Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Flood Watch

Monday was dedicated to river patrol, and it will be more of the same today.

I took this picture about 9 AM Monday.  That's Wilkes-Barre on the other side of the Susquehanna, with the Market Street Bridge on the right.  Kingston is at my back.  At the time of the photo, the Susquehanna was safely within its banks.  That will change today.

We go to great lengths to put things in perspective.  We always point out that flood stage at Wilkes-Barre is 22 feet, but only low lying areas take on water at that level.  It takes a few more feet to affect homes and close roads.  Dikes protect much of the valley to 41 feet.

We can't win.  There are those who complain we spend too much time on the weather.  There are others who are at the opposite end of the spectrum.  I always try to walk that middle ground-- give you information you need to know without going heavy on the drama.  Maybe I'm wrong.  In spite of repeated warnings, there are people who refuse to get out of the river's way, people who drive through high water, people who take unnecessary risks.

The Susquehanna is beautiful, and you have to respect its power.  Show a little respect this week.  Be careful if you live near a river, creek, or stream.  It appears the bulk of the precipitation has stopped, but it will take a while for all that water to drain in and out of the system.

Thank you for all the photos you e-mailed in to the station.  They are spectacular.  Traveling in this stuff isn't easy, and those photos help us-- and our viewers get an accurate view of what's going on.  Please remember, do not go into harm's way to get that perfect shot.

So, what's it like covering this stuff?  I got soaked.  There is no way to protect yourself when the rain is shooting at you horizontally.  Waterproof shoes didn't help because, in the darkness, I stepped in a puddle up to my shin.  At least I was able to go to a warm and dry home.  A lot of people didn't have that luxury.  Broadcasting and rain don't mix.  A drop or two of water in the wrong place, like in a camera or cable, can shut us down for a while.  The wind was a bear, and it rocked our mobile newsroom.  There was a moment when I thought the wheels were coming off the ground.  The mast in the air really adds to the wind load-- much more than you would think.

We made it through the day, and we'll be back for more.