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


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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.
93L is delisted, I don't think we'll see anything for a while from that.

94L isn't anything at all.
what is that big blow-up to the northeast of the dominican? that isn't 93L right?
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.
been lots...
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!
Here's your dud!


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)

Named Storm Days (NSD) (49.1)

Hurricanes (H) (5.9)

Hurricane Days (HD) (24.5)

Intense Hurricanes (IH) (2.3)

Intense Hurricane Days (IHD) (5.0)

Net Tropical Cyclone Activity (NTC) (100%)

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.
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!
Welcome Bigtoe.
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.
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.

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!
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.
Read more about this season and thoughts on global warming and its alleged effects on tropical cyclones here: Link
Oh my god, the sky is falling!!
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
GTG- Later
thelmores...Wow! I'm seeing more convection in the cut-off than I have seen with 93L yet!
Did I miss something?Link
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.
wave North of DR looks like its pretty hefty
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.

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.
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...
ok guys, we are off to Ho-hio for vacation to see the out-laws, the 93 is very bright red this morning, never say die, some more rain is ok but please no names while i am gone, Happy Birthday America!
morning folks
531. IKE
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???
DrBobLade...Absolutely! Masters is great. and i hope he is correct.
IKE...The blob out there is the other part of 93....the one that is giving me a pain in the lower intestine area!
I loved BB#1 it brought a ton of lightning to me for my Photography
dang, i'm not sure ehat the heck i was looking at this morning! :D

seems the "disturbance" n. of Hispaniola is looking a little better this morning..... has the sheer decreased, at least for the short term?

Will the trough pick this up and carry it out to sea?

earthlydragonfly...I'm happy you got some shots...just a shame it didn't fry your CPU!
What's wrong with you? You think bad weather is funny?
Are there any threats with the blob north of Puerto Rico?
Excuse me??? I watch your post hoping for tropical weather all the time so when did you become Holyer than though?
I dont hope for any bad weather! I just take advantage of it!
Dragonfly -
Come on, fess up - we know you control the weather with that camera ...magic, pure magic. I read that on a blog somewhere...
541. IKE
I think that BB#2 won't get picked up by the exiting trough to the north....maybe it goes west??? According to the shear values on WU it's in a favorable area...
just because you like tropical weather, like to study it, like to photograph it, have fun watching it form..... DOES NOT necessarily mean that you wish harm or destruction to anyone.....
Lol Stormy.... Your right I do have the magic camera. It is predicting the energy from the (antillis) wave to slide up to north of puerto rico where the shear is lower. Thats what it told me last night anyway.
Thank you Thelmores! Well said!
I'm leaving, in a few hours, for an island off the coast of St. Pete Florida - I will be there through Monday morning. I would appreciate you having a talk with your camera so we have clear skies for the weekend.

546. WSI
Good morning all. 94L still getting torn up by shear it looks like. At this point I don't think it has much of a chance with that shear, and the proximity to land.
I have just been through way more storms than you. It is no fun! Promoting the idea that any part of it is fun on here is alienating the newcomer or lurkers that want true information that could save their lives. It's not fun...it is extremely serious business.

I'll be on the other coast watching the shuttle launch and clicking my shutter. I think it will be spotty at best.
Canon 5D.
Looks like we will have a BB#2 soon. Take a look on NOAA NESDIS Western Atlantic loop, with HDW-High turned on. That area north of Hispanolia looks to be the northern extension of the tropical wave in the Eastern Carribean that has entered more a favorable low shear zone. But there is strong shear in the upper levels curving in an anti-cyclonic band extending through the Gulf of Mexico over FL and extending offshore the FL east coast just west of the Bahamas. The local Melbourne FL forecasters are calling for a "weak wave" to pass over the state on Sunday, which is presumably the sheared BB#2. The surface winds are forecasst to turn more easterly over the FL peninsula due to surface high pressure building, but that band of upper-level shear I mentioned above has been persistant for the past several days.
550. WSI
"that want true information that could save their lives. "

This is where the NHC, NWS, and other official sources of information come in. No one should base decisions on information only from this blog. To do so would be foolish.

randrewl, how can you possible know you have been through more storms than anybody!

think you should lighten up just a bit bro..... dragonfly i am sure, meant no harm or disrespect to anybody.... what i got out of his post, is that he enjoys photography..... NOT KILLER HURRICANES!
Here is the link for the NOAA NESDIS Western Atlantic satellite loop. Turn on HDW-High to see what I am talking about.
553. IKE
Here's what the NHC says about the blob east of the Bahamas in their 8:05 am EDT tropical weather discussion..." A
surface trough reflection extends from 27n63w SSW to near
21n71w. Scattered moderate/strong convection is within 150/180
nm either side of the surface trough from 21n-27n."........

The bark must be worse than the bite.
IKE - Agreed it isn't much at this time, but it does seem to be entering a area of low shear. We would have to see if it flairs up again (and again) like the last BB. Even then, it seems that shear will prevent the system from developing if the low-level feature moves west of the Bahamas.

Before you make any assumption on the 2 lines that I wrote before. 1 you have been through more of anything than me. 2 you are more of an expert than me or 3 you have anything more than me. is just rediculous. And based on what I said. I was talking about lightning and not 5 on the safer simpson. and I WAS hoping for rain! because we need it didnt you there in ground zero?
556. IKE
It's gonna have to sit there and fester for a couple of days....then it might be able to go west with lower shear.

It's worth keeping an eye on. Not sure it has any other place to eventually go, but toward the west, with a strong high building in.
557. PBG00
I think we are in for some good rain in any case...
Just a couple of quick posts, now I'm off to work...a lot of "bickering" going on here still ;(

Agree with WSI we should put the occasional disclaimer on this site, because it seems a lot of people lurk here, and some might not know any better. Trust the links and the reports posted here from the NWS and NHC, the rest is just mostly amateur prognosticating. This is obvious to most poesters here, but maybe not to some of the peole lurking...
IKE - Agreed it is worth keeping an eye on, it could turn out to be an area of potential development in the next few days.

Talk to everyone later (I'm late for work now)!
i say trust what you see on the satellite pic more than anything else....watch and learn
561. WSI
"i say trust what you see on the satellite pic more than anything else....watch and learn"

Not everyone understands what they see on a sat image.
562. PBG00
Watch and Learn? For those who just see a mess on a sat frame..what exactly is they are supposed to learn..how arrogant are you?
For weather advisories and planning, I will check out NWS. For speculation, discussion, and to be involved in watching a system develop - I'll visit this blog.

Yes, I am fascinated by the weather and find it odd that I would have to explain that on a WEATHER blog ...this is like Group Therapy gone bad.

For now, I'll exit and return later when the blog is without the self-appointed monitors imposing their standards of a valid discussion.

Dragonfly - enjoy your weekend and the launch!

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
565. K8e1
wow! you people sure get wound up. I would think that some of you are forecasters who want your opinion to be the only one LOL
566. K8e1
yes...i watch and i learn SO SHOOT ME haha
567. WSI
Stormy2day, ignore the crap on here and stay. Many of us have good weather discussions on other blogs without all the "stuff" you see on here.
568. K8e1
stormy2day might have been referring to you...i cant see why you are so upset by my intention and advice to watch and learn
569. K8e1
sounds like you prefer others to be ignorant
Any thoughts on the blob at 6N, 79W in the East Pacific? Shear looks really really low.
Thanks. I would love to stay but have to get the boat and supplies ready. The pressure of being responsible for 3 other people and their safety while on an island is big I have to think cautious without being paranoid. Paranoia has a tendency to kill the fun! In an attempt to balance, I look carefully at the official forecasts. I also understand that valid discussion happens here, on this blog. The type of discussion that often plays out with validity in an official forecast official forecasts often dont happen until all the pieces are in place.

I guess my point is that in collecting information official data and discussion on this blog (both conservative and extreme speculation) are all valuable. When someone on this blog uses intimidation/slamming with anothers line of discussion that blogger is choosing the validity of that discussion for others.

PS K8, when it comes to weather, I AM ignorant if I knew it all, I wouldnt be here.

You all have a fun and safe weekend.
Everyone....what are your thoughts about the fact that the tropical wave entering the Carb split in two? Looks like the portion near the western Bahamas is getting better organized. It there a surface low developing there?
Morning all.

Just got done adding a new page to StormJunkie.com. I hope this page will be very useful for the storm tracker. The rest of the site is great for learning and finding information, but when you need it quickly this is the place to get it.

StormJunkie.com Quick Links

I am going to update the SST comparison maps in my blog, then I am off to do some yard work. Will have to take some time to look at the tropics as I have been busy getting the new page up.

The cut-off 93 is still cranking. Shear is high but will not remain as high as it has the past several days. The convection is approaching very warm water and has not shown a willingness to kneel to the shear so far.
These are the anomalies that give me pains in the intestinal regions.
After continuously watching the wesatrd moving caribbean wave, it seems now like the wave split in 2. The northern part of the wave that is west of the Bahamas seems to be gettinf better organized this morning. The wave will be driven by the strong high pressure that s building to its east. If the storm will linger about those warm waters, and saty away from hispanola, it may have the potential to form into a tropical cyclone. If it continues moving WNW, it will be in an area that models are forecasting low sheer. This could cause a problem for south florida. Who agrees?
578. MahFL
Junkie, your link is screwed up.
FLweather - Sounds just about right, the part of the wave moving west towards the Bahamas has escaped the shear farther south and looks like a seperate system now, in a more favorable environment. The low-level ridge is building towards the west. The high-level shear over FL and the immediate FL east coast is the big question: will it relax enough to allow the Bahamas system to develop this holiday weekend? Stay tuned, it's Deja Vu all over again.
NHC not very bullish in the system nearing the Bahamas at this time. It seems they think it will get caought up more in the trough to the east and miss the pocket of low shear just east of the Bahamas. From the Tropical Weather Outlook Statement as of 11:30 am EDT on June 30, 2006:
Disorganized cloudiness and showers extend from the southeastern Bahamas northeastward into the Atlantic Ocean for several hundred miles. Upper-level winds are strong in this area and development of this system is not anticipated as it moves generally northwestward at 10 to 15 mph.

1130 AM EDT FRI JUN 30 2006