Friday, February 24, 2017

LEHIGH COUNTY AUTHORITY- TIME TO TAKE ACTION NOW

Since last spring I have been the lonely boy crying wolf when it comes to the drought drying up the main stem of the Little Lehigh Creek. This past November, the Little Lehigh Creek did indeed dry up in its main stem through Lower Macungie Township. Lets take a step back on why this happened:

1. In 2008 when I served on the LMT Planning Commision board, I fought hard to warn the Commissioners and residents about how not placing monitoring wells along the Little Lehigh Creek when LCA was  requesting conditional use approval to take more water out of  Wells 8 and 12 would someday cause the Little Lehigh Creek to dry up the stream. I had Aurel Ardnt and LCA engineers say this would not definitely not happen. Guess what--it happened. Who has the degree in hydrology and physical geography and who does not?

2. In 2016, I warned LCA again that this was going to happen along with the Delaware River Basin Commission and PADEP in writing. Again, I was ignored until the stream went dry in November.

3. Lastly, in January I told LCA that unless we miraculously  receive 6-8 inches of rain over a three week period or a 20+ inch snow storm with a three inch rain to follow, we are in deep sh*&. I went to their public meeting and presented the facts. They told me they would have another engineer study conducted to look into the situation. How many engineers does it take to screw in a light bulb or in this case watch the Little Lehigh go dry in April?

4. I am writing this post on the warmest day ever recorded in February  77+ degrees.  in the Lehigh Valley. We have had two days of 70 degree weather with no rain. The forest litter is dry as hell. I am kicking up dust instead of topsoil. The monitoring well in Breinigsville is falling like a two ton boulder. It is at the same level as it was in September 2016. The Little Lehigh Creek in my backyard is shrinking in width by the day.  And what does LCA doing? Reporting on plastics in our waterways. Give me a break. This is a huge deal. Never in the history of  LCA have we had as low as watertable in February as we do now.

5. I come to the conclusion that LCA is not going to be proactive in this drought and start warning industrial users to cut back in a public press release. Nor do I see LCA turning off wellhead 8 to retain the low base flow in the Little Lehigh Creek.  In November thousands of fish died or were forced further downstream into Allentown.. The Little Lehigh Creek is ruined in sections of the Township for fishing and the Township Commissioners are not publicly stating their concern to LCA. No where to I see a public outcry? This saddens me deeply. If this been a pollution discharge into the stream, the public outcry would be tremendous. Who defends the fish and aquatic life? Sure the hell not LCA.

I hope you can pass this post onto others because in the next few months, its going to get a lot worse. When the stream disappears again, at least you were warned.  I am  tired of fighting this battle alone and hitting brick walls at LCA public meetings. It would be nice to see the LCA board meeting filled up and overflowing with LMT residents and trout fishermen telling them to stop pumping wellhead 8 until we get normal precip again. One person is just not enough to convince them. I wish as many residents in Sheppard Hills would come and support the Little Lehigh Creek as much as they support a golf course. This stream helps keep your property values high too.




Wednesday, February 15, 2017

" THE DROUGHT WARNING SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN LIFTED BY PADEP"

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.




Sunday, February 12, 2017

THIS STUBBORN WEATHER PATTERN WILL NOT BREAK- WE ARE IN TROUBLE.

The wishful thinking of another major snowstorm this week is gone. We are running out of time for winter. In my humble opinion, winter is over. Snow lovers, we need to really pray hard if you want to see a major snowstorm in our area in the next few weeks.

The worst of this nasty weather pattern is the continued drought situation. Sure the six inch snow helped but realistically it was just a band-aid on a bleeding arterial wound. The municipalities and LCA better hope for a weather pattern change or we will be going into spring with another major deficit in rainfall and groundwater recharge for our wells. Personally, if I was the PA Fish Commission, I would not stock the Little Lehigh Creek this year until we receive decent rains in March.

The rains we have received including today have been pitiful. Whats even worse is that we were only 200 miles away from 70 degree weather. The evapotranspiration rates will go through the roof in March and April in this current dry weather pattern which will help dry up the Little Lehigh Creek again. The trees will start to leaf out early in March instead of late April and will help suck out more water from the ground. We have basically no ground water recharge for our aquifers for the Spring, the second year in a row. This is not good.

I hope the weather pattern changes soon but as long as the Gulf of Mexico is shut down for storm origination and the storms race across the country from California, the Mid Atlantic region will suffer. Keep an eye on California Oroville Dam situation- it could fail in the next few days- their drought is over.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

AS LITTLE BIT OF DROUGHT RELIEF COMING OUR WAY

If you look at the west coast radar tonight, they are getting slammed with another Pacific pineapple storm. This storm unlike many of the others so far this season will actually be a rainmaker for us come Sun- Tues. We have a 50 percent chance of seeing portions of Spring Creek Rd under water on Tuesday.  One to three inches of rain is a good bet for Eastern PA and flood watches should be issued on Sunday. Do not be surprised to see a thunderstorm as well- a rarity in January

I have not said much about winter weather because in the last week or so it has virtually been non-existent. We have had only couple of inches of snow this year but that is about to change around Ground Hog Day. Finally some of the ocean moisture will meet with the cold air to form some coastal storms chances for our area. I am crossing my fingers this time.

Even though we may have two or more inches of rain next week, this is not an end to the current drought. We need 5-8 inches of rain over a long period of time or 20 inches of snowpack on the ground for 3 weeks. I see neither happening this winter.  Its hard to believe but even if we get two inches of rain, we will still only be normal for January precipitation. The quarter inch or less slop for each storm event that we have had since mid December has done little to recharge the base flow of the Little Lehigh Creek and groundwater conditions in our watershed. We need a significant weather pattern change and that will not happen until early to mid February at the earliest.

Protect your bulbs as they will start to pop in the next week or so with the 50 degree weather. It will get cold again and I hope it does not damage them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

WINTER IS HERE AND YOU WILL KNOW IT TOMMORROW

As I stated in my last bog in November, you will get to know winter early this year. Starting tomorrow, it will be bitterly cold with biting winds and snow squalls about. We will be in the single digits t for lows tomorrow night.  Bu t that is not the half of it.

I expect a winter storm watch to be issued late tomorrow for heavy snow, sleet and especially for freezing rain. As many of you experienced a brief icing event on the trees this week already, this could be a dangerous icing event for the LV.  One-tenth to just over a quarter inch of freezing rain could be a real problem with power outages with heavy wet snow on the tree limbs. Just have to see how the models work out on this storm event. It will be real tough for the extreme cold air in place  to be scoured out by the third warm front event in a week.

Many are asking how much snow are we going to get?  My initial call is 5-8 inches of snow but in a warm front situation, precipitation transition times are difficult to time and make all the difference in accumulation amounts. I would cautiously say at this time it will be a plowable event with a heavy crust of ice. Then rain on top making this event a slopfest for everyone to walk and drive in.

This is my opinion only but if Mt Holly NOAA issues anything less than a winter storm watch, they are going to be in trouble. This is not because of  the storm event initially not meeting the heavy snow criteria but  the types of precip that can occur with this particular type of  storm event. We could have only four inches of snow, one inch of sleet and one tenth of an inch of ice on tree limbs and they will come down just as bad as a  a 12 inch snow event. The LV is prone to such events

I caution the municipalities to watch this event carefully unfold, The heavy wet snow near the transition times for the precipitation will be accumulating quickly with the flakes becoming bigger and bigger until it changes to sleet or freezing rain. This event would be a good event to brine the roads ahead and you will see this on Friday. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

SO YOU THINK WINTER WILL NEVER COME?

I said in my last blog about the chance of a November snow and getting cold. Sunday night may be the first of many cold spells coming up with a chance of the white stuff mixing with rain in the Lehigh Valley and accumulating snow in the Poconos. What is my winter outlook?

Snows will be abundant with the ground being white most of the winter. Above average snowfall is expected. The first accumulating snow will happen before  Pearl Harbor Day (Dec 7) in this weak La Nina year.  We will see many cloudy days with one rain/snow storm after another. Many of the snow cutoff lines will run through Montgomery County  or what I call the Fall line (South Mountains) this winter. I do see a significant amount of ice storms this year as warm fronts will be blazing through our area. It will be cold- below normal starting in early December. This will be the talk of the town.

What I do hope to see is significant rains followed by heavy snows, otherwise we are in deep do do and will be in a Drought emergency by Christmas. Lets hope for a big Christmas snow this year- we are way overdue for one.

I will keep you on top of the winter storms as much as possible but lets be realistic this year. Many of the storms in a LaNina year are hard to predict snow vs rain as the cutoff line is very close to the Lehigh Valley. Hopefully we will get the cold to go along with the precip this year. 





Thursday, November 3, 2016

PADEP FINALLY ISSUES DROUGHT WARNING

What I have been saying since April has finally been issued today. We are officially under a drought warning and IMHO in a Drought emergency. The Little Lehigh Creek base elevation only has to drop one more foot and the stream will be dry from Willow RD to Rt 100. That has not happened since 1966. The groundwater table is  already in drought emergency status. This is a serious drought as even demonstrated by the 50 acre corn fire last week. LCA should be cutting off withdrawals to the wells next to the Little Lehigh Creek stream as this drought is becoming a watershed issue and just no ta stream base flow issue.

Many people have been asking me about this winter. Cold will be the dominate feature this winter with well below temps for late December into January. Normal snowfall events are expected with the first accumulating snowfall between Thanksgiving and December 7. There will be a real good chance of some 8+ snowstorms this winter unlike the 30" and done storm like last year. Expect  a serious ice storm this year with the colder temps.


Friday, October 7, 2016

THE DROUGHT CONTINUES

Well as the cold front shunts Hurricane Matthew out to sea for a loop de loop pattern, we in the LV get jack crap for rainfall. I really thought this storm would be a pattern changers- wrong. Needless to say we need the rain and we will get nada -- less than .45 inch and that is even on the high side. The only thing I did say right is the possible landfall spot for Hurricane Matthew- still going for SC border area with NC

I was alo wrong on the drought warning being issues by PADEP.  PADEP drought task force  thought Hurricane Matthew was going to give us relief and thus failed to issue the warning this past Tuesday. I expect them now to issue one after their  next meeting in two weeks or possibly even sooner. The groundwater tables have already met for drought warning status and the two inch rain we had at the beginning of the month did little to replenish the aquifer ore even the stream flow for our area.

It will get cooler however with the passing cold front on Saturday-- lows in the upper 30's and highs in the upper 50's - lower 60's.  Fall is here- just wish the rain was as too.




Tuesday, October 4, 2016

THE DROUGHT BUSTER- HURRICANE MATTHEW - IS ABOUT TO CHANGE OUR WEATHER PATTERN

All summer long I have been saying that in order to break our drought weather pattern, a tropical storm would have to hit us. We missed on the first storm this year in our region- we will not miss on this one though. My thoughts on how Hurricane Matthew will affect the Lehigh Valley.

1. The storm will ride along the entire east coast. Whether Hurricane Mathew where it comes on land is the only question. My best guess is somewhere between Myrtle Beach SC and Moorehead City NC.  Hurricane force winds will be present- Cat 3 is also my best guess but that may change based on the warmer sea temps just offshore. Cat 4 is not unreasonable at this time.

2. As the storm progresses along the coastline, it will weaken to Cat 2-3 all the way up to the Chesapeake Bay area. Yes, Delaware will be inundated with rain and wind with coastal beach erosion.

3. The tricky part of the storm is what happens as a MAJOR Cold front approaches Hurricane Matthew from the west as the same time it is riding along the coast. Stay tune for updates as this is still too early to predict the exact track for our area which will affect how much wind and rain we actually get.

4. There are two things that will definitely happen though regardless of the track of the hurricane for our area. We will get at least flooding rains- 2-4 inches of rain and secondly, it will get down right nippy after the storm leaves us.

5. The track of Hurricane Matthew is taking a track very similar to Hurricane Hazel which dumped flooding rains to our area in October 1954. These were record rain amounts along with record high winds for the Lehigh Valley. I do not see us getting so much of the winds as Hurricane Mathews is predicted to stay along the coastline unlike Hurricane Hazel which came inland and pummeled not only us but Canada. But you are hearing this first from me--- snow maybe more of a threat for the NE US and Canada than winds and rain as the cold air is pulled into the storm as it goes extratropical. This maybe a real big accumulation too- just have to see

6. When I stated a significant weather pattern change, I meant it. Lows will drop into the 30's with frost and freezes a possibility next week. Highs will be only in the 50's and maybe cooler. Stay tune

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

POSSIBLE TROPICAL STORM/HURRICANE AROUND LABOR DAY

Back on August 21, I forewarned all my weather friends in a facebook posting that a possible tropical storm/hurricane could hit our area around Labor Day. I still am forecasting this and the weather models are starting to depict this scenario today.  

This scenario is called a retrograde tropical low pressure system. Its very similar to what Hurricane Sandy did in 2011. A major high pressure system sets up to the northeast of our region and forces tropical storms to ride along the coast or retrograde back into the coast at a sharp angle. In this case a tropical storm that is forced underneath this high pressure system and has no other choice but to ride along the coast, dumping flooding rain and wind into our area along with severe beach erosion and high tides with flooding along the immediate coast and could move slow, increasing the amount of rainfall we experience.

Please watch the news over the next few days as the media hype will begin for the mid-atlantic region. Hopefully our area can get some heavy  rain. Our current dry soils can tolerate 2-4 inches of rain easily before river flooding becomes a concern. Lastly, I will start talking about long term winter forecasting after Labor Day unless we have back to back tropical storms, which has happened before in 1955 and is not out of the question given our current weather pattern of stingy northeast high pressure systems over our area that continually provided us with little chances of rain the past several months. Back to back tropical storms could obliterate this stubborn weather pattern and is very likely given the weather pattern we are currently in at this time. This could have a big effect on the upcoming winter as well.