Monthly Archives: August 2011

2011 Vermont flood maps after Irene

Vermont was hard hit by Irene. There are lots of photos and videos out there showing some of the devastation and flooding; here are maps that give some sense for the area involved. 

Vermont Flooding 2011 on Facebook is a good community resource, as is Mad River Valley Hurricane Irene. For volunteer coordination, see the VTResponse weblog.

Detailed city maps showing flooded areas are not yet available. FEMA maps show the most vulnerable areas, and are available for BurlingtonMontpelier, Waitsfield, and other cities.

A collaborative map of the incident is VTIrene, hosted on Crowdmap. Another VTIrene collection by Dan Dowling on Scoop.IT has an aggregation of news, video, and twitter accounts.

Compare with the 1927 flood; the Landscape Change Program at the University of Vermont has aerial photography of that event. See the National Weather Service's Flood of 1927 information.

River information from the Northeast River Forecast Center (RFC).


Vermont road information from VTrans. Please check current road conditions; this is not a current road map. An interactive Google map of Vermont highway conditions has more precision.


Vermont New Road Closures is a crowd-sourced map, which includes information about local roads not otherwise noted on the official map. This is a snapshot from August 31, 2011.

Vermont-new-road-closures's Vermont Flooding 2011 map has a series of map overlays; this one depicts bridges out, roads closed, and towns that are isolated. Much of the data can be downloaded in KML formats, and the interactive version of this lets you zoom in; this snapshot is observed August 31, 2011.


One day and seven day precipitation totals, from NERFC and AHPS.

Northeast-one-day-rainfall Northeast-seven-day-rainfall


Mix tape music for hurricanes

WNYC has put together the Dark and Stormy mix tape, featuring Lena Horne's Stormy Weather and Prince's Purple Rain on side A, and Nanci Griffith's cover of Wasn't That a Mighty Storm on side B. 

Galveston had a seawall 
To keep the water down, 
But the high tide from the ocean 
Washed water over the town. 

The New Yorker has The iPod of the Hurricane, songs for a windy weekend, leading with Wynonie Harris, “She’s Gone with the Wind”.

The Broward-Palm Beach New Times shares Hurricane Irene Mixtape Starter Kit — Just in Case, Safety First, advising "Stay prepared, and make tons of mix CDs for your hand-crankable boombox."

More mix tapes: Cassette from my Ex, Jason Bittner's book on the mix tape as a totem of personal compilations of 80s/90s romantic entanglements.

Hurricane Irene evacuation maps

Running roughly south to north. Several of these web servers are currently under heavy load, so where there are mirrors I'll note them; in addition, some of the official maps are relatively large PDFs, so in some cases there are simpler to load images available.

Other sites with map collections: Core77, PSA: Hurricane Evacuation Maps; Hurricane Channel evacuation maps collection.  A consolidated set of evacuation map data is in the FEMA GIS Data Feeds collection, labeled "HSIP Gold '10".'s 2011 Hurricane Season has a set of map overlays which include the FEMA evacuation routes. 

First pass of this is links only.

North Carolina: Hurricane evacuation maps, from NCDOT; hurricane evacuation routes for counties east of I-95 (PDF).

Virginia: Storm surge inundation maps from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. Mirrors: Norfolk (Imageshack).

Maryland: Osprey Emergency Management Map from the Maryland Emergency Management Agency. Warning: this page came up with errors the first few times I loaded it. Evacuations: Ocean City (story, Baltimore Sun).

Delaware: Evacuation routes from DELDOT. Evacuations: Bethany Beach; coastal areas (Governor's announcement); parts of Sussex County (map from DEMA).

New Jersey: Coastal evacuation and storm surge maps from the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management. Evacuations: statewide list (, Atlantic County (Press of Atlantic City).

New York: New York City evacuation areas: official map (PDF);  WNYC (Google map); Scribd map mirror (from PDF); Docstoc mirror (from PDF). Long Island storm surge flood map. Evacuations: Fire Island (ferry information); NYC Zone A, Rockaway (NY Times story; WSJ story))


Rhode Island:


How to replace your Macintosh logic board battery

The Macintosh Battery web page has all you need to know; it was enough detail to properly diagnose a dead battery on a Mac LC III at the University of Michigan Computer and Video Game Archive. The symptom was that the machine did this:

With a dead battery, these often fail to start up at all – you may hear the hard drive spin for a moment, but the screen remains black.

Just in case you'd ever need to know that again.

Hurricane Irene’s path forecasts

Hurricane Irene is the first major storm of the 2011 season, with a forecast path that is tracking up the US East Coast. The Weather Underground 2011 Hurricane Irene page is a good one page summary of data, and it will be accurate after this page is outdated.


Hurricane forecasting uses a series of models to estimate the position and intensity of storms. With a system this size, there is uncertainty as to the ultimate storm path, and it's not uncommon for a 5 day forecast to note that it might be more than 200 miles off course.

The National Hurricane Center's Irene archive has a fascinating loop of 5 day Hurricane Irene forecasts, showing the evolving best forecast track for the storm. It's a clear look not only at where the storm is going but also where projections have changed, in this case the projections that (on Tuesday) have landfall in North Carolina instead of Florida. 

The Tropical Cyclone Guidance Project at NCAR has an even more detailed set of data for Hurricane Irene, including an archive of sets of model predictions for the storm.

After the storm, the set of models will be compared to the actual path to verify model accuracy. This National Weather Service National Hurricane Center Forecast Verification report charts forecast accuracy over time, noting how improved modeling and added computing power has made storm forecasting more accurate over time. How much better? Consider that the average 24 hour forecast error was 100 miles in 1990, but only 50 miles in 2010; also, that the models currently in use give as good a 5 day forecast (about 225 miles off) as the 2 day forecast was in 1988.


What to write

Given a weblog which has been updated sporadically but regularly for a dozen years, the question is, what to write next.

Recent observations indicate that there are two kinds of writing that tend to get lots of traffic over time. One is the post that is extremely timely, where the world is looking for news of an event as it is happening. A timely and informative post on that event will get a burst of search traffic on one day, and then will get no traffic after that. A second is the perennially interesting article which routinely gets seasonal traffic when the world looks for that bit of information that they look for every year.

A third type of post, of course, is this one, which gets no appreciable readership in the short run or in the long run; that's mostly typical.

Writing the perennially interesting piece is hard, because you need to care about something deeply enough to capture a piece of what you and the world know about it that's of enduring interest and that's enough better than the rest of the net that people will find it. Once you do track this down, your search logs will lead you to variations and refinements that make the post better. My power outage maps post has this quality.

The post with a burst of intense newsworthiness is generally not newsworthy beyond two or three days. If you are fortunate, you have collected something that is otherwise interesting. I have a habit of collecting incident and situation maps for emerging events; this recent London riot map post is of that type.

I'd like to think that I don't need to have an audience (beyond myself) for this writing, but that said, it's always good to see that at least someone reads something that you write. (Otherwise, you'd be better off putting in on paper and then recycling it immediately.) When I've tried to use a blog as mostly a collection point, it has helped to divide out a separate blog for that purpose. My telegraphy blog admits the notion that on any given day zero or one person might read it, but it has been assembled as a collection, not a narrative. For some other ongoing efforts, a wiki might be more appropriate, e.g. for Ann Arbor history, cameras, or encyclopedic knowledge about tomatoes.