Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why 2011 was such a deadly year for tornadoes.

With the recent nocturnal killer tornadoes in Dixie Alley. I thought I would write about why I think 2011 was such a deadly year....2012 has barely gotten started and already we've had over 30 tornadoes with people losing their lives. The tornadoes that struck Dixie Alley on the 22nd were not typical for this time of year; it looked more like a springtime situation. Tornadoes developed in Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and parts of Tennessee. Just as it was last April, Alabama saw the worse of it, with two reported deaths.  The NWS has confirmed tornadoes of EF-3 and EF-2 strength in parts of Tuscaloosa County. As I write this the NWS out of Birmingham is looking at the tornado damage in  Jefferson County. All of this raises the question... with the technology at our disposal, why are so many people still getting killed by tornadoes?  In this blog post, I will try to give an answer to this very complicated question.

2011 was the most active tornado season in recent memory. April 2011 is ranked as the most active tornado month on record with 753 tornadoes. The number of people killed by tornadoes in 2011 is around 552, making 2011 the 4th deadliest tornado year in U.S. history The severe weather events of 2011 will be remembered along with the fatalities of 1953 (519) and is just behind 1925 (794).   Also many of the tornadoes that developed were large long track EF4's and EF5's   Violent EF4's and EF5's account for less than 1% of the total number of tornadoes. However, they account for almost 70% of the damage and deaths. for example, since 1950 in the United States, only 58 tornadoes have been labeled as an F5 or EF5. that is less than 0.1% of all the tornadoes recorded during the time period. However, those F5's and EF5's accounted for more than 1300 deaths and 14,000 injuries or 21.5% and 13.6% of the deaths and injuries during that time span. However, other years have had more violent tornadoes, for example 1973, these years had lower death and injury statistics. So clearly there are other reasons in play.

This all begs the question “How can it be?” with all the incredible advances in forecasting and warning systems, that there was such a high number of fatalities?  Over the last few decades, the yearly statistics showed a downward trend in the number of fatalities. Also, adjusted for population growth it looks even more optimistic. That is until last year.

There are several reasons for this:

1)  The tornadoes of 2011 were perfect in terms of location, intensity, and track.

2)  Failures in our severe weather warning net.

3)  Local TV and radio stations handling of severe weather events.

4)  Failure of the general public to truly understand the dangers of tornadoes.

Taking the first reason. What is happening? As I said in my blog entry  The Tornado   we understand the fundamentals of tornadoes pretty well. Usually there is warm moist air mass rising from the Gulf of Mexico that moves north and meets cooler drier air out of Canada, these air masses meet over the plains or Dixie Alley. When these collide, a strong front develops which causes a large horizontal cylindrical vortex to form overhead. The warm air rises up as it meets the cold air and supercell thunderstorms develop. If there is strong shear the horizontal cylindrical spiral of air will tilt into a vertical funnel. If it continues to grow, it will develop into a tornado.  The severe set up for the killer storms last year occurred over heavily populated areas. The way 2011 went down was just nature throwing dice, last year our luck ran out. Any weather disaster is a random occurrence, these events are chaotic by their very nature, no matter how advanced our warning systems these events will always have some degree of unpredictability. However, that doesn't mean we have no input. On the contrary, when a tornado is impacting an area, there are hundreds if not thousands of people making split second decisions. The outcome of these decisions being they will live or they will die. As I've said before, you need to plan for a tornado warning; it doesn't matter if you're at home, in your car, or at the local Wal-Mart; you should have a plan that will keep you and your family safe. knowing what you will do before it happens will save precious seconds. I will go more into this in a bit.   

The second point covers the severe weather warning net. The NWS has 120 field offices across the country with highly sophisticated Doppler radar at its disposal. They are using the best equipment in the world to forecast severe weather. 
 A few decades ago the public had  a lead time of next to nothing when a tornado warning was issued. Now, though, that lead time is on average, 20 to 25 minutes. Is it perfect? the answer is far from it. But it's the best we have at this time. One of the problems is the system was built in the 50's and 60's. An era when many things we understand now were unknown. Don't get me wrong this is not a swipe at the NWS. IMO the NWS does an outstanding job, but the fact is some NWS field offices do a better job than others. I think the NWS needs to do a better job on giving local field offices better guidelines on what to do during a severe event. Base on my experience, the NWS issues too many false alarms. I know they mean well, But again IMO, the NWS should stop issuing tornado warnings on areas of spin up's along a squall line (QLCS),  these kind of tornadoes are almost impossible to predict and are extremely hard to see on radar. Even if it is a tornado they normally last only a few minutes. As we saw in the stage collapse at the Indiana state fair, the main danger in these situations is powerful straight line winds, not tornadoes. All this does is force Mets to go on air and talk about something that if it was a tornado, it has most likely dissipated by the time they go on air. I feel this leads to people  during an actual tornado warning into thinking "here we go again, I'm going to make a sandwich and put  that new DVD movie into the player".  instead of  paying attention when a real tornado emergency is in progress.
 I'm sure most of you have heard of the tornado siren. The idea of these sirens is a good idea at face value.  However, if you take a closer look, they have several shortcomings, Sirens are not efficient, reach a limited number of people, and can’t be heard indoors, schools, and businesses.  There are several reasons for this, most of the time there’s going to be TVs going in the background, people are going to be talking, how far the sound travels will depend on  wind direction...if the wind’s blowing hard at the time... it will also mask the sound. Also, the sirens don’t sound only in the warned polygon, they sound county wide. In some cases, this means you are hearing a siren when the actual tornado threat is over 40 miles away.  So the bottom line is don't count on a tornado siren as your primary warning system.  
Many local news media stations offer text alerts for severe weather, these alerts go out to computers and smart devices, I encourage each of you to sign up for them. However, the NOAA weather radio is your best line of defense when it comes to a tornado warning. We have laws that require smoke and carbon dioxide detectors in homes; why not weather radios?  they don't cost a lot, don't make a sound until they're activated for your area. However, even weather radio can be improved on. NOAA must upgrade the weather radio system to include GPS data. this would make it much more accurate inside the warning polygon. Also the current warning systems needs to go to a integrated system, the piecemeal system we have is too antiquated.  Tornado warnings need to go out to TV (this includes all cable channels), radio, smart devices, and over the internet at the same time. The warning system also need to be expanded to include the hearing impaired with the use of such things as vibrating pillows and light flashing systems .

The third point, is a big problem. It may surprise you but management at a local TV or radio station can override the staff meteorologist when it comes to issuing and how to handle a tornado warning. The FCC regulations covering this area need to be changed. When there is a genuine tornado emergency, these stations must have the backbone to blow off regular programming and go with wall to wall weather coverage. No matter what the regularly scheduled program happens to be. IMO if station management can't handle email complaints from a few angry people, they need to find another line of work. As for TV meteorologist, I've seen coverage from many areas of the county, many times the Mets will be off screen in front of the computer talking about what's going on. I've seen stations where you didn't even know who was speaking for over 10 minutes. Now while watching the developing situation is necessary, they must also be on camera looking the viewer in the eye as much as possible. This is the only way to make what's happening personal. Face to face communication is needed to convey the urgency of the moment.

The forth point, is the most Vidal. It will also be the most difficult area to incorporate change.
In the wake of last year's massive April tornado outbreaks and the 22 May Joplin tornado, The NWS conducted a study which included four “social scientists” on the assessment team to study what happened.  The social scientists looked at people’s understanding and reactions, which seemed to be a major factor in how things played out. As I've said many times you must have a tornado warning plan. it's too late to come up with one... as the roof beams are falling around you at the mall, or if you're a truck driver on the highway coming face to face with a tornado, or even watching the warning on the TV in your mobile home ( which I've said, it's better to be outside than being in a mobile home during a tornado).... When a tornado warning is issued, people often make poor decisions. These can range from  making frantic phone calls to not believing it and rolling over and going back to sleep. On chases, I've seen people come out of their house during a tornado warning,  to see what's going on. All of this waste valuable seconds. Seconds needed to get their family to safety. If people during a tornado warning choose not to take  the warning seriously, is this because of failures in the warning system? I think most of us would say the answer is no.  I find it to be extremely difficult to understand how people cannot take a tornado warning seriously!! Public education is lacking in the area of tornado safety. And much more emphasis needs to be placed on it.

Well that's my rant on the current systems and how we as people react to severe weather warnings.

Here is a link to my blog post on Severe Weather Safety  please take the time to read it...And if you've read it in the past reread it........It may save your life someday.


Monday, January 9, 2012

The Top Ten Weather Events In The Northeast For 2011

Hi it's Rebecca again, It's been quite the year in the northeast. We've seen just about every kind of weather event there is, with the exception of a sandstorm, and I'm sure I can find one of those if I look hard enough.  In my top ten for the country; I stated that 2011 would be remembered as the year the tornado reigned supreme. That holds true for the northeast as well. Tornadoes are fairly rare up here in the Northeast. For example, New York State sees on average seven tornadoes a year. However, in 2011 that number was over 20.  Which is why half of my top ten are about or are associated with  tornadoes. 

What almost made the list.

The May 26th and 27th Severe Weather Event.

On the morning of May 26th a nearly stationary frontal boundary was draped across western and northern New York State during the morning with several waves of low pressure traveling northeast along the front, what appeared to be a minimal risk of severe thunderstorms quickly grew into the potential for a large outbreak. with current severe weather parameters very high, with Lift Index as low as -12. With these parameters the Storm Prediction Center (SPC)  placed the area under a 10% risk of tornadoes.  It didn't take long for storms to fire.  Round one of the severe weather occurred when thunderstorms developed rapidly after 3 pm across the western Adirondacks. The next round of severe weather occurred when a large bowing segment from a mesoscale convection system moved across the area after 10 pm. There were dozens of damage reports across the region.  Friday the damage was not as widespread. However, there were several large hail reports.  At its peak, the storm caused more than 18,000 homes and businesses to lose power in National Grid’s eastern New York service area.

10)  The June 8th and 9th severe weather event

This event was similar to the severe event two weeks earlier. On the morning of the 8th, there was an unstable air mass in place over much of upstate New York.  All that was needed was a trigger. The trigger came in the form of an upper level disturbance. Soon severe thunderstorms were moving east and southeast along a developing warm front that tracked through the region. There were scattered reports of damaging winds and large hail around the area. The next morning things were even worse, The air in place was very warm and even more unstable than the day before. A cold front was positioned well to the north and west of the region, toward the Upper Great Lakes. However, a well-defined pre-frontal trough was moving across the area during the late morning and afternoon hours. Into the afternoon a broken line of storms started to develop. After awhile, the line developed into a severe quasi-linear-convective-system (A special kind of thunderstorm that has taken the form of a squall line or bow echo). The QLCS raced across the region and produced several large hail and damaging wind reports across east central New York into western New England. Several trees were damaged from a microburst near Woodbury Connecticut.  The line also produce a brief EF1 tornado along Great Hollow Road in  Woodbury. A storm survey determined the tornado had max winds of 100 mph.

9)  The August 21st North Country Severe Weather Event

During the afternoon and early evening hours of August 21st 2011, a significant severe weather episode took place across the Champlain Valley and Central and Eastern Vermont.   The first wave of severe thunderstorms developed shortly after 1:00 PM EDT along a pre-frontal trough of low pressure, in an air mass that was moderately unstable with surface based CAPE (Convective Available Potential Energy) values between 1500 and 2000 J/kg. These initial storms caused scattered reports of damage in Windsor, Orleans, Orange and Essex Counties in Vermont. A second round of thunderstorms developed along the Hudson and southwestern Champlain Valleys of New York. As they moved through the Champlain Valley of Vermont they produced marble and quarter size hail, high winds and very heavy rainfall rates, which combined with the slow-moving nature prompted flash flood warnings for parts of Essex County in New York and Addison County in Vermont. Significant flash flooding was reported in the town of Ticonderoga, NY, resulting in washouts of roads.  Then a third round of thunderstorms developed   At 6:00 PM  some of these severe thunderstorm produced quarter-sized hailstones in several areas in Vermont The most damaging thunderstorm of the day developed in Washington County in New York. From here it moved into southern Rutland County by 6:15 PM. This particular thunderstorm had a previous history of producing wind damage in the Lake George. As it moved eastward into West Pawlet it continued to produce significant wind damage, a storm survey found  a two mile length, half-mile path width area with numerous trees down along Button Falls Road The survey team  estimated 70 to 90 mph winds were likely to have caused the wind damage. The storm dropped  golf ball size hail in South Wallingford before moving across Windsor County, Vermont and into New Hampshire.

8)  The November 14th Chautauqua County Tornadoes

The weather pattern on Monday afternoon November 14th featured a cold front that extended from a Low east of Hudson Bay Canada to another Low over western Lake Erie. Because of this  Storm Prediction Center (SPC) put up a slight risk for severe weather to just to the south and west of New York State.. The risk area went from mid afternoon into the evening.  Before 4:00 a line of thunderstorms had developed over Lake Erie. Six cells in the line had severe characteristics. The two lead cells started to rotate. The first tornado developed over Lake Erie. The line was rapidly moving east at nearly 70 mph. Just before it came onshore radial velocity showed a gate to gate velocity of 104 mph (which is the change of wind speed and direction across the inbound and outbound circulation).  Just before 5:00 pm, the tornado came onshore on Beach Place in Fredonia. As it moved ashore it brought down numerous trees. The tornado destroyed the movie screen at the Van Buren Drive-in. A little farther along Van Buren Drive it destroyed a Barn and snapped several power poles. as it moved toward the Village it leveled a garage on the corner of University Park and Risley Street. Before dissipating the tornado carved a path for almost 4 miles. The only good news was the tornado was not on the ground the entire time. if it had the damage would have been much worse. At 5:08 pm another tornado formed under the second cell This tornado formed on Munson Street in Westfield were it destroyed several trees. As the tornado moved west across Country Touring Route 21 it destroyed most of a Pole Barn. There was a man in the barn at the time, fortunately he was not injured. Across the street a three story barn was completely destroyed along with several cars and boats. When the tornado crossed Gale Street and moved along Martin Wright Road. it destroyed a barn and a house were smashed. The two people inside the house were not injured. When this tornado was south of the village it had a gate to gate velocity of 109 mph. Later, A Survey Team determined that Both were EF-2 Tornadoes with wind speeds of approximately 105-115mph.

7)  The September 4th Cranesville / Amsterdam Tornado:

As the Summer was winding down  all eyes were on  the remnants of Tropical storm Lee and Hurricane  Katia. All of this tropical activity was pumping humidity into the area. The 4th started with Dew Point temperatures in the upper 60's to lower 70's. Severe parameters where mixed CAPE values were high, they were forecasted to be 3000 -3300 J/Kg. However helicity was fairly low. We had a cold front out to the west that was driving east.  With this setup potentially strong to severe thunderstorms were in the forecast for later in the afternoon.  The storms materialized as expected.  Some were strong to locally severe.  At around 5:20 pm power outages were being reported in the  Mohawk Valley. soon after this the cell approaching Glenville started to rotate.  In a minute or two a tornado was on the ground. The tornado was moving northeast.  The EF1 tornado, packing 110 mph winds, made its way through Montgomery County. The half-mile-wide path caused damage for seven miles from Cranesville through the town of Amsterdam.  The tornado was caught on video as it crossed the thruway. At around 5:30 p.m the tornado smashed into Cranesville. The tornado damaged dozens of houses and destroyed many outbuildings.  Trees were tossed about like toothpicks. These trees came down on houses and damaged cars. One person was injured at the Schaghticoke Fairgrounds.  The estimated damage in Cranesville was around a million dollars.

6)  The July 26 Multiple Severe Event

On the morning of July 26 a trough associated with a strong cold front was moving out of the Great Lakes. At first the setup didn't look all that impressive. Instability was just around 1000 J/Kg with not much in the way of wind shear. The only clue of what was going to happen was the Bulk Richardson Number.... (BRN measures the balance between Instability (CAPE) and wind Shear in a thunderstorm environment).... this number was in the low teens. The BRN in this range is almost perfect for the formation of supercells. However, coupled with the other parameters a widespread severe weather outbreak looked unlikely. As the front moved east a line of storms was starting to form. Just before 11:00 am the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issued a Meso Discussion which talked about the possibility of severe weather. As the line approached Central New York it was getting better organized. the Strongest cell was entering into Oneida County at around 11:35 am. At 12:23 pm the cell was given a Severe Thunderstorm Warning; which was in effect for Southern Oneida, Eastern Madison, and Northern Otsego Counties. As the cell moved further into the county it started to quickly develop supercell characteristics. The cell dropped quarter size hail in Sylvan Beach. There were also reports of numerous trees down in North Bay. As the cell neared Westmoreland it was dropping golf ball size hail. At 1:15 pm a tornado warning was issued for the cell. At about this time a microburst occurred. The path of damage began on Reservoir Road, in the town of Kirkland. However, the worse damage was near Furnace Street, just west of State Route 12b, in the town of Franklin Springs. A short lived EF-0 also developed in the town of Kirkland, along Kellogg Street, just west of State Route 12, about 2.5 miles southeast of Clinton. This same line of Storms produced another damaging microburst near Colonie, in Albany County at around 2:00 pm. The burst had winds of 90-100 mph. The Damage was centered at Computer Drive West and Wolfe Road. Later that night another severe storm produced an EF-1 in Cattaraugus County in western New York State around 6:50 pm. The day ended a lot different than things looked in the morning.

5) The January 8-13 Snowstorm

One part of this storm started in Texas on the 8th. from there it dropped a  swath of ice and snow and ice from eastern Texas and  points eastward to the Carolinas. Meanwhile a second system swung out of Alberta and headed southeastward, dropping light snow in parts of the Dakotas and Midwest.  The two systems combined off the coast of Cape Hatteras on the afternoon of the 10th.  The Storm then started to move north.  This storm has been called the North American Blizzard. it  was a major Mid-Atlantic winter storm, and a New England blizzard. The storm affected portions of New Jersey, New York, much of  Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts overnight late Tuesday on the 11th into Wednesday, January 12.  During this time, the storm dropped large amounts of snow. In Wilmington, MA, Winchester, MA and Lexington, MA, amounts of 24 inches occurred, with Winchester reporting 24.2 inches. The highest amount of snowfall was reported at Savoy, Massachusetts, with 40.5 inches. There was 22.5 inches reported at Bradley International Airport, the Nor'easter of January 12th now exceeds any total 24-hour snowfall since the state began keeping records in 1905. The winds were 20-30 gusting to over 45 mph across the region, wind temps in the upper teen and lower 20's, making for low wind chills.   While the storm was in full force Wednesday, schools throughout the region were canceled, public and private sector workers were told to stay home, and some communities and Massachusetts as a whole were declared a state of emergency. In eastern Massachusetts the snow was wetter and heavier than anticipated, causing as many as 100,000 people to lose electricity. In Connecticut the storm dropped snowfall totals of 20 to 30 inches. The snow was so heavy it caused the roof of an apartment building in Norwich to collapse, forcing the evacuation of 10 residents. The storm forced state troopers to close a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 95 in southwest Connecticut due to numerous trucks stuck in snowdrifts.

4)  The Springfield Tornado

On June 1, the setup was about as good it gets for tornado development in the Northeast. There was a flow into New England of especially warm, moist air from the Southwest. There was also a flow of cold, dry air into New England from the Northwest. These conditions pumped in high levels of heat and humidity. There was a cold front moving in that would slice through during the peak heating hours. The  CAPE values in the afternoon were  3000-3500 j/kg with LI’s between -6 to -8 out ahead of the front.  There was also decent levels of  speed and directional wind shear. Winds at the surface were fairly strong. The same was true for the winds  at 5,000 feet, 10,000 feet and 20,000 feet; As I said, there was a lot of wind shear with wind going in different directions at each of these levels.  All of this was  more than sufficient energy for  the development of strong to severe rotating storms. There had been a round of thunderstorm that rolled in from the Mohawk Valley during the morning hours. However, these were of the garden variety. All of the ingredients came together in the late afternoon over western Massachusetts. A line of severe storms developed; one of which developed into a supercell. The NWS issued a tornado warning at 3:28 p.m. At approximately 4:17 pm a tornado formed in the Munger Hill section of Westfield. The tornado damaged the roof of the Munger Hill Elementary School.  As the tornado moved east it rapidly intensified. The tornado moved into west Springfield and caused extensive damage to several industrial building and homes. After the tornado crossed the Connecticut River it caused extreme damage to the south side of the downtown district. Once the tornado was done chewing on Springfield, it moved through Wilbraham heading east for Monson. The tornado move right through the middle of town. It caused extreme widespread damage to many buildings. After this the tornado moved through Brimfield State Forest. At this time the tornado obtained its maximum width of 1/2 mile. The tornado continued east where it damage or destroyed several aircraft at Southbridge Airport. Soon after the tornado lifted in the southwest part of Charlton. The tornado had left a wake of destruction for nearly 39 miles. A NWS survey team determined the Springfield tornado was an EF3 with Maximum winds of 160 mph. The tornado took 4 lives and caused over 106 million dollars in damage.  The team also confirmed two other tornadoes. An EF-1 with speeds of 90 mph that formed in Wilbraham. It was 200 yards wide and traveled 3.6 miles. Another EF-1 formed in North Brimfield. It was 100 yards wide and traveled 1.3 miles. Those two did not cause any fatalities or injuries. The Springfield tornado was the 2nd strongest in Massachusetts history. The Strongest was the F4 that struck Worcester in 1953. A tornado which many experts believe should have been classified as an F5.

3)  The remnants of Tropical storm Lee

Large scale weather patterns brought a persistent flow of moisture from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee and from the Atlantic Ocean to stream northward across the area from September 6th through September 9th, 2011. Many of these area's were the same that had been drowned by Irene. Heavy rain from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee brought severe flooding into parts of Pennsylvania, New York State, and other areas in the Northeast. Total rainfall for the event was nearly 5 inches at the Albany International Airport, with many areas across the region picking up between 4 to 8 inches of rain. The southern tier of New York suffered greatly. The Susquehanna River, which stretches more than 400 miles from upstate New York to Chesapeake Bay in Maryland , reached record flood levels. Lee brought flooding to the Susquehanna River valley, dropping 10-12 inches of precipitation. In the Binghamton area, record flooding was observed along the Susquehanna and Chenago Rivers. Most municipalities in Greater Binghamton and the Penn-York Valley saw water levels top the levees, inundating several downtown areas along the river. Many of the locations under water had not flooded since the mid-1930s, due to the construction of levees. Over 20,000 residents were forced to evacuate in Broome County, and downtown Binghamton was closed off. Residents who were downstream from the Forest Lake Dam and the Elk Lake Dam were evacuated. The Village of Owego was particularly hard-hit, with 95 percent of the community under water. In the aftermath, several roads were closed, including Interstate 88, which was blocked by a mudslide, and NY Route 17. South of Binghamton, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., waters were expected to crest at nearly 41 feet by early Friday, more than 18 feet above flood stage. Over 40,000 people had to evacuate Wilkes-Barre, 80,000 more had to evacuate in areas around the city. The storm killed 13 people and caused over 1 billion dollars in damage.

2)  The Pre Halloween Nor'easter

The 27th of October saw colder air filtering into the northeast, as an area of low pressure moved eastward along a frontal boundary to our south. This weak system produced our first snowfall of the season. Low pressure began to develop along the southeast coast Friday night. The low tracked along or just north of the Gulf Stream and rapidly deepened and intensified as it moved northeastward on Saturday, October 29th. The storm passed just southeast of Cape Cod early Sunday morning, October 30th, then headed northeastward into the Canadian Maritimes during the day. In New York City's Central Park lots of trees were damaged when three inches of snow fell. The heavy snow left 100,000 without power in northeast New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania. Milford Pa received 19 inches of snow. The NJ coast saw 2-3 inches of rain. Record lows were also broken with this storm.  Across east central New York snowfall amounts ranged from as little 1 to 4 inches across northwestern areas of the Capital District, to 5 to 10 inches in the Hudson Valley including the southern portion of the Capital District, with 10 to 16 inches in the eastern Catskills, and 12 inches to almost 2 feet across the Taconics. Snow ratios across the area varied with lower ratios in the Hudson River Valley and higher ratio across the higher terrain.  Western New England received similar or even greater amounts. Snowfall rates were as high as 2 to 4 inches an hour in mesoscale snowbands. because of this snow totals ranged from 1 to 1 1/2 feet in Litchfield County, in Berkshires from a foot to over 2 feet across the higher terrain of the northern Berkshires, across southern Vermont snowfall amounts ranged from 10 to 16 inches across Windham County, from 5 to 14 inches across Bennington County. The highest snow total was in Peru in Berkshire County Massachusetts. Wind gusts of up to 50 - 60 mph were seen in some areas. The storm left over 3 million northeasterners in the dark and caused over three billion dollars in damage.

1)  Hurricane Irene

We watched as Irene inched up the coast, The center of Irene passed very close to New York City as a tropical storm around 9 am Sunday. Than in the morning hours of August 28th, She was laying her heavy hand on our area. Her winds were 40-60 with gust up around 70 mph in the higher elevations Her winds knocked down  thousands of trees and limbs which left  millions in the dark across the northeast.  As bad as that was, Irene's real power was in the  rainfall amounts  she dumped .   5 inches of rain fell at the Albany International Airport, however, up sloping  allowed her to dump much higher amounts in the  higher elevations. Of all the reports I've seen East Durham had the most with 13.30 inches on the 28th. Meanwhile, in the Catskills and the Schoharie Valley, tremendous, devastating flooding took place. Excessive rainfall led to raging rivers with their waters quickly spilling out of their banks and impacting nearby towns. The towns of  Prattsville and Windham took extensive damage; in fact, downtown Windham,  was virtually wiped out by flooding when 4 feet of water was rushing through Main Street. In Massachusetts, damage was greatest in the hill towns and Western Massachusetts as the high winds toppled trees and heavy rain caused widespread flooding of Connecticut River tributaries. The Westfield River rose almost twenty feet in a matter of hours; the Deerfield rose over fifteen feet in the same period. Both rivers reached flood stages not seen since the 1938 Long Island Express and hurricanes Connie and Diane in 1955. In Connecticut  a record 754,000 customers were without power, Route 15 was closed from the New York state line to Interstate 91 in  Meriden due to fallen trees. In Vermont the story was much the same.  Almost every river and stream in Vermont flooded. In Wilmington, the flood level of the Deerfield River east branch exceeded levels measured during the only other tropical system to make a direct hit on Vermont;  the 1938 New England hurricane. At 11:00 p.m. on the evening of August 28, Irene finally became a post-tropical cyclone near the U.S.-Canadian border.  In her wake, Irene left between 7 and 13 billion dollars of damage across the northeast..

                                                                       Satellite image of Irene

Well that's my list...........Lets hope 2012 treats us a little better. Let me know if you think I left something off my list.