Flooding from record rains kills 11 in Tennessee; oil spill update

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:52 PM GMT on May 03, 2010

Share this Blog
1
+

Nashville, Tennessee remains virtually paralyzed this morning thanks to that city's heaviest recorded 1-day and 2-day rainfall in its history. A remarkable 7.25" of rain fell on the city Sunday, breaking the record for most rain in a single day (previously 6.60", set September 13, 1979.) Nashville's third greatest day of rainfall on record occurred Saturday, when 6.32" fell. Nashville also eclipsed its greatest 6-hour and 12-hour rainfall events on record, with 5.57" and 7.20", respectively, falling on Sunday. And, remarkably, only 2 days into the month, May 2010 is already the wettest May on record for Nashville.

Rainfall records were smashed all across Tennessee and Kentucky, with amounts as high as 17.73" recorded at Camden, TN, and 17.02" at Brownsville, TN. According to Chris Burt, the author of the excellent book Extreme Weather, the 13.30" that fell on Camden in 24 hours just missed eclipsing the state's all-time 24-hour precipitation record, the 13.60" inches that fell on Milan on September 13, 1982. Jackson, Tennessee had its rainiest day in its 63-year weather history on Sunday, 7.93". Bowling Green, Kentucky had its heaviest 2-day precipitation event on record, 9.67". Records in Bowling Green go back to 1870. The University of Wisconsin GOES Satellite Blog has some excellent imagery showing the remarkable plume of tropical moisture that crossed over Central America from the Eastern Pacific and fed the record rains.


Figure 1. Radar estimated rainfall for May 1 - 2, 2010 from the Nashville, Tennessee radar. A large region of the Tennessee and Kentucky received over ten inches of rain, with many areas receiving more than fifteen inches.


Figure 2. Flood forecast for the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. Image credit: NOAA.

The record rains triggered massive flooding that has killed at least eleven people in Tennessee, with two missing. The Cumberland River in downtown Nashville has surged to a height of 51', which is 11' over flood height, and the highest level the river has reached since a flood control project was completed in the early 1960s. The river is expected to crest this afternoon at 11.5' above flood stage, bringing flood waters to a large portion of the downtown area. The mayor has ordered all schools, parks, and libraries closed today, and commuter bus and train services have also been suspended. Five people died in Nashville due to the flooding. The Harpeth River at Bellevue, Tennessee to its greatest flood height since record keeping began in 1921. The river had a depth of 2 feet early Saturday morning before the rains began, and was running at a depth of 29' early this morning, breaking the record of 24.34' set in 1948. (To check out the flood heights, use our wundermap for Nashville with the "USGS River" layer turned on.) The Duck River at Hurricane Mills reached 28.7' yesterday morning before its streamgage stopped operating, its 2nd greatest flood height since record keeping began in 1926 (record: 30.7' in 1948.)

The record rains were accompanied by a surge of very warm air that set record high temperature marks at 21 major airports across the Eastern U.S. on Saturday; 19 more records were set on Sunday. This is not surprising, since more moisture can evaporate into warmer air, making record-setting rainfall events more likely when record high temperatures are present.


Figure 3. A portable classroom building from a nearby high school floats past submerged cars on I-24 near Nashville, TN on May 1, 2010. One person died in the flooding in this region of I-24. Roughly 200 - 250 vehicles got submerged on this section of I-24, according to wunderphotographer laughingjester, who was a tow truck operator called in to clear out the stranded vehicles.

Funding issues to take 17 Tennessee streamgages offline
According to the USGS web site, seventeen Tennessee streamflow gages with records going back up to 85 years will stop collecting data on July 1 because of budget cuts. With up to thirteen people in Tennessee dying from flooding this weekend, now hardly seems to be the time to be skimping on monitoring river flow levels by taking 17 of Tennessee's 94 streamflow gages out of service. These gages are critical for proper issuance of flood warnings to people in harm's way. Furthermore, Tennessee and most of the northern 2/3 of the U.S. can expect a much higher incidence of record flooding in coming decades. This will be driven by two factors: increased urban development causing faster run-off, and an increase in very heavy precipitation events due to global warming. Both factors have already contributed to significant increases in flooding events in recent decades over much of the U.S. According the landmark 2009 U.S. Climate Impact Report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, "the amount of rain falling in the heaviest downpours has increased approximately 20 percent on average in the past century, and this trend is very likely to continue, with the largest increases in the wettest places." The USGS web site advertises that users who can contribute funding for the non-Federal share of costs to continue operation of these streamgages should contact Shannon Williams of the USGS Tennessee Water Science Center at 615-837-4755 or swilliam@usgs.gov. Tennessee is not the only state with streamgages at risk of closing down; fully 276 gages in 37 states have been shut down or will be shut down later this year (Figure 4.)


Figure 4. Streamgages that have been discontinued or are being considered for discontinuation or for conversion from continuous record discharge to stage-only stations. Funds for these 276 threatened streamgages are from the U.S. Geological Survey and other Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies. For those streamgages that have already been discontinued, extensive efforts were made to find another funding source; however, when no funding was made available the streamgages had to be discontinued. For those streamgages at risk for discontinuation, the current funding source has indicated that it can no longer fund the streamgage. Efforts are currently underway to identify another funding source for the operation of these streamgages; however, if no funding is identified, then these streamgages will have to be discontinued also. If you have questions about specific streamgages, click on the state of concern on the USGS web page of threatened stream gages.

Oil spill update
The oil slick from the April 20 explosion and blowout of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon has retreated from the coast, thanks to a slackening of the persistent onshore winds that have affected the northern Gulf of Mexico over the past week. Onshore winds of 10 - 15 knots will continue today, according to the latest NWS marine forecast, then shift to sideshore (out of the west) on Tuesday, as a cold front passes. Winds will then resume a weak onshore flow at 5 - 10 knots, Wednesday through Friday. These winds should cause only a slow transport of the oil slick towards the coast. I don't expect the spill will affect any land areas for the remainder of the week, with the possible exception of the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana and the Chandeleur Islands. The latest forecast of Gulf currents from the NOAA HYCOM model (see also this alternative view of the HYCOM ocean current forecast) show weak ocean currents affecting the region during the remainder of the week. These currents will not be strong enough to push any oil southwards into the Loop Current over the next five days, so the Keys and South Florida are safe from oil for now.


Figure 5. Previous location and forecast location for tomorrow of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Image credit: NOAA Office of Response and Restoration. See also the trajectory maps available at State of Louisiana web site.

Jeff Masters

Flooding on I-24 (XMLP)
Flooding on I-24
Lick Creek Bridge (Wingman100)
God is cleaning out the creek and I think making a statement about cleanliness
Lick Creek Bridge
Removing the flood damaged cars and trucks. (laughingjester)
I am a wrecker driver for Martin's wrecker service. We were called to remove the vehicles that got caught in the flooding on interstate I 24 westbound near the Bell Road exit in Nashville Tennessee. Of course this is after the waters had subsided. It was roughly 200, 250 cars and trucks that got caught up in the flood. The debris to left is actually the remnants of a portable classroom that floated alongside the interstate and eventually rolled over and disintegrated.
Removing the flood damaged cars and trucks.

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: 160 - 110

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

Quoting Jeff9641:
The GOM SST's have risen 3 degrees in the last few days at a bouy about 100 miles west of Tampa. Temps will be in the 80's there over the next several days as this heat doesn't appear to want to give. The only change will be afternnon thunderstorms starting tomorrow in C and N FL.
We need those afternoon thunderstorms here just hit 93 degrees here.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting NEwxguy:
I'm always impressed how some people no matter what the subject is can turn it into a conservative or liberal debate.It doesn't matter what the subject is,amazing.


It's not that surprising really—every issue seems to have a clear cut conservative or liberal stance. We are an incredibly polarized country, more so than I can ever remember. Heck, the worst thing it seems you can be is a moderate—then everybody hates you!
Member Since: February 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 580
Hey fellow weather bloggers. Its been a long time.. I've been very busy of lately. This weather has been wacky in a lot of places..

Heres how much rain that I have so far..

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Just hit 94.4 degrees.. I've only been home for 20 minutes..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I washed & waxed to get rid of a layer of pollen - guess I should have waited & let Ma Nature do it.
Quoting pottery:

Would you please come and wash my car? When I do it, it still gets covered in dust.
BAH!!
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 157 Comments: 29385
Quoting pottery:
96.4f at my location at 1:00 pm today. 44% humidity.
Should have gone to the beach.......


Greetings and salutations my good man, I trust you are keeping the snakes out of your newly filled rain barrels this time. :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hey folks, there's a whole admin section at WU to police this blog. Bloggers telling other bloggers what they can and cannot post here is an indication of a slow day and not much else...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Jeff9641:
94 now with a heat index of 101. My god is hot as heck in C FL!
Hey jeff man its like your in a microwave out there.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
I live near Perdido Key, Pensacola-FL. Just wondering: How will the oil slick affect the SST's? Will the oil slick hamper hurricane development in the GOM? Don't know if anyone has asked this...
Thanks!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
We reached 93 at 12:51pm today on the weather station here in N. Ft. Myers, FL. Definitely feels like summer just made an abrupt entry!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
96.4f at my location at 1:00 pm today. 44% humidity.
Should have gone to the beach.......
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Somewhere.. the remains of Karen are about..

Afternoon everyone, scorcher in FL today! 93.8 degrees on the Mercury!
Yep another scorcher here it went up to 92.1 degrees so its still climbing.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting Beachfoxx:
ROFL - I did, and waxed it!

Would you please come and wash my car? When I do it, it still gets covered in dust.
BAH!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Somewhere.. the remains of Karen are about..

Afternoon everyone, scorcher in FL today! 93.8 degrees on the Mercury!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
ROFL - I did, and waxed it!
Quoting PcolaDan:


That means it's your fault it's raining so hard. I bet you washed your car too. ;>)
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 157 Comments: 29385
Greetings. Good to learn that some success has been achieved with stemming the oil-flow.

Looking at the broard picture in the Trop. Atl., things have dried up a lot in the past week or so. What happened to the MJO?
WV is down, the ITCZ is drier than it was, SST's keep high and increasing, and Trinidad is Hot and Dry with not a cloud in sight. (some rains in Guyana today).
Whew!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Holy cow its hot out here in odessa its 91 here but the humidity is killer! you start sweating 10 minutes after you step outside you guys in the panhandle at least have rain and you desperately need it so congradulations but we need rain and there is a chance tomorrow and wedsday.
Member Since: April 8, 2010 Posts: 15 Comments: 2572
Quoting Beachfoxx:
Geez, its pouring - guess I'm stuck in the office for a while.
Where's the umbrella when you need it?
In the car!


That means it's your fault it's raining so hard. I bet you washed your car too. ;>)
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting IKE:
(CNN) -- Actress Lynn Redgrave died Sunday after a seven-year battle with breast cancer, according to her family.

RIP.



Rain has let up here. Over an inch.


RIP Lynn Redgrave, beautiful Lady in so many ways.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
I'm always impressed how some people no matter what the subject is can turn it into a conservative or liberal debate.It doesn't matter what the subject is,amazing.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Geez, its pouring - guess I'm stuck in the office for a while.
Where's the umbrella when you need it?
In the car!
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 157 Comments: 29385
134. IKE
(CNN) -- Actress Lynn Redgrave died Sunday after a seven-year battle with breast cancer, according to her family.

RIP.



Rain has let up here. Over an inch.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PanhandleChuck:


Yeah, but the sun will come back, it always does over here and we'll probably go another 3 weeks without rain again. Hope the tar balls stay off the beach!


Yea, lawn was getting crunchy. Saw boom yesterday on the grass beds planted at foot of the bridge. Was surprised to see them. If it stop raining tomorrow gonna drive around some and see where else they may be. (don't feel like putting top back on the Jeep)
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
:)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Beachfoxx:
It suddenly has gotten very dark here... storms rolling in.


Hey Beach. Only been light rain here, 1/2 inch or so once it started. Just a slow mover.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
130. IKE
Quoting Beachfoxx:
It suddenly has gotten very dark here... storms rolling in.


The heaviest rain looks to be in southern Okaloosa and now most of southern Walton county.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
20/20 is hindsight as usual but I hope in the future if the containment structure works they have one standing by on a barge or what ever, that can be towed in place within a day or two. Because disasters like this are always unforeseen. But no matter how unlikely an event is to happen, one maybe more the we can allow. We are talking a disaster greater than any hurricane at this point if that structure doesn't work. Only difference man made and no upside. Even hurricanes provide certain positive benefits and man has the ability to mitigate most of this negative affects if he so chooses.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NRAamy:
dashboard cow man!!! it's always sunny here!


Yea, I seem to remember someone wondering if they were going to make it home one day. ;>)

Oh wait, you mean your personality. That's why I like you. :)
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
It suddenly has gotten very dark here... storms rolling in.
Quoting PcolaDan:


:) Didn't see the check-box for "Other" either.
Dreary day , huh. Three days no sun, blah.
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 157 Comments: 29385
Quoting PcolaDan:


:) Didn't see the check-box for "Other" either.
Dreary day , huh. Three days no sun, blah.


Yeah, but the sun will come back, it always does over here and we'll probably go another 3 weeks without rain again. Hope the tar balls stay off the beach!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
dashboard cow man!!! it's always sunny here!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
123. IKE
From Tallahassee....

"SHORT TERM...(TONIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY NIGHT).
THE MODELS ARE IN BETTER AGREEMENT TODAY AS OPPOSED TO JUST 24 HOURS
AGO. THEY ALSO ARE SHOWING LESS HEAVY RAINFALL THROUGH THE NEXT 36
HOURS. HOWEVER...THERE STILL LOOKS TO BE A POTENTIAL FOR ISOLATED
HIGHER TOTALS WHICH WILL CONTINUE TO JUSTIFY THE NEED OF A FLASH
FLOOD WATCH.

TONIGHT...RADAR AND SATELLITE DATA SHOW THE CONVECTION ALONG THE
COLD FRONT CONTINUES TO DRIFT SLOWLY EASTWARD INTO MORE OF THE
FORECAST AREA. MODELS DO SHOW SOME OF THIS ACTIVITY WEAKENING AFTER
MIDNIGHT...BUT LATEST RADAR DATA FROM KLIX IS SHOWING INCREASING
DEVELOPMENT JUST SOUTHEAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER ENTRANCE. WITH
THIS OCCURRING BACK IN THE DELTA REGION AND ONGOING ACTIVITY IN OUR
AREA...WILL RAISE POPS SLIGHTLY FROM WHAT I INHERITED. THIS IS AT
LEAST 20 TO 30 PERCENT HIGHER THAN THE LATEST GUIDANCE. WILL BE
ANOTHER MUGGY NIGHT WITH LOWS ACROSS THE REGION IN THE UPPER 60S AND
LOWER 70S.

TUESDAY...THE FRONTAL BOUNDARY WILL GRADUALLY SAG SOUTHEASTWARD AND
BEGIN TO LAY OUT IN A WEST TO EAST FASHION. THIS BOUNDARY WILL SERVE
AS A FOCUS FOR INCREASING CONVECTION FROM MID MORNING ONWARD WITH
THE HEAVIEST ACTIVITY LIKELY TO BE ALONG THE I-10 CORRIDOR AND
NORTHEASTWARD INTO SOUTH CENTRAL GEORGIA. WILL CONTINUE TO INDICATE
POPS HIGHER THAN GUIDANCE...BY AT LEAST 20 PERCENT.

TUESDAY NIGHT...THE FRONTAL BOUNDARY WILL BEGIN TO SLOWLY WASH OUT
ACROSS THE REGION AS THE PRECIPITATION COMES TO AN END. SOME DRIER
AND COOLER AIR WILL TRY TO WORK INTO THE NORTHERN PORTION OF THE
REGION...BUT WILL NOT MAKE MUCH PROGRESS TOWARD THE COAST AS
TEMPERATURES IN THE SOUTHERN PORTION OF THE FORECAST AREA WILL
CONTINUE TO BE QUITE WARM AND MUGGY.

WEDNESDAY...WITH THE FRONT DISSIPATING ACROSS THE AREA...EXPECT
LOCAL SEA BREEZE CIRCULATIONS TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE MOIST AIRMASS
ACROSS THE NORTHERN GULF COAST WITH ISOLATED SHOWERS AND STORMS
POSSIBLE ACROSS THE SOUTHERN HALF OF THE REGION WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON.
DRIER AIR TO THE NORTH WILL LIKELY KEEP THE NORTHERN HALF DRY DURING
THE DAY WITH VERY WARM TEMPERATURES APPROACHING THE 90 DEGREE MARK
POSSIBLE AROUND DOTHAN AND ALBANY.

STORM TOTAL RAINFALL THROUGHOUT THE EVENT CONTINUE TO LOOK TO BE IN
THE 2 TO 4 INCH RANGE WITH HEAVIER AMOUNTS UPWARDS OF 4 TO 6 INCHES
POSSIBLE ACROSS PORTIONS OF SOUTHEAST ALABAMA AND SOUTHWEST GEORGIA.
THE FLASH FLOOD WATCH WILL REMAIN IN EFFECT UNCHANGED...THOUGH WILL
FRESHEN THE WORDING ON THE AFTERNOON ISSUANCE."
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PanhandleChuck:


LMAO -- What's up Dan? I couldn't figure out who was on the right or wrong side either.


:) Didn't see the check-box for "Other" either.
Dreary day , huh. Three days no sun, blah.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting PcolaDan:


Checking through post, nope , don't see liberal or conservative labels attached to any. Would you please show me which ones are conservative see I can see the mention of the eleven dead men.


LMAO -- What's up Dan? I couldn't figure out who was on the right or wrong side either.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Media Advisory: Unified command to conduct Deepwater Horizon incident joint press conference

* Report oiled shoreline or request volunteer information:
(866)-448-5816
* Submit alternative response technology, services or products:
(281) 366-5511
* Submit your vessel as a vessel of opportunity skimming system:
(281) 366-5511
* Submit a claim for damages:
(800) 440-0858
* Report oiled wildlife:
(866) 557-1401





Deepwater Horizon Incident
Joint Information Center

Phone: (985) 902-5231
(985) 902-5240










Who: U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry, Minerals Management Service Gulf of Mexico Head of Field Operations Mike Saucier, BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles. Representatives from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA, and Transocean will be available during the question and answer period.

What: Update to the response efforts surrounding the Deepwater Horizon incident.

Where: Shell Robert Training and Conference Center, 23260 Shell Lane in Robert, La., 70455-1928. A joint information center representative will be at the gate at 2:40 p.m., to escort media.


When: 3 p.m. CDT. The call-in number for press unable to attend: (877) 918-5750. International callers use (312) 470-7364 Password RESPONSE (73776673)
. Live broadcast may be available on the Digital Video Information Distribution System (DVIDS) hub, which can be accessed at www.dvidshub.net. To see the live broadcast or download video of the conference, media must register with DVIDS no later than 2:45 p.m. This can be done on the DVIDS Web site or by calling (678) 421-6612.

RSVP: Media interested in physically attending are asked to contact the joint information center at (985) 902-5231 or (985) 902-5240 no later than 2 p.m., to confirm.

Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Oil_Spill_2010 or on Facebook at Deepwater Horizon Response
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
Quoting southlouisiana:
Poor sea turtles. Poor fishermen. Poor seawater and rocks. But in hundreds, maybe thousands of posts, eleven dead men don't merit much time from the liberals.


Poor You
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting southlouisiana:
Poor sea turtles. Poor fishermen. Poor seawater and rocks. But in hundreds, maybe thousands of posts, eleven dead men don't merit much time from the liberals.


Checking through post, nope , don't see liberal or conservative labels attached to any. Would you please show me which ones are conservative see I can see the mention of the eleven dead men.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Good news!
Thanks for the link:
BP official: 'We've significantly cut the flow' of oil from damaged rig
Quoting cajunkid:
Good news Link
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 157 Comments: 29385
Quoting Ossqss:


Excellent, and stated by other sources. The second shear ram will stop it completely. I should say, they think. Finally, some good news :) Thanx


This is only a smaller pipe, the big ones is still flowing oil out at high rates.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting southlouisiana:
Poor sea turtles. Poor fishermen. Poor seawater and rocks. But in hundreds, maybe thousands of posts, eleven dead men don't merit much time from the liberals.


You really need to get away from all the political chatter....You did the same thing on this ""weather blog" yesterday.....Please GO AWAY to some other Blog .
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting southlouisiana:
Poor sea turtles. Poor fishermen. Poor seawater and rocks. But in hundreds, maybe thousands of posts, eleven dead men don't merit much time from the liberals.


and the ones risking their life to stop the leak too
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
111. beell
Quoting cajunkid:
Good news Link


Maybe, maybe, hopeful.
Thanks
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 145 Comments: 16923

Viewing: 160 - 110

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15Blog 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.

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Lake Effort Snow Shower Over Windsor, Ontario
Sunset on Dunham Lake
Pictured Rocks Sunset
Sunset on Lake Huron