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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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: 433 Comments: 132261
Maybe the best way for TX is for Nate to go NE into central Gulf then the ridge turns it west into Matagorda Bay

Already looks east of this map anyway

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Quoting Patrap:
995.1mb is getting down there some.
what storm maria or nate?
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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

Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5093 Comments: 115828
Quoting MississippiWx:
Nate is strengthening quickly:

195100 1941N 09218W 9579 00334 9951 +227 //// 292007 010 004 001 01


I so wish I understood what that meant?
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Nate is strengthening quickly:

195100 1941N 09218W 9579 00334 9951 227 //// 292007 010 004 001

pressure seems to have dropped a good bit
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995.1mb is getting down there some.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 433 Comments: 132261
978. Caner
Quoting ecflweatherfan:


At 110 mph, a bit windy might be a little weak of wording as well. True, not an Andrew... but still, 110 mph is nothing to sneeze at either.


In fairness, I'm a little jaded.
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977. HCW
18Z Nate Model runs from the NHC Ya'll stay classy


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Quoting mobiledave:


I'm sorry but "every once in a while" and "time to time" fails to comfort those looking for accurate and relevant information.

With all do respect someone with a B.S. degree should not be listened to when it comes to forecasting.


Who are you Dave? Why are you criticizing people on this blog? If people are truly looking for advice on preparedness for a storm, they should pay attention to the actual forecast from the NHC. Dont come in here babbling all that negativity. I've been lurking on this blog for a while now enjoying the discussion on storms. This is a discussion blog. Let's keep it that way. If you cant, kindly leave.
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Nate is strengthening quickly:

195100 1941N 09218W 9579 00334 9951 +227 //// 292007 010 004 001 01
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
Dry air is being squeezed out slowly but surely to it's north

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get the president on the line. just as his predecessor obviously steered katrina to a near miss of New Orleans, surely this president would use that technology to steer Nate on up and into texas with its rains. just think of all the voters he will get!
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972. Caner
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.


Just give him the tin star and cap gun already and let him police the blog... It's clearly the position he is running for.

If anyone has a toy gavel and robe, he can act as the judge as to their credibility as well.
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Tracking Information from the NHC

NHC Advisory : 04
Name : NATE
Type : TROPICAL STORM
Position : 20.0, -92.4
Heading (degrees) : 145
Motion Speed (kts) : 1
Central Pressure (mb) : 1001
Maximum Sustained Winds (kts) : 45
Maximum Wind Gusts (kts) : 55
Valid time : 15:00:00 GMT, September 08, 2011
Note: To convert wind speeds to MPH, multiply knots by 1.15 (i.e. add 15%)
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 433 Comments: 132261
Quoting mobiledave:


I'm sorry but "every once in a while" and "time to time" fails to comfort those looking for accurate and relevant information.

With all do respect someone with a B.S. degree should not be listened to when it comes to forecasting.


I would suggest you view some of Levi's videos and maybe re-think that thought. Working on his degree but very relevant information is found.
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Quoting mobiledave:


The visitors that ask the questions are not on here long enough to decipher what information is good or bad. They simply "show up" when a cyclone is close enough to be mentioned by there local news.

What if you would ave been wrong by telling your family to evacuate only to find that the new model consensus had the storm pegged to there evacuation spot?


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.
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Quoting Caner:


'Horrific' might be a tad strong.

might get a bit windy, squally :) Maria is no Andrew.

Intensity models calling for around 110 possible.


At 110 mph, a bit windy might be a little weak of wording as well. True, not an Andrew... but still, 110 mph is nothing to sneeze at either.
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Quoting Tazmanian:




looks like the nhc will be keeping it at


AL, 14, 2011090818, , BEST, 0, 131N, 518W, 35, 1006, TS



for 5pm
they will most likely keep her a weak ts until she gets into the carribean then she could strengthen
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Quoting mcluvincane:


Holy $%^%!!!!!


Still a FISH?
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Still some Neasterly Shear Impinging on the CoC,,but the Lower levels are stacking nicely seems.


Storm Relative 1km Geostationary Visible Imagery

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 433 Comments: 132261
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Recon found west winds associated with Maria. Probably a tropical depression though.




looks like the nhc will be keeping it at


AL, 14, 2011090818, , BEST, 0, 131N, 518W, 35, 1006, TS



for 5pm
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5093 Comments: 115828
Quoting mobiledave:


I'm sorry but "every once in a while" and "time to time" fails to comfort those looking for accurate and relevant information.

With all do respect someone with a B.S. degree should not be listened to when it comes to forecasting.


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.
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961. Caner
Quoting mobiledave:


I'm sorry but "every once in a while" and "time to time" fails to comfort those looking for accurate and relevant information.

With all do respect someone with a B.S. degree should not be listened to when it comes to forecasting.


1.There are definitely some people on this blog which should not be listened to.

2.See above.

3.*poof*
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Recon found west winds associated with Maria. Probably a tropical depression though.


Winds aren't the issue with the storm, its been the circulation, If it has a closed circulation, its more than likely still a tropical storm (watch the NHC prove me wrong in an hour).

LOL.
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.
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957. Caner
12Z GFS

Link

Ensembles are still favoring a N/NE run:

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



Or how much water is getting pumped into that bay along he coast! Probably some serious flooding going on down there.
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 3163
Quoting twincomanche:
Oh darn, another missed opportunity........however I have a certain bridge on the West coast with a nice view.


OK. I think that one is still available.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
*Huge grin appears on JFV's face*.

Gonna have to see how much latitude it gains before reaching 70˚W. I'm inclined to believe that a cyclone of that intensity is much more likely to go more poleward though, due to a stronger influence from troughing in the steering regime.



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.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
Katia looks better now than it did this morning...There is convection on the western side, which was not there this morning.



Katia's ACE has now surpassed Irene's, which makes it the most ACE producing system so far this season...at 21.0. The total ACE for the season is now up to 58.3.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Umm, not true. A number of relevant B.S. degrees in here, regularly.

At least a few with a M.S. in meteorology in here from time to time.

And, a couple of PhDs show up every once in a while.

But, most of them very rarely talk about their qualifications.


I am in process of obtaining my degree in Meteorology and still come here to learn more. There are intelligent people here that one can learn from. Keep in mind, that there is book smarts and street smarts. Just because one has book smarts doesn't necessarily eliminate the need for life experience. And there are many people on here that have been through many storms and one can learn much from them and the way they read storms too. If, Dave, you think the ONLY people you should listen to is the NHC, be my guest. They aren't right 100% of the time either and they get their info from the same place that people do on here....the models. Everything then is left to interpretation. But keep in mind, the NHC is a government agency.
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do you have a link for that please?
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vis. looks like nate could be a dangerous one. the tabasco region is getting hammered right now. the boc is the second most productive oil region in the world acc/ to wiki
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Maria Storm Relative 1km Geostationary Visible Imagery Loop
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 433 Comments: 132261
Quoting Drakoen:
GFDL run for Maria is scary


Gotta Link Drak?
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Quoting mobhurricane2011:
There are a handful of people on here that give info, is it always 100 percent accurate, no. but is the NHC always 100 percent accurate.I think not. People here give opinions on what they see and what they think will happen. The one's that truly know about tropics in here give there opinions and never say it wont go here or there. They always say thats what they THINK it will do


The only difference is that the NHC is given the authority by the government to tell us what they THINK. This consensus comes from a TEAM of heavily qualified meteorologists and hurricane specialist.

There is absolutely no problem with people posting on here what there opinion is. My message was for those trying to separate the good from the bad. There is far more bad on here than good so I advised them to go to the one place where there is a consensus.
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Maria


Storm Relative 1km Geostationary Visible Imagery

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 433 Comments: 132261
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Maria has probably at this time degenerated into a strong tropical wave, with a good likelihood of regeneration. Doesn't seem closed to me. The ECMWF, GFS, CMC, and NOGAPS all indicate that this will at least strengthen further however. The ECMWF is the weakest, but brings it close to Florida. The GFS, CMC, and NOGAPS all make Maria a hurricane. If Maria degenerates into a wave it will probably regenerate, and be much more south than we would like.
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Tropical Storm Maria is probably no more...for the time being. I believe recon is going out into the system a little later on, and I doubt they will find a closed circulation, due to the speed shear that has disrupted Maria. However, as I mentioned yesterday, conditions will be favorable for regeneration later down the road, and Florida and the Southeast will have to watch Maria VERY closely. For the Antilles, for now, it is appearing that impacts, mainly wind, will not be as strong as previously thought.



XD
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940. Caner
Quoting Seflhurricane:
Horrific for se fla


'Horrific' might be a tad strong.

might get a bit windy, squally :) Maria is no Andrew.

Intensity models calling for around 110 possible.
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Quoting Drakoen:
GFDL run for Maria is scary
*Huge grin appears on JFV's face*.

Gonna have to see how much latitude it gains before reaching 70˚W. I'm inclined to believe that a cyclone of that intensity is much more likely to go more poleward though, due to a stronger influence from troughing in the steering regime.

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Holy $%^%!!!!!
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Nate is attempting to moisten his NE quadrant:

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
Quoting twincomanche:
Considering the quality of internet blogging I would say that anyone who just jumps on a blog and believes the first thing they read is pretty foolish. If I can find some people like that I have a certain famous bridge to sell them.


Hold off , twin. I already have a buyer for that bridge.
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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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