate NY including my hometown:



Link
I hope they have a speedy and safe recovery bob...This potential development in the gulf is going to be interesting and messy...
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Quoting emcf30:


Sharpies?


Yes, you use the sharpies to write HELP FPL on your power pole! Been there, done that. Get the REALLY big poster-size Sharpies/markers for that!
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1945 set off atom bomb.
1950 set off hydrogen bomb.
1960 went to the bottom of the ocean. (36,000, feet down!)
1961 put man in space
1964 first Supercomputer.
1969 put men on moon.
1981 first PC (maybe, disputed)
2011 Still cant predict hurricane generation with accuracy, why is it so hard?
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2169. scott39
Quoting Vero1:


Looks like Katia and future Lee want to "hook up."
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Quoting mrsalagranny:
TexasHurricane I have my deflector shield set in place to deflect any rain that comes to Mobile to divert it back to Texas for all of you.


We appreciate that.... :) If only that would work.
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Quoting Vero1:



That top pic looks like a deranged clown! Scary!
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


from what I can tell it doesn't look good. I am about ready to give up.....
TexasHurricane I have my deflector shield set in place to deflect any rain that comes to Mobile to divert it back to Texas for all of you.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Yet people say this was a nothing storm and over-hyped. Good thing it was.


unfortunately, it was overhyped for the wrong areas. From what I hear, the water in the Schoharie Creek rose so fast many people got trapped. A friend up there said it was 10X worse than 1996 (Floyd I think).



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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.