The flood of 2006

... why we got hit.

by Len Dalton

The Parkway at Vinton Street early Monday morning. The water had reached its maximum, at which point Ell Pond was twice its normal size -- about the size it was two hundred years ago.

Photo by Don Norris.

Back in 1949 your humble correspondent labored for Joe Dodge and The Appalachian Mountain Club as Hutmaster in Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington. Part of that effort involved taking weather observations morning and evening. Considering the bazaar nature of mountain weather those measurements sparked my interest in meteorology. A year later the Korean War broke out and as a member of the Naval Reserves I went on active duty.

Up to that time the Navy had trained me to be a gunner's mate but while being checked in for active duty they asked what I did before. I told them of my work on the mountain and they asked what I did. My answer was, "I worked like a donkey!" Suddenly the long absent light bulb in my head went off and I told them "I took weather observations!" Bingo! They got out the book and read off the trade of 'aerographer', the Navy term for weatherman. I told them a fib! I said I knew all that stuff and they decided to send me to the Atlantic Fleet Weather Central in Norfolk, Virginia. To make a long story longer, they put up with me in Norfolk and I got trained as an aerographer. As it happened, it was right up my alley! I loved it and still do. Now, last week I was watching the local weather like a hawk with my own weather station and could see it all developing. The blocking high pressure to our northeast and the large upper level low to our west. The arcing flow from Florida was riding right at our area with no place to go. Sure enough, good ol' Melrose got hammered once again by a hundred year storm which now materializes every 10 to 15 years.

In many areas of the tropics such rain is not uncommon and as a result provisions are made to carry off the heavy load of water with large capacity drains 30 feet deep and 100 feet across. During a severe rain events these drains fill right up and carry the water to the ocean with no discomfort to anyone. In towns like Melrose provisions are made for a substantially reduced volume of water. Obviously, if Melrose intends to cope with heavy rains it HAS to enlarge its drainage. That is the simple solution and by now it should be obvious. To the extent such expansion of drainage is not accomplished, the City of Melrose is a sitting duck waiting for the next flood calamity. With help from Beacon Hill I suspect it will now be done.   

June 2, 2006

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