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

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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

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Quoting Patrap:
..uuuuuuuurp

scuse me,,but it was really good fare.



Nothing better than "Blogging and Burpin"
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Quoting yonzabam:


As it's travelling at 1 mph, don't you think it'll stir up some cold water to hinder its development? I think your prediction is way too strong.


Doubt it.
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Nate, at least there is a possibility that it could nail Houston........6 days from now. Our met said expect anything.
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TROPICAL STORM MARIA IS FORECAST TO AFFECT THE USVI AND PUERTO RICO
ON THE EVENING HOURS ON SATURDAY/EARLY SUNDAY. AT 2 PM AST...THE
CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM MARIA WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 13.0
NORTH...LONGITUDE 52.0 WEST AND IS MOVING TOWARD THE WEST NEAR 22
MPH. THIS GENERAL MOTION IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TONIGHT...FOLLOWED
BY A TURN TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST AND A DECREASE IN FORWARD SPEED
TOMORROW. REGARDLESS DEVELOPMENT OR TRACK...SQUALLY WEATHER CONDITIONS...
GUSTY WINDS AND FLOODING PROBLEMS ARE ANTICIPATED DURING THE WEEKEND
AND EARLY NEXT WEEK. ALL LOCAL RESIDENTS AND VISITORS SHOULD CLOSELY
MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF THIS SYSTEM.

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Nate is ramping up very quickly, so my question is historically stronger storms tend to go what direction?
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Quoting spinningtop:
just watched the weather channel 4pm update and they say nate going into south mexico as a cat1 storm


Everyone quite dogging TWC. According to what I just read on their website this troll is lying and lying bad.

From the TWC

At this time, it is too early to determine if there will be any U.S. impacts from Nate.

This uncertainty is due to a large dip in the jet stream over the eastern half of the United States. If this jet stream dip is able to pull the system northward, Nate could head for the U.S. Gulf Coast. If the jet stream dip misses Nate, then the system would more than likely head more westward towards Mexico
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 3012
1078. Patrap
..uuuuuuuurp

scuse me,,but it was really good fare.
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Quoting rushisaband:


Hush yo mouth. jk What is your GUT sayin on ole Nate?

His Gut just had shrimp creole...be careful what you ask for lol
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1075. Patrap
Quoting rushisaband:


Hush yo mouth. jk What is your GUT sayin on ole Nate?



One to watch thru the weekend from the Sabine to Destin
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Quoting wunderweatherman123:
how strong will the nhc show nate and maria at 5pm


Nate will probably be 70mph and Maria hanging on to TS strength at 40mph.
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There is a good chance if Maria stays together she might go to Florida. The whole of the Bahamas is now in the cone. Any thoughts?
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how strong will the nhc show nate and maria at 5pm
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Quoting Patrap:
82Kt on Nate may warrant a upgrade to Hurricane


Hush yo mouth. jk What is your GUT sayin on ole Nate?
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Quoting WetBankGuy:


Four hours? During an evacuation and Mississippi has closed 10-E to Louisiana? Maybe in a private plane. Yeah, I know some people go to their condos (dumb) or to take care of their boats (not dumb), but by the time there is a high certainly of landfall the drive time to the panhandle is (at least) double that, assuming MS doens't commandeer the Federal interstate for their own evacaution plan.




We went to our Destin condo after Katrina. the people around there were great. It did take 8 or 9 hrs. There were a couple of other NOLA families as well. It wasn't dumb, we had a Cat 1 there but had no issues, never lost power. There were no hotels to be had for someone with multiple pets. It made sense and worked out for us.
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I believe the 2 center fixes from recon are deceiving. It appears that they missed the center on the first pass as I doubt the pressure dropped 2mb in 30 minutes. The overall motion is to the NNE this afternoon.
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What's up with Recon & Maria, seems stuck in one spot on Google Earth now for the past 30 minutes or more?
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Quoting Patrap:
TS Nate

Storm Relative 1km Geostationary Visible Imagery

Definitely organizing the Center with more banding evident





Starting to crank
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Quoting WetBankGuy:


Four hours? During an evacuation and Mississippi has closed 10-E to Louisiana? Maybe in a private plane. Yeah, I know some people go to their condos (dumb) or to take care of their boats (not dumb), but by the time there is a high certainly of landfall the drive time to the panhandle is (at least) double that, assuming MS doens't commandeer the Federal interstate for their own evacaution plan.



These folks arrived 2 days before Katrina made landfall. Don't ask me how they did it I just know I talked to them at AJ's in Destin and seen their cars driving down Hwy 98 from the West just like I do when we have any holiday weekend during the summer.
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 3012
Had a gut check moment while driving to my son's school. I saw a plume of black smoke NW of Loop 820 (Tarrant County, TX). Didn't see it after I picked the kid up, but looked on radar once we got back to the house and saw signature riding the line btwn Tarrant and Parker Counties. I also saw on radar that the PK fire in Palo Pinto County is still burning.
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Quoting wayfaringstranger:
What is the sheer on Maria?
i believe its in the 10 20 kts range but decreasing
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Quoting panthan63:
i been keenly watching forecast models for hurricanes for nearly 20 years, reading about them, doing my best without a phd in meteorology to decipher them. as someone with 'just' a BS degree, surely i cannot understand any of this, just as a uneducated farmer cannot possibly know what the weather is going to do tomorrow. but the one consistency i have seen is that the majority of these storms have moved more to the east then predicted. Rita was going to hit houston, but hit closer to louisiana border. Katrina was definitely going to hit New Orleans, then side swipes it to the east. on and on. tell your children to be a meteorologist or a climatologist. or an economist. there are several occupations out there where one can be wrong on a regular basis and yet still have a job.


Katrina was also predicted to veer north into the Florida panhandle, then moved dramatically west. NHC predictions for track (but not intensity) continue to improve. The further south the storms are, the more likely they are to be wrong, but once a storm gets north of the islands, their track record is very good.
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Flight-level winds support Hurricane Nate (after reduction).
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1059. Patrap
TS Nate

Storm Relative 1km Geostationary Visible Imagery

Definitely organizing the Center with more banding evident



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1058. DFWjc
msnbc.com news services
updated 2 hours 40 minutes ago

LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas just finished the hottest June through August on record for any state in the U.S., weather officials said Thursday. National Weather Service meteorologist Victor Murphy told The Associated Press that Texas' 86.8 degree Fahrenheit average beat out Oklahoma's 85.2 degrees in 1934.

That Dust Bowl year is now third on the list for the three-month span, behind No. 2 Oklahoma's heat wave this June through August at 86.5 degrees. Both states and others in the nation's southern tier have baked in triple-digit heat this summer.

Louisiana's heat this June through August puts it in the fourth spot all-time, 84.5 degrees.
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Nate Vortex (9/8 19:50:30Z): MSLP: 995mb (extrap); Inbound Flt. Lvl. Wind (Item F.): 59kts (~67.8mph); Max Flt. Wind (from Remarks): 82kts (~94.3mph)
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What is the sheer on Maria?
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1055. jpsb
Quoting Tazmanian:



nate
Nate doesn't have the guts to come to Texas, he saw what happened to Don. Chicken just little his daddy Lee.
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1190
Most of the convection on Maria appears to be a mid level circulation she has run away from, seems to have been the case the last several years a these latitudes. But she has a large low level circulation that's why I don't think she will spin all the way down.
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82KTS flight level winds on recon reported,

that would be 75 on the surface. Doesn't have the look of a hurricane though at all, which leads me to believe that wind was recorded in either a downdraft associated with a collapsing thunderstorm, or a gust.
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1052. Caner
Quoting RitaEvac:


That's way too long to be in the GOM, doubt that happens


They didn't consult me :P

But yeah, landfall at 8 days out seems extreme...

Still...

At this rate of speed...
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Quoting LoneStarWeather:


Beggers can't be choosers. I'll take as much rain as Nate cares to throw at us along with whatever else comes with it. This drought has got to end!


I know what you mean. Hopefully it doesn't have to be major, but we need something....
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1049. gugi182
Imagine a hurricane warning for the MOON!!!. Imagine the spaghetti models going crazy with Nate and send one of those spaghetti models to the moon that would be a first huh!!!!
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Quoting MississippiWx:
000
URNT12 KNHC 082009
VORTEX DATA MESSAGE AL152011
A. 08/19:50:30Z
B. 19 deg 42 min N
092 deg 17 min W
C. NA
D. 46 kt
E. 050 deg 46 nm
F. 144 deg 59 kt
G. 050 deg 45 nm
H. EXTRAP 995 mb
I. 20 C / 476 m
J. 23 C / 477 m
K. 23 C / NA
L. NA
M. NA
N. 12345 / 01
O. 0.02 / 4 nm
P. AF300 0215A NATE OB 08
MAX FL WIND 82 KT SE QUAD 18:15:50Z
SLP EXTRAP FROM BELOW 1500 FT
GOOD LORD! 82 knots on the SE side thats like cat 2 wind speed! what do you think the wind speed will be for nate at the 5pm?
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Quoting gugi182:
doesn't Tropical Storm Maria remind you of Tropical Storm Gaston and a coincidence that Gaston developed around this time last year. Maria is ON LIFE SUPPORT!!! and will go into CARDIAC ARREST shortly.


Maria has reminded me of Gaston from the start. However, the model support now is much different. When Gaston formed, it had no models indicating that it would even develop.. but the NHC believed it would become a hurricane approaching the islands because the conditions where there. The models in the end proved right, and Gaston dissipated around the same time Maria is going to. That being said, this time the GFS, CMC, NOGAPS, GFDL are all predicting that Maria will become a hurricane in a few days, this is much different from Gaston in that sense. Right now though, this is pretty much just like Gaston and could open up into a wave soon. The recon found a very loose closed circulation, but it exists.
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1046. Caner
Quoting WetBankGuy:


Audrey?


Very similar.
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1045. Patrap
82Kt on Nate may warrant a upgrade to Hurricane
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According to NECN (local news) the flood walls in Binghamton are leaking in spots, and splash over is happening.
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Quoting Caner:


That's not the entirety of the 12z run on the GFS.

Can be found here, if the link works:

Link

That recurves it and sends it into LA.


Audrey?
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Quoting Caner:


That's not the entirety of the 12z run on the GFS.

Can be found here, if the link works:

Link

That recurves it and sends it into LA.


That's way too long to be in the GOM, doubt that happens
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Quoting TexasMariner:
Kinda of upset about nate right now. On the one hand we need the rain in texas. However, the GFS solution would have nate lingering offshore FAR long enough to become a signifcantly strong storm, and would have it approach so slowly that it would drench us with far more rain than we can handle prior to landfall resulting in compound flooding as well as a severe wind threat.


My point is this, if you live along the Texas coastline you should pay very close attention to Nate.


Beggers can't be choosers. I'll take as much rain as Nate cares to throw at us along with whatever else comes with it. This drought has got to end!
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
South-southwest drift as per Recon.



They missed the center on the first pass.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
My current forecast for Tropical Storm Nate...This only shows steady strengthening:

INIT 08/2100Z 60 KT 70 MPH
12H 09/0600Z 70 KT 80 MPH
24H 09/1800Z 75 KT 85 MPH
36H 10/0600Z 80 KT 90 MPH
48H 10/1800Z 85 KT 100 MPH
72H 11/0600Z 90 KT 105 MPH
96H 12/1800Z 95 KT 110 MPH
120H 13/0600Z 100 KT 115 MPH


As it's travelling at 1 mph, don't you think it'll stir up some cold water to hinder its development? I think your prediction is way too strong.
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Quoting spinningtop:
does anyone know where maria is going and what she is gonna be?
Only mother nature knows and she dosnt want to answer my phone calls and text messages :( but maria does appear to be refireing lets see what happens if she get all her cylinders up and running
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000
URNT12 KNHC 082009
VORTEX DATA MESSAGE AL152011
A. 08/19:50:30Z
B. 19 deg 42 min N
092 deg 17 min W
C. NA
D. 46 kt
E. 050 deg 46 nm
F. 144 deg 59 kt
G. 050 deg 45 nm
H. EXTRAP 995 mb
I. 20 C / 476 m
J. 23 C / 477 m
K. 23 C / NA
L. NA
M. NA
N. 12345 / 01
O. 0.02 / 4 nm
P. AF300 0215A NATE OB 08
MAX FL WIND 82 KT SE QUAD 18:15:50Z
SLP EXTRAP FROM BELOW 1500 FT
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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.

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