NYS Mesonet Credited for Giving New York Early Flood, Wind Warnings During Tropical Storm Isaias

The New York State Mesonet consists of 126 weather stations across the state that provide detailed, real-time weather data.

Albany, N.Y. (Aug. 11, 2020) – The New York State Mesonet at the University at Albany is being credited for playing a critical role in helping monitor dangerous flooding and wind conditions caused by Tropical Storm Isaias across eastern New York Tuesday.

Launched in 2014 by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, UAlbany, and the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the New York State Mesonet is the most advanced and largest early warning weather detection network in the country.

On Tuesday, the National Weather Service (NWS) in Albany closely monitored all Mesonet weather observation stations as Tropical Storm Isaias moved up the East Coast. NWS forecasters were specifically focused on sites in areas such as the Catskills that were devastated by flash flooding during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

Tannersville in Greene County, one of the communities inundated during Irene, recorded 4.5 inches of rainfall before 4 p.m., contributing to the NWS’s decision to issue a flash flood warning for the region mid-afternoon Tuesday.

“Tannersville’s Mesonet was closely monitored and played a key role in the determination to issue a flash flood warning at 3:45 p.m. yesterday,” said Raymond G. O'Keefe, NWS in Albany’s meteorologist in charge. “All Mesonet observations (especially rainfall and wind) were monitored throughout the day and played an essential role in our situational awareness of Tropical Storm Isaias.”

NYS Mesonet graphic of 24 hour storm precipitation total from Isaias

NYS Mesonet graphic shows 24-hour precipitation totals due to Tropical Storm Isaias. (Created by Nick Bassill)

In addition to real-time rain data, the New York State Mesonet provided critical information on soil saturation in the hours leading up to the storm that better prepared forecasters to predict flooding. Meteorologists within UAlbany’s Center of Excellence in Weather and Climate Analytics also worked with a number of its utility partners across the state, including Con Edison and the New York State Department of Transportation, to help with severe weather predictions.

“UAlbany’s Weather-Climate Enterprise remains committed to providing support for our public and private partnerships statewide,” said Christopher Thorncroft, who directs the NYS Mesonet and Center of Excellence in Weather and Climate Analytics. “Our data and expertise are playing a critical role in New York’s decision-making when severe weather strikes.”

The New York State Mesonet consists of 126 weather stations across the state that provide detailed, real-time data to emergency managers, utilities, transportation facilities, farms and other weather-sensitive businesses across New York.

Governor Cuomo directed the Mesonet be built with $30.5M in FEMA hazard mitigation funds with the express charge to reduce the weather blind spots that have hampered the state’s ability to respond to emergencies in the past.

New York is among the most weather-sensitive states in the nation, and flooding from increasingly frequent heavy rains is the number one weather risk to the state posed by the changing climate.

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