Wednesday, February 15, 2017


I must criticize PADEP and their PA Drought Commission. Its time they wake up to reality. I hope my readers complain to them.  Here is my brief synopsis on why you should complain with factual data provided below:

1. Last April. I observed the weather patterns going into a stubborn La Nina pattern. As in 2002 and as in the late 1960's, this pattern can present drought conditions for eastern PA. I warned my blog readers and even sent letters to PADEP indicating my concern on why we should be in in a drought emergency back in early July. They were basically ignored. I presented my credentials but that still was not good enough for them.

2. In August PADEP was hoping for Hurricane Matthew to dump significant rains- to no avail. Again they waited several months before issuing a drought warning which in hindsight should have been a drought emergency. Again, I warned both the LCA and PADEP  the Little Lehigh Creek will be going dry in the upper reaches. Both PADEP and LCA ignored these warnings.

3. The Little Lehigh Creek did go dry in several reachers of the creek. in November. LCA finally got the message but PADEP did not. Still no drought emergency was issued while hundreds if not thousands of fish and other aquatic species died and were seen in the dry creek bed. LCA Wellhead 8 continues to withdraw water and create a significant draw down as was observed in the frozen creek bed of the Little Lehigh Creek, the first time observed completely frozen over in December from the low base flows of the creek.

4. Information was presented to the LCA Board in January of the continual low groundwater tables from the USGS monitoring well in Fogelsville, even after a two inch rain in late December which brought back the base flow in the creek.

5. The LMT EAC board has been aware of this situation since last April when I brought to their attention my concern for a significant drought in our area.

6. It is now one year later, and my concerns are even more worrisome. I have presented below a graph from the USGS data from the Fogelsville monitoring well. Please review the yearly data. Currently the groundwater table is as low as it was back in August of last year. There is literally no snow on the ground with no significant rains predicted in the next two weeks. The temps will be in the 60's by this weekend which will start to dry out what remaining moisture is the forest leaf litter and topsoil in the ground.. Early budding and leaf out of the trees is expected which will pull more moisture out of the ground. What does this mean?

7. What this means is the fire watches, red flag warnings will start to be issued, maybe even starting this weekend.  The Palmer Index will start to indicate extremely dry soil conditions which will exacerbate planting schedules for the farmers. The groundwater table will start to fall rapidly and we will be in a drought emergency condition

8. My only hope is that we get significant rains in March and when I say significant rains- I mean two 4-6 inch rainfall events back to back or a 20 inch snowfall, both which are rare in March. If you look at the graph below we are tens of feet below normal in the groundwater elevation. It will take a lot of rain over a long period of time to recover. One month of normal rainfall will not do the trick. PADEP fails to recognize this situation. January rainfall was not uniform where certain areas of the Lehigh Valley received much more rainfall then others. It seems the airport gets most of the rain lately when does fall.

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