While we’re caught in futile waiting for our first raindrop in over a month and perhaps our fourth rain event of the year here in Austin, the northeast continues to be drastically, roll-a-13-ishly wet.
An extreme rainfall event unprecedented in recorded history has hit the Binghamton, New York area, where 7.49″ fell yesterday. This is the second year in a row Binghamton has recorded a 1-in-100 year rain event; their previous all-time record was set last September, when 4.68″ fell on Sep 30 – Oct. 1, 2010. Records go back to 1890 in the city. The skies have now cleared in Binghamton, with this morning’s rain bringing the city’s total rainfall for the 40-hour event to 9.02″. However, another large region of rain lies just to the south in Pennsylvania, and all of the rivers in the surrounding region are in major or record flood. The Susquehanna River at Binghamton is at 25.18′, its highest level since records began in 1847, and is expected to overtop the flood walls protecting the city this afternoon. In Hershey, Pennsylvania, Swatara Creek is 18′ over flood stage, and more than 8′ above its record flood crest. Widespread flash flooding is occurring across the entire area, and over 125,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.
You don’t often see a major city break its all-time 24-hour precipitation record by a 60% margin, according to wunderground’s weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, and he can’t recall ever seeing it happen before. It’s worth noting that the Susquehanna River Binghamton stream gage, which has been in operation since 1847, is due to be shut off in 3 weeks due to budget cuts.
Have we been underestimating the extent to which climate change will drive extreme events?