Flood walls hold on the Susquehanna

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:09 PM GMT on June 29, 2006

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The Army Corps of Engineers is breathing a sigh of relief today. After the failure of New Orleans' levees during Hurricane Katrina revealed that the Army Corps had failed to properly construct those structures, they must have been very anxiously watching the flood walls restraining the rampaging Susquehanna River in Wilkes-Barre, PA yesterday. The new flood walls, built in response to the record flooding from Hurricane Agnes in 1972, were built 3-5 feet higher at a cost of $200 million. The new walls took 20 years to build, and were completed in 2003. Do to the uncertainty of how long the new walls could hold back such a large volume of water, over 100,000 people were evacuated yesterday from the Susquehanna's flood plain. The Susquehanna crested late Wednesday at 34.4 feet, just six feet below the tops of the new flood walls, and 16 feet above flood stage. The river is slowly declining, and was at 32 feet this morning at 4 am EDT.


Figure 1. Measured rainfall from the week's rains. Tropical moisture streaming north along a stationary trough of low pressure triggered rains as heavy as 3 inches per hour in the mountains of Pennsylvania.

Hurricane Agnes of June 1972 did $8.6 billion in damage to Pennsylvania and surrounding areas. Agnes at the time was the costliest hurricane in history, a distinction it held for 20 years--when Hurricane Andrew came along. Thanks to the recent spate of intense hurricanes hitting the U.S., Agnes has fallen to number nine on the list of costliest hurricanes of all time. Six of the nine costliest hurricanes of all time occurred in the past two years!

Tropical wave in the Caribbean
A strong tropical wave moved through the Windward Islands yesterday, bringing heavy rain and wind gusts up to 36 mph. Strong upper-level winds from the west severely disrupted the wave overnight. This wind shear of 20-30 knots is expected to continue, and no development is likely today. The wave is expected to bring thunderstorms and gusty winds to Puerto Rico and Hispanolia as it moves west-northwest at 20 mph. The wave could get more organized once it gets closer to the U.S., if it can find an area of lower wind shear to take advantage of. The prospects of this happening are low, as most of the ocean areas surrounding the U.S. are expected to have high wind shear over the coming week. None of the computer models develop this wave, and there is really nothing anywhere in the Atlantic that looks to be of concern over the next few days.


Figure 2.Latest satellite image of the tropical wave in the Caribbean.


Figure 3. Model forecast tracks of the tropical wave in the Caribbean.

Thanks to all of you who tuned into my "Tropical Round Table" interview last night on http://radio.nhcwx.com/. I'll be summarizing much of what I said in tomorrow's blog. In particular, I'll focus on how different the large-scale atmospheric patterns for this year's hurricane season are compared to last year's season. This year will not be a repeat of 2005!

Jeff Masters

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Susquehanna River flooding in Endicott (dockwpk)
Flooding afternoon of June 28, 2006 - Endicott. Union Endicott High School athletic facilities
Susquehanna River flooding in Endicott

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131. txweather
1:30 PM CDT on June 29, 2006
Jflorida,
becareful reading too much into those mexican coastal stations. Due to mountains almost going to the ocean theyhave local effects. Often during storms you'll see winds and direction sigificantly different that the overall flow. Generally this applies to all coastal staions with mountains nearby.
Tx
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130. StormJunkie
6:29 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
Afternoon all. Still at work, but not for much longer:)

Anywho for those who have not seen, StormJunkie.com has all of the models, imagery, marine data, wind data, and much more. There is also some nice WU blogger storm video there. Should also be a new area of the site coming soon.

Thanks all
SJ

ps turtle, try resizinng your pics if you must post them in the blog. It is usually best just to link to them as it serves the dial up community the best. Have a great day turtle, talk to you later.
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128. sayhuh
12:27 PM CST on June 29, 2006
Txweather...hmmmm. Question..if for example one season produces a great amount of hurricanes, and more than normal heat is transfered to the poles, then by rights, it would either adjust the jetstream or atleast make it stronger due to the increase of thermal gradient. That being the case, I would presume in a broad sense that would have an overall effect on the upcoming seasons, would it not? I don't know for sure, but it seems like it would. Now, I do agree trying to forecast that into season trends might be difficult to do without understanding the other factors involved..but it seems there would be a loose tie at least...just my opinion...I am curious if I could look at the top three hurricane and the bottom three hurricane seasons and see if there are similarities between regions of above/below normal temp and rainfall. It feels like there is a relationship, though I am not clear on the extent or the complexity.

I do appreciate the feedback, both you and Gulf.

Thanks!
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126. cajunkid
12:23 PM CST on June 29, 2006
GulfScotsman, did any solve the problem you posted about calculating how long it would take to heat water. I know the point you were trying to make, but I would like to some of the answers if anyone went that far.
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124. weatherboyfsu
6:17 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
Hello thelasik....


How long have you been on here? Lets see....this the first time that ive seen you on here.....Did you have a different name? Were you here last hurricane season? Were you on here the 2004 Hurricane season? AAaaaaaaaaa NO!

I speak what i feel is the truth and i wish i were sorry that do not agree but im not. I am tired of people ridiculing people for stating their own opinion on here. Like i said before, no one on here is perfect and never will be.
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123. cajunkid
12:18 PM CST on June 29, 2006
wind shear Link
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122. turtlehurricane
6:20 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
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121. txweather
12:50 PM CDT on June 29, 2006
sayhuh
I saw your comment and sorry nobody answered. The short answer is no there doesn't seem to be a corrolation from one season to another(theres not even a good corrolation between june/july and the rest). The atmosphere so totally changes from one year to another(remember winter in in between) thats its like etche sketching something then shaking it up real good and trying to see how one picture is like the next.

I'll admit there are times I'll say "this year is just like that year and the winter was the same. But that is usally related to condition that affected the hurricane season. For example El nino has pretty consistent effects so a slow hurricane season in a el nino will be followed by a typical elnino winter. But that has to do with larger climate.
TX
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117. cajunkid
12:09 PM CST on June 29, 2006
hey hey hey, why does that blob down there look suspicious?
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113. pleeeze
10:58 AM PDT on June 29, 2006
Stormy3

Well, at least, thank the Lord that we have Hurricanechaser.
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111. caymanray
4:26 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
what hapened to Steve and why won't he be back?
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110. stormy3
3:00 PM NDT on June 29, 2006
And that 5% took out New Orleans. It's better to error on the side of being too careful than not careful enough. And your right, I miss Steve Gregory too! At least we had two views and the truth was somewhere in between.
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108. K8eCane
5:40 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
beware of forecaster bias...it definitely exists...watch and learn
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106. SAINTHURRIFAN
5:35 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
gulf got to go but masters to me is a wait and react forecaster
the ones i respect put thier but on the line saying what they expect well in advance of
a system developing when he said on the sunday before katrina
hit when it was at 165 902 press that it was still a far cry from camilles 190 that was like saying
well im getting shot between the eyes by a 3006
instead of a 300 mg isnt a lot of difference lol
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105. sayhuh
11:33 AM CST on June 29, 2006
Guess I will ask my questions posted earlier elsewhere...bickering seems to be the topic of the day.

Thanks.
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103. SAINTHURRIFAN
5:23 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
and thats fine jf thats his priority but steve gregrory is sorely
missed on here he did a much better job than masters i compare him to st becuase he waffles about as much.
just remember 17 storms is the highest predicted since the 95 upswing prior to the season as ive stated look at your
history other than 97 he always bets the under not the over lol. jf i think its great the interest you young folks have in the weather
shows me hope thier is still a lot of promise in todays youth. thats why im waging a wr against that arrogant storm dump for critisizing such fine young people.
ps just quit getting so excited over everythunderstorm thats pop up only about 5 percent
will develop lol good day and god bless you son.
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100. SAINTHURRIFAN
5:07 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
see ya bob and remember guys dont take masters to seriously
he has made a lot of quack preditions in the last year. i wonder if he is really st lol
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99. weatherguy03
1:03 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
Hey Billy! Got to get back to work. I think the wave in the Caribbean really has an uphill battle to climb. Sure if the shear relaxes it has a chance. It also will encounter terrain as well. I only think it has about a 10% of making it. May bring some rains to S. Fla. towards the 4th. Hey Billy, dont take all of my money now!!..LOL
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98. weatherguy03
1:01 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
Yes, that would be good. Its nothing to be concerned about.
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97. SAINTHURRIFAN
4:41 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
hope you guys are all ok first i would not give to much credence into
what masters says about the number of storms especially here in june approaching
july which through july accounts for only 10 percent of the meat of the hurricane season.
now the fellow earlier talking about bill gray is right except for 97 dr gray has underestimated
every year since 95 so the odds of 17 in his early prediction is the highest he has ever
forcasted thats prior to season. unless thier is a el nino popping up
we dont see i think form mid july through mid october could be very nasty with these water temps.
so storm dump saying this will be a boring year form what he sees in this early part is like the nfl saying preseason games dont
count thats really going out on a limp dump. lol our wave in the east/carrib still has some chance, we shall see i think the model will shift further nw with the eventual track of this
bob like to get your thoughts on this before we here in biloxi area take all your money lol
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92. weatherguy03
12:44 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
I would say its between 10 to 20kts. There seems to be alittle spin, but its so close to the Mexican coast and moving westward.
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90. 40Days
4:34 PM GMT on June 29, 2006



This year will not be a repeat of 2005!
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88. weatherguy03
12:38 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
Next shear update should be shortly. I think it comes out around 1PM Eastern. Yes, the shear in the Gulf will increase next 24 hours, but Bay of Campeche should stay about the same. Still, shear is around 20kts there.
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87. Zaphod
4:20 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
My brother, who is a Civil Engineer, says you only need to remember 3 things to understand the nature of his field:

1) Water runs downhill
2) Retaining walls don't
3) You can't push a rope

Dikes and levees simply forestall the inevitable, as society cannot sufficiently fund the infrastructure necessary to protect against 1000-year events. Usually plans are made to protect to 100-year events, and even those are often questionable.

Spending on security -- whether environmental, physical, border, or otherwise -- tends to be remedial and underfunded, since humans tend to take risks lightly. PA is fortunate that this flood wasn't any worse, that it hit AFTER the levees commissioned since the last flood were actually completed, and BEFORE inevitable settling and deterioriation takes its toll. N.O. wasn't quite so lucky. How will Houston, New York City, and Miami fare when their turn comes? Or L.A., or even St. Louis when their seismic faults awake?

As to debate/argument/flaming: who takes insults toward them on a blog seriously anyway? I, like most, post here because I like to hear myself talk. It's the Internet reincarnation of Descartes: "I blog, therefore I am".

Why should I care whether you read my posts happily or angrily, or whether you respond kindly, informatively, or negatively? Either way we've both proven our existence. If we actually learn something during the repartee, that's just gravy!

Zap
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86. WildHorseDesertTx
4:31 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
We FINALLY are going to be getting some rain in south Texas! (but now it's gonna flood LOL)
SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CORPUS CHRISTI TX
457 AM CDT THU JUN 29 2006

...HEAVY RAINFALL POSSIBLE THIS WEEKEND ACROSS SOUTH TEXAS...

AN UPPER LEVEL LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM WILL BECOME SITUATED OVER
EASTERN MEXICO. A SOUTHERLY FLOW CIRCULATING AROUND THIS SYSTEM
WILL DRAW A TROPICAL WAVE OVER THE BAY OF CAMPECHE TOWARD SOUTH
TEXAS. THIS WILL ALLOW COPIOUS MOISTURE TO OVERSPREAD THE AREA AND
INTERACT WITH THE UPPER LEVEL LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM...RESULTING IN
INCREASING CHANCES FOR SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS.

SCATTERED TO NUMEROUS SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS CAN BE EXPECTED
ACROSS ALL OF SOUTH TEXAS FROM FRIDAY NIGHT THROUGH SUNDAY NIGHT.
THE SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE MOST NUMEROUS DURING THE
DAYLIGHT HOURS OVER THE WEEKEND.

THROUGH SUNDAY...BASIN AVERAGE RAINFALL AMOUNTS WILL RANGE
BETWEEN 2 AND 4 INCHES WITH LOCALIZED AMOUNTS BETWEEN 5 AND 10 INCHES.
LOCALIZED FLASH FLOODING WILL ALSO BE POSSIBLE GIVEN THE REPEATED
EPISODES OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS AND SLOW STORM MOTIONS.
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85. Jedkins
12:30 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
no wind shear is to high thats not it.Trust me on that it isn't what your seeing.
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84. Jedkins
12:28 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
haha your moms a noob redmosquito OoOoOoOoOoO!
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82. cola6
4:12 PM GMT on June 29, 2006

Experts can't tell me if Milk is good for me or not.My Grandmother with her non formal education could have told me when it was gonna rain..

It's a shot in the dark predicting a thunderstorm in the Yucatan Peninsula(sp) will turn into a tropical low.The experts just have more fun trying.
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81. RedMosquito
12:21 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
weatherboyfsu=n00b
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About JeffMasters

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