Historic Flooding Underway in Central and Eastern Pennsylvania

“As bad as Agnes”

For people living in Pennsylvania those 4 words are about as bad as it gets for a weather-related disaster. The headwaters of the Susquehanna River through central New York and northeastern Pennsylvania have seen an absolute deluge of rain thanks for the remnants of Lee.

On Wednesday Binghamton, NY picked up 7.49″ of rain which shattered the old calendar day record of 4.24″. So far in 2011 Binghamton has seen 49.86″ of rain which is now their wettest year on record and it’s only September!

Susquehanna River Watershed

The wet antecedent conditions followed by record rainfall this week is pushing some rivers in Pennsylvania and New York to record shattering levels. The Susquehanna River in Wilkes-Barre and other cities is expected to come within inches (literally, the forecast is 4″ shy of the record) of the 1972 floods from the remnants of Tropical Storm Agnes.

Here is the observed and forecast hydrograph for the Susquehanna River in Wilkes-Barre. The record crest is from Agnes in 1972 at 41.0 ft and the current forecast is 40.7 ft.

Levee protection for Wilkes-Barre is for a river crest of 41.0ft which is way too close for comfort.The levees were constructed in Wilkes-Barre following the devastating floods in Agnes to the river level following Agnes. Not sure anyone thought we’d see those levels again just 39 years later.

Tributaries of the Susquehanna have already seen record flooding with entire homes isolated and submerged. Other locations upstream and downstream from Wilkes-Barre will see similar flooding. Areas outside of levee protection are submerged.

Having gone to Penn State and having been to northeast Pennsylvania many times my thoughts go out to my friends in Pennsylvania. It is absolutely incredible how many “100 year floods” we’ve seen in the northeast over the last several years. The 2011 flood of the mighty Susquehanna will be yet another one in this incredible streak of extremes. It’s quite possibly with a changing climate “100 year floods” aren’t as rare as they once were.

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