Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Vermont Hurricane Irene Update

I've been watching Hurricane Irene closely, as have many people in the New England area.  There is, as always, a lot of uncertainty in the track of the storm.  There was some good news today in that the storm is not as strong as it could have been.  However, I'm worried about the possible impacts of the rain on Vermont, though.  In that same Jeff Masters post I noticed one total rainfall forecast:


So, that particular map seems to indicate that there could be 7 inches of rain in most of the Vermont side of the Champlain Valley, and at least as much in the southern Green Mountains.  Most of that would be Sunday afternoon through Monday morning.  The NWS is calling for 3 to 5 inches of rain in the Champlain Valley and up to 7 inches in the mountains.  This is less than the scenario above, but still enough to cause flooding.  My guess is we will see some roads washed out and flooding in some areas near rivers.

One important thing to note about that map, though, is just how narrow that predicted area of heavy rain is.  There's a good chance any one spot will miss out.  I don't want to wish that 7 inches of rain on New Hampshire or the Adirondacks, but I really hope it doesn't hit Vermont.  I love big storms... but this is excessive.

(One interesting thought I just had was that if winter storms this intense formed in Vermont, this would be 6 or 7 FEET of snow out of one storm.  Luckily, winter storms generally don't hold as much moisture and energy as hurricanes)

At this point it appears that the 'best case' scenario of the storm being pushed out to see is very, very unlikely.

I don't want to cause people to panic, and as long as you live on high ground, you will be quite safe.  Just stay away from the rivers for a while, and most importantly, DO NOT DRIVE INTO FLOODWATERS.  Sometimes it looks like the water flowing over a bridge is just a few inches deep... but in reality, the bridge is 100 yards downstream rather than still attached to the road.