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Today marks the 57th anniversary of the 1955 flood along the Delaware River Basin. Some may be able to still recall this day while many others have heard of it.
During the summer of 1955 climate remained quite dry and in certain situations areas experienced historical drought conditions as bad as back in the Dust Bowl days. This however would not last through the entire summer. By August and the beginning steps toward a peak tropical season was the boiling point to how much further the drought could worsen. Tropical season reaches its climax during the month of September but this does not by any means limit activity in rise and drop months.
In fact, the main contributors were tropical cyclones, first Hurricane Connie on August 11-15 followed by the disasterous Hurricane Diane, August 15-19. Both hurricanes back to back, a natural phenomena to say the very least.
As mentioned above Hurricane Connie was among the first of two systems to affect the region and specifically the Delaware River Basin. Because the suummer was kept quite dry, Connie was more welcomed unlike Diane. This hurricane would make landfall in North Carolina tracking due north before cutting northwest. Along the path of a hurricane it is said to produce some of the heaviest rainfall and strongest winds. This was felt at first along the states from North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland but as Connie weakend these fields expanded further from the eye affecting also Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and northward with widespread amounts of heavy rainfall. This quick hitting hurricane during a drought or not put a lot of rainfall over the terrain and locations affected would need at least a day or two to drain out. However the problem came from Hurricane Diane shortly after.
Hurricane Diane would develop and track closely where Connie earlier aligned. This hurricane would also make landfall in North Carolina and track instead of northwest, Diane would head north and northeast. The rainfall map illustrates different from Connie in showing the highest rainfall totals occurring over Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and the southern New England states. Given the track that Diane took it only makes more sense that this hurricane had more momentum to work with toward its end of the track over mentioned states because of it’s curve back east and northeast with the pushing jet stream. Any given physics would demostrate this to prove correct but unlike Diane, Connie which tracked against the jet stream expanding it’s precipitation field and weakening northwest. Hurricane Connie might have taken a severe drought area quickly to a normal precipitation flowing area but it was Diane that would take the river over the top.
Hurricane Diane And The Effects. Hurricane Diane would cause the worst flooding for the Delaware River Basin and certain other New England basins in history. This would be the first hurricane to cause 1 billion dollars worth of damage and over 200 people who lost their lives during the flood.
A Steering Pattern For Hurricanes.
Fortunately for the team and outside researchers, the web today can allow for information to be pulled down from as far back as the early to mid 1900′s. The team has taken the initative to look further into the actual pattern in which mighthave given these storms the upper edge to affecting certain regions in which they did. The main indice that team is most interested about includes the pattern and what kind of steering and strength did the high pressure have to give.
What the team found was very interesting and in fact included a high pressure to dominate the Central Atlantic and extend as far West as the coast eastern United States. Both Connie and Diane developed over the south-central atlantic strip, a notorious location for cyclones to develop and most likely take a track up the eastern seaboard. The reason for this includes a high pressure further north but yet west enough to the coast. Storms develop along the atlantic strip south of the high pressure and right along the steering direction it exhibits.
The image the team has found includes brighter colors off the eastern seaboard indicating an area of high pressure and so these two storms would track underneath and eventually north where the high pressure has given in. Connie the first hurricane made landfall in North Carolina turing northwest, the high pressure was most at its strength pulling the system further inland but on the contrary, Diana was able to make landfall in North Carolina and recede back northeast as the high pressure was able to weaken and retreat slightly from the region.
On top of high pressure steering, 1955 was observed as the year that took on a strong La-Nina. La-Nina years during the tropical season most likely can cause a much more active Atlantic due to warm sea-surface temperatures and upper level wind patterns. This is also a bigger contributor among the rest. Strong La-Ninas will come with extremes and in fact the Pacific Northwest during this very year experienced record flooding of their own.
An Author With A Tale DEVASTATION ON THE DELAWARE: Stories and Images of the Deadly Flood of 1955 Award-Winning Author Mary A. Shafer
Mary Shafer is a full time freelance writer living and working in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She has three published books of her own and has contributed to two published anthologies.From the time her family got caught in the remnants of Hurricane Alma in 1966 when she was 5 years old, to waking up to the screaming wind of a tornado bearing down on her house in 1991, Mary Shafer’s life has been shaped not insignificantly by severe weather.
She parlayed this interest into her position as weather coordinator for the Nockamixon Township Emergency Management Agency, and the moniker of “weather weenie,” which she wears proudly. She’s the founder of the Amateur Weather Enthusiasts of America (AWE-USA), and is currently at work on a series of mystery novels based around the adventures of a forensic meteorologist.
In 2005, after three years of research, she published Devastation on the Delaware: Stories and Images of the Deadly Flood of 1955. The book came out a month after Hurricane Katrina demolished New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, and hurricane-caused flooding was on the front page of every newspaper in America. The first printing sold out within 42 days. When the second printing sold out in May of 2010 – marking 5,000 copies sold – Mary updated Devastation. She released the revised second edition on August 18, 2010, the 55th anniversary of the flood.
Mary is currently at work on “The Storm Diaries,” a novel series following the adventures of a forensic meteorologist and sometime storm chaser.
HERE IS A LOOK AT THE LATE AUGUST-EARLY SEPTEMBER MODELS ?
1. That would be the 9th named system and it would be Isaac
2. It is almost exact to the year of Irene which was August 25th also an "I" storm hmmm.
3. In the pattern we are going into and have been in I can see how this happens as there has been a fairly persistent trough along the East Coast with well a Negative NAO and it is possibly going towards positive during this timeframe hmmm.
Can history repeat itself almost exactly a year later... hey also water temps are basically 80 all the way to the Jersey Shore so look out.