After 4 days of forecasting and covering the floods I’m glad all of this is over and the weather is turning quiet. This winter has been tough with very difficult storms to forecast and also some major league busted forecasts.
The flood event panned out as expected which makes me feel good as a meteorologist but makes me feel for the thousands in eastern Connecticut that were hit so hard. All the signs of a damaging flood event were there and our computer models were fantastic. The National Weather Service did a tremendous job and should be commended for their work and their coordination with the media.
The one thing through the entire event that struck me was how thankful we should be for the Army Corps of Engineers flood control on the Quinebaug River. The dam in West Thompson and others further up north in Worcester County, Massachusetts saved us from what would have undoubtedly been a devastating and deadly flood in eastern Connecticut.
The Quinebaug River in Jewett City reached over 23 feet which was its highest (by far) since August 1955 when there were no dams upstream. Had the extensive flood control project not been in place or had it failed the effects in eastern Connecticut would have been the same as 1955. The same can be said for some of the other rivers in eastern Connecticut that are protected by the Mansfield Hollow Dam.
Further south, the Pawcatuck River in Stonington was an incredible site yesterday. I realized how lucky Connecticut was when the police escorted me over the bridge and into Rhode Island where entire neighborhoods in Westerly were devastated. The river raged over its banks and spilled 8 to 12 feet of water onto Canal Street and into houses, cars and businesses as far as the eye could see.
Connecticut doesn’t get struck by disasters frequently, but we’re not immune. As bad as this storm was in the state it could have been much worse (look at Rhode Island). Hopefully between this storm and the Fairfield County windstorm earlier this month we’ve learned a few things about disaster preparedness and how important it is to be on top of these things BEFORE they strike.