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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380. FLweather
12:17 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
Does the wave headed towards my area have a chance of developing at all? Can anyone find anyt areas it may encounter some weak sheer? Or am i off the hook just for some tropical downpours?
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379. weatherguy03
8:16 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
Will increase your rain chances over the weekend. Depending on how far North it will come. Right now S. Fla. will be on the Northern fringe of the system.

Here are the current models..Link
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378. WSI
12:17 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
Models haven't even been run for 94L yet. None that I have seen. It was only turned into an invest a few hours ago.
376. FLweather
12:16 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
But that was earlier, when the storm first fired up. I think the models have changed rapidly
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375. FLweather
12:15 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
Im in southern florida. Do you think the caribbean wave will have a major effect on us?
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374. weatherguy03
8:15 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
What is left of 93L may head towards S. Fla. But not 94L. Are we confusing them?
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373. FLweather
12:13 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
I do not remember which computer models indicated that. But i do remmeber seeing it. I know for a fact a Canadian computer model had it heading for Florida Bend. But the canadian one has been wrong on every prediction it has made so far this season. I dont rememebr the others, but i do remeber seeing more than one show it headed east.
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371. weatherguy03
8:13 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
Which models have it moving towards Florida?
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369. FLweather
12:12 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
What is everyones opinion on the westward moving tropical wave in the eastern Caribbean??
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368. WSI
12:11 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
"How come some of the computer models are heading whatever it is, whether its tropical or not, towards the big bend of florida"

Which models are you seeing doing that?
366. rescueguy
12:10 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
j/k
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365. rescueguy
12:05 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
I really dont know, I got confused when Storm Top told us to take it easy for the next two weeks, and now he issues his newest Storm warning.

I think it will be slow developing , and if the shear doesnt increase anymore it may become a depression
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364. FLweather
12:09 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
How come some of the computer models are heading whatever it is, whether its tropical or not, towards the big bend of florida
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362. WSI
12:04 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
FL, not really. Steering currents are still against it moving east right now. It will keep moving more or less NW (probably slightly N of NW) until the ridge builds. An eastern movement really looks out of the question at this point.
360. weatherguy03
8:07 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
There a few exceptions..LOL That was more subtropical in nature..LOL Climatology tells us otherwise in the Gulf.
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359. punkasshans
12:07 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
darn, i meant to say 2005 ^
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358. FLweather
12:06 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
It just depends how bout this system wants to form lol. If it wants to become tropical it will have to keep workin its butt off haha.
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357. punkasshans
12:06 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
but Epsilon lived in the year 2006, it had special rules that no longer apply
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356. thelmores
12:04 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
"ropical systems can survive 20 to 30 kt. shear?"

EPSILON sure did last year! LOL
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355. FLweather
12:04 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
Rescueguy: do you think this blob has a chance? haha
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354. weatherguy03
8:04 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
Chances of this moving east. 1%.
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353. FLweather
12:03 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
Most likely they WONT, but it is possible it will not encounter that shear. The shear may die down a bit before iut reaches it, becuase the storm seems to be moving at a slow rate.
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352. FLweather
12:01 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
WSI:

Thanks. Does the disturbance still have a chance to move towards the east? It also depends on how fast this thing moves correct?
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351. weatherguy03
8:01 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
Tropical systems can survive 20 to 30 kt. shear?
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350. FLweather
12:00 AM GMT on June 30, 2006
ALberto had to deal with rough sheer, but he still managed to stay organized.
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349. WSI
11:59 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
"WSI:

So whether it develops or not, it will follow the ridge. WIll that move the disturbance towards the east and towards FLORIDA, or west."

Sorry FL, missed this. It will move it toward Mexico most likely. Winds around high pressure rotate clockwise. It depends on how far the ridge noses west, but more than likely it will go back into Mexico.
347. rescueguy
11:57 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
flweather, I think it needs to get further away from the coast before we see any real deeping of the convection. One thing is for sure , there is ton of moisture for it to draw off of, not like the last blob!
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346. thelmores
11:55 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
i was talking about in the Pacific, a little spin south of the flare up in the gulf..... very small twirl......

just my imagination! LOL


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345. FLweather
11:59 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
JPHURRICANE2006: I agree %100 with you. The storms continue to rapidly reform. If this keeps up, the sheer will just only SLOW down its rapid intensification.
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344. weatherguy03
7:59 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
Tropical systems do not like 20 to 30kt shear.
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343. FLweather
11:58 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
weatherguy: Even if the sheet does increase, the storms have been rapidly reproducing. If this keeps up, it may survive the sheer. We will just have to see.
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341. FLweather
11:57 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
thelmores: what do you mean?
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340. weatherguy03
7:56 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
Shear is not forecasted to decrease until about 60 hours...Link..It will actually increase the next 24 hours. Sorry to disapoint you guys!..LOL
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339. punkasshans
11:56 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
Upper level spin = little chance of TROPICAL development
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338. FLweather
11:54 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
RESCUEGUY: I agree with you. The storms keep reforming and then they get sheered to pieces. The sheer is supost to lighten up very soon, and if the thunderstorms keep reforming they will eventually get calm winds, and they will be able to organize. Do you see the spin that i see? I see a spin right off the coast of Mexico in the bay. It is within 100 miles of the coast though.
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337. thelmores
11:48 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
flweather, i see that....... could that have anything to do with causing the convective flare up in the gulf?
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336. Toyotaman
11:53 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
Ok after looking at the whole blob 4 times, I do see a faint upper level spin and I mean faint and it is more around the blown off tops of the storms rather than where they are firing up.
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335. punkasshans
11:53 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
My guess is we have NOTHING in the bay by the end of tomorrow. Just have to wait and see, ST is just trying to get people talking like last year. 2006 will be nothing like 2005, hopefully he knows that
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334. FLweather
11:54 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
The water vapor loop shows it to be moving north and a little bit to the east. According to the last few frames
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333. rescueguy
11:49 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
Good evening every one. Since when did Floater 2 get moved to the carribean?

As for the new blob, I think it has a spin for sure and the shear will relax soon. There appears to be thunderstorms attempting to flare up north of it, but still to much shear, and the tops are being blown off.

Looking at water vapor, I think it will probably be turned to northeast eventually.

whats everyone's take on it?
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332. FLweather
11:52 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
The sheer is suppost to lighten up later on. If the storms keep developing, then that means they could organize and become a depression. And the disturbance is making a movement more to the east, north east
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331. WSI
11:51 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
Shear is beating this system. Water vapor shows that there really isn't an eastern componment to the movement. It's just the shear blowing this thing apart.

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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.