Hurricane Irene and the NE Backcountry

With Hurricane Irene making landfall, most of the media and public’s attention is on the storm’s impact along the heavily populated areas and along the coastal regions of the eastern seaboard – and for good reason. But the impact in the northeast backcountry will be severe too and nobody is talking about that!

As of Saturday, August 27, 2011, the path of the storm is expected to travel from Cape Hatteras northward toward Long Island and then into New England dumping huge amounts (eight-plus inches) of rainfall and distributing it with the help of intense, sustained winds. The saturation and the gusts has the potential to damage property but also the mountainsides of the White Mountains, Green Mountains and the Adirondacks.

Heavy rainfall can cause mudslides and flood rivers. Winds will likely be stronger in the mountains than in other areas in the storm’s path because of the differences in atmospheric pressure at various altitudes among the mountains’ microclimates; the air will be unable to move over or around a mountain and will be forced to compress and funnel through valleys and over ridges at furious speed. This will likely cause areas of trees to be impacted by blowdown.

Hopefully it goes without saying, stay off the trails and the peaks over the next few days. Don’t worry, the adventure will continue even after the damage is done.

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