Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ten Years Since Hurricane Isabel

Yesterday and today mark the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Isabel's landfall along the North Carolina coastline. Isabel was a very, very large storm -- occupying a chunk of real estate from New York State south to South Carolina as it churned northwest into the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Thursday afternoon of September 18th.

Isabel was not only a large storm but it produced one of the largest power outages in PECO's recorded history, in line with Hurricane Irene in 2011 but surpassed by Sandy in 2012.  The power outages, due largely to the long duration of gusty and gale force winds that buffeted the region. While the storm tracked far to our south and southwest, a very strong high pressure ridge over Maine provided a strong wind gradient that allowed for a gusty east and southeast wind to develop on Thursday and continue through the night. Winds gusted to near hurricane force along the coastline of Delaware, with 60 mph wind gusts from Dover and Strathmere on south down the coast.

Satellite image of Isabel near landfall on 9/18/2003.

Rainfall was pretty light through the region from was more of a wind impact in our immediate region. Impacts from wind and coastal flooding were the most prevalent through the Delaware Valley.

Graphic showing rainfall in our region. Heaviest totals were closer to the track of the storm's center.

Storm surge observations (NWS)

Flooding along the Delaware River was relatively significant, as well as coastal flooding in the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac Basin down near Washington, DC, where flooding was relatively significant.

Isabel was a relatively bad storm -- and it was my first hurricane although it passed a good 250 miles away from here. We lost power as well -- although for just five hours as opposed to a period of days -- but it was an interesting experience for me having not been through any hurricanes prior to this having lived in Minnesota until 2001.