Quick, Someone Build an Ark! (Updated 7/25/08)
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July is almost behind us, and that means we're heading toward the peak of the season for activity in the tropical Atlantic. August and September are historically the busiest months for hurricanes in Atlantic basin. Although we don't have to deal with the direct impacts from these ocean storms here in the Ohio Valley, we sometimes have to deal with the "ghosts" of these systems as they move inland from the Gulf of Mexico and unload their plentiful rains. Some of the "ghosts" that have impacted Kentucky over the years include Audrey (1957), Camille (1969), Bob (1979), Isidore and Lili (2002), and Dennis and Katrina (2005). In some cases, these systems did our area a favor by getting us out of mild to moderate droughts. For example, Katrina dumped nearly 4" of rain on Bowling Green in late August '05, bringing adequate moisture back to starved crops and vegetation. Sometimes, though, the timing of these systems may not be exactly favorable.
In 1995, Hurricane Erin--which made two landfalls as a Category 1 storm in Florida--worked its way through the Deep South and into the mid-Mississippi Valley on August 3rd and 4th. Erin's remnants then took a right turn into the Ohio Valley as the first weekend of the month commenced. In Indianapolis, this spelled T-R-O-U-B-L-E for NASCAR as it prepared for the second annual running of the Brickyard 400. Rain had already wiped out second round qualifying for the event, and on the morning of Saturday, August 5, Erin's "ghost" brought a steady downpour that lasted through the morning and well into the afternoon over Indiana's state capitol. But NASCAR officials kept the jet dryers humming on the track, crossing their fingers for any break in the rains. Around mid-afternoon, they finally got it, and though it was not seen on national TV due to prior commitments, the race took the green flag. The late Dale Earnhardt emerged victorious over Rusty Wallace as dusk loomed over the historic 2.5 mile speedway.
On that same day, Erin crashed the party at another event right up I-70 in another state's capitol (a friend of mine now living in Evansville, Indiana remembers this one very well!). Buckeye Lake, Ohio just outside of Columbus was playing host to Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band for a third time. Late on the morning of the 5th, Flash Flood Watches and Warnings were posted for much of central Ohio, as heavy rain from Erin overspread the area. The rain persisted nonstop all the way through showtime that night, turning the parking lot and the concert venue's lawn area into a quagmire (think "Woodstock" here). Despite the adverse conditions, the band played on, much to the delight of the thousands of "parrotheads" in attendance! By the way, the Columbus International Airport recorded 3.17", while Buckeye Lake itself picked up 2.72".
Bowling Green also picked up some rain from Erin (a little over an inch), but that's a drop in the bucket compared to the moisture Frederic brought us on September 13, 1979. Frederic had made landfall near Mobile, Alabama the night before as a powerful Category 3 hurricane. The storm then curved northward as it moved inland, cruising right over South-Central KY on the eve of the 13th. That day was one of the wettest in Bowling Green's history, with 6.02" measured. Nashville, Tennessee picked up 6.6", also a one day September record for them. As the core of Frederic's remnants moved over the area, winds gusted to 46mph in Bowling Green and to 45 mph in Nashville during the 9pm hour. What a nasty day!!
So, will we be affected by tropical remnants at any point this year? We shall see!