Unlike much of the winter, April has been an unexpectedly chilly month. It's also been fairly dry, despite the rain dripping off the roof as i type this. The disastrous flooding of Tropical Storm Irene seems like it was so long ago... but the effects of the storm remain, and are still quite visible. Perhaps less evident, but just as important, are the lessons we can learn. Future flooding, including that from landfalling tropical systems, will surely impact Vermont in the future. Scientists and land managers have been able to gather a great deal of data on the storm and its effects, but there is still much we don't know.
After Hurricane Irene passed through East Middlebury, my rain gage was nearly full. Unfortunately, I hadn't been a dutiful weather reporter. Because I was out of town for a couple of days before the storm (and braved the outer rain bands to race the storm north from the Berkshires the night it was rolling into town), this rain may have included a couple of thunderstorms before the main storm. On the other hand, the gage was obviously tilted, and was so full that water was probably splashing out almost as much as fell in by the time it was that full. So, I know we got a LOT of rain, but I'm not sure quite how much.
I'm sure others out there have better data. If you do, sharing this data could result in better flood forecasts and improved understanding and management of Vermont's rivers. George Springston, geologist at Norwich University in Northfield Vermont, is looking for data on Irene's precipitation. In particular, data from anyone living in the mountains would be very valuable as these areas were drenched in torrential rain by Irene and are also sparsely populated.
If you think you can help, I'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment on this post with as much of the following information as possible: location of your rain gage (this one is essential!), type and diameter of rain gage, precipitation totals for the storm and any taken partway through the storm if available, and any other comments or observations. I'll make sure the information is passed on to George Springston.