August 12, 2009

Wet summer may mean more hurricane damage

U.S. hurricane experts say this summer's unusually wet conditions might result in excess hurricane damage this year. chief forecaster Joe Bastardi said this summer's above-average level of precipitation has caused many trees in northeastern states to become waterlogged and top heavy. In addition, he says soft, soggy soil has also made many of those trees unstable and more prone to being felled by strong winds.

Bastardi -- who predicted this year's hurricane season would start intensifying by mid-August -- said trees that have adapted to the northeasterly wind flow, are predisposed to leaning, adding to the potential for being uprooted. meteorologist Jesse Ferrell said July's monthly soil moisture levels were higher than 95 percent of values recorded during the last 30 years for most of New England, where soil is wetter than average by at least 2 to 4 inches.

In addition to the risk of felled trees damaging homes and blocking highways, the saturated soil has already shown tendencies for mudslides -- a phenomenon common along the Pacific Coast during the winter storm season.

AccuWeather also said many northeastern U.S. rivers are already at high water levels compared to this time last year. Since an average tropical storm or hurricane can bring 4 to 8 inches of rain, serious flooding is also a possibility.