1-in-100 year rains cause extreme flooding in NY, PA; Nate, Maria, and Katia

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:37 PM GMT on September 08, 2011

Share this Blog
22
+

An extreme rainfall event unprecedented in recorded history has hit the Binghamton, New York area, where 7.49" fell yesterday. This is the second year in a row Binghamton has recorded a 1-in-100 year rain event; their previous all-time record was set last September, when 4.68" fell on Sep 30 - Oct. 1, 2010. Records go back to 1890 in the city. The skies have now cleared in Binghamton, with this morning's rain bringing the city's total rainfall for the 40-hour event to 9.02". However, another large region of rain lies just to the south in Pennsylvania, and all of the rivers in the surrounding region are in major or record flood. The Susquehanna River at Binghamton is at 25.18', its highest level since records began in 1847, and is expected to overtop the flood walls protecting the city this afternoon. In Hershey, Pennsylvania, Swatara Creek is 18' over flood stage, and more than 8' above its record flood crest. Widespread flash flooding is occurring across the entire area, and over 125,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.


Figure 1. Radar-observed rainfall from the Binghamton, NY radar.


Figure 2. The Susquehanna River at Binghamton is at its highest flood height on record this morning (25 feet.) Records at this gauge go back to 1847. Image credit: NOAA/AHPS.


Figure 3. In Hershey, Pennsylvania, Swatara Creek is 18' over flood stage, and more than 8' above its record flood crest. Records at this gage go back to 1930. Image credit: NOAA/AHPS.

The extreme rains are due the the remains of Tropical Storm Lee interacting with a stationary front draped along the Eastern U.S. Adding to the potent moisture mix last night was a stream of tropical moisture associated with Hurricane Katia that collided with the stationary front. You don't often see a major city break its all-time 24-hour precipitation record by a 60% margin, according to wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, and he can't recall ever seeing it happen before. It's worth noting that the Susquehanna River Binghamton stream gage, which has been in operation since 1847, is due to be shut off in 3 weeks due to budget cuts. Here's the note at the USGS web site:

NOTICE (03/23/2011)--Data collection at this streamgage may be discontinued after October 1, 2011 due to funding reductions from partner agencies. Although historic data will remain accessible, no new data will be collected unless one or more new funding partners are found. Users who are willing to contribute funding to continue operation of this streamgage should contact Rob Breault or Ward Freeman of the USGS New York Water Science Center at 518-285-5658 or dc_ny@usgs.gov.

Tropical Storm Nate
Tropical Storm Nate formed in the southern Gulf of Mexico yesterday afternoon after the Hurricane Hunters found a well-defined surface circulation and 45 mph surface winds. Nate is the 14th named storm this year, and comes three days before the climatological half-way point of the Atlantic hurricane season, September 10. A typical hurricane season has just 10 - 11 named storms, so we've already had 35% more than a whole season's worth of storms before reaching the season's half-way point. At this rate, 2011 will see 28 named storms, equaling the all-time record set in 2005. Nate's formation date of September 7 puts 2011 in 2nd place for earliest date of arrival of the season's 14th storm. Only 2005 had an earlier formation date of the season's 14th named storm (September 6, when Hurricane Nate got named.) Third place is now held jointly by 1936 and 1933, which got their 14th storm of the season on September 10.

Latest visible satellite loops show that Nate's low-level center is exposed to view, due to northeasterly upper-level winds that are creating a moderate 10 knots of wind shear. This shear is keeping all of Nate's heavy thunderstorms pushed to the south side of the center. Sustained winds at Buoy 42055, about 100 miles to the northwest of the suspected center of Nate, were north at 31 mph at 6:50 am CDT this morning. We haven't had a hurricane hunter aircraft in the storm since yesterday afternoon, and the next plane is due to arrive near 2 pm this afternoon. Water vapor satellite loops show that here is a large area of very dry air from Texas to the north of Nate, and this dry air is probably interfering with the storm's development.

Up until last night's 8 pm EDT runs of the computer models, the models were in general agreement that Nate would meander in the Bay of Campeche for several days, until a ridge of high pressure built in to the north of the storm, forcing it westwards to a landfall in Mexico. However, the latest 2 am EDT run by the GFS model predicts that Nate may gain enough latitude to escape being forced westwards by the ridge, and instead move northwards to make a landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast. The GFDL, which uses the GFS for its initial conditions, is also on board with this idea, as is the HWRF model, to a lesser degree. The 2 am EDT run of the NOGAPS model did not go along with this idea, though. We will have to wait until the NOAA jet makes its first mission to sample the steering currents in the Gulf of Mexico to get a better idea on how probable this northern path might be; their first flight will be tonight, and the data will make it into the 8 pm models runs that will be available first thing Friday morning. As far as intensity goes, the very dry air to Nate's north should begin being less of a problem for it by Friday, when the upper level winds shift more to blow from the southeast, and the shear drops to the low range, 5 - 10 knots. Since the storm is moving very slowly, it will upwell cooler waters from the depths that will slow intensification, though. The earliest Nate would become a hurricane is probably on Saturday.


Figure 2. GOES-13 image of Hurricane Katia, Tropical Storm Maria, and Tropical Storm Nate taken at 8 am EDT September 8, 2011. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

Tropical Storm Maria
Tropical Storm Maria is midway between the Northern Lesser Antilles Islands the coast of Africa, and due to arrive in the Northern Lesser Antilles late Friday night or Saturday morning. Satellite loops show that Maria has been ripped up pretty badly by the 10 - 20 knots of wind shear affecting it, with the low-level center exposed to view, and a few disorganized clumps of heavy thunderstorms lying to the west and northeast of the center. Water vapor satellite images show that Maria is embedded in a very moist environment. Ocean temperatures are near 28.5°C, which is 2°C above the 26.5°C threshold usually needed to sustain a tropical storm. Maria passed just south of Buoy 41041 this morning, and top sustained winds during passage were 42 mph, gusting to 56 mph. Maria will pass close to buoy 41040 near 8pm EDT tonight.

With wind shear predicted to continue in the moderate range for the next five days, and the storm struggling to maintain its circulation, strengthening of Maria to a hurricane before it reaches the Lesser Antilles seems unlikely at this time. None of the intensity models are calling for Maria to reach hurricane strength until well after the storm passes Puerto Rico. However, Mike Ventrice, a meteorology Ph.D. student at the University of Albany, pointed out to me yesterday that a atmospheric disturbance known as a Convectively-Coupled Kelvin Wave (CCKW) is passing through the Lesser Antilles Islands today, and is headed eastwards towards Maria at 25 mph. Maria will encounter this CCKW Thursday night or Friday morning. There is a great deal of upward-moving air in the vicinity of a CCKW, and will help strengthen the updrafts in Maria's thunderstorms, potentially intensifying the storm. None of our models are detailed enough to "see" CCKWs", so we may see more intensification of the storm than the models are calling for. Given the disorganized state Maria is currently in, though, the extra boost in upward motion provided by the CCKW may not make of a difference to the storm.

The track forecasts for Maria from the various models agree that the storm will affect the Northern Lesser Antilles Islands, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. After it passes the Lesser Antilles, Maria has the usual amount of high uncertainty in its 5 - 7 day track forecast. The models are split on how strong the steering influence a trough of low pressure along the U.S. East Coast will have. The UKMET model prefers a more southerly track for Maria through the Turk and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas towards the U.S. East Coast, while the other models predict a more northwesterly track, with a potential threat to Bermuda. Climatology favors a track that would miss the U.S., with Dr. Bob Hart's track history pages suggesting that Maria has a 14% chance of hitting Canada, 5% chance of hitting Bermuda, and an 18% chance of hitting North Carolina.

Hurricane Katia
Hurricane Katia has brought a few rain showers and some gusty winds of 20 - 30 mph to Bermuda last night and this morning, but is not going to bring hazardous weather to the island as the storm makes it swing around Bermuda today and tomorrow. Latest satellite loops show that Katia is a shadow of its former Category 4 self, as dry air has eaten into the southwest side of the storm into the eye. Katia's outer rainbands should remain just offshore from North Carolina, New England, and the Canadian Maritime provinces at the point of closest approach. The main impact of Katia will be a multi-day period of high surf leading to beach erosion and dangerous rip currents.

I'll have an update this afternoon.

Jeff Masters

Bryn Athyn, PA (HighRdGeo)
Fetters Mill 9-8-11 morning
Bryn Athyn, PA

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 186 - 136

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25Blog Index

MARIA could do like 1995 MARILYN

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hello Levi:

I hope all is well. Thanks for your tidbits. You are awesome in how you express yourself , meterologically speaking.

NHC needs a man like you someday.


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting connie1976:


The thing that has been giving us here in SEFL 94 temps!!! It has been soooooooooo hot!


I am telling you... It has been HOT and Humid.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
@39HR 12Z GFS

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:
This does almost imply northeasterly shear, but at 5kts, which is extremely light. Nate is in the weak spot between the ridge and the trough where there is no well-defined shear direction until he moves northward.



Maybe the shear map is not showing the shear over Nate correctly.
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 3016
Quoting Buhdog:
I have a question for anyone here in SWFL...... What is that big yellow ball in the sky?


the sun
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Buhdog:
I have a question for anyone here in SWFL...... What is that big yellow ball in the sky?



If I remember correctly it is called a "sun"?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Buhdog:
I have a question for anyone here in SWFL...... What is that big yellow ball in the sky?


The thing that has been giving us here in SEFL 94 temps!!! It has been soooooooooo hot!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Dry air has not yet reached the the circulation as evidenced on water vapor imagery:

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
What are the chances of Nate pulling Maria further West?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting rushisaband:
G-morning ... Pat, Drak, Levi, T Spin, 69, btw I sure don't like storms with four letter ... Ivan, Erin, Opal
Nate is in the same area as Opal back in 95


I remember Erin and Opal well, they were the first two hurricanes I ever experienced and that is when I became fascinated with them. That's when I became a professional at cutting down trees and cleaning up storm debris!
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 3016
levi do you think maria is moving a little south of west and the south of her center appears to be void of convection is it dry air?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I have a question for anyone here in SWFL...... What is that big yellow ball in the sky?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
173. HCW
Mash this

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Chicklit:
I think the channeling is starting to work!




Oh, I hope and pray that Texas gets the rain!!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:
Good morning.

Blog update:

Tropical Tidbit for Thursday, September 8th, with Video
Levi,

They should hire you at the NHC. You called Nate's northern track days ago.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I think the channeling is starting to work!

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
well said, agreed
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting stoormfury:
shear appears to be relaxing and Maria looks to be on the come back trail
She needs to slow down more, shear is not really that strong over her.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CaribBoy:


Yes sure, but we would like some rain ;-)


oh, I'm sorry.... I didn't think about that...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting connie1976:


Weak storms are good!! You don't want a strong storm because people lose their lives!! ....even in weak storms people lose their lives! Praise God that these storms are weak!


Yes sure, but we would like some rain ;-)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Storm specific shear from CIMSS is analyzed at ~4kt at 8:00 AM EDT


TROPICAL STORM 15L 12:00UTC 08September2011
UW-CIMSS Experimental Vertical Shear and TC Intensity Trend Estimates

Current Conditions (from TPC) :
Latitude : 20:23:59 N
Longitude : 92:22:38 W
Intensity (MSLP) : 1002.5 hPa

Max Pot Int (MPI,from Emanuel) : 920.4 hPa
MPI differential (MSLP-MPI) : 82.1 hPa

CIMSS Vertical Shear Magnitude : 1.7 m/s
Direction : 63.2 deg

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TampaSpin:



Both very smart and good......but Drakoen is correct this time. Maybe not the next time tho!
kinda like watching two good football teams play a down to the wire game...dont matter who wins, you're just glad you watched the game :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CaribBoy:
bored with stoms like maria.. gaston, colin, emily.. I'm sure WPAC doesn't have this kind of weak storms
WPAC has also been lackluster with big hurracanes lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Does Texas have any chance at all from getting any rain from Nate? ~They need it so badly and I'm hoping they get it..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
161. HCW
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
i like when folks with actual knowledge of the tropics have discussions like ADULTS on here like Levi32, and Drakoen, Mississippi. They have actual proof behind what they are saying and dont start name calling such as troll and other names that get tossed around on here. And its very informative to beginners like myself to actually get to see what they are talking about.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
shear appears to be relaxing and Maria looks to be on the come back trail
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CaribBoy:
bored with stoms like maria.. gaston, colin, emily.. I'm sure WPAC doesn't have this kind of weak storms


Weak storms are good!! You don't want a strong storm because people lose their lives!! ....even in weak storms people lose their lives! Praise God that these storms are weak!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Additional upper air obs starting tomorrow afternoon


000
NOUS74 KEHU 081428
ADASRH
ALERT ADMINISTRATIVE MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SOUTHERN REGION HEADQUARTERS
930 AM CDT THU SEP 8 2011

TO: ALL SOUTHERN REGION OFFICES

FROM: SOUTHERN REGION HEADQUARTERS REGIONAL OPERATIONS CENTER

SUBJECT: SPECIAL SIX HOURLY UPPER-AIR OBSERVATIONS

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER HAS REQUESTED SPECIAL SIX HOURLY
UPPER-AIR OBSERVATIONS FROM THE FOLLOWING STATIONS BEGINNING AT
1800Z FRIDAY SEPT 9...IN SUPPORT FOR TROPICAL STORM NATE.

ABQ...EPZ...AMA...MAF...DRT...OUN...FWD...CRP...B RO...LZK...`
SHV...LCH...JAN...LIX...BMX...FFC...TLH.

SPECIAL SIX HOURLY UPPER-AIR OBSERVATIONS SHOULD CONTINUE UNTIL
FURTHER NOTICE.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting tkeith:


Clash of the Titans....

(good stuff)



Both very smart and good......but Drakoen is correct this time. Maybe not the next time tho!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
155. Jax82
If Florida is on the 5 day cone, we're probably safe, lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:





Well it is kinda obvious


Yes, yes it is.

Quoting MississippiWx:


But, you know that those CIMSS graphics aren't gospel truth. I don't see how Nate isn't being sheared from the northeast. It doesn't have the appearance of a system struggling with dry air (even though it is). It has the appearance of a system struggling with northeasterly shear.


Right. The CIMSS maps are certainly not perfect.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TampaSpin:


HEY, ya those 4 letter names have been rough for many along the Northern Gulf Coast!
I noticed that about the positioning similar to Opal. Was hoping my eyes were deceiving me!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
bored with stoms like maria.. gaston, colin, emily.. I'm sure WPAC doesn't have this kind of weak storms
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Drakoen:


I meant dry air in that post lol. Buoy 42055 is showing humidity values of 71.5% so I don't think its due to the dry air. The lack of organization can be attributed to the light to moderate shear over such a small system.
Quoting Levi32:


But are you actually going to tell me that the shear is out of the northeasterly direction? Also, the buoy humidity at the surface will be fairly high no matter what due to proximity to the ocean surface. It's the mid-levels (850mb-500mb) that matter.


Clash of the Titans....

(good stuff)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
149. yoboi
Quoting Allyson00:
 

Tropical Storm Maria Advisory #8
Valid: 10:00 AM CDT Thursday September 08, 2011

Tropical Storm Maria Track Chart, Advisory #8

 
Current Location: 13.0N/51.2W
Geographic Reference: 574 NM east of the Windward Islands
Movement: West at 17 kts
Maximum Winds: 40 kts gusting to 50 kts
Organizational Trend: Decreasing
Current Hurricane Severity Index: 3 out of a possible 50 points (1 size /2 intensity)
Maximum Forecast Hurricane Severity Index: 5 out of a possible 50 points (2 size /3 intensity)
Forecast Track Confidence: Below average due to the weakened state of the system.


Changes From Our Previous Forecast
We have decreased our intensity forecast. We are not expecting Maria to reach hurricane strength over the next 2-3 days. We have also shifted our track southward, closer to Hispaniola and the Bahamas.


Our Forecast
Morning visible satellite imagery indicates that Maria's circulation center may be in the process of dissipating. Even though Maria may be weakening to a tropical wave, satellite wind estimates still indicate winds of 35 kts to 45 kts in squalls in its northern semicircle. As a weaker system, Maria may track more to the west than west-northwest. This would take Maria into the Caribbean possibly south of Guadeloupe Island then toward Puerto Rico or even the Dominican Republic. For now, we are indicating that Maria may encounter conditions favorable for redevelopment in the eastern Caribbean. This would result in a turn to the northwest near Puerto Rico. However, if Maria does degenerate into a tropical wave and does not regain its circulation, then it may continue tracking westward to the south of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.


Even as a tropical wave, Maria would still be capable of producing tropical storm conditions across the islands of the northeast Caribbean. But without a well-defined surface circulation, the chances of Maria impacting the northeast Caribbean as a hurricane have diminished considerably today. The main threat from Maria across the northeast Caribbean will be from heavy rainfall along with some gusty tropical storm force winds. Our forecast assumes that Maria will regain its circulation center in the next day or two. If that occurs, then Maria could become a hurricane once it passes the northeast Caribbean Sea. Confidence in the intensity forecast is very low.


Expected Impacts on Land
Leeward Islands: Squalls may reach the islands of the northeast Caribbean as early as Friday afternoon.
U.S. and British Virgin Islands/Puerto Rico: Squalls may reach the area by sunrise Saturday.
Hispaniola: Squalls will move over the area early Sunday.
Turks and Caicos/Southern Bahamas: Squalls will reach the islands late Sunday.
Northern Bahamas: Squalls will begin by late Monday.


Our next advisory will be issued by 4PM CDT.





© 2011 ImpactWeather, Inc. All rights reserved.
tropicswatch@impactweather.com



what do they say about nate???
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Drakoen:


Convection displaced to the southwest of the center yields northeast shear.



That is correct!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I'm off to a lab. Later all.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


During GOES Super Rapid Scan Operations (SRSO), approximately 10 one-minute interval scans are provided every half hour using prescribed 1000 x 1000 km sectors. The remaining time in the half hour cycle is devoted to scans of the northern hemisphere and CONUS (or sub-CONUS for GOES-WEST).

When GOES RSO or SRSO is utilized, most of the southern hemisphere is not scanned.

Link


Nice info... thanks
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MississippiWx:


But, you know that those CIMSS graphics aren't gospel truth. I don't see how Nate isn't being sheared from the northeast. It doesn't have the appearance of a system struggling with dry air (even though it is). It has the appearance of a system struggling with northeasterly shear.


I don't know how you can say that, based on what has been observed with the low-level cloud field since yesterday, but of course satellite imagery is open to personal interpretation.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting WxLogic:


That's interesting... I though we only had Rapid Scans but not Super Rapid Scans.


During GOES Super Rapid Scan Operations (SRSO), approximately 10 one-minute interval scans are provided every half hour using prescribed 1000 x 1000 km sectors. The remaining time in the half hour cycle is devoted to scans of the northern hemisphere and CONUS (or sub-CONUS for GOES-WEST).

When GOES RSO or SRSO is utilized, most of the southern hemisphere is not scanned.

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:
This does almost imply northeasterly shear, but at 5kts, which is extremely light. Nate is in the weak spot between the ridge and the trough where there is no well-defined shear direction until he moves northward.



But, you know that those CIMSS graphics aren't gospel truth. I don't see how Nate isn't being sheared from the northeast. It doesn't have the appearance of a system struggling with dry air (even though it is). It has the appearance of a system struggling with northeasterly shear.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10160
Quoting blsealevel:

These guys have this named a Hurricane in 48 hrs?



Interesting positioning of the L off the coast in relation to Maria and Nate.
Member Since: July 12, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 235
Quoting Drakoen:


Convection displaced to the southwest of the center yields northeast shear.





Well it is kinda obvious
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127701
Quoting rushisaband:
G-morning ... Pat, Drak, Levi, T Spin, 69, btw I sure don't like storms with four letter ... Ivan, Erin, Opal
Nate is in the same area as Opal back in 95


HEY, ya those 4 letter names have been rough for many along the Northern Gulf Coast!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Drakoen:


Convection displaced to the southwest of the center yields northeast shear.


Or dry air choking the other quadrants of the circulation where vorticity, and thus surface convergence, is weaker, yielding less support for convective activity in the face of the dry mid-level layer. The SW quad is better-suited to deal with the dry air due to enhanced vorticity and convergence near the curved coast of the BOC. The trough of low pressure extending northeast of nate is decreasing overall vorticity there by spreading it out.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting marknmelb:


Wouldn't celebrate just yet.

Oh, I know... I'm just shocked that the NHC sees that it COULD happen, and am overjoyed with the NAM's solution.

I'm not going to draw comparison with last's years H storm..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting WxLogic:


That's interesting... I though we only had Rapid Scans but not Super Rapid Scans.


Its the rabid scans that you gotta watch for...all the foaming at the mouth and such...
Member Since: July 12, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 235
Quoting Patrap:


Morn'

Alive,,which is always a good way to start the day.



I agree. Alive is the preferred way for me to start the morning.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 186 - 136

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25Blog Index

Top of Page

About

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