Friday, September 01, 2006

Deja vu all over again...NOT

The above photo was sent by Leona Fluck. The Waste Management dumpster got stuck on a gravel bar somewhere near Minisink Island (Leona correct me if i got that wrong) in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Photo was taken during a routine patrol of the National Canoe Safety Patrol - Lower Delaware Chapter. The NCSP is a vital partner for the river cleanup 'Operation River Bright' scheduled for September 16 and 23. The National Park Service is making plans to move the dumpster before Ernesto sends it down to Trenton.

Wait and see...

Forecasters are singing in unison about Ernesto's path through our region enroute to the wilds of upstate PA and western NY (Susquehanna Basin). Rainfall predictions seem to be in sync, most caution that "rainfall amounts could be higher in certain areas."

AccuWeather's map shows the entire non-tidal Delaware River watershed to be within the 2 - 4 inch range; below Philly it says 6 to 8 inches. The Catskill headwaters might get 1 - 3 inches.

If that scenario holds -- more rain to the south and less to the northeast -- we will probably avoid major flooding. The water level in most Delaware River tribs has been falling. In the lower Delaware tribs are still faily low. I wouldn't even ty to put a canoe in the Musconetcong (1.67 at Bloomsbury), ditto for the Pequest, and the Paulinskill is barely high enough to paddle). On the PA side the Tohickon is seasonally low.

Further upstream the Lehigh River has been running a higher than normal, largely because the Army Corps has been releasing from FE Walter dam (a flood control reservoir). PP&L has been letting water out at Lake Wallenpaupack (and making $ on electricity generated) to make room for the storm. Pocono streams (Brodhead and Bush Kill) are running a little high for this time of year.

I don't see the Delaware River flooding unless we get double the amount of rain predicted (8+ inches) over most of the upper watershed. Tribs are more vulnerable as the rain will be coming down in a short period of time. The predicted outcome could be so much worse - let's hope and pray it holds, or better yet, that Ernesto falls well short of its reputation.

For those of you who (like yours truly) are compelled to check stream flows on a regular basis, the Mohawk Canoe Club has a handy one-stop page of river gauges for paddlers. It includes many streams outside the Delaware River Basin. Check it out. The Mohawkers are another important partner on the river cleanup, which by the way is sponsored by the Delaware River Greenway Partnership. Check out their website, lots of good information on Lower Delaware River projects.

We may be working up a contingency plan for Operation River Bright because high water would make a river cleanup unsafe. For now it's wait and see what happens over the next 24 hours and assess the long range forecasts.

I will be back tomorrow with an update on river conditions around the watershed.

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