Flood walls hold on the Susquehanna

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

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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81. RedMosquito
12:21 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
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80. sts100launch
4:11 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
good points TXweather. However let me also say that from personal experience (2 very good friends both with Masters in Math and no weather background) frequently "debate" as they don't agree on what the numbers show, say, whatever. The point is both are great people but are unwilling to admit they are wrong or that another point of view might be correct. My experience tells me that high level math majors tend to be very opinonated and extremly unflexable when it comes to their point of view. We don't need that in here. this is a learning and i would like to think a friendly enviroment where those of us less knowledgeable can learn without the constant fighting. Just MY opinion.
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77. arcturus
4:10 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
Interesting note in regards to Dr. Masters post about the levee in Wilkes Barre. The Susquehanna River water level prior to event was at 4' which is considered drought level. The level prior to Agnes in 72' was 12'. With this fact one can conclude the rains that fell in the Susquehanna watershed were indeed greater than those of Agnes. Had the water levels been 10' or more going in those 40' flood walls would have been topped.

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73. WSI
4:12 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
The trends on the shear help too Gulf. Between the three hour maps, and the tendencies, it can give you an idea of what is going to happen.
71. weatherguy03
12:10 PM EDT on June 29, 2006
Gulf, there is no up to the minute shear maps. I wish there were! It updates every three hours.
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70. Weather456
11:38 AM AST on June 29, 2006
New Hurricane Names
Should the National Hurricane Center or World Meteorological Organization introduce the letters Q, U, X, Y, Z letters into the naming scheme or introduce surnames to storms?

Answer to Sunday's Question: Hurricane Katrina was more intense than Hurricane Camille. Intensity refers to central pressure. But Hurricane Camille winds were higher than Hurricane Katrina.

my blog

leave the answers at my blog or email me
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69. pleeeze
9:01 AM PDT on June 29, 2006
Well, maybe Geeks and Jerks.
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68. txweather
10:44 AM CDT on June 29, 2006
Pleeze you asked
"Why does meteorology attract such a crew of geeks?".

The answer is simple, its a science domain of people who are by nature mathmatical(met majors take more math than just about anyone, in my last math class in undergrad, only math majors were in except for us) but who also like excitment. This combination generally leads to people who are unique(and proud of it). For the record it also leads to people who are very adaptive and can then be successful in many fields(comp science, math, engineering, etc).
This also makes the debates(such as global warming and hurricanes) very intense, because you have people who are intelligent and very knowledgeable who simply disagree. Dr, Masters mentioned these lively discussions at the hurricane conference.

Also MET has a large appeal to laymen because EVERYBODY is affected by the weather. In addition because of the nature of forecasting, people who simple observe can(without formal training.) become excellent forecasters. The converse is also true, I have been obsessed with hurricanes since I was 8(hurricane Anita) and have watched them closely since around 1980(Hurricane Allen forever put me in love with hurricanes, I was proably the only kid who was excited when their parents gave him a magnetic hurricane chart for his birthday)
I have both a masters and bachelors in Met, but I could no more forecast hurricanes accurately than I could walk on water.

That is what makes Met, both professionals and non professionals in some ways are on equal footing.
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67. thelasik
4:01 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
wow, i did not see WSI's response because of the lag time after submitting a comment.
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65. thelasik
3:57 PM GMT on June 29, 2006

it is painfully clear that you have never posted on a regular web forum before. a person quotes another member to make it clear who he is talking to and exactly what comment he is replying back to. this is not a web forum, so WSI replies back by quoting and italicizing the comments that he is addressing in his post. learn the ropes before you go out and make stupid comments like that.

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63. WSI
3:56 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
Also FSU, I am going to send you a private message on here to clear this up. I will not respond to any other post from you in here on this particular subject.
62. WSI
3:47 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
"WSI.........Whats up with you copying everyones comments? "

You know FSU, this is the second or third time you have ranted over something I have done. Thanks for the attention. :)

To answer your question, I quote because it makes it easier for those reading my response to know what I am responding to. That as opposed to scrolling up and figure out what the heck I am talking about. I was not correcting anyone. I was responding to 3807's case with a case of my own. I have been quite civil to 3807, and posed questions of my own to him/her. I asked questions, and gave logical rebuttals to what was said. This is positive debate here (well until you jumped in as I said). And I don't debate on here all the time. Anyone here will tell you that I post on all kinds of things, not just debating.

The responses to your post attacking me should clue you in that maybe you missed something.

61. weatherguy03
11:52 AM EDT on June 29, 2006
Shear levels are too high in the Gulf currently and will be increasing during the next 24 to 48 hours.
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60. Wombats
3:52 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
J fl I noticed this as well.. could be interesting whats sheer like in the next few days?
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54. rwdobson
3:35 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
right now that wave is being stretched thin by the upper trough off the east coast...another big upper low north and west of there visible on the wv loops.
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53. weatherboyfsu
3:32 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
Theirs nothing wrong with debating....Turtle, you know what im talking about.....In the past their has been people on here fall into this category. You have your opinion just like i have mine. This is Dr. Jeff Masters blog, why dont you ask him? I have seen his remarks on here about bickering going on. I do believe he is a proponent of making his blog pleasant....got to go, wish i could stay on here and DEBATE with you guys........lol
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52. weatherboyfsu
3:31 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
Amen Scotsman.........
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51. turtlehurricane
3:28 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
if your afraid of being corrected you have no place here. this is a scientific discussion, its not always nice and happy. plus, whats so bad about being corrected? its the only way to learn.
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48. weatherboyfsu
3:20 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
We never all agree with everything that someone says.......Its ok to debate but when thats all you do then your going a little over board. I see things on here all the time that i think are wrong but i dont keep pointing them out to people. All im saying is it turns people off and makes them leave and i dont like that. I want this site to have a good reputation, not one that people are afraid to speak their opinions in fear that they will confronted for being wrong. Heck, I havent met a perfect weatherman yet........
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46. IKE
10:25 AM CDT on June 29, 2006
Geek...A person with an unusual or odd personality.

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37995
45. seflagamma
11:22 AM EDT on June 29, 2006
Hi everyone, just my first pop in here at Dr Master's blog in about a week. Glad to see nothing is developing out there.

Take care,
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44. IKE
10:22 AM CDT on June 29, 2006
That strengthening Bermuda ridge may keep the Caribbean wave headed west..northwest.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37995
43. pleeeze
8:20 AM PDT on June 29, 2006
Why does meteorology attract such a crew of geeks?
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42. IKE
10:20 AM CDT on June 29, 2006
*speech* Still wish you could edit on here.

Your blog keeps kicking me out when I post Dr. M....ugh.......
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37995
41. weatherguy03
11:18 AM EDT on June 29, 2006
Disney, the east coast has been dominated by a trough for most of June. This pattern looks to finally take a break hopefully next week as the Bermuda ridge bulds westward.
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40. Pensacola21
3:21 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
I wish it would come here with rain...!
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39. IKE
10:19 AM CDT on June 29, 2006
I think arguing=points. I think he was using the word..arguing..as a figure of specch.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37995
38. IKE
10:16 AM CDT on June 29, 2006
latest NAM model run 12Z has the caribbean wave headed for south Florida in 84 hours as a 1016 mb low..not much, but it's the only game in town.

Looks like it continues into the gulf and helps enhance rain along the gulf states.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37995
37. weatherguy03
11:17 AM EDT on June 29, 2006
Weatherboy, its called debating! How else could you respond to other people's comments.
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36. TampaCat5
3:16 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
the only way to have an intelligent discussion is to argue.
There are ways to discuss without arguing. Points can me made without arguing.
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35. TampaCat5
3:14 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
ahh, sorry stormtop, no change to Dr. Gray's prediction. Time to throw some more darts old buddy! (my prediction: ST will come on here knocking Dr. Gray for being so clueless)
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34. rxse7en
11:13 AM EDT on June 29, 2006

For models on WU.
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33. turtlehurricane
3:13 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
if you dont want to be corrected or you dont want to argue dont post. the only way to have an intelligent discussion is to argue.
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32. weatherboyfsu
3:01 PM GMT on June 29, 2006
3807, you are missing my point. You said...

WSI.........Whats up with you copying everyones comments? Did you learn that in college? Everytime I come on here, your on here posting copies of their remarks. Believe me, i've seen all kinds of know-it-alls on here. No one knows everything. This blog is suppose to be a fun place for people to go chat about the weather, not about you correcting everyone.
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31. Cregnebaa
10:02 AM EST on June 29, 2006
carcanesfan I look here
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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