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 Bretts9112:

or opal


I was referring specifically to the most recent GFS run.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting miguel617:
Those of you that board up your windows, how exactly do you do that without messing up the outside of your homes with the nails and/or screws? Do you go back and caulk up the holes later. My home is stucco so I am not sure how to do it.


Hope this helps...

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Quoting FLdewey:


Your second post here is a reply to your first post here.

Well done Dave... well done. I will take it for what it is.


stop quoting Dave, I've had him on ignore since before his first post.

TIA!!!
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Quoting miguel617:
Those of you that board up your windows, how exactly do you do that without messing up the outside of your homes with the nails and/or screws? Do you go back and caulk up the holes later. My home is stucco so I am not sure how to do it.


Pretty much caulk. The wood trim on our house is cement fiber.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
70mph? Wow, I'm very surprised, but I do have to say that Nate has done pretty good even with the dry air to it's NW.
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Quoting angiest:


After meandering in the western GOM for a few days, Nate seems to make a beeline for SE Texas, but makes a slight curve to the right and instead hits just across Sabine Pass in Louisiana. Similar to this:



But again, not exactly, especially in the earlier part of the track, and the intensity is nowhere near this.

or opal
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Quoting miguel617:
Those of you that board up your windows, how exactly do you do that without messing up the outside of your homes with the nails and/or screws? Do you go back and caulk up the holes later. My home is stucco so I am not sure how to do it.

Go to one of the home centers and purchase Plylox clips and have plywood cut to fit your windows. Works great - easy to install/remove
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TS NATE

Storm Relative 1km Geostationary Visible Imagery

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128884
Quoting SWLACajun:


Huh??? Please explain.


After meandering in the western GOM for a few days, Nate seems to make a beeline for SE Texas, but makes a slight curve to the right and instead hits just across Sabine Pass in Louisiana. Similar to this:



But again, not exactly, especially in the earlier part of the track, and the intensity is nowhere near this.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Katia looks to be reorganizing quickly now, before she runs out of warmer SSTs. She is trying to get inner core convection fired up now. Could be interesting later today.
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I see the 12z models have flopped back to Mexico/Texas solutions, that just goes to show how uncertain the forecast track for Nate is.
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Quoting Dakster:


Out of school so soon MH09?
Dismissal is at 2:45p.m. Checking in for a few minutes...
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Quoting basti11:



no nate is not being affected now it hasnt had any dry air move in yet...the DRY AIR is to the NORTH of nate...if nate moves into the dry air and gains latitude you will see a gradual weakening...nate could easily reach cat 2 status where he is right now with the ssts nearing 90 and no shear ..he has perfect conditions now...


You do realize that the dry air isn't going to just sit there the whole time, right? In fact, it's already being displaced with moisture and the dry air will only be less and less of an issue. However, if it gains enough latitude and heads towards the Northern Gulf, the upper trough will be able to pump in the dry air from Texas.
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Those of you that board up your windows, how exactly do you do that without messing up the outside of your homes with the nails and/or screws? Do you go back and caulk up the holes later. My home is stucco so I am not sure how to do it.
Member Since: January 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 69
Quoting mobiledave:


I think the answer, from what I've gathered from the posts, is zero.

If you are looking at the comments on this blog in hopes of finding out where a potential storm will make landfall I would highly suggest you only follow the NHC main web site. The absolute BEST answers you will find on here come form people like you and I. You will not even find an EDUCATED guess on this blog; only guesses.

So if someone sounds completely sure of a change in weather pattern or tells you there's no chance of it hitting a given city I would take it for what it is - entertainment.
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
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Quoting angiest:


Don't worry, the final trek in to land follows Audrey, no Texas landfall here.


Huh??? Please explain.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Winds up to 70mph at 5p.m. This is probably the strongest most disorganized system I've seen in a while lol. Don't get me wrong though...it has organized considerably since yesterday afternoon...just surprised that 70mph winds exist in there. Must be the magic of the BOC.

AL, 15, 2011090818, , BEST, 0, 197N, 923W, 60, 997, TS,



LOL MAYBE THE RECON WILL FIND 80MPH WINDS WITH MARIA
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6254
Nate could become a hurricane given the max flt level winds present, although convective appearance suggests he is not as organized to bring the winds to the surface, which is why they are keeping him a tropical storm of 70mph for now, could change in the future before 5pm.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Winds up to 70mph at 5p.m. This is probably the strongest most disorganized system I've seen in a while lol. Don't get me wrong though...it has organized considerably since yesterday afternoon...just surprised that 70mph winds exist in there. Must be the magic of the BOC.

AL, 15, 2011090818, , BEST, 0, 197N, 923W, 60, 997, TS,



Out of school so soon MH09?
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Quoting mobiledave:


I think the answer, from what I've gathered from the posts, is zero.

If you are looking at the comments on this blog in hopes of finding out where a potential storm will make landfall I would highly suggest you only follow the NHC main web site. The absolute BEST answers you will find on here come form people like you and I. You will not even find an EDUCATED guess on this blog; only guesses.

So if someone sounds completely sure of a change in weather pattern or tells you there's no chance of it hitting a given city I would take it for what it is - entertainment.


There's a lot of noise in the signal, but if you hang around long enough Mr. Breck you'll find out who knows what they're talking about and who doesn't. Reading her thoughtfully and carefully lead me to start calling family Friday Aug. 26, 2005 and telling them to get the hell out of NOLA while the NHC, FEMA and all the other's were waiting for more model run concensus to call for an evacuation.

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Quoting basti11:



no nate is not being affected now it hasnt had any dry air move in yet...the DRY AIR is to the NORTH of nate...if nate moves into the dry air and gains latitude you will see a gradual weakening...nate could easily reach cat 2 status where he is right now with the ssts nearing 90 and no shear ..he has perfect conditions now...


??? Nate does not have perfect conditions right now. How are you making that analysis? Certainly not by looking at Vis satellite images.
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Quoting justsouthofnola:


i agree with you on this....
i just heard on the news that the hh found 80 kt winds in the southern portion of the storm


Flight level.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Winds up to 70mph at 5p.m. This is probably the strongest most disorganized system I've seen in a while lol. Don't get me wrong though...it has organized considerably since yesterday afternoon...just surprised that 70mph winds exist in there. Must be the magic of the BOC.

AL, 15, 2011090818, , BEST, 0, 197N, 923W, 60, 997, TS,

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Quoting Grothar:


Florida always moves in and out of the cone more times than the Good Humor man. I think we should be OK. How you doing, Rookie?


I am doing fine. I feel better now that you are feeling better. You must remember that I am just few short years behind you. I am trying to follow the path you are laying down. Please, no more missteps. I already wobble more than you do. to remain on a semi weather related topic, I used the word "wobble".

You are correct about Florida always being in the cone. Seems that even the EPAC storms have Florida in their cone, at one time or another. LOL
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Quoting Dakster:


I agree... Although I usually mess with my neighborhood, put the shutters up and test the generator. Then another neighbor does it and before you know it the whole neighborhood is boarded up. (for nothing)


LOL...nice!! I may have to try that next time a storm gets close. As with Dewey though, the thought of spiders who have laid undisturbed under my shutters in the garage for nearly 6 years is a bit unsettling.
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Quoting Grothar:


Sayre/Athens. Our home is very high, but the town is already under water. There is a very large medical facility there, called the Robert Packer/Guthrie Clinic. One of the largest medical facilities in the country. Very dangerous situation. They are currently trying to rescue some friends of ours who are stuck in their home already under water near Monroeton.


Sorry to hear it. Best of luck to everyone.
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http://moe.met.fsu.edu/cgi-bin/gfdltc2.cgi?time=201 1090812-maria14l&field=Sea+Level+Pressure&hour=Ani mation
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So, I was just wondering, did anyone here stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night?
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854. DFWjc
Quoting basti11:



no nate is not being affected now it hasnt had any dry air move in yet...the DRY AIR is to the NORTH of nate...if nate moves into the dry air and gains latitude you will see a gradual weakening...nate could easily reach cat 2 status where he is right now with the ssts nearing 90 and no shear ..he has perfect conditions now...


and not to forget, he's almost broken off his umbilical cord from that front..
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all depends on depth and strength of next trough coupled with where the High is
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Quoting GetReal:


Nate is a much smaller, and compact system, unlike Lee which could never get tightly wrapped. Nate is doing a fine job of fighting off the dry air to the NW. IMO a weakness to the north and NE of Nate exist. I would expect a strenghtening Nate to begin a slow general N to NNE movement by tomorrow morning.


i agree with you on this....
i just heard on the news that the hh found 80 kt winds in the southern portion of the storm
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Quoting caneswatch:


So does NHC's track with Maria. I will definitely be monitoring this.



Remember with Irene, the cone used to shift east during the day and west at night. Hopefully we got the inverse happening with Maria.
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Quoting alvarig1263:


I get what you mean, but never say that just cause they have been going northward so far this season means that every next one that comes toward the CONUS is just automatically going to turn northward too. Just gotta wait and see.

I think is she is north of PR there will be almost no way for her to track toward us. Unless the pattern were to seriously change.
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Quoting mobiledave:
Does anyone on here have an M.S.or Ph.D. in Meteorology or any other atmospheric science?


Not me, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.

edit: Someone beat me to the joke. My F5 is gonna get if for sure now.
Member Since: January 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 69
Quoting mobiledave:
Does anyone on here have an M.S.or Ph.D. in Meteorology or any other atmospheric science?


Not exactly the same by my M.S. is in Environmental Science. Was a somewhat more open degree where I went, so I chose my coursework/research to focus on hydrology, climate, and GIS.
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GO MARIA, SHOW US YOU ARE BETTER THAN NATE! GIRLS RUN THE WORLD AFTER ALL ... ^^
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6254
Quoting mobiledave:
Does anyone on here have an M.S.or Ph.D. in Meteorology or any other atmospheric science?


I think the answer, from what I've gathered from the posts, is zero.

If you are looking at the comments on this blog in hopes of finding out where a potential storm will make landfall I would highly suggest you only follow the NHC main web site. The absolute BEST answers you will find on here come form people like you and I. You will not even find an EDUCATED guess on this blog; only guesses.

So if someone sounds completely sure of a change in weather pattern or tells you there's no chance of it hitting a given city I would take it for what it is - entertainment.
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Quoting hurricanehanna:
Nate Vortex (9/8 18:05:50Z): MSLP: 997mb (extrap); Inbound Flt. Lvl. Wind (Item F.): 41kts (~47.1mph); Max Flt. Wind (from Remarks): 81kts (~93.1mph) (View Data


What's that mean exactly?
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Quoting alvarig1263:
Looks like some of the models want Maria to hit FL. Any thoughts?


So does NHC's track with Maria. I will definitely be monitoring this.
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Quoting DookiePBC:


Nothing makes me feel safer than seeing the day 5 forecast point sitting on top of the Palm Beach area. By the time I have run around outside screaming with my arms flailing, they've usually moved the cone 200 miles east. ;-)


I agree... Although I usually mess with my neighborhood, put the shutters up and test the generator. Then another neighbor does it and before you know it the whole neighborhood is boarded up. (for nothing)
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Link

CONVECTION CATCHING UP THE CENTER OF MARIA!! lol
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6254
Quoting hurricanehanna:


Audrey...*shudders* heard stories....


My mom is from the Liberty (Texas) area, and she remembers that one. The "weak" side did a number on deep SE Texas.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
839. DFWjc
Quoting 69Viking:


And we know which way stronger storms LIKE to go! This is going to be a fun one to watch and could get ugly for somebody along the Gulf coast. So much for someone's assumption that dry air was affecting it's strength LOL!


West, correct?

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Nate Vortex (9/8 18:05:50Z): MSLP: 997mb (extrap); Inbound Flt. Lvl. Wind (Item F.): 41kts (~47.1mph); Max Flt. Wind (from Remarks): 81kts (~93.1mph) (View Data
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Quoting hurricanejunky:


Not sure you'd want to. That's trading one nightmare scenario for another.
Not to mention there is the possibility that Nate and Maria could seriously aggravate the flooding situations on the northern gulf coast and the northern states.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21511
Quoting VoodooRue:


Which town, Grothar? Most of my family and friends are around the Tunkhannock area, which has already been cut off in both directions by flooding from the Susquehanna.


Ah, almost neighbors. In Bradford Country. Sayre/Athens, just North of Towanda. You know (pooh talk?) LOL
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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.