Some folks in the media and denier-sphere have tried to downplay the severity of Hurricane Irene. That’s probably because they don’t live in my home town of Middletown, New York, one of the many Hudson Valley & Catskills towns devastated by Irene. Where I grew up, this was the storm of the century.
Above is a screen capture from the website of the Middletown Times Herald Record, the paper my father ran for some 3 decades starting in the late 1950s. The paper now does video reporting, and I’ll repost their amazing coverage of the super-storm below. That story notes that “emergency personnel” in the area have labeled Irene, “the most devastating weather event ever to hit the region.”
First, though, meteorologist and hurricane hunter Dr. Jeff Masters has the big picture in his post, “Irene’s 1-in-100 Year Rains Trigger Deadly Flooding“:
Hurricane Irene is gone, but the huge hurricane’s torrential rains have unleashed one of the Northeast’s greatest flood disasters. Videos of rampaging rivers in Vermont, New York State, New Jersey, and surrounding states attest to the extreme nature of the great deluge Hurricane Irene brought. Numerous rivers and creeks throughout the Northeast crested above their highest flood stages on record over the past 24 hours. The previous records were mostly set during some of the great hurricanes of 50 – 60 years ago–Hazel of 1954, Connie and Diane of 1955, and Donna of 1960. Vermont, where 3 – 7 inches of rain fell in just twelve hours, was particularly hard-hit. Otter Creek in Rutland, Vermont crested at 17.21 feet, 3.81′ above its previous record, and more than 9 feet above flood stage. In northern New Jersey and Southeast New York, where soils were already saturated from the region’s wettest August on record even before Irene arrived, record flooding was the norm. According to imagery from metstat.com, Irene’s rains were a 1-in-100 year event for portions of six states.
Here’s the video from my home town newspaper: