Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene spared Delaware

The Delaware River might tear up some of the more hopeless sections of the canal and towpath. It's hard to tell because those areas are still inundated.

Most of the floodplain dwellers escaped flooding because Tropical Storm Irene didn't come loaded with as much energy and rain as expected. The Delaware at Riegelsville crested Sunday morning just under 25 feet, four fewer than expected. Thirty feet is considered a "major flood." Twenty-five is minor. Twenty-two is 'bank full.'

As far as the Delaware River Basin goes it was more of a New Jersey event. The Assunpink Creek (near Trenton) was a record 14.25 (approx). It's normally 1.00 this time of year.

The Musconetcong also was up over 8' (6' is 'bank full'). Flood pics are posted on the Musconetcong Watershed Association Facebook page. Several other rivers in NJ saw record flooding, primarily in northern (notably the Passaic Basin).

On Saturday I joined some other folks to help The Indian Rock Inn remove a ton of stuff from their basement, which had some serious influx of water from the monsoon. They were expecting some flooding along River Road, and rightfully so given the forecast of a 'major flood'. I certainly expected it but am thrilled it didn't come to pass. On Monday a lot more lifting because our own basement took on a few feet. The result: my back needs a major break, figuratively speaking.

Meanwhile, stop in at the Indian Rock this coming weekend - they will be open.

And stay turned for the next potential storm a week from tomorrow.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Another Delaware River flood on the horizon...

This reminds me of Hurricane Ivan, which was a tropical storm when it hit us back in 2004. That was a bigger more potent storm than Irene, but Ivan was also a drought breaker. Irene is just adding salt to the wound. It's all falling on soggy soil.

The Delaware is predicted to rise to around 27' which would be a moderate flood. We'll enjoy sunny weather by the time the river crests -- sometime around Monday night or Tuesday.

Here's a recent story from the Philly Inquirer that accurately captures the anguish for floodplain dwellers.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Calm before the storm...

A flood watch is in effect for just about everywhere!

There are so many variable scenarios for Irene, some models say it could head further east off the coast, others predict an inland path towards the Susquehanna Valley, but most predict it will hammer the coast.

Dire predictions warn of record storm surges from Nags Head to Brooklyn. A 15' foot surge would destroy lots of homes and businesses. Check out this Mother Jones article for some up-to-date info and historical data mixed in with the hysterical hype.

If the storm develops as expected there will be much destruction and pain for those living along the coast and on the floodplains. Once the cleanup begins and FEMA is doing its thing the discussion will turn to inappropriate development. Floodplain dwellers along the Delaware (or is it 'denial' river?) will predictably blame the NYC reservoirs. Its only a matter of time before this crowd begins calling for flood control dams on the Delaware River and its tribs.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Apocalypse Soon?

Ah yes, the impending Apocalypse. All the signs are in place. Earthquake? (check). Hurricane? (check). Bachman-Perry Ticket? (check) Fall of Muamar Gadaffi? (check).

Some joking aside, the potential exists for a Delaware River flood of epic proportions. It's already raining heavily on top of saturated soils with higher than normal streams and the NYC reservoirs are at almost 90% (better than 100%). A flood watch is in effect for our region today and that is not related to the hurricane (or tropical storm) headed our way (flood watch for small streams - NOT the Delaware River).

As of this morning the NWS says that Irene might track a bit further to the west than first predicted. That would bring serious problems for the Delaware and New Jersey coastal areas, with the landfall expected near high tide, accompanied by a new moon.

The entire Delaware River Basin will be thoroughly saturated before Irene arrives. If we get pounded with several inches of rain this weekend its likely the Delaware River will flood. The potential for flooding will be more easily predicted by tomorrow. To keep track of real time conditions check out the Delaware River Basin Commission's Flood Information Page.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hello, Irene?

Monday, August 22 was a stunningly glorious day, in contrast to the tropical muggies of the previous few.

It looks like August 2011 could turn out to be an all-time record for amount of precipitation in southeastern PA; for any month, although I find that hard to believe. As of this morning 13.0 inches has been recorded at Philly International Airport. The airport is coastal plain -- about 60 miles southeast from my current 'hometown' -- Upper Black Eddy. I'll look at the rainfall totals for the Piedmont and Highlands region for comparison, but it's probably close to what has fallen on Philly.

More to the point...the upper Delaware River watershed has had much more rain. I was hiking along Hornbeck Creek just a few days ago (Indian Ladders in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area) and the creek, seeps, springs and wetlands looked more like April -- all perky & shit. And if that part of the watershed gets dumped on - folks - if you live along the lower Delaware River, please beware! It's a hard rain gonna fall!

This coming weekend we could be looking at the first hurricane (or tropical storm) of the year if Irene tracks the way most of the models say it will. Here's AccuWeather's take on this rapidly developing storm.

If Irene does impact our region we'll experience some degree of flooding along the smaller creeks and rivers. The Delaware River is staying above 5' at the Rieglesville gage and that is an uncomfortable starting point for taking on a massive amount of tropical moisture.

By this Wednesday forecasters will have a pretty good handle on what we should expect from Irene.

PS: if you'd like to see Hornbeck Creek up close check out this link. Too damn close for me. Apologies for the ugly skinhead music, but the scenery is magnificent.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Rising Fast...

A sampling of USGS stream gages show how the Upper Delaware River watershed got pounded by storms last night and early morning; way smaller amounts fell down here along the Bucks and Hunterdon tributary watersheds of the Lower Delaware River.

Cases in point on the New Jersey side: the Flatbrook at Flatbrookville rose 1.5 feet while 65 miles downstream the Musconetcong River at Bloomsbury only showed a rise of a few inches. That's a good things for the guys working on Musconetcong dam removals and streambank stabilization down near Riegelsville, NJ.

On the PA side: The Broadhead Creek at Minisink Hills rose a few feet overnight, while the Tohickon Creek at Pipersville came up just a few inches. The Lehigh River shot up over 5 feet, a significant rise for such a big river, but some of that surge was no doubt contributed by the whitewater releases from the FE Walter Dam.

Of course all this is reflected in the muddied waters of the Delaware River at Riegelsville today, that gage showed an approximately 4' jump. People planning to put tubes in the lower Delaware will be greeted by the branches, logs and styrofoam swept downstream by the river.