Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Not a promising scenario...

The lower Delaware River Basin (below Trenton and Schuylkill watersheds) has received extremely heavy rain. The upper and middle Delaware River watersheds have not received more than a few inches over the past 24 hours, at least so far. A few streams are running moderately high such as the Brodhead and Bushkill. NJ tribs are not running high at all so far.

What is most disturbing is Ernesto is pretty much universally predicted to run right up into Pennsylvania. It's a big state so if we're lucky it will head west. Indeed, one model has Ernesto heading for Ohio.

Alas, most models show the tropical depression heading for us, and South Jersey and SE PA could get as much as 9 inches before it passes through Saturday evening, with the upper watersheds getting less. We might have a few nice days before the storm reaches us, giving streams some time to go back down, and for the ground to absorb what has already fallen.

Either way, it looks like an unhappy weekend is in store for those who like to play in the sun. Another lesser concern is the impact that this wet weather will have on river levels going into September when Operation River Bright is scheduled to take place. We need the river to be less than 4.50 at Riegelsville to safely do a cleanup of river banks. Contingency plans are now under development.

AccuWeather lays out the complex set of factors that will control the path and intensity of Ernesto.

Will Ernesto Deluge The Northeast?
Updated: Tuesday, August 29, 2006 7:51 AM
For those more scientifically inclined, here is the setup. Tropical Storm Ernesto will be influenced by several factors this week. Probably the most important is land. There is too much of it in the way. That's bad for tropical storms, but great for people. As long as Ernesto stays away from wide open water, there is a limit to how strong the storm can become. On the other hand, there is bath water laying in wait off the Southeast coast, and the storm will be over that on Thursday when it has a chance to become a Category 1 hurricane. Something that will play a huge factor in the future of the storm is the jet stream. It will change shape considerably over the next 48 hours, becoming much more south to north. This will latch onto Ernesto and bring the storm right up. The flow may back so much that in time the storm could actually turn toward the northwest. The final player will be high pressure building to the north. The high will slow the storm's forward progress, while at the same time help to intensify the wind along the central Atlantic coast.
Story by AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist John Kocet.

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