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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531. IKE
6:56 AM CDT on June 30, 2006
What is that impressive blob east of the Bahamas??? BB#2??? Looks more impressive then anything out there....plus with high pressure building in doesn't it have to head west young man???
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530. earthlydragonfly
7:54 AM EDT on June 30, 2006
morning folks
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528. DrBobLade
7:53 AM EDT on June 30, 2006
Yeah, and don't forget Andrew didn't form until late August. But Dr. Master's comments about this not being another 2005 is heartening...
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527. Randrewl
7:22 AM AST on June 30, 2006
So, basically what Dr. Gray is saying:
So many people from somewhere "else" have moved to the coastal southeast regions of the US and came here so completely unprepared for what could happen to them because of tropical cyclones.
It can happen and it does people. Witness 2004-05 seasons.
Don't think for a second that because we have only had an "A" named storm so far this season that we can't run right through this alphabet once again.
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526. Randrewl
7:20 AM AST on June 30, 2006
More from Dr. Gray:
Most Southeast coastal residents probably do not know how fortunate they had been in the prior 38-year period (1966-2003) leading up to 2004-2005 when there were only 17 major hurricanes (0.45/year) that crossed the U.S. coastline. In the prior 40-year period of 1926-1965, there were 36 major hurricanes (0.90/year or twice as many) that made U.S. landfall. It is understandable that coastal residents were not prepared for the great upsurge in landfalling major hurricanes in 2004-2005. For many years, we had been warning that the southeastern United States should expect great increases in hurricane-spawned destruction in future years.

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525. K8eCane
11:13 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
wave North of DR looks like its pretty hefty
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524. Randrewl
6:50 AM AST on June 30, 2006
WNstorm...freaks speak in many languages...you plainly spoke in your language of choice. Sorry you feel that you can't learn something on here.
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523. Randrewl
6:48 AM AST on June 30, 2006
thelmores...Wow! I'm seeing more convection in the cut-off than I have seen with 93L yet!
Did I miss something?Link
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521. BigToe
10:32 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
GTG- Later
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520. thelmores
10:30 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
The sky is faliing? does this mean i dont have to go to work today? :D

well, our "flare up" in the gulf, seems just that..... to close to land, and ridge building north...... looks like rainn for mexico, maybe s. tx......

as for whats left of the storm in the antilles..... doesnt seem like much left! LOL
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519. BigToe
10:25 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
Oh my god, the sky is falling!!
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518. Randrewl
6:18 AM AST on June 30, 2006
Absolutely!
Read more about this season and thoughts on global warming and its alleged effects on tropical cyclones here: Link
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517. BigToe
10:12 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
No problem. I Agree w/you. Mother Earth has been goin thru this long before we got here and will be doin this long after we're gone.
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516. Randrewl
6:08 AM AST on June 30, 2006
BigToe...Only took them 10,000 years to form. How long will it take for them to reform?
Earth is just going through a natural cycle. Another 10 years and all of you will be hollering about how damn "cold" it is!
Relax.
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515. Randrewl
6:06 AM AST on June 30, 2006
Anomalously high heights in the northeast United States during April-May, i.e., anomalous mid-level ridging, are associated with increased likelihood of hurricane landfalls along the East Coast and Florida Peninsula during the upcoming hurricane season. High heights in April-May tend to persist through August-October with an auto-correlation between the two periods of approximately 0.40. Easterly mid-level zonal wind anomalies associated with this anomalous ridging tend to drive tropical cyclones further west across the East Coast of the United States and inhibit early recurvature into the westerlies.

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514. BigToe
10:01 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
Randrewl- Thanks. I'm not much on global warming as a political movement, but I do wonder where all of the 10,000 year old glaciers have gone.
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513. Randrewl
5:57 AM AST on June 30, 2006
Welcome Bigtoe.
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511. Randrewl
5:50 AM AST on June 30, 2006
Just because this year is not like last year or the year before makes absolutely no difference in the end!
If you people ever learn anything about tropical cyclones...learn this.
They all happen within a given space in time...pressure and time!
All it takes for this season to cook!
Be patient! Soon enough, if you live in a hurricane prone area you will feel the energy!
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510. BigToe
9:37 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
Mornin' Everyone. "Please allow me to introduce myself". I'm a former WX observer from the navy. Served on the USS J.F. Kennedy from 74 to 78. I've seen ball lighting, waterspouts 1/4 mile from the ship, A nor'easter form right overhead off the coast of VA and have been thru 5 hurricanes, and 4 typhoons while living in the Phillipeans as a 13 & 14 year old kid.
I'm in a 2 man band called Big Toe. We play ALOT of Jimmy Buffett music. Love harsh weather. Love the blog. You guys and gals just keep firing your opinions right off, but keep it civil. Dr. Masters, thanks for the forum. I really enjoy it. And as Master Buffett sez, "Tryin' to Reason With The Hurricane Season" ought to be interesting this year.
Later!!
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508. Randrewl
5:49 AM AST on June 30, 2006
Here's your dud!

ATLANTIC BASIN SEASONAL HURRICANE FORECAST FOR 2006



Forecast Parameter and 1950-2000

Climatology (in parentheses)
Issue Date

6 December 2005
Issue Date

4 April 2006
Issue Date

31 May 2006

Named Storms (NS) (9.6)
17
17
17

Named Storm Days (NSD) (49.1)
85
85
85

Hurricanes (H) (5.9)
9
9
9

Hurricane Days (HD) (24.5)
45
45
45

Intense Hurricanes (IH) (2.3)
5
5
5

Intense Hurricane Days (IHD) (5.0)
13
13
13

Net Tropical Cyclone Activity (NTC) (100%)
195
195
195

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506. Randrewl
5:44 AM AST on June 30, 2006
93 leaves me with a bad gut-level feeling...I know how much is against it and I am not wish-casting. I just have a gut thing about it. That one is not finished yet!
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505. Randrewl
5:43 AM AST on June 30, 2006
been lots...
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504. Randrewl
5:40 AM AST on June 30, 2006
ForecasterColby...Yeah...no amount of political pressure makes global warming a reality! This is an old Earth. Ween lots of ups and downs...today's mets or politicians won't change anything! If you just want to sensationalise about the weather....it's very easy to make it political! And it is now.
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503. borlando
9:42 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
what is that big blow-up to the northeast of the dominican? that isn't 93L right?
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502. ForecasterColby
9:24 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
93L is delisted, I don't think we'll see anything for a while from that.

94L isn't anything at all.
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501. ForecasterColby
9:22 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
Randrewl, issues are generally not created purely out of politics. Global Warming had a scientific following, and politics made it bigger. People like to hear that we're all going to die, it grabs their attention.
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500. Randrewl
4:50 AM AST on June 30, 2006
All global warming believers....yeah, you know who you are.
The ones that have not really taken the time to investigate the issue before formulating a true point of view.
Not an opinion...a point of view. Two different entities. Hell, everybody has an opinion...that takes no intelligence. A point of view is a carefully thought out intelligent discipline type thing. So, if you're not at that level just read no further.
For those that would like a refreshing point of view on the global warming issue and how it might....or might not affect the Atlantic Basin,
Here we go!
Is Global Warming Responsible for the Large Upswing in 2004-2005 US Hurricane Landfalls?



8.1 Background



The U.S. landfall of major hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005 and the four Florida landfalling hurricanes of 2004 (Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne) has raised questions about the possible role that global warming may be playing in these last two unusually destructive seasons.



The global warming arguments have been given much attention by many media references to recent papers claiming to show such a linkage. Despite the global warming of the sea surface of about 0.4C that has taken place over the last two decades, global numbers of hurricanes and their intensity have not shown increases over the past twenty years (Klotzbach 2006). In addition, we have no valid physical theory as to why small changes of global average sea surface temperature (SST) should bring about increases in Atlantic basin hurricane activity. In the past century, Atlantic basin hurricane activity has been above-average both when global SST has been increasing (from the middle 1920s through the middle 1940s) and when global SST has been decreasing (from the middle 1940s through the middle 1960s).

There have been similar past periods (1940s-1950s) when the Atlantic was just as active as in recent years. For instance, when we compare Atlantic basin hurricane numbers of the last 15 years with an earlier 15-year period (1950-1964), we see little difference in hurricane frequency or intensity even though global surface temperatures were cooler and there was a general global cooling during 1950-1964 as compared with global warming during 1990-2004.

Global warming is a politically based vehicle.
If you personally do not believe that political interests created the global warming issue...just spend your dollars on the Al Gore movie!
By the way...he is a politician!
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499. Randrewl
4:10 AM AST on June 30, 2006
ProgressivePulse...How are you? I don't know about you but I have had a real lower gut-thing going on about 93. I don't like what I see here. This "wave" has not done anything it was predicted to do. Now it is cut-off!
What???
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498. hurricane23
3:12 AM EDT on June 30, 2006
Guys just updated my blog....Stop by and leave me a comment!Thanks adrian
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497. Inyo
6:36 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
i can't imagine why the giant blog in the e-pac isn't a depression yet, its clearly rotating and has outflow even. if it were the atlantic i bet it would already be classified. It's far from mexico, probably won't do much other than give the coast some waves, even if it does blow up.
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496. bigdil
6:00 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
I agree Progressive, shear is high now, but it looks like shear will gradually drop as the intensity of the storm increases. The remaining amount of 'shear' will be utilized by the storm as guiding currents, directing the storm slightly easy of south LA (marsh island), IMO.

dil
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495. VancouverWX
5:35 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
Hi Progressive,

I grew up in Elkhart, IN, which is about 20 minutes from South Bend. I go back a couple of time a year to recruit at Purdue, and I always make sure I go to Das Essen Haus in Middlebury for some good Amish home style cooking. I got transplanted to Vancouver, WA, about 10 years ago, and I really miss the big thunderstorms.

I think that we will get a depression out of the gulf storm by tomorrow. I also think that the carribean system has a chance to develop in the next couple of days when the shear relaxes.

Garry
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494. ProgressivePulse
1:00 AM EDT on June 30, 2006
Shear is to high Dil, High pressure building into the gulf will see it through landfall as a rain event.
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493. bigdil
4:49 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
my prediction for the storms in the bay of Campeche:

Hurricane 1 into Marsh Island, LA +-50 miles.

Thoughts?

dil
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492. HurricaneRoman
12:40 AM EDT on June 30, 2006
I Hope the Carribean wave strengthens to 50 mph and hits S. Florida........ Tropical storm winds are fun here and there but nothing more! I had a heart attack with Wilma which only produced gust to cat. 2 couldn't imagine anything worse
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491. bigdil
4:27 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
Hi All. I'm Dil.

Storm or no storm, we will all get weather with or without this systems intervention, or not. I bet 100% on that!

dil
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490. Weather456
12:04 AM AST on June 30, 2006
if there was low wind shear in June we would have reach the "E" storm already......

Know one can predict up to 100% if wind shear will be the same in the atlantic basin in July.

So what to do?
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
489. ProgressivePulse
12:08 AM EDT on June 30, 2006
Sure can, I woulden't want to be driving in 60mph
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488. HurricaneRoman
12:06 AM EDT on June 30, 2006
I was always enjoy winds less than 60 mph... even 60 can get scary at times though
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487. ProgressivePulse
12:05 AM EDT on June 30, 2006
High pressure is building into the gulf which will enhance winds and keep the rain at bay to enhanced normal tstorms here.
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486. ProgressivePulse
12:04 AM EDT on June 30, 2006
Pressure Gradient will be alot higher with this wave Hurricane, more like a true wave, in and out.
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485. sporteguy03
4:02 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
The Lesser Antilles wave looks better organized this morning and the shear appears to have slacken and the T-storms are now contracting closer showing some slight strengthening...
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484. HurricaneRoman
11:57 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
Yeah i hope the wave in the Antilles gives us at least 30 mph gust here in south Florida unlike the last wave.
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483. ProgressivePulse
12:00 AM EDT on June 30, 2006
Traveling to South Bend, IN tomorrow for a week Tornado, supposed to be nice there. Where you headed?
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482. tornadodude
10:59 PM CDT on June 29, 2006
bye yall. "see" ya in a few days!
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481. tornadodude
10:56 PM CDT on June 29, 2006
here is a neat web page about indiana weather.

Link
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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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