Heavy rains kill seven in Georgia

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:27 PM GMT on September 22, 2009

Share this Blog
5
+

Very heavy rains exceeding fifteen inches have soaked the Atlanta, Georgia region over the past two days, triggering widespread major flooding. Record flood levels have been observed on seven rivers and creeks in the Atlanta area, breaking records that had been set as long ago as 1919. In one case, the new flood record (for Utoy Creek near Atlanta), was more that ten feet above the previous record, with the creek still rising. The Chattahoochee River was one of the rivers that rose to record levels, and flood waters from the Chattahoochee crested over the I-285 bridge in western Atlanta, forcing closure of the expressway. At least seven people have been killed, according to ajc.com, with at least six people still missing.


Figure 1. Radar estimated rainfall for the Atlanta, Georgia region ending on September 22. More than 15 inches (white colors) had fallen in and around Atlanta.

A list of the records set so far:

Noonday Creek near Woodstock 19.66 ft 21/530 PM, old record 16.30 ft (07/11/2005)

Nickajack Creek at Mableton 19.30 ft 22/215 am, old record 16.60 ft (07/11/2005)

North Fork Peachtree Creek at Atlanta 18.07 ft 21/715 PM, old record 17.70 ft (09/16/2004)

Utoy Creek near Atlanta 27.04 ft 22/715 am, old record 16.86 ft (05/06/2003)...still rising

Chattahoochee River at Whitesburg 29.58 ft 21/1015 PM, old record 29.11 ft (12/11/1919)

Suwanee Creek at Suwanee 14.30 ft 21/645 PM, old record 12.04 ft (10/05/1996)

Yellow River at Lithonia 25.50 ft 22/515 am, old record 17.53 ft (05/07/2003)... nearly steady

Yellow River near Conyers 20.80 ft 22/730 am, old record 16.36 ft (07/08/2005) below Milstead...still rising

Chattahoochee River at Franklin 28.71 ft 22/715 am, old record 28.40 ft (12/15/1919)...still rising

The strong flow of moist air from the southeast that fueled the heavy rains has diminished today, and no widespread heavy rains will affect northern Georgia over the next few days. However, there will be some scattered thunderstorms in the region the next two days that will dump heavy downpours over local areas, and these thunderstorms will keep flood waters from receding much along some flooded rivers and creeks. It is possible that some additional moisture from the remains of Hurricane Fred will affect northern Georgia and South Carolina Wednesday and Thursday, boosting rainfall totals from these scattered thunderstorms.


Figure 2. AVHRR visible satellite image of Hurricane Hugo taken on September 22, 1989. Hugo was over Ohio at this time, and had finally been declared extratropical.

Twenty years ago today
Hurricane Hugo plowed through the center of South Carolina on September 22, 1989, reaching the North Carolina border 140 miles inland by 8am EDT. Amazingly, Hugo remained at hurricane strength for its entire passage through South Carolina--a full eight hours. The hurricane caused massive damage to forests, buildings, and power lines along the way, killing thirteen South Carolinans in total. Charlotte, North Carolina, over 200 miles inland, and a place of refuge for many South Carolinans that fled the storm, received sustained winds of 69 mph from Hugo--just below the 74-mph threshold of hurricane strength. Hugo turned northwards and roared through Virginia, where it killed six people, then into West Virginia and Ohio, where it was finally declared extratropical at 2pm EDT on the 22nd. The hurricane claimed its final victim near Buffalo, New York, when winds from Hugo toppled a tree onto a motorist.

In all, Hugo did $7 billion in damage to the continental U.S., and $10 billion over its entire path ($17.6 billion in 2009 dollars), making it the most costly hurricane ever at that time. The final death toll was 56.


Figure 3. Maximum wind gusts recorded from Hurricane Hugo of 1989. Wind gusts in excess of 80 mph (green hatched areas) were recorded all the way to the North Carolina border, 140 miles inland. Image credit: National Hurricane Center.

There are no threat areas in the Atlantic to discuss today, and none of our reliable computer models are forecasting tropical storm development over the next seven days.

Jeff Masters

Suwanee Creek Greenway flooding (takabanana)
Suwanee Creek Greenway flooding

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 301 - 251

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18Blog Index

I say, El What ? 2009 so far is a very mild Nino.

1997:


2009:


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Fred was a fish.
Fredex is...
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
Quoting CycloneOz:
Dear Dr. Masters:

Would you please do a bit of research and inform us in your blog if solar inactivity / activity is historically tied to periods of inactivity / activity in the tropics.

Many thanks! :)


Yeah, I was just gonna ask if there were any studies correlating SS activity with TC activity.
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
Quoting winter123:
is this fred? sad. But those saying its a fish were WRONG!!! take THAT! lol



Sorry...that is not Fred. For it to be "Fred", TS warning...(at a minimum) would be issued as it approached U.S. coastline.

Just looked...NOPE! No tropical storm warnings are posted. Sorry. Not Fred.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting synthvol:
Can anyone explain to a noob why there has been so much "shear" this year as opposed to say '04, and in particular, '05??!! Thnx.


El Nino and other factors have contributed to strong shear across the atlantic
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
is this fred? sad. But those saying its a fish were WRONG!!! take THAT! lol

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Lowest pressure all week, albeit on normal cycle.

Just an obs.



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
All should pay attention to their exposure to rising water.

FLOOD MAPS (FEMA)
Link


NFIP
Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting synthvol:
Can anyone explain to a noob why there has been so much "shear" this year as opposed to say '04, and in particular, '05??!! Thnx.


It is very complicated and has to do with a butterfly flapping it's wings in Tibet.

{sorry...I couldn't resist...I'm sure someone will give you a straight answer. :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
These storms do have a lot of lightning, but so far today no reports of severe weather at SPC.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting synthvol:
Can anyone explain to a noob why there has been so much "shear" this year as opposed to say '04, and in particular, '05??!! Thnx.



2004= El Nino Modiki

2005= anomaly
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Can anyone explain to a noob why there has been so much "shear" this year as opposed to say '04, and in particular, '05??!! Thnx.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Dear Dr. Masters:

Would you please do a bit of research and inform us in your blog if solar inactivity / activity is historically tied to periods of inactivity / activity in the tropics.

Many thanks! :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:


Saints at Buffalo this week.
On da road again...

One game @ a time.

A steady Brees in Septemebr is always good.


Yeah, the least you guys can do is beat up everyone else in the AFC east. Poor Dolphins. I mention how cute they are?
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
The other MJO forecasts have a huge discrepancy in the 15 day forecast.

The GFS shows a spike in our domain, but the ensemble mean does not. The ensemble mean has verified much closer to obs than the regular GFS. Not sold that we will actually get a spike in early Oct.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hi IKE and EVERYONE


IKE what is that off my coast? It isnt Fred Ex trying to develop is it?
I feel very bad for Georgia
lots of torrential rain here today but nothing like they are having to deal with

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting tornadofan:


Another possible reason - the sun now has TWO sunspots.


Really? I'll have to go look at the solar websites. That is big news after such a weird stretch that has everyone including solar physicists scratching their heads! Thanks for the update.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting mikatnight:
From Dr.Lyons blog on the WeatherChannel:


The result is that so far in hurricane season 2009, most of the central and western Atlantic Ocean has been dominated by either sinking air from the Subtropical Ridge or fast winds west or southwest winds associated with the TUTT. The result is fewer hurricanes, more short-lived hurricanes and none that have made it west of 70W longitude.

There are at least three possible reasons for this unusual upper-air pattern, some or all of which may be to blame this 2009 hurricane season:

1) Unusual non-tropical weather that includes a southward extension of non-tropical west winds that have pushed our three important tropical upper-level weather features well south of normal and made it less favorable for hurricane development

2) El Nino, which usually causes a strong Subequatorial Ridge over the east and central Pacific and causes the Atlantic Subequatorial Ridge to be weak, displaced south and east of normal or missing completely

3) Below average showers and thunderstorms over southern Central America and northern South America that have not been able to form or maintain a significant Subequatorial Ridge because there is not enough heating from thunderstorms to make one or keep one in place

It appears that all three of these may be the cause for our lack of a Subequatorial Ridge during hurricane season 2009! It is not over yet, but it appears that hurricane development may be a serendipitous event for the remainder of the fall, at least in the western Atlantic where our Subequatorial Ridge is missing.

It always becomes clearer AFTER the season is over so history will tell us how the 2009 hurricane season turns out. Just remember it only takes one serendipitous hurricane to blast your coast, so always be prepared!


He's missing a key reason in my opinion.

The Earth's oceans are not being spanked right now by solar flare-ups (ie. flares, sunspots, etc.) The sun is in a very inactive period.

I think for "increased" TC activity to initiate, a good solar spanking is required.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:


yea I agree that October will be active


My seasonal forecast that I developed back in May was for 8 NS, 3 H, and 1 MH with and ACE of 50.

Obviously, I'm wrong on the MH with 2 already, but the rest is somewhat on track.

I was right somewhat for the wrong reasons though, with negative MJO during the mid-July to early August and through much of September really holding down development during these months.

I had forecasted the ITCZ to be farther south than normal (which mostly panned out) leading to fewer storms. But honestly, it was just the lack of strong tropical waves that also played a role... Most were pathetic looking at best
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Wow...from politics out of the blue to religion out of the blue.

"out of the blue..." isn't that a weather term?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
From Dr.Lyons blog on the WeatherChannel:


The result is that so far in hurricane season 2009, most of the central and western Atlantic Ocean has been dominated by either sinking air from the Subtropical Ridge or fast winds west or southwest winds associated with the TUTT. The result is fewer hurricanes, more short-lived hurricanes and none that have made it west of 70W longitude.

There are at least three possible reasons for this unusual upper-air pattern, some or all of which may be to blame this 2009 hurricane season:

1) Unusual non-tropical weather that includes a southward extension of non-tropical west winds that have pushed our three important tropical upper-level weather features well south of normal and made it less favorable for hurricane development

2) El Nino, which usually causes a strong Subequatorial Ridge over the east and central Pacific and causes the Atlantic Subequatorial Ridge to be weak, displaced south and east of normal or missing completely

3) Below average showers and thunderstorms over southern Central America and northern South America that have not been able to form or maintain a significant Subequatorial Ridge because there is not enough heating from thunderstorms to make one or keep one in place

It appears that all three of these may be the cause for our lack of a Subequatorial Ridge during hurricane season 2009! It is not over yet, but it appears that hurricane development may be a serendipitous event for the remainder of the fall, at least in the western Atlantic where our Subequatorial Ridge is missing.

It always becomes clearer AFTER the season is over so history will tell us how the 2009 hurricane season turns out. Just remember it only takes one serendipitous hurricane to blast your coast, so always be prepared!
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
Quoting mikatnight:


Awww shucks. Now you've gone and made me cry.

And yet, the answer to life, the universe, and everything is surely 42.


Yeah, thanks for the reminder! I have to order a blu-ray! :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting OSUWXGUY:
The image below shows a 40 day forecast for areas of sinking (orange) and rising (green) motion in the atmosphere. The time period is specified on the right part of the image with the first section representing current conditions (analysis) and the other 8 sections representing forecast for 5 day periods going into the future from the top down.

Sinking air (orange) continues to dominate over the Atlantic for the first two forecast periods through October 1 (Negative MJO). Slowly the green area (rising motion - positive MJO) makes its way from the Pacific into the Caribbean and then into Atlantic through the middle and end of October. Thus, we may expect some activity to flare in the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean in the first half of the month and then into the rest of the Atlantic later in the month.

Although El Nino has made shear higher than normal through the hurricane season, particularly in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, the positive phase of the MJO can act to lessen the overall shear pattern and there will likely be a few areas of favorable conditions for storms to develop in through the month of October.


My only problem with any forecast of activity is the MJO amplitude. We (collectively) have been, ummm, ok at the MJO phase most of the season, but the forecasts of amplitude have been horrible.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 268 Murko:



Just a clarification for the record. All of that is old testament/torah.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
275. Murko
271. whatever, i wasn't replying to you
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
273. IKE
Quoting TheFutureMet:
Cranky! Cranky! Cranky!


LOL...okay. What I said was the truth. I reported back in July when I got 5+ inches of flooding rains one day on here and got hammered by him for posting it.

Calm down.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Murko:


Take that somewhere else.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
NexSat Atlanta,Zoomed Loop.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting IKE:
watcher123...no one on here cares who you or I you voted for.

This is not a political blog.
Cranky! Cranky! Cranky!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting OSUWXGUY:
Given the quiet conditions, I figured I'd give a forecast for the rest of the heart of hurricane season - through the end of October. Storms form later than this in the Atlantic Basin, but typically do not have a significant damaging impact on the US in November or later.

I'm anticipating a quiet end to the below normal September with no additional storms. (backed up by all the long range models and current dusty conditions in the eastern Atlantic and high shear in the western Atlantic/Caribbean and a negative phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation)

Activity will pick up again in October with 2-4 storms expected through the month. As is typical for October, any threat to the US will have to come from development in the Caribbean, Near the East Coast or in the Gulf of Mexico, as storms that form farther east almost always recurve with the stronger Fall troughs.

The forecasted uptick in activity is largely based upon the positive phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation being present over the Atlantic Basin again. Five out of the six storms that formed so far this season occurred during a similar positive phase that lasted from early August to early September. A negative phase (or sinking air dominant) was a major contributor to the slow September.

Another positive factor for activity in October is the above normal sea surface temperature in much of the Atlantic Basin. With the relative lack of storms so far this season, particularly in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, there is still plenty of stored energy left to fuel any storms that do form.


Another possible reason - the sun now has TWO sunspots.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Houstonian:
Im not going to entertain your rhetoric BS anymore

this is a weather blog ....


Then why the heck do you keep replying to his posts?
I never will understand why anyone here responds to a post they think doesn't belong here, says so, and then proceeds to debate the substance of said post that they think doesn't belong here.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting mikatnight:
Hi Patrick. I see you remain above the fray. A wise man. You can, of course, afford to be smug as the Saints appear ready to make up for every bad season they've ever had with this one. Drew Brees seems unstoppable. You guys aren't gonna hold a grudge against us for that lil ol preseason game, are ya? Look at how cute the little dolphins are!


Saints at Buffalo this week.
On da road again...

One game @ a time.

A steady Brees in Septemebr is always good.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting atmoaggie:
The same data showing MS, AL, GA. Haven't heard much about flooding in Bama...but have to imagine they do not need much more rain real soon.



Most recent flood warning I could find fo AL was yesterday:

FLASH FLOOD WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BIRMINGHAM AL
449 PM CDT MON SEP 21 2009

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BIRMINGHAM HAS ISSUED A

* FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR...
NORTHERN MARENGO COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST ALABAMA...
THIS INCLUDES THE CITY OF DEMOPOLIS...
GREENE COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL ALABAMA...
THIS INCLUDES THE CITY OF EUTAW...
HALE COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL ALABAMA...
THIS INCLUDES THE CITY OF GREENSBORO...
SUMTER COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL ALABAMA...
THIS INCLUDES THE CITIES OF...YORK...LIVINGSTON...CUBA...

* UNTIL 745 PM CDT
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
263. IKE
Quoting TheFutureMet:
You're behaving like a crankypot!


What is a "crankypot"? And how does it relate to what I said?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The image below shows a 40 day forecast for areas of sinking (orange) and rising (green) motion in the atmosphere. The time period is specified on the right part of the image with the first section representing current conditions (analysis) and the other 8 sections representing forecast for 5 day periods going into the future from the top down.

Sinking air (orange) continues to dominate over the Atlantic for the first two forecast periods through October 1 (Negative MJO). Slowly the green area (rising motion - positive MJO) makes its way from the Pacific into the Caribbean and then into Atlantic through the middle and end of October. Thus, we may expect some activity to flare in the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean in the first half of the month and then into the rest of the Atlantic later in the month.

Although El Nino has made shear higher than normal through the hurricane season, particularly in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, the positive phase of the MJO can act to lessen the overall shear pattern and there will likely be a few areas of favorable conditions for storms to develop in through the month of October.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hi Patrick. I see you remain above the fray. A wise man. You can, of course, afford to be smug as the Saints appear ready to make up for every bad season they've ever had with this one. Drew Brees seems unstoppable. You guys aren't gonna hold a grudge against us for that lil ol preseason game, are ya? Look at how cute the little dolphins are!
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
Quoting iluvjess:
I wonder how many of those folks in the Atlanta area are going to have to learn the hard lesson regarding insurance and "rising water".


Yeah that's an oldie but a goody unfortunately. :(

After Ike they told my husbands coworker

"It wasn't a flood. It was storm surge."
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting IKE:


I remember earlier in the season I got gripped at on here by hurricaneseason2006 for talking about my local weather, telling me it wasn't related to the tropics.
You're behaving like a crankypot!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting OSUWXGUY:
Given the quiet conditions, I figured I'd give a forecast for the rest of the heart of hurricane season - through the end of October. Storms form later than this in the Atlantic Basin, but typically do not have a significant damaging impact on the US in November or later.

I'm anticipating a quiet end to the below normal September with no additional storms. (backed up by all the long range models and current dusty conditions in the eastern Atlantic and high shear in the western Atlantic/Caribbean and a negative phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation)

Activity will pick up again in October with 2-4 storms expected through the month. As is typical for October, any threat to the US will have to come from development in the Caribbean, Near the East Coast or in the Gulf of Mexico, as storms that form farther east almost always recurve with the stronger Fall troughs.

The forecasted uptick in activity is largely based upon the positive phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation being present over the Atlantic Basin again. Five out of the six storms that formed so far this season occurred during a similar positive phase that lasted from early August to early September. A negative phase (or sinking air dominant) was a major contributor to the slow September.

Another positive factor for activity in October is the above normal sea surface temperature in much of the Atlantic Basin. With the relative lack of storms so far this season, particularly in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, there is still plenty of stored energy left to fuel any storms that do form.


yea I agree that October will be active
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
NEXRAD Radar
Atlanta, Storm Total Surface Rainfall Accumulation Range 124 NMI


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
Another slug of Gulf Juice is gonna run up and Neast later..into already flooded area's.




OK, as long as you can keep that moisture out of W TN, we'd appreciate it!! IF that moisture makes it up to Nashville, TN we might break our September rainfall record!! As of this morning, this is the 5TH rainiest September!!

Excuse me, anyone have ark blueprints??
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Given the quiet conditions, I figured I'd give a forecast for the rest of the heart of hurricane season - through the end of October. Storms form later than this in the Atlantic Basin, but typically do not have a significant damaging impact on the US in November or later.

I'm anticipating a quiet end to the below normal September with no additional storms. (backed up by all the long range models and current dusty conditions in the eastern Atlantic and high shear in the western Atlantic/Caribbean and a negative phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation)

Activity will pick up again in October with 2-4 storms expected through the month. As is typical for October, any threat to the US will have to come from development in the Caribbean, Near the East Coast or in the Gulf of Mexico, as storms that form farther east almost always recurve with the stronger Fall troughs.

The forecasted uptick in activity is largely based upon the positive phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation being present over the Atlantic Basin again. Five out of the six storms that formed so far this season occurred during a similar positive phase that lasted from early August to early September. A negative phase (or sinking air dominant) was a major contributor to the slow September.

Another positive factor for activity in October is the above normal sea surface temperature in much of the Atlantic Basin. With the relative lack of storms so far this season, particularly in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, there is still plenty of stored energy left to fuel any storms that do form.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The same data showing MS, AL, GA. Haven't heard much about flooding in Bama...but have to imagine they do not need much more rain real soon.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
251. CJ5
There is so much talk about things other than the tropics, so I may have missed it.

Has there been any discussion about the area at around 8/43? It has slight 850mb vorticy, divergence and convergence, quick sat picked up on some weak signals and shear is relatively low in the area. Thoughs?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 301 - 251

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Mostly Cloudy
79 °F
Mostly Cloudy