Irene’s Fury

As if the typical summer heat waves and unannounced thunderstorm were not enough, this summer left in people all along the Eastern Seaboard with an even more serious and threatening weather condition to be concerned about.

Hurricane Irene, the first major storm of the 2011 hurricane season, struck the nation’s East Coast in late August after forming as a tropical wave in the Caribbean. The storm quickly developed a cyclonic pattern and moved through the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas before reaching the Southeastern United States.

Once in the U.S., Irene hit the Carolinas and gradually carved out a path of destruction that affected the majority of the East Coast. Irene raised a death count of at least 44 and left millions without power, hammering thirteen states with severe rain, high winds and massive flooding.

After receiving severe hurricane warnings from the National Weather Service, Pennsylvania braced itself for a storm like no other. Irene was expected to last around eight hours in the greater Philadelphia region, and produce around six to ten inches of rain, leaving Philadelphia with a record high of 13.61 inches for the month of August. As the storm moved north, however, Irene weakened and was downgraded to a tropical storm.

Due to severe flood warnings in areas near the Delaware and Susquehanna Rivers, many Philadelphian suburbs were evacuated and experienced massive flooding. Many families and businesses in the area lost power.  Transportation authorities shut down mass transit as many SEPTA trains suffered water damage. At least five deaths were reported in Pennsylvania from fallen trees, car accidents and drowning.

But not all Philadelphian suburbs experienced the same effect. Some homes maintained power and were left with little water damage, leaving many to conclude that the storm could have been worse. While this may be true, Irene undoubtedly made a mark on the Eastern United States and helped make this summer one to remember.

Sources: ABC News

              Fox News

              NY Times

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