Wednesday, May 19, 2010

End of the line for a power plant

A small coal-fired power plant along the Ohio River near Marietta, Ohio, is to be shut down no later than Dec. 31, 2012, the Columbus Dispatch reports. The Richard H. Gorsuch power station is owned by American Municipal Power.

Fewer floods in recent years

Here's an idea I stole from a piece in The Evansville Courier & Press today. In the Community Comments section, a fellow named Michael Roberts wrote about the Ohio River. He mentioned that he is addicted to the National Weather Service Hydrologic Prediction Service Web site.

So, like Roberts, I went to that site and looked up the flood crests on record for Huntington, W.Va., where I live. I wanted to see if there had been any patterns in recent years regarding flooding on the Ohio in my area. I found the numbers, copied them to an Excel spreadsheet and did some sorting. Here is the distribution of the top 64 flood crests listed:

1919 and before, 3
1920s: 0
1930s: 5
1940s: 9
1950s: 11
1960s: 10
1970s: 10
1980s: 9
1990s: 4
2000s: 3

That's only the what, not the why. But it did confirm my suspicion that we haven't had many floods in this part of the river in about 20 years. That's one reason the flood of 1997, which ranked 10th on this list, was so memorable. That and the fact it was the biggest flood since 1955, and a lot of people -- me included -- don't have memories that go back that far.

Other than the bulge in the 1950s, this chart would look like a typical bell curve.

Oh, and I recommend Roberts' piece on its own merits, too, for what that's worth.

Another thing: It looks like the river at Huntington won't get back to normal level until this weekend. When it does, I hope the weather is good enough to dry it out soon.