Radio PA Roundtable – September 6, 2013

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, we hear from PA’s two U.S. Senators  on the Syria question; NOAA researchers have a new global warming warning; and prosecutors in central PA are looking into a shared database of information that would, among other things, keep records taken off criminals’ cell phones.

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting, commentary and analysis on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:

Radio PA Roundtable – August 9, 2013

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, an update on the hurricane forecast for the rest of 2013; AG Progress Days begin on Tuesday in Centre County; and Penn State is gearing up for another football season.

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting, commentary and analysis on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:

Flooded backyard near Goldsboro railroad underpass.

Spring Flood Risk Reduced this Year According to NOAA

The mild winter will reduce the risk of spring flooding in most of the country, including Pennsylvania.    NOAA’s annual spring outlook was released today.

This time last year, most of Pennsylvania was looking at an above average risk of spring flooding, with a section of Northeastern Pennsylvania at high risk.  This year,  the risk of major flooding is average across Pennsylvania.

Due to mild weather and little snow pack, there are no areas of the country facing a high risk for the first time in four years. But Laura Furgione , deputy director of the National Weather Service, says that doesn’t mean we should let our guard down. She cautions that heavy rainfall can lead to flooding at any time, even where the overall risk is low.

Furgione says it floods somewhere in the United States nearly every day of the year.  She says flooding is the leading cause of severe weather-related deaths in the country, claiming on average about 100 lives a year.  Nearly half of these deaths occur in motor vehicles.  She says that’s why officials tell us not to drive through rising waters.

The only areas of the country with above normal flood risk are the Ohio River Valley, which includes of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky, and parts of the Gulf Coast which includes Louisiana and Mississippi.

Shipwreck Study Underway Along U.S. Coast to Catalog Possible Environmental Risks


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is in the process of cataloguing shipwrecks off the U. S. coast to determine which could pose an environmental risk as they deteriorate.   Lisa Symons, Damage Assessment and Resource Protection Coordinator for the  Office of Marine Sanctuaries, says they’re looking at shipwrecks since 1902 of vessels over 100 tons gross weight or 200 feet in length, those that could carry a significant amount of petroleum as cargo or fuel.

Just off the mid-Atlantic Coast during World War II, a German U-boat sent a nearly 500 foot tanker to a watery grave. In addition to vessels sunk during the war, there are other bigger ships beneath the ocean that could potentially pose an environmental risk.

A federal grant is helping assess the risk.  The work started in 2010, but was delayed by the Gulf oil spill.  It has resumed and should be completed by the end of the year.

The potential problem came to light as officials investigated a series of mystery leaks along the California coast near a marine sanctuary. Symons says they were able to trace that back in 2002 to a vessel lost during the Korean War.

When NOAA has completed the research, the Coast Guard will be given a list of vessels to watch. If any are deemed to be an imminent pollution threat, the Coast Guard could request money from the National Pollution Funds Center to do an assessment to see if a cleanup would be necessary.  

The list is being whittled down daily as historical records, museum records from Lloyds of London, Coast Guard records  and other documents are reviewed. Symons says some sites may also be recreational dive sites or may attract anglers as fish congregate there, and there’s often information available that’s not part of the historical record. There were just over 230 shipwrecks nationwide that had the potential to be a risk based on the research criteria. Fifty-nine of them are off the Atlantic  coast between New Jersey and Georgia. 

Symons says since many of the ships were lost at time of war, during the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II, they don’t always have a record of exactly where the vessels went down. However, she says the Navy destroyed as many of the foundering ships as possible, so not all that meet the size criteria still pose a risk.

You can learn more about the German U-boat attacks at You can also learn about shipwrecks from the Battle of the Atlantic at NOAA’s website.

Hurricane Season is Here, Are You Prepared?

It’s expected to be an above normal Atlantic Hurricane season according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Today (June 1st) marks the start of the season.

Lead seasonal forecaster Dr. Gerry Bell says they’re expecting 12 to 18 named storms, 6 to 10 of them hurricanes, with 3 to 6 storms expected to reach Category 3 or larger. He says the prediction is based on overall wind and air pressure patterns and warmer sea surface temperatures where storms often develop.

Dr. Bell says whether you live along the coast or inland, now is the time to prepare for Hurricane season. He says hurricanes can track well inland, producing flooding, tornadoes and wind damage.  He says people can be impacted well away from the coast.

Dr. Bell says vacationers who frequent the coast during hurricane season, and boaters who dock their craft along the coast, should take extra steps.  Boat owners should check their insurance policies and make sure they have someone who can get their boat to safe harbor if a storm approaches.

You can learn more about preparedness at or