Red River rising: 18th consecutive year of flooding--why?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:08 PM GMT on March 19, 2010

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The Red River at Fargo, North Dakota continues to rise, with a peak expected Sunday at the 4th highest flood level observed in the past century. "Major" flood level is 30 feet, which the river surpassed on Wednesday, and the river is expected to crest near 38 feet on Sunday, just 2.8 feet below the record set last year. Flood stage is eighteen feet, and the Red River has now reached flood stage at Fargo for eighteen consecutive years, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Prior to this remarkable stretch of flooding (which began in 1993), the river flooded in just 29 of 90 years. This year's flood is rated as somewhere between a 50-year and 100-year flood. Last year's record flood was a 100-year flood. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lists the 10-year flood level for the Red River at Fargo to be 10,300 cubic feet per second. A 10-year flood, historically, has a 10% chance of occurring in a given year. In the last twenty years, the Red River has had eight 10-year floods--one every 2.5 years, on average. This year is the fourth year out of the past five with a 10-year flood. Clearly, flooding has increased significantly along the Red River over the past twenty years.


Figure 1. Current and forecast flood stage for the Red River of the North at Fargo, ND. You can access images like these using our wundermap for Fargo with the "USGS River" layer turned on. Click on the icon for USGS station 05054000, then hit the "click for graph" link.

Reasons for flooding: landform factors
According the U.S. Geological Survey, the unique landform characteristics of the Red River Valley make it highly susceptible to flooding. These factors include:

1) A relatively shallow and meandering river channel--a shallow channel holds less water and the meandering can cause flow to slow down as the channel makes its turns, causing over-bank flooding.

2) A gentle slope (averaging 0.5 to 1.5 feet per mile) that inhibits channel flow and encourages overland flooding or water "ponding" (especially on even, saturated ground) in the basin.

3) The northerly direction of flow--flow in the Red River travels from south (upstream) to north (downstream). The direction of flow becomes a critical factor in the spring when the southern (upstream) part of the Red River has thawed and the northern (downstream) part of the channel is still frozen. As water moves north toward the still frozen river channel, ice jams and substantial backwater flow and flooding can occur.


Figure 2. Peak flow of the Red River at Fargo, North Dakota through time. The two largest flow rates occurred last year (2009), and in 1997. The projected crest for Sunday (red circle) would be fourth greatest flood since reliable records began in 1901. Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey.

Reasons for this year's flood: highly unfavorable weather conditions
The USGS also cites five weather factors that can act to enhance flooding along the Red River. All five of these factors occurred to a significant degree this year:

1) Above-normal amounts of precipitation in the fall of the year that produce high levels of soil moisture, particularly in flat surface areas, in the basin. North Dakota had its 22nd wettest fall in the 115-year record in 2009.

2) Freezing of saturated ground in late fall or early winter, before significant snowfall occurs, that produces a hard, deep frost that limits infiltration of runoff during snowmelt. Fargo had a November that was much warmer than average, followed by a sudden plunge to below-zero temperatures by the second week of December. This froze the saturated ground to a great depth.

3) Above-normal winter snowfall in the basin. North Dakota had a top 15% winter for precipitation, with the period December 2009 - February 2010 ranking 15th wettest in the past 115 years.

4) Above-normal precipitation during snowmelt. Precipitation for March 1 - 18 has been 1.41", compared to the average of 0.61".

5) Above-normal temperatures during snowmelt. High temperatures in Fargo have averaged 6°F warmer than normal for March 1 - 18.

Urbanization increases flooding
Urbanization has had a major impact on increasing flooding not only along the Red River, but in every river basin in the U.S. Many cities and developed areas are located in flood plains next to major rivers and their tributaries. Highways, streets, parking lots, sidewalks, and buildings now cover large areas of the ground that used to absorb excess rain water and slow the rate at which run-off from precipitation and melting snow reached rivers. By developing large portions of our flood plains, run-off now reaches rivers more quickly, generating higher floods.

Building levees and flood defenses increases flood peaks
Defending ourselves against floods has made floods worse. Every time a new levee is built, or an old floodwall raised in height to prevent overtopping, more and more water is forced into the river bed, which raises the height of the flood. Flood waters that used to be able to spread out over their natural flood plains are now forbidden from spilling out over newly developed land in flood plains. For example, proposed improvements to the flood defense system in Fargo could cause a 4 - 10 inch rise in floods immediately downstream from the city, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Precipitation is increasing
As the climate warms, evaporation of moisture from the oceans increases, resulting in more water vapor in the air. According to the 2007 IPCC report, water vapor in the global atmosphere has increased by about 5% over the 20th century, and 4% since 1970. Satellite measurements (Trenberth et al., 2005) have shown a 1.3% per decade increase in water vapor over the global oceans since 1988. Santer et al. (2007) used a climate model to study the relative contribution of natural and human-caused effects on increasing water vapor, and concluded that this increase was "primarily due to human-caused increases in greenhouse gases". This was also the conclusion of Willet et al. (2007). This increase in water vapor has very likely led to an increase in global precipitation. For instance, over the U.S., where we have very good precipitation records, annual average precipitation has increased 7% over the past century (Groisman et al., 2004). Precipitation over the Red River drainage basin increased by about 10 - 20% during the 20th Century (Figure 3.) The same study also found a 14% increase in heavy (top 5%) and 20% increase in very heavy (top 1%) precipitation events over the U.S. in the past century. These are the type of events most likely to cause flooding. Kunkel et al. (2003) also found an increase in heavy precipitation events over the U.S. in recent decades, but noted that heavy precipitation events were nearly as frequent at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, though the data is not as reliable back then.


Figure 3. Change in precipitation over the U.S. between 1900 - 2000, from the U.S. Cooperative network. Precipitation in the Red River drainage area increased by 10 - 20% over the 20th century. Image credit: Contemporary Changes of the Hydrological Cycle over the Contiguous United States: Trends (Groisman et al., 2002).

The future of flooding
As the population continues to expand, development in flood plains and construction of new levees and flood protection systems will continue to push floods to higher heights. With global warming expected to continue and drive ever higher precipitation amounts--falling preferentially in heavy precipitation events--it is highly probable that flooding in the Red River Valley--and over most of the northern 2/3 of the U.S. where precipitation increases are likely--will see higher and more frequent floods. With these higher and more frequent floods comes the increased risk of multi-billion dollar disasters, when a record flood event overwhelms flood defenses and inundates huge areas of developed flood plains. Obviously, we need to make smart decisions to limit development in flood plains to reduce the cost and suffering of these future flooding disasters.

References
Kunkel, K. E., D. R. Easterling, K. Redmond, and K. Hubbard, 2003, "Temporal variations of extreme precipitation events in the United States: 1895.2000", Geophys. Res. Lett., 30(17), 1900, doi:10.1029/2003GL018052.

Groisman, P.Y., R.W. Knight, T.R. Karl, D.R. Easterling, B. Sun, and J.H. Lawrimore, 2004, "Contemporary Changes of the Hydrological Cycle over the Contiguous United States: Trends Derived from In Situ Observations," J. Hydrometeor., 5, 64.85.

Milly, P.C.D., R.T. Wetherald, K.A. Dunne, and T.L.Delworth, Increasing risk of great floods in a changing climate", Nature 415, 514-517 (31 January 2002) | doi:10.1038/415514a.

Santer, B.D., C. Mears, F. J. Wentz, K. E. Taylor, P. J. Gleckler, T. M. L. Wigley, T. P. Barnett, J. S. Boyle, W. Brüggemann, N. P. Gillett, S. A. Klein, G. A. Meehl, T. Nozawa, D. W. Pierce, P. A. Stott, W. M. Washington, and M. F. Wehner, 2007, "Identification of human-induced changes in atmospheric moisture content", PNAS 2007 104: 15248-15253.

Trenberth, K.E., J. Fasullo, and L. Smith, 2005: "Trends and variability in column-integrated atmospheric water vapor", Climate Dynamics 24, 741-758.

Willett, K.M., N.P. Gillett, P.D. Jones, and P.W. Thorne, 2007, "Attribution of observed surface humidity changes to human influence", Nature 449, 710-712 (11 October 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature06207.

Links
A good way to track the flooding event is to use our wundermap for the Red River with the USGS River layer turned on.

The Fargo Flood webpage of North Dakota State University, Fargo, has some excellent links.

I'll have a new post on Monday or Tuesday.

Jeff Masters

Red River Flood 2006 (mw25)
The water level of the Red River when I took this photo was 47.2 feet, 19.2 feet above flood stage and the 6th highest level in Grand Forks' history. The river is expected to crest at 47.4 feet on Wednesday morning. Luckily, no homes have been lost in the Grand Forks area as of yet due to the flooding.
Red River Flood 2006
Fargo Flood 2009 - Elm & 15th Ave. N. (tliebenow)
Picture says it all. Clay dike built to contain the Red River in North Fargo.
Fargo Flood 2009 - Elm & 15th Ave. N.

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Quoting altesticstorm10:

Gas Prices before Ike: $3.87
Gas Prices after Ike: went down to $1.55

The economy also face-planted after Ike. Not a valid comparison.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5881
POLO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Quoting Levi32:


Doesn't work for me either. I was hoping to look at that.


Trends and variability in column-integrated atmospheric water vapor
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Quoting altesticstorm10:

You're not a-kiddin'...better heat up soon.


You guys should be happy that it's cold...lol.

The gulf won't have a problem warming up to normal or above for the hurricane season. It always does. April and May will see it warm right up.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Quoting altesticstorm10:

Needs to warm up so I can go down to Galveston and enjoy the fishing again. 65 degrees isn't going to cut it.


Yeah, I hear ya, but then you may be paying $5.00 a gallon or more for gas.
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Dr Masters, your link for "Trends and variability in column-integrated atmospheric water vapor" does not work, at least for me.


Doesn't work for me either. I was hoping to look at that.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Quoting HurricaneHunterGal:

It needs to warm up faster!


No, it needs to stay cold. Save a lot of property damage and suffering that way.
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MARCO!!!
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Quoting misanthrope:


Nah, arrogant is not my style. I'm more the cantankerous type.

ar·ro·gant - making claims or pretensions to superior importance or rights; overbearingly assuming; insolently proud:



Yup, you are arrogant. The definition fits perfectly.
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Quoting misanthrope:


Nah, arrogant is not my style. I'm more the cantankerous type.

ar·ro·gant - making claims or pretensions to superior importance or rights; overbearingly assuming; insolently proud:

Oh, come on, give yourself some credit. It takes great arrogance to feel the need to define the word itself...
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Quoting StormW:

It needs to warm up faster!
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Quoting NttyGrtty:
...you just gave it a pretty good shot


Nah, arrogant is not my style. I'm more the cantankerous type.

ar·ro·gant - making claims or pretensions to superior importance or rights; overbearingly assuming; insolently proud:

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Reading through the blog today and following up of some of the "issues" raised I did find some information on the NCEP reanalysis I was not previously aware of from this The NCEP/NCAR 40-Year Reanalysis Project

Excerpt:

The reanalysis gridded fields have been classified into four classes,
depending on the relative influence of the observational data and the
model on the gridded variable. An A indicates that the analysis variable is
strongly influenced by observed data, and hence it is in the most reliable
class (e.g., upper air temperature and wind). The designation B indicates
that, although there are observational data that directly affect the value of
the variable, the model also has a very strong influence on the analysis
value (e.g., humidity, and surface temperature). The letter C indicates
that there are no observations directly affecting the variable, so that it is
derived solely from the model fields forced by the data assimilation to
remain close to the atmosphere (e.g., clouds, precipitation, and surface
fluxes). Finally, the letter D represents a field that is obtained from
climatological values, and does not depend on the model (e.g., plant
resistance, land-sea mask). Appendix A contains the complete
classification of variables. Although this classification is necessarily
somewhat subjective, the user should exercise caution in interpreting the
results of the reanalysis, especially for variables classified in categories B
and C.


A Zonal wind
A Meridional wind
A Geopotential Height
A Virtual Temperature
A Absolute Vorticity
B Vertical Velocity (1000 to 100 hPa only)
B Specific Humidity (1000 to 300 hPa only)


B Surface Temperature
B Precipitable Water
C Skin Temperature
C Snow Depth
B 2 m Temperature
B Snow Cover
B Surface Pressure
C Precipitation (total & convective)
D Albedo
B Mean Relative Humidity (multiple
layers)
C Surf. Sens. & Lat. Fluxes
C Soil Wetness, Temperature
C Top of atmos. Fluxes
C Surface Runoff

B Zonal wind at 10 meters
C Cloud fraction (hi, mid, low)
B Meridional " " "
C Cloud forcing, clear sky fluxes
C Surface Wind Stress
C Gravity Wave Drag
A Mean Sea Level Press.
B Max and Min temperature
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting misanthrope:
"But, I am sure Dr. M, and others, really do analyze the data and draw their own conclusions."

Really?

I'll say this, nobody does arrogant better than atmoaggie.
...you just gave it a pretty good shot
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is this dump on atmo day?

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Dr Masters, your link for "Trends and variability in column-integrated atmospheric water vapor" does not work, at least for me.
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Quoting Levi32:


Unfortunately agendas are very hard to avoid these days. It is sad that the field of science is full of them.
Very unfortunate but true. I experience more of them (OK, most of them) from the "believer" side and very few from the "contrarian" side. Is having No agenda a type of agenda? LOL!!
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y'all post quickly. i got a slow computer, eh. so yeah, Atmo, hope you didn't think I was arguing you. just making comments on perceptions and data. you raised good points there.
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84. JeffMasters (Admin)
Quoting atmoaggie:

Okay...

Dr. M: "For instance, over the U.S., where we have very good precipitation records, annual average precipitation has increased 7% over the past century (Groisman et al., 2004). Precipitation over the Red River drainage basin increased by about 10 - 20% during the 20th Century (Figure 3.)"

Neither of the points about US or Red River Basin changes, nor any other change distinguishable from the variability, appear to be supported by the NCDC plots of the region's, or the US as a whole, precipitation records or drought index (which goes both wet and dry).

I didn't need to cherry-pick, the post dictated what to look at. (Really, Skye, you know me better)

But, hey, maybe I'm wrong.


The East-Central North Dakota region (where most of the Red River Valley lies) precipitation plot posted by Levi32 shows a pretty clear increase over the past century. Also, you shouldn't compare drought to precipitation, since the plots you are showing for drought are based on the Palmer Drought Index. The Palmer Index uses temperature and rainfall information in a formula to determine dryness. Higher temperatures can increase drought under the Palmer Index, even if precipitation increases. Your comparison would be more relevant if you used the SPI index for drought, which is purely precipitation-based.



Jeff Masters
agreed that Atmo is a skeptic. his perspective is mostly appreciated by me. i think it's clear to me he makes conclusions though, and those conclusions usually differ from mine. but i feel an ironic sense that we're both equally on the fence, open to better data, heck, praying for better data! but neither one of us are going to tell you we know the answer. the line can't be drawn. it's all how you read into it at this point in the game.
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Quoting NttyGrtty:
As do I, but I often sense an agenda not just the objective, free exchange of ideas...


Unfortunately agendas are very hard to avoid these days. It is sad that the field of science is full of them.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
Quoting atmoaggie:

Awww, dang.
*blush*

But, I am sure Dr. M, and others, really do analyze the data and draw their own conclusions.
As do I, but I often sense an agenda not just the objective, free exchange of ideas...
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Quoting NttyGrtty:
Concur (mostly), and you have every right to be as much of a skeptic as Atmo is. Atmo is not a "contrarian" (imo), he's an in between. I can not recall a single incident of Atmo, or any other in between, TELLING me or anyone else that ______ is NOT caused by GW. He simply reads ALL inputs to the issue and comes to his own conclusions. He questions data sources and validity along with the potential agenda of the presenter of the data, not the data inself. The same cannot be said for many of the "believers" on here, including the good Dr.

Awww, dang.
*blush*

But, I am sure Dr. M, and others, really do analyze the data and draw their own conclusions.
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Quoting Skyepony:
atmo~ touche..I read through all this too fast today. Lacking the time for a good debate, but will be back. For the moment I'll just stand by my point the other night, the more common extreme events, wet & dry, has more consequence than a small increase in overall precipitation.


And that is certainly true. Not sure how well we can quantify the extreme wet events from 80 years ago, though.
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Quoting Minnemike:


we don't know, that much we know. it's easy to get hung up in that paradox. nature is exhibiting phenomena that allow for a wide range of conclusions based on the lens of our individual perceptions. the Doc talked about contrarians, and there's been much counter discussion about skepticism.
when comparisons are made such as Atmo did, it does come across as potentially disingenuous for the fact that he's not exactly comparing apples to apples. wet/dry area coverage vs. precip data are not going to yield comparable sets. they can however be used hand in hand to get a better idea of an overall picture. i think Atmo too subtly makes this inference by saying 'reconciling'. it depends on how you read it. and that's the lesson for all this data, and avoiding any assumptions. it's the difference between a skeptic and a contrarian.

Okay. How does this work for you?

In the paper referenced by Doc M: http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/papers/2002pg05.pdf

"The nationwide increase of 7 to 15%/100 years in seasonal precipitation is confined to spring, summer, and autumn (Karl and Knight 1998; Groisman et al. 2001a).
...
different local absolute thresholds for the definition of “heavy” and “very heavy” precipitation (Groisman et al. 2001a). Table 1 provides a typical threshold spread over the contiguous U.S. for the 99.7%-ile of annual 24-hour rain event (i.e., “very heavy” precipitation event)."

And figure 6 in the link doesn't show any change for the Dakotas' climate zone. Seems not to support an AGW change for the Red River Basin.

And about that very heavy or extreme event definition, I know well that after a hurricane, our current, modern COOP network can go days without a total rainfall observation. Then we have a total rainfall that applies to the previous 60 hours, or however long no one was looking.

So what is the difference between 12 inches of rain from a human observer gauge checked every 4 days and an ASOS that records 12 inches of rain in 6 hours? An extreme rainfall event.
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Quoting Minnemike:


we don't know, that much we know. it's easy to get hung up in that paradox. nature is exhibiting phenomena that allow for a wide range of conclusions based on the lens of our individual perceptions. the Doc talked about contrarians, and there's been much counter discussion about skepticism.
when comparisons are made such as Atmo did, it does come across as potentially disingenuous for the fact that he's not exactly comparing apples to apples. wet/dry area coverage vs. precip data are not going to yield comparable sets. they can however be used hand in hand to get a better idea of an overall picture. i think Atmo too subtly makes this inference by saying 'reconciling'. it depends on how you read it. and that's the lesson for all this data, and avoiding any assumptions. it's the difference between a skeptic and a contrarian.
Concur (mostly), and you have every right to be as much of a skeptic as Atmo is. Atmo is not a "contrarian" (imo), he's an in between. I can not recall a single incident of Atmo, or any other in between, TELLING me or anyone else that ______ is NOT caused by GW. He simply reads ALL inputs to the issue and comes to his own conclusions. He questions data sources and validity along with the potential agenda of the presenter of the data, not the data inself. The same cannot be said for many of the "believers" on here, including the good Dr.
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And this is courtesy of the VASClimo Project:

Monthly precipitation on the continents:



And here's a graph of global precipitation from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology:

Annual average Global Precipitation:



I really don't see a trend there. It's all variability by the looks of it. The apparent multi-decadal cycles are worth researching.

From the page these graphs came from:

"Theoretical models calculate an increase in precipitation of approximately 3% for every one degree rise in the Earth%u2019s average overall temperature (Hulme, 1995), since more heat intensifies the evaporation-precipitation cycle. However, no definite trend has yet been identified in global precipitation levels.

According to the National Climatic Data Centre, in the United States, mean annual precipitation levels have been rising at a statistically significant rate of around 58 mm per century.

In India, on the other hand, monsoon precipitation seems not to follow any definitive trend (Vinnikov, 2002). A general study of the entire monsoon region also fails to show any definite trend between 1980 and 2005, although it does reflect a slight decrease during earlier decades (Wang, 2005). In northern Pakistan, isotopic studies of the oxygen-18 contained in the rings of a specific group of trees suggest that the 20th century was the rainiest century of the last millennium (Treydte, 2006).

In Australia, precipitation seems to have increased in recent decades (Hulme, 1996).


In central Europe, studies dating back almost one thousand years which focus on episodes of torrential rains and the flooding of the Elba and Oder Rivers, show that despite media hype, things have not really changed all that much at all (Mudelsee, 2003)."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Conflicting data....conflicting data...
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
74. Skyepony (Mod)
atmo~ touche..I read through all this too fast today. Lacking the time for a good debate, but will be back. For the moment I'll just stand by my point the other night, the more common extreme events, wet & dry, has more consequence than a small increase in overall precipitation.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
000
AXNT20 KNHC 191741
TWDAT

TROPICAL WEATHER DISCUSSION
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
205 PM EDT FRI MAR 19 2010

TROPICAL WEATHER DISCUSSION FOR NORTH AMERICA...CENTRAL
AMERICA...GULF OF MEXICO...CARIBBEAN SEA...NORTHERN SECTIONS
OF SOUTH AMERICA...AND ATLANTIC OCEAN TO THE AFRICAN COAST
FROM THE EQUATOR TO 32N. THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS BASED
ON SATELLITE IMAGERY...METEOROLOGICAL ANALYSIS...WEATHER
OBSERVATIONS...AND RADAR.

BASED ON 1200 UTC SURFACE ANALYSIS AND SATELLITE IMAGERY THROUGH
1715 UTC...

...SPECIAL FEATURE...

AS OF 1500 UTC...A STATIONARY FRONT IS OVER HAITI AND EXTENDS S
TO PANAMA ALONG 20N72W 15N77W 10N79W. OVERCAST LOW CLOUDS AND
RAIN ARE OVER HISPANIOLA AND SURROUNDING WATERS FROM 16N TO
BEYOND 22N BETWEEN 70W-75W. RAIN MAY BE HEAVIER OVER HIGHER
ELEVATIONS. EXPECT RAIN TO CONTINUE OVER THE SAME AREA FOR THE
NEXT 24 HOURS.

...ITCZ...

ITCZ AXIS IS CENTERED ALONG 7N10W 4N22W 2N30W 1N44W EQ50W.
WIDELY SCATTERED MODERATE CONVECTION IS ALONG THE COAST OF WEST
AFRICA FROM EQ-2N BETWEEN 3W-5W...FROM 1N-7N BETWEEN
8W-11W...AND FROM 5N-7N BETWEEN 14W-20W.

...DISCUSSION...

GULF OF MEXICO...
AS OF 1500 UTC...A 1020 MB HIGH IS CENTERED OVER THE NORTH
CENTRAL GULF OF MEXICO NEAR 28N88W PRODUCING LIGHT ANTICYCLONIC
SURFACE WINDS AND MOSTLY FAIR WEATHER. OVERCAST LOW CLOUDS ARE
HOWEVER ALONG THE COAST OF S TEXAS AND MEXICO FROM 20N-26N
BETWEEN 96W-99W. IN THE UPPER LEVELS...ZONAL FLOW IS OVER THE
GULF WITH A 90-110 KT JETSTREAM N OF 25N. VERY STRONG UPPER
LEVEL SUBSIDENCE DOMINATES THE AREA. EXPECT IN 24 HOURS
FOR...THE SURFACE HIGH TO MOVE E TO N FLORIDA WITH CONTINUED
FAIR WEATHER. SURFACE WINDS WILL INCREASE TO 20 KT AND BE FROM
THE SE OVER MOST OF THE GULF. A COLD FRONT WILL REACH THE TEXAS
COAST TOMORROW EVENING WITH RAIN.

CARIBBEAN SEA...
AS OF 1500 UTC...A STATIONARY FRONT IS OVER HAITI AND EXTENDS S
TO PANAMA ALONG 20N72W 15N77W 10N79W. OVERCAST LOW CLOUDS AND
RAIN ARE OVER HISPANIOLA AND SURROUNDING WATERS FROM 16N TO
BEYOND 22N BETWEEN 70W-75W. NORTHERLY WINDS ARE ALONG THE COASTS
OF PANAMA AND COSTA RICA PRODUCING OVERCAST LOW CLOUDS AND
SHOWERS BETWEEN 81W-84W. A 1008 MB LOW IS CENTERED OVER N
COLOMBIA NEAR 7N74W. A SURFACE TROUGH EXTENDS N FROM THE LOW
CENTER TO S OF HISPANIOLA ALONG 13N74W 17N73W. ISOLATED MODERATE
CONVECTION AND SHOWERS ARE OVER N COLOMBIA AND NW VENEZUELA FROM
8N-13N BETWEEN 67W-74W. IN THE UPPER LEVELS...A BROAD UPPER
LEVEL RIDGE IS OVER THE CARIBBEAN PRODUCING MOSTLY ZONAL FLOW.
CONSIDERABLE UPPER LEVEL MOISTURE REMAINS OVER THE S CARIBBEAN S
OF 14N. EXPECT FOR THE NEXT 24 HOURS FOR CONTINUED PRECIPITATION
OVER THE CENTRAL AND SW CARIBBEAN.

ATLANTIC OCEAN...
A COLD FRONT IS OVER THE W ATLANTIC FROM 32N63W TO 25N68W. A
STATIONARY FRONT CONTINUES TO HAITI NEAR 20N72W. SCATTERED
MODERATE CONVECTION IS E OF THE COLD FRONT FROM 25N-30N BETWEEN
59W-64W. RAIN AND SHOWERS ARE ALONG THE STATIONARY FRONT. A 1026
MB HIGH IS CENTERED OVER THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC NEAR 31N42W
PRODUCING FAIR WEATHER. A STATIONARY FRONT IS OVER THE E
ATLANTIC AND EXTENDS SW TO THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC ALONG 32N19W
23N30W 20N50W. SCATTERED SHOWERS ARE WITHIN 45 NM OF THE FRONT E
OF 30W. IN THE UPPER LEVELS...AN UPPER LEVEL TROUGH IS OVER THE
W ATLANTIC W OF 65W. ZONAL FLOW IS N OF 20N E OF 65W TO W AFRICA.
A VERY LARGE UPPER LEVEL LOW IS CENTERED OVER THE TROPICAL E
ATLANTIC NEAR 10N27W. UPPER LEVEL CYCLONIC FLOW IS S OF 20N E OF
50W. EXPECT IN 24 HOURS FOR...THE W ATLANTIC COLD FRONT TO MOVE
E TO 32N49W IN 24 HOURS...AND FOR THE E ATLANTIC FRONT TO MOVE E
TO THE CANARY ISLANDS.
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 11975
98W looks to be the real deal, could be an interesting one to track based on how far south it is

Ului having a tough time out there, but we are still talking about a landfalling tropical system, so it shouldn't be taken lightly.
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Invest 98W
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Quoting NttyGrtty:
Ladies and Gentlemen, raise your glasses. A toast to the in-betweens and may BOTH the chicken-littles and the ostriches stop TELLING the rest of us what is and isn't. A chicken-little, an ostriche and an in-between can observe the same event and come to different conclusions. That doesn't make any of the groups more right or more wrong that the others.


we don't know, that much we know. it's easy to get hung up in that paradox. nature is exhibiting phenomena that allow for a wide range of conclusions based on the lens of our individual perceptions. the Doc talked about contrarians, and there's been much counter discussion about skepticism.
when comparisons are made such as Atmo did, it does come across as potentially disingenuous for the fact that he's not exactly comparing apples to apples. wet/dry area coverage vs. precip data are not going to yield comparable sets. they can however be used hand in hand to get a better idea of an overall picture. i think Atmo too subtly makes this inference by saying 'reconciling'. it depends on how you read it. and that's the lesson for all this data, and avoiding any assumptions. it's the difference between a skeptic and a contrarian.
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Noel Sheppard is in San Francisco...Weather Underground has an office in San Francisco...certainly makes one wunder...
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While the representation of large-scale features compares well between the two datasets, substantial differences are observed on regional scales. This result is not unexpected since present-day data assimilation systems are not designed to incorporate observations of precipitation.

Ok so, in reference to this:

"water vapor in the global atmosphere has increased by about 5% over the 20th century, and 4% since 1970."

This reanalysis data should be considered accurate since it is global. I know the NCDC and NOAA absolutely worship their reanalysis model.



Total atmospheric water vapor has been going up since 1965, but was much higher in the 1950s than it is now.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
hey guys what up
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 11975
Case closed...matter resolved...no need for further discussion...finis...
Link
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LOL.

Last time, Levi. Get out of my head!
(j/k, thanks.)
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Quoting Skyepony:
Atmo~ Posting graphs from data just for the US & a few cherry picked regions of the US does nothing to disprove a small global increase in precipitation. As per the region notice it is forecast to increase in the future, Masters didn't say it already had.

Okay...

Dr. M: "For instance, over the U.S., where we have very good precipitation records, annual average precipitation has increased 7% over the past century (Groisman et al., 2004). Precipitation over the Red River drainage basin increased by about 10 - 20% during the 20th Century (Figure 3.)"

Neither of the points about US or Red River Basin changes, nor any other change distinguishable from the variability, appear to be supported by the NCDC plots of the region's, or the US as a whole, precipitation records or drought index (which goes both wet and dry).

I didn't need to cherry-pick, the post dictated what to look at. (Really, Skye, you know me better)

But, hey, maybe I'm wrong.
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And purple hippos...


;)
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Quoting Skyepony:
Atmo~ Posting graphs from data just for the US & a few cherry picked regions of the US does nothing to disprove a small global increase in precipitation. As per the region notice it is forecast to increase in the future, Masters didn't say it already had.


Um it's not cherry picking when we ARE talking about a tiny region of the U.S., not global here. Dr. Masters did say precip has already increased in the Red River area:



Figure 3. Change in precipitation over the U.S. between 1900 - 2000, from the U.S. Cooperative network. Precipitation in the Red River drainage area increased by 10 - 20% over the 20th century. Image credit: Contemporary Changes of the Hydrological Cycle over the Contiguous United States: Trends (Groisman et al., 2002).


Assuming the data record is correct, then he is right, but I would not automatically blame it on global warming.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
61. Skyepony (Mod)
Atmo~ Posting graphs from data just for the US & a few cherry picked regions of the US does nothing to disprove a small global increase in precipitation. As per the region notice it is forecast to increase in the future, Masters didn't say it already had.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.