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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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
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10159
1035. 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.
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1034. Patrap
TS Maria

Storm Relative 1km Geostationary Visible Imagery



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
Quoting Tazmanian:
wind shear seems too be droping all so it seem like the center have found this nic little ball of t-storm and it now under it so it looks like MARIA got dress a little



Haha have to find something positive in that picture. Worst looking storm in a long time
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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


No they didn't...

Dare I say?


TROLL ALERT
: C1
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1031. Caner
Quoting spinningtop:
just watched the weather channel 4pm update and they say nate going into south mexico as a cat1 storm


Did they offer a money back guarantee?
8^)
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Maria being weak could spell trouble for the U.S.
Conditions should become more favorable the next couple of days.
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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


They know best!! NOT
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Nate has also begun a movement to the north or north-northeast.
South-southwest drift as per Recon.

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GT nice post of the "Birds Eye View"; certainlty appears Nate will get pulled 1 of 2 ways, West or North-Northeast.
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Recon sames to be stuck in one spot on Google earth for quite sometime now, I still think they will find Maria more organized and stronger than what it appears on Satellite presentation, jmo.
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1025. Patrap
TS Maria



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
will the nhc bump up nates wind speed at the 5pm and what will it be?
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Maria is still a TS and deserves to stay a TS, given that the LLC is closed and is becoming better defined with an apparent spiral band to the south of the LLC wrapping around to the eastern side of the circulation, however shear and dry air are having an impact as well as the speed shear from the easterly trade winds.
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Quoting spinningtop:
what is maria gonna do and hwere is it gonna go now?


Hell, I am so frustrated with these storms, I just say they all go out to sea so I don't have to think about em. They drive me crazy with the different scenarios every model run, damnit man. I hope they do go out to sea, but in all actuality, one is bound to hit the CONUS. Maybe Maria and Nate at this point. Anybody's guess
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1020. Caner
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.



Here is the current GFS forecast that has me riled up
: Link


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.
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12z UKMET, 144 hours.

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I think Maria is at least a depression if you look at the buoy to her west, ties into a circulation and the bp is fairly low and still falling. If Maria stays weak not a good scenario if it gets below Hispaniola and just east of Jamaica.I liked the Cat 1 scenario for parched Texas but Nate looks to be a big headache for the forecasters.
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Convection is beginning to wrap around the eastern semi circle, or at least trying too.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Nate has also begun a movement to the north or north-northeast.

Yep.

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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.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Nate has also begun a movement to the north or north-northeast.
That's affirmative sir, even from birds eye view I can see that from the 3 satellite images I posted.
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My current forecast for Tropical Storm Nate...This only shows steady strengthening:

INIT 08/2100Z 60 KT 70 MPH
12H 09/0600Z 70 KT 75 MPH
24H 09/1800Z 75 KT 80 MPH
36H 10/0600Z 80 KT 85 MPH
48H 10/1800Z 85 KT 90 MPH
72H 11/0600Z 90 KT 100 MPH
96H 12/1800Z 95 KT 105 MPH
120H 13/0600Z 100 KT 115 MPH
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Quoting 69Viking:


I beg to differ. I live in Fort Walton Beach(FWB) and during Katrina we had a lot of LA evacuees in town shortly before Katrina hit! Lots of LA folks have property in FWB and Destin, some even keep their boats here. Southern LA is on average about 4 hours from the FL Panhandle so they can be pretty sure of where a storm is going before they pack up and move on down I-10 to their second home!


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.

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Quoting RitaEvac:
wonder what kind of winds are on the beach on south side of Nate



This isnt too far off...
Sacrafice Island, just off Veracruz MX, 1900Z.

Wind Direction (WDIR): N ( 350 deg true )
Wind Speed (WSPD): 26.0 kts
Wind Gust (GST): 29.9 kts
Atmospheric Pressure (PRES): 29.92 in
Pressure Tendency (PTDY): -0.06 in ( Falling )
Air Temperature (ATMP): 85.1 °F
Dew Point (DEWP): 65.1 °F
Heat Index (HEAT): 86.9 °F
Combined plot of Wind Speed, Gust, and Air Pressure
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1009. Drakoen
Quoting Tropicaddict:


Mainly the bold. I don't understand most of the HH information.


The bold is the pressure.
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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.



Here is the current GFS forecast that has me riled up
: Link
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Nate has also begun a movement to the north or north-northeast.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10159
1004. Patrap
Quoting WetBankGuy:


That last satellite image makes me feel like I'm watching Laugh In.



Maybe the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate will point some other way this weekend
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
Quoting Patrap:
Stealing my HTML codes in quotes is not the best way to blog Rita.

It makes u look Lazy.

LOL


That last satellite image makes me feel like I'm watching Laugh In.
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Nate may not be a hurricane yet, but he did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
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Quoting WetBankGuy:


They would have turned around and come home, because nobody from New Orleans is going to the Florida panhandle to evacuate. OK, nobody with any sense.

Trying to evacuate close to million people along 12 Interstate lanes is a bit of a chore, so early is always better and north (inland) is always the way to go.


I beg to differ. I live in Fort Walton Beach(FWB) and during Katrina we had a lot of LA evacuees in town shortly before Katrina hit! Lots of LA folks have property in FWB and Destin, some even keep their boats here. Southern LA is on average about 4 hours from the FL Panhandle so they can be pretty sure of where a storm is going before they pack up and move on down I-10 to their second home!
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 3010
Quoting Drakoen:


The pressure? or the whole line?


Mainly the bold. I don't understand most of the HH information.
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Quoting Patrap:
Stealing my HTML codes in quotes is not the best way to blog Rita.

It makes u look Lazy.

LOL


Cuz I am! lol
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The BIG Picture:





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Quoting kilgores97:


And how many degrees do you have Dave? Based on your thinking, no one at the Weather Channel or any TV based weather folks should be listened to either. Do you think all the people at the NHC have more than BS degrees? If you don't want to read what people post here and share in opinions, leave. I'm sure there are many folks here that would even hold the door open for you on the way out.


My message was to those seeking immediate information like the lady that wanted to pick up her boat from Galveston.

I like reading this blog and have learned a lot about hurricanes in the process. But I reiterate that this is not a place that should be used as guidance for people trying to make immediate decisions.

By the way, I have an M.S. in Accountancy and will soon sit for the CPA exam. I would not call myself qualified to give anyone on here tax advice until I have a job doing so.

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Quoting Tropicaddict:


I so wish I understood what that meant?


N & W are obviously the longitude and latitude. 995.1 is the central pressure
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OK, so according to mobiledave, the government gives the NHC the authority to tell us what they THINK. Now, that said, the government also gives me the authority to tell you what I THINK, as well. It is called a Constitutional Right- aka Freedom of Speech. But I do think that if someone is going to post information as to a specific landfall point of a tropical system, they need to be able to prove it to us via a link or something. Because opinions are out the door when it comes to how something has the potential to affect millions of lives. JMO
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Quoting Tropicaddict:


I so wish I understood what that meant?

Pressure is down to 995.1 mbar.
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Quoting Tropicaddict:


I so wish I understood what that meant?


The pressure? or the whole line?
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UNCLE.... too many mobiletroll  quotes.. focus people, focus... 
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Quoting Tazmanian:
wind shear seems too be droping all so it seem like the center have found this nic little ball of t-storm and it now under it so it looks like MARIA got dress a little

taz absoulutely agree with you she will maintain 40mph until passing the islands and notice the more southerly track... gfdl has shifted back west into florida! ukmet and hwrf show more west aswell. very interesting indeed
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Quoting Tropicaddict:


I so wish I understood what that meant?


The bold means 995.1mb
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10159
Quoting wunderweatherman123:
what storm maria or nate?



nate
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Most of the models have Nate going west into Mexico because the Bermuda ridge builds in over the top of Nate before he can gain enough latitude to feel the passing trough. At the same time, they have Maria lifting out to the north, east of the US. Something doesn't make sense to me. It seems like if the Bermuda ridge were to be as strong as indicated and have the ability to shove Nate west, it should also have the ability to keep Maria on a more southward/westward course.
Sounds about right. If Nate moves westward into Mexico (similar to the ECMWF), then a track further west is more likely (indicative of a weak trough and stronger ridge). However, if the trough is amplified enough to draw Nate northward (similar to the the GFS), then that obviously means that there's a stronger trough present and a weak ridge.

In other words, Nate's track will probably be our best indication as to where Maria goes.
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Stealing my HTML codes in quotes is not the best way to blog Rita.

It makes u look Lazy.

LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543

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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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