Monday, October 4, 2010

"Super Rainstorm Nicole" Strikes East Coast

On September 30 and October 1, heavy rains affected much of the east coast from North Carolina to Vermont.  In eastern North Carolina the rains were extremely intense, and some areas received more than 20 inches of rain!  The rain was not quite as severe as that in Vermont but most areas still received over 3 inches of rain (there were around 3 inches of rain in Burlington, 4 in Middlebury, and around 5 in Rutland, for instance.  Christopher Bert, an extreme weather expert, has named this rain event 'Super Rainstorm Nicole' because it was in part fed by short-lived Tropical Storm Nicole.  Visit this blog for more info on this storm and its similarities to rainfall associated with Hurricane Hugo in 1999.

The storm caused widespread minor flooding in Vermont, but a major disaster was avoided, probably in part because most of September was rather dry.  Nevertheless, the rivers were filled to the brim by this rainstorm.  Here's what Otter Creek in Middlebury looked like on Friday morning:


This photo was not taken at the peak of the flood; later that night the small island in the center left was actually fully submerged.  I am not aware of any damage occurring in Middlebury, but the nearby New Haven River did cause road closures and damage to farmland in the Bristol area.

Not surprisingly, lots of water was flowing into some of the bioswales at Jeffords Hall.


I did notice, however, that some of the swales in this area had very little water in them even after more than two inches of rain had fallen.  It appears that they may not be capturing quite as much water as they should be.

The sky of course looked quite ominous during the heavy rains.


On a more positive note, the storms brought a wet end to an otherwise relatively dry September.  A hike in the Mount Abraham area the day after the storm was both blessed and cursed by beautiful but slippery streams flowing down the mountain and over the trails.


It is also peak foliage season and while a line of storms associated with this rainstorm did trigger a severe thunderstorm warning for possible heavy winds, it did not seem to dislodge a significant number of leaves from the trees.  It was quite beautiful out the day after the storm.


I also visited New York City and saw some neat urban parks a couple of weeks ago.  I'll post about that soon also!

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