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OUT OF THIS WORLD WEATHER ANALYSIS – AKA “The Great Syzygy”

The company which owns and operates a huge parking facility at the Croton-Harmon commuter train station north of New York City was being sued in Small Claims Court. Plaintiff was the owner of a car which was damaged while parked in the lot on a day that flooding took place. While the amount in damage reimbursement being sought by the vehicle owner was relatively small at $ 550, there was concern by the parking lot company owners that if judgment was found in favor of the Plaintiff, that the flood gates could be opened for many other lawsuits, as over 1,000 vehicles had been damaged by water in the parking lot on that same day. So because of this concern, the owner of the parking lot brought in their attorney even though the case was being heard in Small Claims Court. Their attorney brought in COMPUWEATHER.

The big questions were this: Why did such terrible flooding occur in the parking lot and was it something that the owners should have reasonably expected to occur and prepare for? The forensic meteorologist assigned to the case prepared an in-depth analysis of the weather on the day of the occurrence, as well as the preceding day. What it showed is that a ferocious storm with very strong winds and heavy rain moved through the area. Rainfall for the two-day event amounted to more than three inches. A bad rainstorm? Yes it was, but not bad enough to explain the extensive flooding that occurred. Digging deeper, the meteorologist discovered that a rare astronomical occurrence had taken place on the very day of the storm. The occurrence was called The Great Syzygy, and it is an event which takes place only once every few centuries. Six planets in our solar system were in alignment on that day, along with the Moon. The result of this alignment was that the tidal flow in the Hudson River (which runs right next to the Croton-Harmon parking lot) was running extraordinarily high that day. This much higher than usual tide, combined with strong west winds on the backside of the storm which pushed water towards the east bank, caused water from the Hudson River to come up and over the embankment in between the river and the parking lot. That, on top of more than three inches of rain, produced the flooding.

The report prepared by COMPUWEATHER was presented as evidence at the hearing. Based on the fact that what had caused the flooding to occur was so rare an event, it was deemed by the judge that the owners of the lot could not have reasonably planned for such an occurrence to take place. Thus, they were not held liable for the damage which occurred to Plaintiff’s car. In following months, several other suits against the owners of the lot were heard. And each time, verdict was for the defense.