Tuesday, December 30, 2014

YEAS I ADMIT, NO SNOW FOR MEMPHIS THIS NEW YEARS

It has been brought to my attention that I said that Memphis was going to get a heavy snow storm by New Years Day back in November.  I was wrong. They are getting a cold ass rain at 34 -36degrees. I would have never thought the SE ridge of high pressure would be so powerful and dominant this time of year which has led many local weather forecasters to back off on their snow predictions for December and had has contributed to a mild December up to this week. A SE ridge of High pressure is another "winterized" term for a Bermuda High that you hear about during the summer months that sits off the coast of Georgia and Fla and directs where the storms are going to hit- it like a blocking formation in football.

Well this year , on top of the quirky jet stream patterns, we had a SE ridge set up which allowing storms to be steered up through the Ohio Valley (lake cutters) or be suppressed to Fla. This has also blocked arctic air from sitting over us to allow snow storms to occur as well. So all we get are cold light rains and cloudy days.

This week the SE ridge is starting to break down just a little bit which has allowed some arctic air to get back in our area. The problem is that their are now just weak storms that are even being directed away from us. Sundays and Mondays storm turned out to be just light rain showers and flurries as the storm broke up  or what you may hear from weather gurus as being (suppressed). This Saturdays storm is still up in the air but if the current pattern still holds, the storm will be weak. We may get a couple of inches of snow if we are real lucky  but it will turn to sleet and just rain on Sunday. We call this in weather lingo a "front end thumper" as the snow comes first before the rain.

The outlook over the next couple of weeks does look more promising as the current parade of "lake cutters" may lead to a coastal storm. I will define the type of coastal storms in my next blog. As I said in my last blog, the cold was going to come in slow and it has and it will not leave anytime soon. Now we just need a good storm for the snow weenies like myself

Memphis weather - cold rain with a quick warmup and then back to normal- chance of t-storms on Sunday and Monday

Milwaukee- cold and with very little snow chances

I just want to say that if the middle of the country does get any good snow storms in the upcoming weeks- a drought potential exists for the corn belt. It has been many years since I have seen little snow in SE Wisconsin area at this time. The ground has no snow cover at this time.

Friday, December 26, 2014

QUIRKY WEATHER PATTERNS - STRIKE AGAIN

The weather today in the models are indicating weather patterns that we have not seen in many years. This comes about when there is a struggle for the upper air patterns to get out of this funky cloudy pattern that we have been in for weeks. The good thing is that we see more sunshine. The bad thing is that upcoming weather is very hard to predict when it comes to how much snow and rain we get until the cold locks in for January.

Like I said in yesterdays post,  the setup storm arrives Sunday night into Monday morning with a gamut of precip types. Starts off as rain but turns to sleet and snow. Driving may become hazardous depending on the snowfall rates Monday morning  but I am not too worried at this time. This is the first arctic front this year- so the temps will stay just above freezing for highs, teens for lows- something we are not used to after this storm goes by

The dog crapper of a storm later in the wek---- on January 3-4 ----with snowfall amounts that could be really significant. This needs to be watched carefully because unlike all the other winter storms that we have so far, the air and ground will cold enough for snow to stick on the roads as soon as it starts to fall.

Milwaukee weather - cold and just a little bit of snow toward New Years day Highs in the 20's lows in the single digits

Memphis - a surprise for you snow ---maybe on  New Years Day- going to get cold with highs in the middle to upper 30's after the frontal passage

Thursday, December 25, 2014

MERRY CHRISTMAS- SANTA BROUGHT US SOME SUNSHINE

Enjoy the sunshine today- nice present from Santa. Too bad he did not give us some white stuff but this will do.

A winter storm is still on the horizon for around New Years day. But I want to say one thing about this winter so far- too many variables are being thrown at each possible winter event to make it go away. Its like playing wack a mole to get a winter storm around here. Currently, less than 30% of the nation is covered in snow. This will change after the first of the year but it it will be a slow change. 

Two winter storms are on the horizon in the upcoming week. The first is what a I call a setup storm. It brings some wintry mix to our area and departs pretty quick. Its like your neighbors dog taking a crap on your yard.  The second storm is what I call the slam dunk, where we a receive significant snowfall a couple of days later --- like all the rest of the dogs in the neighborhood taking a crap in your yard.  This scenario has been pictured in several weather models but the timing and strength of each storm keeps wondering back and forth. Giving a specific time would not be right given the aforementioned models changing everyday. One minute the storm is there- the next run of the models it is gone. This is very typical when the weather patterns are going through an abrupt change. Once the snow has fallen - usually a couple of inches, then the new pattern sets up and is easier to predict. For now, I will be happy with some sunshine.

The only constant in these models thus far is that the cold will come back -- slowly but surely.  I will keep you up to date.

Monday, December 22, 2014

BLAH HUMBUG! -- NO WHITE CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR!

Well, the blah weather wins out this month. The brief sunshine on Sunday afternoon came right before sunset- the sun will not be seen until Christmas morning. The sleet and freezing rain was luckliy confined to the Poconos tonight. We lucked out again. Whats next? Christmas Eve- rain and more rain- around 1.5" of rain coming down hard at times and it will be noticeably warmer and will seem  balmy with the southerly winds Wednesday afternoon and evening. Then as I said in the last post, the bottom drops out temps fall all day on Christmas to back in the thirties. Not enough moisture to stick around with the 40-50 mph wind gusts so only flurries are expected.  You are officially warned now to watch your Christmas decorations outside- they will blow away and you will hear all about it on Friday.

A winter storm is still on the horizon for around New Years day. But I want to say one thing about this winter so far- too many variables are being thrown at each possible winter event to make it go away. Its like playing wack a mole to get a winter storm around here. Currently, less than 30% of the nation is covered in snow. This will change after the first of the year but it it will be a slow change. I will keep you up to date

Wisconsin weather - maybe a white Christmas with a dusting to an inch but snow is in real short supply from Madison to Chicago for this time of the year. It will be normally cold- highs in the 30's

Memphis- rain and more rain and cool.Highs initially in the 50's going to the 40's

Friday, December 19, 2014

HO! HO! HO! NO MORE BLAH DAYS AFTER CHRISTMAS

Well, as I thought, the weather data was untrustworthy as the Pacific Oceans as the storms came on the US mainland. These storms have been screwing with the normal  upper air patterns which have resulted in "Seattle Days" for us with the inversion layer setting in. The 21st storm has disappeared as the "dirty high( cloudy skies)" suppressed the storm too far to the south in this split flow jet stream  pattern. This inversion layer  will disappear after Christmas. Until then many things will have happened to finally change our weather pattern to a a more wintry pattern.

It is not in the NOAA forecast but I am concerned for a period of of freezing rain/ sleet Monday night into Tuesday. Again, the data is not trustworthy but a situation where a pocket of freezing air is trapped along the Appalachian Mts called "cold air damming" or CAD may result. Tuesday morning may not be a fun time to drive.

The Christmas day storm event will be the actual game changer not the 21st storm event as I originally thought.  Four days later  but I was close. The rain on Christmas Eve will turn to snow on a blustery Christmas Day with temps falling all day. The ground should be white with anywhere from a dusting to an inch or two of snow. Christmas Day will feel like winter. After this storm, the gloves are "on" and more winter storms and cold are here, especially around New Years Day. A significant snowstorm is appearing on the models. More will come later

Have fun shopping in our  cloudy days.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

WEATHER PATTERN WILL CHANGE BUT WILL IT MAKE FOR A WHITE CHRISTMAS?

The model runs the last few days have indicated less white and more liquid for Sunday and for Christmas Eve. A white Christmas is looking less likely every day as the more accurate data sampling is injected into the weather models. This liquid forecast is due to a split flow of the jet stream with the southern jet stream winning out and pushing any coastal lows out to sea and bringing us warmer temps. The pattern is changing after the next storm though and better chances of a storm forming before the end of the year is coming.

Remember the blizzard of Jan 96?  We had a similar weather pattern back as we have now so please watch for a big storm to form right after Christmas when we finally get some of the arctic air back into our area. No more of the threading of the needle storms that we have seen the past month.

Specifically what do  I see over the Christmas Holidays? 1-3 inches of snow on Sunday melting by Christmas Eve but  even the data sampling is not trustworthy at this time. I will keep informed but as the the Pacific storms get on land, the models tend to shy away from heavy snow in our area right now. Any changes and I will keep you informed.

Milwaukee- slop coming your way similar to us

Memphis -  cold and rainy even up to Christmas Eve

BELOW IS A HISTORICAL  CHART THAT WILL TELL YOU WHAT ARE CHANCES FOR A WHITE CHRISTMAS ---- NOT REAL GOOD

http://www.weather.gov/media/phi/reports/KABEDEC25.pdf


Friday, December 12, 2014

WEATHER PATTERN RELOADING- GET READY FOR A GAME CHANGER

The back-end  snow storm the last two days kept people guessing on how much are we going to get.  In LMT, we received about 3.5 inches on my deck. The big winner was Ashland, PA - just north of Pottsville with 12.5 in. Elevation again was a key in the storm. Visibility was also a problem. My predictions were pretty close to spot on for this last storm being an elevation snow type and being after a significant rain event. The rain was not as heavy as I thought it would be with only an inch being in the ole rain gauge. NJ was the winner with three inches in some areas.

Whats next-  more blah and boring weather until the 20th- my birthday. Rain and snow showers with above avg temps. After the 20th though, the weather game changes. A possible significant coastal storm on the 21st with really cold temps in its aftermath and with winter conditions really settling in just before Christmas. Looks stormy and unsettled with this pattern change. With a pattern change of what we in the weather business call a -AO pattern and El Nino storms ( now called the Pineapple express by the media - coming from the Hawaii area) the game change is on.

For my friends in Milwaukee - cold and blah like us- nothing out of the ordinary for the upcoming week

For my friends in Memphis - unseasonably mild on Monday and Tuesday with a chance of severe weather and tornadoes. Dave Brown the weather clown may even come on the air for this event. Reminds of the  West Memphis tornado event on December 14, 1987. Conditions will be similar with temps near 65 degrees so keep an eye to the sky. See the description below because I lived through this event.

http://blog.memphisweather.net/2012/12/perspective-on-25th-anniversary-of-west.html

This really could have been the deadliest tornado event in the world if it had been only a1/4 mile further south,   missing the Southland Greyhound Dog Races with seven thousand people in the stands on their last night of the races

Monday, December 8, 2014

MT BARDARBUNGA VOLCANO- THE UNSEEN DISASTER - QUICK UPDATE

A quick summary of my concerns of the Mt Bardabunga volcano:

Insubstantial changes have been in the volcanic eruption in Holuhraun over the last few weeks. Tomorrow, will be 100 days from its outbreak. Seismic activity in Bardarbunga continues to be strong. The strongest earthquake since noon  was magnitude M5,1 last Friday at 21:05. About 20 earthquakes between M4,0-5,0 were detected since Friday and 10 earthquakes between magnitude M3,0-4,0. In total about 300 earthquakes were detected in Bardarbunga since noon on Friday. Little seismic activity was detected in the dyke and around the eruption site in Holuhraun since Friday.

GPS measurements show no changes. The subsidence towards Bardarbunga continues with similar rate as has been continuing. Telecommunications with the GPS station in Bardarbunga caldera have not been established yet. Due to bad weather forecast it is unlikely that scientists will be able to travel to Bardarbunga in the next few days. A connection will be established with the GPS station as soon as possible.


The volcanic eruption has now been going on for over three months, the lava flow is still great in Holuhraun and the rate of the subsidence of the Bardarbunga caldera is still significant. Three scenarios are considered most likely:

1. The eruption in Holuhraun continues until the subsidence of the Bardarbunga caldera stops. The eruption can still go on for many months.

2.The volcanic fissure may lengthen southwards under Dyngjujokull, resulting in a jokulhlaup( glacier meltdown causing severe flash flooding) and an ash-producing eruption. It is also possible that eruptive fissures could develop in another location under the glacier. If such an eruption would be prolonged it could eventually produce a lava flow.

3. Volcanic eruption in the Bardarbunga caldera. Such an eruption would melt large quantities of ice, leading to a major jokulhlaup, accompanied by ash fall.


The media has basically not given a dam about this eruption which IMHO is the worst natural disaster to strike the northern Hemisphere in the past 200 + years. The unseen gas of SO2 will start to affect the climate in another six months and YOU WILL SEE AND FEEL  THE CLIMATIC AFFECTS LOCALLY.  Another eruption of the caldera will finally bring the media into the situation but by then it is too late.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

THESE WEATHER MODELS CAN DRIVE YOU INSANE


The above charts indicates how the models are changing from one run to the next for snow for us. The first one idicates 1-3 in of snow which ran this morning. The second chart ran this afternoon and indicates almost eight inches of snow with flooding rains. It was colder and wetter. What I really wanted to demonstrate in these charts is that the rain turns back to wet heavy snow flakes on Wednesday afternoon into the evening as the cold air is driven into the storm. Like I said in my previous blog, this storm must be watched carefully and is the type of storm that can surprise all weatherman with copious amounts of snow after the rain.

WINTRY CRAP TO RETURN- SUPRISE BACKENDER?

Well, somewhat consistency is now showing up in the latest models. It appears to start off as snow Monday night - late  and quickly changeover to sleet , freezing rain and just plain rain on  Tuesday by noon. Then it rains its ass off  until Wednesday when it changes back over to snow- heavy wet snow possible with big dollar size flakes as the cold air is pulled into the storm- dynamic and evaporational cooling again.

Scenarios presented in this storm are:

1. Flooding by Wednesday at noon on the Little Lehigh- out its banks, Spring Creek Rd  maybe under water.
2. Winds gusty  with heavy rain at times- not a good day for anything on Tuesday through Wednesday morning
3. This will be a slow moving storm
4. Coastal flooding and flooding rains inland will be the big topic of this storm as the winds drive the ocean water inland  during high tides
5. If you want snow- go up. This will again be an elevation snow event like the last storm. Heavy wet snow may cause power outages in the Poconos again
6. Lastly, depending on when the low moves northeast of our area will determine when the rain will change over to those dollar size snow flakes again. The main problem is that low off the coast could stall over Long Island and keep the snow machine going even for us all day and into Wednesday evening. Tough call right now. We conceivably could be under a winter storm warning for Wednesday. This is called wrap around snow and with a stalled low near Long Island this scenario can play out.

For my Milwaukee friends- cold but getting warmer with mixing precip on Monday turning to plain rain. Mild for this time of the year

Memphis friends- mild with little rain- -hitting near 60 for the week


Friday, December 5, 2014

OUT WITH THE BLAH AND IN WITH WHITE?

On November 29th, I posted we would would have a few weeks of blah weather. The weather has indeed been blah and more blah- cold rains and only a couple of sunny but cold days. The blah weather is a fixin to make way for more of a snowy weather pattern. The heavy cold rains are going to smack us good tonight and tomorrow with the Little Lehigh finally getting bank-full or even spilling out its banks and ponding on the road with close to two inches or more of rain knocking at our door.

What lies after that is a weatherman's nightmare though- unpredictable precip types for another possible coastal storm on Tuesday. It could be raining in Skippack and whiteout conditions in Macungie, with the demarcation line somewhere in between for the snow. Too early to tell at this time but please be aware as the weather models are waffling back and forth and no consistency exists at this time. The only consistency that does exist is that this time if does snow- it will likely stick to the roads a lot quicker than the last storm as we had no 70 degree temps in the last few weeks.

Keep an eye on the weather forecasts as we could be in another winter storm watch by Sunday evening and a warning by early Monday afternoon.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

COME ON MIKEY, TELL US WHEN IT WILL STAY COLD!

Well  the next two weeks weather-wise look to be what I call " blah"  in other words- cold rains, sunny but cold days and nights with maybe an occasional snow shower- nothing major.

I want you to remember the following term because you will hear it being discussed a lot about in the upcoming weeks by the media and its not "polar vortex".  Its called "stratospheric warming" which basically means the direction of the jet stream continuously pulls in easterly winds into the stratosphere.  These eastward winds progress down through the atmosphere and eventually weaken the jet stream resulting in dramatic reductions in temperature in the Eastern U.S. and even Europe. This usually happens in late fall/early winter for us every few years. This may help create another polar vortex. Several long range models have indicated this to happen around December 14 and usually will lock in the cold winter weather pattern through March. The "blah" weather pattern we are in will quickly shift to a cold and snowy weather pattern and any available El  Nino moisture will spell travel trouble for us around Christmas. So rest up your snow shoveling muscles and stay warm in the next few weeks.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

WELL LETS REVIEW HOW I DID ON THIS STORM EVENT

Early Saturday, I called for the storm to form and blogged my thoughts. On Sunday morning , I said 6-8 inches. I received 6 inches at my house in Ancient Oaks- in Zionsville they got 9 inches"  Huffs Church 8 inches - pretty close. for four days out. The one thing that was disappointing to me was that we had no thunder-snow here in the LV but further south in Montgomery County they did and there lots of reports.

The other disappointment was there just was not enough snow on the pavement to call for a weather emergency to see how well it would operate- just enough to plow though. And that snow was wet. Good call by LMT staff.

Lastly, I still believe Thanksgiving evening will be some treacherous driving on the secondary roads. What snow melts will refreeze into black ice with lows dipping near the teens. Be careful shoveling and driving and have a Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A WHITE THANKSGIVING A REALITY

Well my first forecast looks to be pretty good. I gave you guys hopefully---plenty of warning to move your parked cars off the street- since Saturday morning. Now comes the hard part

We are now under a winter storm warning- called right on time this Tuesday early afternoon.  The amounts are going to vary greatly because of where the "banding sets up"  Banding of snow is just like training thunderstorms in the spring and summer is probably the best description I can give for people to understand this situation. Its basically a continuous line of heavy snow that moves very slowly- usually from south to north and constantly reforms over the same area. It is noted by the real dark blue signatures on the weather radar. Interesting facts  about snow banding----

1. real heavy snow huge flakes --literally down-pouring of snow with visibility to less than 1/4 mile or even less than 100 feet.. Its the kind of snow when looking out your front window and you cannot see across the street real well.
2. Thunder-snow and lighting can occur within the banding
3. It snows so hard that sleet mixes in - like hail in a summer thunderstorm. When sleet mixes in- expect thunder-snow.
4. It can snow at rates up to 5 inches an hour - like in 1983 Allentown February blizzard
5. Its unpredictable and that is why some areas may see little and other area see a ton like what happened in Philly a couple of winters ago down by  airport.

Just be careful out there and watch for refreezing Thursday night traveling home from relatives.

Monday, November 24, 2014

UPDATE ON WHITE THANKSGIVING

Even though the National Weather Service has lowered its amount of predicted snow for Wednesday this morning, this forecast can be an up and down event from one forecast period to another. I have said initially 6" but if the totals hold true for of 4-6" for the National Weather Service forecast, a winter storm watch will not be issued and neither will a winter storm warning. We will only meet the criteria for a winter weather advisory. Things can change though so keep an eye on the forecast. Like I said before though, the snow will initially melt on the pavement during the day and start accumulating by late afternoon- 3-4 pm on the pavement. Its conceivable that the six inches of snowfall be only three inches on the pavement- weird but a possibility. This is called the diurnal heating effect and happens if the snow does not fall quickly enough to cool the surface of the ground.

By the way, why does the forecast change so much now---ever try to thread a needle when it is somewhat dark?  That is what happens when there is not enough light in the room. Well, this storm event is somewhat like that, we must thread a needle to have a major snowfall this time of the year in the LV.  What makes this forecast change so much in just an eight hour period is the fact that the storm event is still out in the Pacific Ocean where we do not have data collected to accurately forecast-- no land ---no data. Just a good guess. Until the storm hits the west coast- late today we are just relying a good modeling. NOTHING IS EVER SIMPLE.  Thanks guys



Thanks guys

Sunday, November 23, 2014

WILL THE NEW WEATHER EMERGENCY WORK OUT FOR LOWER MACUNGIE?

Well, it looks like we just may try out the new weather emergency ordinance recently passed last week. I hope the illegal parkers have learned their lesson from last year and will remove their vehicles from the streets this time especially in the townhouse complexes. I live in AOW and watched my hard headed neighbors get to pay 200+ dollars for their cars after being towed. I do not have $200 to throw away hopefully they will pay attention to the LMT announcements on Tuesday evening if the Twsp issues a weather emergency. I expect brining of the roads on Tuesday afternoon in the LV and in the twsp.

I see us getting at least 6" or more of snow on Wednesday.  A winter storm watch will be issued most likely tomorrow evening and a winters storm warning on Tuesday afternoon for 6-8 in or more of snow. Like I said in my previous blogs, starts off as rain but quickly changes over to snow and will accumulate since most of the snow will fall Wednesday night.

This snow will be wet- take it easy when shoveling to the old duffers like me. Last year we did not get a lot of wet snow- this will be heavy and cling to the trees and look pretty though on Thanksgiving Day. Nice to be around a fire watching parades etc.  Turn on the Christmas Vacation and drink your egg nogg like the old grandparents did and make sure you take your nap LOL

Finally, I must comment on the potential for standing water and the left over leaf piles- both can be a hazard when driving and can block the storm inlets when the snow melts on Thursday afternoon. Be careful of refreezing of the roads and parking lots when going home or shopping on Thanksgiving night- THIS WILL BE A REAL BIG PROBLEM. I see wrecks all over so be careful.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I'M DREAMING OF A WHITE THANKSGIVING---WHAT?

Here is my brief  weather synopsis :

The cold front looks to stall just off the eastern seaboard on Wednesday evening, and an area of low pressure will move up the front from the south. As old timers say like me- this sets  up the snowstorm with a fresh high pressure to the north of us. One of the trustworthy models has more  phasing between the northern and southern jet streams and with this setup you can get a heavy snowstorm along and NW of I-95.  Other models, have no phasing and as a result ends up being a few light snow showers or flurries immediately along the Jersey coast. Also in this scenario, the conditions are ripe to set up snowstorm with lots of virga(precip falling from the sky but not reaching the ground) and evaporational cooling. In other-words it may start to rain at first but as the rain falls, it will cool the atmosphere all the way to the ground and turn the rain into heavy snowflakes. Timing of the precip is critical- during the day- it will take longer for the snow to accumulate on the pavement- at night it will be accumulating quickly on the streets. If the storm does form, expect brining of the streets on Wednesday.

 As a snow weenie,  I tend to lean on the model that indicates the phasing of the two jet streams. It tends to do better with a phasing storm along the coast and is more reliable. I am not ready to say yes to a storm just yet, but am leaning on a storm occurring. The media will catch on in the next couple of days and as usual will be playing it up with all of their hype since it's coming on the busiest travel day of the entire year. 


Regardless it will be cold again after this event. For my municipal friends, it could be our first weather(snow) emergency of the year- get the plows ready and tow trucks ready for those idiots who want to block the streets.


 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

WINTRY MIX ON THE WAY

Well last week I said 2-4 in of snow for Sunday night into Monday. I was close.  Looks like an inch or two of snow, then a mix of freezing rain, sleet and rain.  Personally, I will take any precip that falls out of the sky, we are really dry and the Little Lehigh Creek shows this dryness. A good two inch rain is what we really need but no such luck. I would like the soil to be full of moisture before it starts to freeze in order to have a nice spring flowering season and to help protect the roots before the bitter cold hits this winter.

This cold spell will be around for awhile--may not see 50's again until after Thanksgiving. I hope LMT gets to the leaves before the next major snow. Its been a real battle for the Township because the leaves did not all fall at the same time this year. Thanks to the road crew for keeping up with the leaves.

Lastly, I still am harping on the volcano in Iceland. I am giving you a link below to show how the SO2 (sulfur dioxide) is rearing its ugly head all around the Northern Hemisphere. Whether we like it or not, it will produce colder temps for us. Moscow has had really bad smog the past few days. The nice thing is that sunsets this winter on a cold, snow covered crisp but clear days will be outstanding with the red tones.

https://earthdata.nasa.gov/labs/worldview/?switch=geographic&products=baselayers,BlueMarble_ShadedRelief_Bathymetry~overlays,OMI_SO2_Upper_Troposphere_and_Stratosphere,OMI_SO2_Middle_Troposphere,OMI_SO2_Lower_Troposphere,!MODIS_Fires_Aqua,!MODIS_Fires_Terra,!MODIS_Fires_All&time=2014-09-27&map=-78.753752,0.642655,112.496248,99.78328

Thanks to all those who like my last post. More to come later


Friday, November 14, 2014

LETS TALK SOME SH%T

The overwhelming smell of raw sewage that wafts in the air from overflowing sewer manholes is the
result of an aging and leaking sewer interceptor that runs throughout the Little Lehigh Parkway which
now threatens the very existence of the aquatic and wildlife within the beautiful riparian areas along the
Little Lehigh Creek. Also, it is now recognized that leaking and aging sewer lines are the result of
a certain amount of infiltration of groundwater and inflow of surface drainage (I/I) entering
nearly every sanitary sewer system in the nation, including our sewer system and this usually
results in significant sewage overflows. The chances of such I/I extraneous flows increase
significantly during and after maximum rain storms and during significant spring snow melt
when the groundwater table is high. Unfortunately, for land developers and officials who are promoting growth, this fixed reality constitutes a real and profound barrier to continued commercial and residential growth in western Lehigh County.

That is, for every gallon of I/I gained means a gallon of genuine sewage capacity not available for land
development use. Most assuredly, the twin occurrences of I/I and upstream interceptor line
bottlenecks or restrictions has served to guarantee that sewage would at times become so
surcharged (that is, becomes overloaded) that sewage overflows discharge its contents on park
land and in the stream immediately adjacent to its gravity flow interceptor in the Little Lehigh
Creek.

For over fifty years sewage overflows have occurred in the Little Lehigh Creek which is a major
source of Allentown’s drinking water in the vicinity of Schrieber’s Bridge –the junction of the 36-
inch Emmaus Interceptor and the 27-inch Little Highlighter Sewer, at Keck’s Bridge where the
Lehigh County Authority's (LCA) 36-inch sewer line for Western Lehigh County connects into
the Allentown’s 24-inch Emmaus Interceptor from Emmaus and Salisbury Township and near
the Park Pumping station. However, during high peak flow periods, the incoming flow
historically has exceeded the carrying capacity of the Allentown Interceptor as a whole. The
consequences being – the interceptor becomes extremely surcharged and discharges raw sewage
into the Little Lehigh Creek Parkway and within the creek itself. Indeed, the problem is ongoing
because the existing interceptor was built in bottlenecks. That is, places where larger and newer
lines send sewage into smaller lines, thereby causing predictable back-ups. What-is-more
damaging over the past twenty years, is that the hydraulic pressure from new force main sewage
pumps placed upstream within the line requires relief when restrictions or blockages occur
within the sewer lines. Naturally, this relief ultimately would occur at the weakest point or points
in the system; and of course, it is inevitable that step-by-step symptomatic treatment of a serious
problem might not render adequate resolution to the whole problem. In other words, the
systematic sealing of manhole castings including the replacement of bolts in covers of watertight
castings in certain manholes along with new slip lining of the interceptor line might work to
transfer the problem elsewhere rather then promote permanent relief; and more importantly,
such remedial activity might be counter-productive toward continued sewered development
upstream. This is becoming more evident. As years go by, increases in the nitrate and fecal
coliform counts in the water samples gathered along the Little Lehigh Creek and the overflows
occurring further downstream from Kecks Bridge.

The building of the Stroh/Shaeffer Brewery and Kraft Plants in the late 1960's resulted in high
organic and caustic sewage discharges It was decided by LCA to facilitate the conversion of the
newly built Lehigh County Authority Pretreatment Plant to a Chemical Feed Station and to allow
for the addition of other Chemical Feed Stations along the Little Lehigh Interceptor in the hope
that the sewage would cause no additional problems in sewage transmission and for treatment at
the Kline’s Island Plant. When this sewage pretreatment plant failed in the 1980's another sewage
pretreatment plant was built in the 1990's to accommodate and provide a solution to these
chemical problems in treating the sewage. The sewage problem that exists now is that the main
interceptor has been damaged from extremes in the pH value of the improperly treated sewage
over the last ten to fifteen years plus leaking sewage laterals which now have caused significant
I/I problems to our current sewage system. More than 33 million gallons of raw sewage has entered the Little Lehigh Creek from 1999 to 2008 as reported by state and federal records has been compared to be equivalent to someone flushing a toilet directly into the Little Lehigh about once every 14 seconds for nine years. Members of the LittleLehigh Watershed Coalition have watched the sewage overflows in horror, fearing the worst for the waterway that meanders 25 miles from Berks County, through the Lehigh Valley, and into the Lehigh River.

The problem — and blame — extends way beyond the city of Allentown. It starts with LCA and its municipal signatory partners where the western interceptor cuts through nearly a dozen suburban communities. Together with rapid land development over the past twenty years combined with deteriorating pipes and rainstorms have significantly overwhelmed the main sewer line operated by LCA. The LCA's lines terminate and flow into the main interceptor in Allentown. LCA has been reporting raw sewage overflows to the state Department of Environmental Protection but has never been fined or reprimanded until 2007, when the state broke its silence and joined with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to crack down on these constant sewage overflows. State and federal officials now say that sewage pollution poses a risk to public health and the environment.

The illegal overflows violate the federal Clean Water Act, passed in part to force upgrades to municipal sewer systems, and must end by 2014, according to EPA orders issued in 2007 and 2009.  Carrying out that mandate will probably cost Allentown and affected suburban communities tens of millions of dollars and take years to complete. The EPA orders — by no means unique to Allentown — are part of a national effort by the agency to curb raw sewage overflows. Data shows that Allentown's discharges,which account for the majority of the raw sewage sent to the creek, have become increasingly common during the past ten years, a problem forecasted more than two decades ago by city engineers but downplayed by the political force of the removal for issuance of a building moratorium. Allentown and LCA have been putting off solutions to the raw sewage overflows because of the cost of upgrades and their consistent positions that the spilled sewage, often diluted by rainwater, posed no threat to the creek or the rest of the watershed. According to EPA, sewage overflows across the United States pose one of the greatest threats to oceans, streams, rivers and lakes, which provide food and drinking water and support recreation and local economies. Raw sewage can carry bacteria and viruses that can cause illnesses from mild stomach cramps to life-threatening diseases. The Little Lehigh Creek supplies about one-third to one half of Allentown's drinking water, which is treated to kill any bacteria before going to customers.The drinking water intake for the city is downstream from where raw sewage has overflowed from the treatment plant, but the city does turn off the intake during major rainstorms because of the amount of dirt, silt and other material washed into the creek. As the quality of the creek water decreases, drinking water treatment costs increase.

A March 2010 state report concluded the Little Lehigh exceeded fecal coliform and total coliform bacteria benchmarks for drinking before treatment or swimming, which is an indication of sewage contamination
but not a direct link. This may harm the overall biology of the stream which is considered a high quality and excellent fishery by state standards. Fecal coliform contamination is now present in an area where children are often seen swimming. Aside from coliform bacteria, the creek faces other threats. In 1998 and 2008, the state listed the Little Lehigh as "impaired" because of the impact of agricultural runoff, such as animal waste and pesticides, as well as stormwater runoff from paved and developed communities. In 2007, a habitat assessment conducted by the Wildlands Conservancy revealed that 56 percent of the 24-mile creek corridor is in"poor" condition. Conversely, just 12 percent of the creek was rated in "good" condition, and no creek sections earned the mark of "excellent." The sewage overflows became so bad in the mid-1980s that the state Fish Commission threatened to issue fines and take legal action. The commission also refused to stock portions of the waterway with trout. As public outcry mounted, the state Department of Environmental protection intervened and issued a moratorium on new sewer hookups until LCA presented a plan on how to eliminate the overflows. The department said the pollution was bad and getting worse. LCA proceeded with an $11.2 million plan to upgrade the system and eliminate overflows, but the overflows never ceased. In fact, LCA's I/I patches along the interceptor pipe only resulted in more sewage flows reaching Allentown, which during future deluges resulted in more raw sewage to the creek.

During the next twenty years, the state took no major actions to address increasingly common sewage
overflows allowed at Allentown's Kline's Island plant. In the 1980s, overflows continued to occur and
amounted to several million gallons a day during major storms. Between 1999 and 2008, overflows
happened an average 1.5 times a year, lasted an average of nine hours and sent, on average, more than two million gallons of raw sewage to the creek. For example, Allentown sent more than six million gallons of sewage to the creek in 2005, when remnants of Tropical Storm Tammy soaked the Valley.

The Kline's Island plant handles about 32 million gallons of sewage each day; it can handle up to 40
million gallons per day. During a major storm, the plant can handle as much as 86 million gallons until it must divert untreated waste into the creek to prevent damage. DEP changed its tenure with Allentown in 2006, when it labeled the city's discharges at Kline's Island"sanitary sewer overflows," which are illegal under any circumstance. Prior to that, the agency considered the overflows to be legal emergency bypasses, often permitted to protect plants. The reversal means the city currently has no legal way to discharge sewage in excess of what the treatment plant can handle. According to DEP, Allentown indicated that it would not pursue a solution "unless a court first affirmed the department's position." The exchange was shared with EPA, when in 2007 chose to take the issue a step further and execute an administrative order against the city to stop the raw sewage discharges. The federal agency issued a second administrative order in 2009, acknowledging the city's claim that I/I problems resulting from the western interceptor under the control of LCA and its municipal signatories also contributed to the raw sewage overflows at Kline's Island and must also be addressed. As a result, the municipal signatories, LCA and Allentown passed a new I/I plan called
Sewer Capacity Assurance and Rehabilitative Program (SCARP) to help address these overflow problems.

Recently, a pair of projects by LCA — one to create a storage basin to hold three million gallons of sewage at the pre-treatment facility during heavy storms has been completed and another project to repair the main sewer interceptor line along the creek is currently out to bid. The price tag for those projects pales in comparison to what is expected to come. With sewage treatment capacity at Kline's Island expected to be exhausted in three to five years, Allentown and LCA are considering ways to handle more sewage, prompting talk of projects that could cost $160 million to $221 million, according to estimates provided by LCA. Allentown also plans to build its own storage tank to hold overflows during major storms, preventing the raw sewage discharges to the creek and satisfying EPA. The Little Lehigh Creek for decades has suffered from the region's failure to adequately deal with its waste. Now, its future depends on a sound sewage solution, which will require cooperation among Allentown, LCA and dozens of community leaders. Until then, this cherished creek remains at risk.

During the past decade, the City of Allentown has dumped more than 33 million gallons of untreated sewage into the Little Lehigh Creek
2008: 780,000 gallons
2006: 3,200,675 gallons
2005: 8,984,480 gallons
2004: 5,424,479 gallons
2003: 3,301,604 gallons
2000: 1,310,000 gallons
1999: 10,550,000 gallons
Total: 33,551,238 gallons
Source: State Department of Environmental Protection; City of Allentown; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Upgrade options
The Lehigh County Authority and the City of Allentown have proposed sewer upgrades to increase treatment capacity for future development and eliminate raw sewage from spilling or being discharged into the Little Lehigh Creek. But the two sides have yet to agree on the most costeffective option.

LCA Option 1
Expand Allentown's Kline's Island Treatment Plant to increase capacity and stop untreated dumping in the Little Lehigh. Cost: $221 million.
LCA Option 2
Upgrade LCA's pre-treatment plant in Fogelsville to a full treatment plant, discharge treated sewage to the Jordan Creek, upgrade Kline's Island to eliminate untreated dumping. Cost: $160 million
LCA Option 3
Upgrade LCA's pre-treatment plant in Fogelsville to a full treatment plant,discharge treated sewage to the Lehigh River, upgrade Kline's Island to eliminate untreated dumping. Cost: $169 million
LCA Option 4
Upgrade LCA's pre-treatment plant in Fogelsville to a full treatment plant, spread treated sewage on the land, upgrade Kline's Island to eliminate untreated dumping. Cost: $164 million

Allentown Option
Build holding tank to eliminate untreated dumping, implement various improvements to Kline's Island plant to increase capacity.
Source: Lehigh County Authority; City of Allentown

Monday, October 20, 2014

Solar Flare threat again

The solar spot coming around the Sun today to the end of the week as a potential for another Carrington Event. Please read my previous post on this type of  solar threat. This solar sunspot is equivalent to eight earths lined up against each other. It is huge and has already shot off an X flare yesterday. Something to keep an eye on