Flooding is a major concern for us in Central Pennsylvania and it takes a lot more than understanding the amount of rainfall to gauge the threat. That’s where the Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center comes in.
Robert Shedd, a Service Coordination Hydrologist says, “We provide forecasts for 175 locations from New York down through Virginia.”
The staff of 16, including hydrologists, meteorologists, and environmental scientists share office space with the National Weather Service in State College and the two-work hand in hand.
“We prepare the information that goes into the Flood Warnings, so we provide a forecast every day at 175 locations saying how high the river will be over the next three days”, states Robert.
These forecasts are crucial to those that live or travel near the waterways.
Robert tells us that their system uses plenty of data, “This is our Community Hydrological System or CHIPS. So, this is information. This is on the Juniata River here looking at what the river levels have been over the last several days and what the river levels will be over the next several days.”
“We’re getting information from a lot of different sources. We’re bringing in precipitation information, stream gauge information from the USGS and we’re bringing in snow information.” As Robert states.
You may have seen these stream gauges along rivers. These forecasters know that they may have to step in to save lives at any time of the year.
“We can get river flooding any time of the year here. In January we had some ice jam flooding. In the last couple of months, we’ve seen snowmelt flooding and 3-4” rainfall events this time of the year as well. As we get into the summertime we get convective storms with a lot of rain in a small area. Later in the summer we can get tropical storms”
Another great source for information is our website, wearecentralpa.com where we list all the river forecasts straight from your neighborhood.