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Hurricane Floyd still a fresh memory after 15 years

Hurricane Floyd, although it was a Tropical Storm by the time it reached our area, left a lasting impact on much of the United States East Coast. Although the memories of many in our area are fogged by the tremendous damage from Hurricane Sandy, Floyd brought it’s own slew of effects 15 years ago today. The storm left an incredible amount of flooding in New Jersey — and while high winds and beach erosion weren’t major concerns –multiple deaths and millions of dollars in damage occurred.

Unlike Sandy the main story with Floyd was, as aforementioned, heavy rain. The storm developed in the Atlantic several days before impacting the United States East Coast and then strengthened into a hurricane. Eventually, Floyd peaked as a Category 4 storm as it struck the Bahamas. The storm then began to turn northward and eventually began interacting with a mid level system from the Central United States into the Ohio Valley. Similarly to Hurricane Sandy, the phase between these two systems tugged the Tropical Storm toward the Mid-Atlantic coast.

Floyd, while phasing with the mid level system, was pulled to a landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour. But while the upper level phase can be deemed similar to Hurricane Sandy, the degree of amplitude cannot. This phase was much weaker and more progressive than the one with Sandy — and Floyd tracked northward instead of inland. Floyd made another landfall on Western Long Island on September 16th as a Tropical Storm. Winds gusted to Tropical Storm Force and schools in the NYC and NJ area were closed almost everywhere.

Analysis from September 16th, 1999 showing Hurricane Floyd phasing with a mid level disturbance over the Eastern United States.

Analysis from September 16th, 1999 showing Hurricane Floyd phasing with a mid level disturbance over the Eastern United States.

Incredible amounts of tropical moisture streamed northward through New Jersey and New York as a result of this northward track and displacement of the low level jet. Rainfall amounts, as a result of continued training bands of tropical moisture, were unprecedented. 13.34 inches of rain fell in Somerville, NJ according to the National Weather Service. Rainfall amounts of 10 or more inches were widespread from New Jersey, to New York and from much of the Mid Atlantic through New England.

From our friend Justin Auciello at NewsWorks and Jersey Shore Hurricane News:

The Raritan River crested at 42.13 feet (28 feet is flood stage) in Bound Brook, the Somerset County community that received international attention after its downtown was inundated by flood waters that sparked a fire. Similar flooding occurred in nearby Manville. In New Brunswick, Route 18, the major thoroughfare into the city, was underwater. 

A state of emergency was declared in New Jersey, where four died and over 650,000 customers were without electricity at some point, according to NOAA.

Visible satellite imagery of Tropical Storm Floyd passing over NJ and NYC 15 years ago.

Visible satellite imagery of Tropical Storm Floyd passing over NJ and NYC 15 years ago.

New records were set in Philadelphia for the most amount of rain in a calendar day, 6.63 inches. In southeastern New York, rainfall totals were generally in the 4 to 7 inch range with localized amounts of 13.70 inches in Brewster.

But regardless of statistics, residents in areas that were inundated by flood waters will remember the storm forever. Many locations were completely flooded out — with widespread damage in New Jersey and New York State. Areas along the Raritan River were damaged beyond repair and many homes were evacuated for weeks. Highways near the area rivers were closed for prolonged periods of time.

Although Sandy has garnered most of the attention in recent years, for obvious reasons, Hurricane Floyd will be remembered by both meteorologists and residents in our area for it’s prolific rains and impact — and its reminder that Tropical Storms can affect our area with severe effects.

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