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

()
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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281. Toyotaman
10:58 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
2200 is 10pm, I believe he is on mountain time now, not sure though.
279. FLweather
10:55 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
Where will the flare up head if it does develop? Its suppost to head up to the very southern tip of Texas, but what happens after, if it holds together. Will it head towards Florida?
Member Since: June 29, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 18
278. Ldog74
10:52 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
When is 002200, I know its GMT or whatever, but how far back is CMT from whatever the STORMTOP Weather Office is using?
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275. WSI
10:46 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
It is taking a beating from the shear right now.
274. Toyotaman
10:46 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
Stormtops weather office!!!!!!!!!. I guess the NHC has disbanded and the Hurricane Hunters now take their orders from Stormtop. LOL
272. StormJunkie
10:47 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
ST.......You are a trip.......

lmao

SJ
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271. txweather
5:46 PM CDT on June 29, 2006
Here is something funny, this eblongs in the more things change department, the more things stay the same.

From last year on this date(and time)

ABNT20 KNHC 292057
TWOAT
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
530 PM EDT WED JUN 29 2005

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS ISSUING ADVISORIES ON TROPICAL
DEPRESSION BRET...LOCATED INLAND ABOUT 55 MILES WEST-SOUTHWEST OF
TAMPICO MEXICO.

CLOUDINESS AND SHOWERS OVER THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SEA ARE ASSOCIATED
WITH A WESTWARD MOVING TROPICAL WAVE INTERACTING WITH AN UPPER-
LEVEL LOW. UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE CURRENTLY UNFAVORABLE FOR TROPICAL
CYCLONE FORMATION.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL STORM FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED THROUGH
THURSDAY.

Tx
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270. thelmores
10:45 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
you guys wanna see a storm that just dumped almost aan inch of rain, and 1/2 inch dia hail?

Link

and man..... talking about some nasty lightening!
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3805
269. StormJunkie
10:41 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
Stormy, good to have you on board :) How long will you be out there? Should be ok other then pop up T strms for the next couple of days, but Sunday on is just a geuss right now

SJ
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268. STORMTOP
10:34 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
SPECIAL WEATHER UPDATE ISSUED BY STORMTOPS WEATHER OFFICE 001745..................
A BLOB OF THUNDERSTORMS THAT HAS BEEN OVER THE BAY OF CAMPECEHE SINCE YESTERDAY HAS BECOME MUCH BETTER ORGANIZED THIS AFTERNOON... A MIDDLE LEVEL LOW HAS DEVELOPED RIGHT OFF THE SOUTHERN MEXICAN COAST AND ITS EXPECTED TO BEGIN MOVING NORTHWARD IN THE NEXT 24 HOURS.AT THE PRESENT TIME THEIR IS AMPLE SHEAR IN THE AREA BUT THE SHEAR IS EXPECTED TO LESSEN IN THE NEXT 36 HOURS ....THIS SYSTEM HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BECOME A TROPICAL DEPRESSION AND A RECON PLANE MAY BE CALLED ON TO INVESTIGATE IT ON FRIDAY AFTERNOON ...THE PRESSURES HAVE FALLEN OVER SOUTHERN MEXICO AND THE YUCATAN SINCE YESTERDAY...ALL INTERESTS ALONG THE NORTHERN GULF SHOULD KEEP TUNED IN CASE A TROPICAL DEPRESSION FORMS OVER THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND...AT THE PRESENT TIME IF THE SHEAR DOES LESSEN UP WE COULD BE DEALING WITH BERYL BY SATURDAY NIGHT OR SUNDAY..THE SST ARE NEAR 86-88 DEGREES DOWN IN THAT AREA.THE NEXT BULLETIN WILL BE ISSUED BY STORMTOPS WEATHER SERVICE AT 002200 IF CONDITIONS WARRANT....
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267. FLweather
10:39 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
There is a chance for this one. Bret formed there last year so who says a new one cant form this year? And from looking at different satellite loops, this flare up looks a lot more impressive than Bret did, when he formed.
Member Since: June 29, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 18
266. StormJunkie
10:33 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
Evening all.

456-I agree that the llc should be weighted the same also. I think it would make a very nice intensification scale. Could even take the output and derive a max wnd spd potenential.

Got to get some work done on the site, see ya'll later.

SJ
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265. quakeman55
10:32 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
FLweather I agree with you, I think there might be a chance for that guy. The Campeche has been notorious for breeding many notable storms in the past.
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264. Weather456
6:26 PM AST on June 29, 2006
until we await the computer models on 94L and further discussions on the NHC take a peak at this question

Should the NHC or WMO include the letters Q, U, X, Y, Z into the naming scheme?...leave our comments and opinions at my blog.


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263. jimmiek
10:19 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
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?

PA is also lucky that the floods were not accompanied
by hurricane-force winds and the resulting generated waves. Overtopping by waves on top of the flood is most destructive.
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262. FLweather
10:19 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
And according to the NHC, the flare up does have a chance to develop.


000
ABNT20 KNHC 292114
TWOAT
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
530 PM EDT THU JUN 29 2006

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

A SMALL AREA OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS HAS DEVELOPED IN THE BAY
OF CAMPECHE THIS AFTERNOON. SURFACE PRESSURES IN THE AREA ARE HIGH
AND DEVELOPMENT...IF ANY...IS EXPECTED TO BE SLOW TO OCCUR.

They did not specify that it has no chances of developing as they did with the westward moving tropical wave in the eastern Caribbean
Member Since: June 29, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 18
261. txweather
4:58 PM CDT on June 29, 2006
Here's the eq I came up with about 10 years ago.
Probablity of development in 24hrs = -.3-.013(X)+.0005X**2
Now x= 5*Vorticity(in area +/-5 n/s)(ie I used low level winds 5 degrees in all directions from the prospective center)
+2sin(lat)*100) + ushear.

Now I wouldn't ask anybody to wade through this equation(thats what spreadsheets are for), but it can all be summarized by the following....

The chances of development are related to spin in the area, distance from equator and the magnitude of the e-w windshear from 850-200mb. Everything else fell by the wayside and seemed to have little real impact(which was a real surprise to me). For example high SST DIDN'T cause a higher percent to develop. Generally SST was a go/no go factor. Once it was reached no increase in odds of devoping where found.
TX
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260. FLweather
10:11 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
After continuoulsly viewing the loops in the Bay, i do feel this flare up has a chance of developing. It seems to be moving parallel to the land. If this consists and it begins to take more of a turn towards the east, i think a depression can form within the next day or so. Any deviations to the west will diminish its chances of developing into a tropical cyclone. Gulf of Mexico water temps seem to be running pretty warm. And i do not see that much wind shear, and according to different maps, the shear is suppost to get stronger, but then relax down. This can cause a strong cyclone to form, and head towards the southeast coast as a strong storm, following the strong high pressure. Does anyone agree?
Member Since: June 29, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 18
259. Toyotaman
10:03 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
There is no rotation there, you see what you want to see.. Look at where the storms are blowing up, right on the coast then the tops get blown out to see. If this blob persists for a another day or 2 then there might be developement. lets wait and see instead of trying to scare up a storm.
258. Stormy2day
9:43 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
456-
Thanks for the explanation - I think I'm still a little confused but, I'm a weather rookie. I'm sure others understand your point system and find it very helpful.

I came on here today to check out the Gulf because I'm spending Friday-Monday on an island off the coast of Tampa ...getting there by boat. No power, no water ...no WU radar (eeeeekkkkk).

Having explained myself ...can you all just make me feel better and say there is nothing out there anywhere? I need to move on to worrying about the snakes, spiders and sharks!

:-)

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257. quakeman55
9:55 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
I see somewhat of a hint of rotation on the Gulf of Mexico visible here, but it is too close to land at the moment. If it can pull northward away from land, it might have a chance, provided the shear relaxes.
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256. Alec
5:56 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
yup txweather.....

But I got to get going now, so post it in your blog and ill look at it later....Bye guys, I'm off.....
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255. txweather
4:50 PM CDT on June 29, 2006
Actually i actually tried to get the percent chance of disturbance developing for my thesis. Do you want to see the formula I cam up with.
TX
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254. Alec
5:54 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
yes, it should be one of the biggest factors...
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253. TampaCat5
9:52 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
I think his scale must then be the cahances of a storm intensifying, because if it has a closed low level circualtion than it has probably already 'developed'.
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251. Alec
5:50 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
because if it doesnt have a LLC, it isn't a depression!
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250. Weather456
5:47 PM AST on June 29, 2006
MichaelSTL.....Thanks so much......solves alot alot a problem i have with it.

Stormy2day ok l'll explain my scale

Seasurface temps can be betweern -5 and 5
Wind sheer can be between -5 and 5
OPverall look can be between -5 and 5
LLC is either -5 or 5 which is none

Sea surface temps in the gulf and caribbena sea are about 3-5 on the scale but in the north atlantic is between about -2 and 0.

Wind shear...high wind shear is -5, low wind shear is 5

overall look....banding features and convection all round a center is 5...but sheared storms like alberto.....-5

llc center is either -5 or 5(corrected)

all the four values are added and place over 20

20 beacause of the upper values 5, 5, 5, and 5.
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249. TampaCat5
9:46 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
uhm isn't 456 trying ot predict the chances of a closed circulation (llc) developing? If so it would not make sense for it to be in his formula at all.
Perhaps a better ingredient for the formula would be mid-level circulation, though this is hard to determine.
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248. Alec
5:46 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
Maybe it should be more of a "forecast" of whether the system is organizing and whether it has a decent shot of developing a LLC...
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246. Alec
5:40 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
I think your scale shouldn't have "-" values........ For example I'd say 0 corresponds to bunches of shear and 5 very low to no shear.....just my opinion....do as you wish:)
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245. Tazmanian
2:40 PM PDT on June 29, 2006
Clearwater Beach, FL--92.7 sea temps
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244. Weather456
5:32 PM AST on June 29, 2006
Stormy2day ok l'll explain my scale

Seasurface temps can be betweern -5 and 5
Wind sheer can be between -5 and 5
OPverall look can be between -5 and 5
LLC is either 1 or 0 which is none

Sea surface temps in the gulf and caribbena sea are about 3-5 on the scale but in the north atlantic is between about -2 and 0.

Wind shear...high wind shear is -5, low wind shear is 5

overall look....banding features and convection all round a center is 5...but sheared storms like alberto.....-5

llc center is either 1 or 0

all the four values are added and place over 16

16 beacause of the upper values 5, 5, 5, and 1.



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243. TampaCat5
9:35 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
snowfire... you must be new to this. Spiral bands are generally curved about a center of circulation. There is a band of showers there, obviously not spiral.
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242. txweather
4:26 PM CDT on June 29, 2006
Sayhuh, they mention it because weird things have happened in the past and you never know. Lets face it, imagine if something did happen and nobody mentioned. Somebody would have egg on their face. Btw this is the 10th disturbance they've mentioned this year and only 4 really had a chance. Maybe later I'll look back to last year and see how many disturbances we had by this time, just for comparison.
TX
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241. Alec
5:33 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
Posted By: SafeInTexas at 9:29 PM GMT on June 29, 2006.
mainly a rain maker...

Last time someone said that, 11 people died.


oh, my bad...
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239. SafeInTexas
9:29 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
mainly a rain maker...

Last time someone said that, 11 people died.
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238. Stormy2day
9:24 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
456 -
Using your DPS, with sea temps this time of year, if there were nothing it would have a 5/16 chance of developing?
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236. sayhuh
3:22 PM CST on June 29, 2006
tx, we will not let solid scientific logic ruin the fantasy. LOL. I am curious if this is a typical type occurance for the area, why would an Invest would be wasted on this?
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235. Alec
5:23 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
well stated txweather....this flareup is a bit too close to the coast and will be near the coast as it makes its journey to S TX...mainly a rain maker...
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232. Zaphod
9:18 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
Sorry 456 -- I missed the negative.

But you know, except for occasional errors of sign and magnitude I'm usually dead accurate.

Zap
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231. Weather456
5:12 PM AST on June 29, 2006
A SMALL AREA OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS HAS DEVELOPED IN THE BAY
OF CAMPECHE THIS AFTERNOON. SURFACE PRESSURES IN THE AREA ARE HIGH
AND DEVELOPMENT...IF ANY...IS EXPECTED TO BE SLOW TO OCCUR.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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.