ShareThis Page

Tropical Storm Nate could reach Pittsburgh region by Tuesday

Jeff Himler
| Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, 10:03 a.m.
The projected path of Tropical Storm Nate as of the 8 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center on Oct. 5, 2017.
The Weather Channel
The projected path of Tropical Storm Nate as of the 8 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center on Oct. 5, 2017.

Tropical Storm Nate could provide a mixed blessing for Western Pennsylvania if it swings through the region next week.

According to some National Weather Service forecasts, the storm gaining steam off South America could drop more than 2 inches of rain in parts of the area, helping offset a September dry spell. But, as with any storm, it also could trigger localized flash flooding.

"We're so dry now, we should be able to take it," Mike Kennedy, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Moon Township, said of the potential rain from Nate. That scenario could change if the rain arrives as thunderstorms, Kennedy said, noting, "The more light to moderate, continuous kind of precipitation is what we need."

Through 8 a.m. Thursday, Kennedy reported, the year's rainfall at Pittsburgh International Airport measured 32.12 inches, almost 2 inches above normal. But, September was exceptionally dry, with just over half an inch of rain compared to the normal 3.11 inches, he said.

While it's possible Nate could turn east across the Carolinas, head out into the Atlantic Ocean and miss the region entirely, the dry weather over the last month means Nate is unlikely to cause any river flooding if it hits.

"Our water tables are still pretty normal, and we've been lowering our reservoirs to winter levels," said fellow National Weather Service meteorologist John Darnley. "We'll see maybe a couple feet of elevation on the rivers, mainly the Cheat in West Virginia, the Mon and the Yough."

Kathy Hamilton, a landscape architect with the Westmoreland Conservation District, said the organization has been working with area communities and watershed groups to lessen the negative impact of precipitation from storms.

Instead of a 100-year rainstorm that may be seen infrequently in the area, she said communities now are working to manage a more commonly encountered two-year storm — typified by 2.5 inches of rain over 24 hours.

"We want to control the two-year and five-year storms every time they happen," Hamilton said. "If we can hold back the water during those events, we're not flooding and eroding things every time it rains."

She said the Conservation District and partner organizations have completed updates of about a dozen stormwater retention basins in housing plans in Penn Township and Murrysville and near Monroeville's Gateway High School, all impacting the Turtle Creek watershed.

The basins, created several decades ago, were retrofitted with smaller outflow pipes, Hamilton explained.

"The basin is holding some of that water," she said. "So, in between storms, streams downstream will have a chance to have stabilized banks with trees, shrubs and perennials that are pulling some of that water out through their roots and slowing it down."

Other stormwater management efforts have included developing rain gardens in Mt. Pleasant and creating a buffer zone with swales between Cherry Creek and the parking lot of Westmoreland County Community College's main campus near Youngwood.

As long as it doesn't trigger flooding, any Nate-related rainfall should be welcomed by area firefighters, who have been busy battling brush fires in the region's parched fields and woods.

It's not too late for October showers to bolster the health of the region's trees and improve prospects for a colorful fall foliage display.

"The warmer, drier weather we've had can stress the plants and cause them to drop their leaves quicker," said Bob Pollock, horticulture educator with the Penn State Extension office in Indiana County.

Staff writer Matthew Santoni contributed. Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me