Flooding death toll in Southeast U.S. floods rises to 24; oil slick moving little

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:11 PM GMT on May 04, 2010

Share this Blog
3
+

The death toll from last weekend's record flooding in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi has risen to 24, making it the deadliest non-tropical storm or hurricane flood disaster in the U.S. since the October 1998 Central Texas floods that killed 31 when a cold front stalled over Texas. As flood waters recede today, the toll from last weekend's floods is expected to grow higher. Particularly hard-hit was the Nashville, Tennessee area, where ten fatalities were reported. The city had its heaviest 1-day and 2-day rainfall amounts in its history over the weekend. A remarkable 7.25" of rain fell on the city Sunday, breaking the record for most rain in a single day (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, only two days into the month, the weekend rains made it the rainiest May in Nashville's history.

Rainfall records were smashed all across Tennessee, Kentucky, and northern Mississippi over the weekend, 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.


Figure 1. Satellite-estimated precipitable water at 23 UTC (7 pm EDT) Sunday, May 2, 2010. Precipitable water is a measure of how much rain would be produced if all the water vapor and cloud moisture through the depth of the atmosphere were to fall as rain. Values above 50 mm (about 2 inches) are frequently associated with flooding. Sunday's precipitable water image showed a tropical disturbance crossed Mexico into the Gulf of Mexico, dragging a plume of very moist air northwards over the Southeast U.S. Image credit: University of Wisconsin GOES Satellite Blog.


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

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. 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. Accompanying this warm air was moisture from a tropical disturbance that crossed over Mexico from the tropical East Pacific over the weekend (Figure 1.)

The record rains sent the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville surging to 51.86' this morning, 12' over flood height, and the highest level the river has reached since a flood control project was completed in the early 1960s. The previous post-flood control project record level was 47.6', set on March 15, 1975 (the river hit 56.2' in 1929, before the flood control project was built.) The river has now crested (Figure 2) and is expected to recede below flood stage by Wednesday morning. There are no further rains in the forecast this week for Tennessee. At least four rivers in Tennessee reached their greatest flood heights on record this week. Most remarkable was the Duck River at Centreville, which crested at 47', a full 25 feet above flood stage, and ten feet higher than the previous record crest, achieved in 1948 (to check out the flood heights, use our wundermap for Nashville with the "USGS River" layer turned on.)

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 eighteen 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. 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. 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. According to the latest NWS marine forecast, winds will be light and variable through Wednesday, resulting in little transport of the oil slick. Winds will then resume a weak onshore flow at 5 - 10 knots, Thursday through Friday, then reverse to blow offshore at 5 - 10 knots over the weekend. The net result of this wind pattern will be little transport of the oil slick. The only areas at risk of landfalling oil over the next five days will be 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. I'll have a post on the long-range prospects for oil to enter the Loop Current later this week, and a discussion of how a hurricane might affect and be affected by the oil spill.


Figure 3. Forecast location at 6pm CDT Tuesday, May 4, 2010, of the oil slick from the Deepwater Horizon blowout. Image credit: NOAA Office of Response and Restoration. See also the trajectory maps available at State of Louisiana web site.

Jeff Masters

Alice Aycock sculpture (laughingjester)
If you saw my other pics of this sculpture you cam get an idea how high the Cumberland river has risen. when I left it was still getting higher.
Alice Aycock sculpture
Harpeth River Flooding (XMLP)
Harpeth River Flooding
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..
Removing the flood damaged cars and trucks.
Nashville Flooding (jadnash)
This is looking east - the Cumberland River is just on the other side of the buildings.
Nashville Flooding
Parking via Mother Nature (jadnash)
This car drove into the swiftly moving water at the Belle Meade Kroger and was thrown up against a parking deck. Luckily someone got a ladder and dropped it down to break the rear window and the driver climbed out safely!
Parking via Mother Nature

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: 673 - 623

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24Blog Index

Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
I found a subsurface graphic that updates everyday. Some warm waters are left while the cool waters are creeping towards the surface.



ECMWF updates everyday as well.



Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15718
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
I found a subsurface graphic that updates everyday. Some warm waters are left while the cool waters are creeping towards the surface.



Which body of water is this graph collecting data on?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Jeff9641:


Been there done that! You will have to take a lot math classes. CAL.I,II,III, Trig, and it keeps going.
after that there's differential equations too! haha

I hate math, but I'll do whatever it takes to get my dream job as a meteorologist.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
LATEST AND GREATEST ON THE SUBSEA OIL RECOVERY SYSTEM




The Pollution Control Dome has left the Port Fourchon onboard an oil workboat, and is making its way to cap the source of the oil slick from the BP Deepwater Horizon platform disaster in Louisiana, on May 5, 2010. BP has deployed a giant "dome" to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, knowing failure will leave crude spewing into the sea for months and magnify the risk of an environmental catastrophe. A crane lowered the five-story, 100-ton dome onto the "Joe Griffin," a barge that will take it on the 12-hour journey from Port Fourchon to the epicenter of the disaster, some 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast. The dome, a huge white silo resembling some kind of spacecraft, carries with it the hopes of coastal communities from Texas to Florida whose livelihoods are under threat from the toxic slick. The aim is to place the structure over the main leak to trap the oil so it can be funneled up through a mile-long pipe to the Deepwater Enterprise, a ship that can process and store the crude-water mix. With the leak being 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) down on the seabed, the operation to lower it -- expected early next week -- will be conducted using remote-controlled submarines and is fraught with difficulty.

NEW ORLEANS
-- The best short-term solution to bottling up a disastrous oil spill threatening sea life and livelihoods -- a tremendous dome BP will lower a mile to the sea floor -- has proven successful in the past.

The contraption, called the Subsea Oil Recovery System, is a 100-ton structure is designed to be placed over the largest source of oil leaking 5,000 feet beneath the Gulf of Mexico. The system collects the leaking oil and pumps it through a funnel and pipe to a tanker at the surface, which stores it and ships the oil to shore.

Dr. Bill Eustes, an associate professor with the Colorado School of Mines, told Fox News correspondent Phil Keating that he hasn't heard of anyone trying anything like this since the 70s, when oil company ARCO attempted a similar feat. The company (which was subsequently bought by BP) lowered a rudimentary funnel over a naturally occurring oil leak in Santa Barbara Channel.

By all accounts, ARCO's efforts were a success says the professor, whose Golden, Colorado, school graduates many of the world's best petroleum engineers
. Eustes described as clever BP's plan to use containment boxes like these; in the past, such domes have been used only in shallow water for containment during hurricanes.

The Subsea Oil Recovery System -- essentially a 40-foot tall steel and concrete chimney -- is being shipped to the Gulf oil leak, where it will be lowered to the ocean floor, a process that can take up to two days.

Animals are the first casualties of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Here are a few of the victims -- and some details on what scientists are doing to save these creatures.

It should be on the seabed by Saturday, and as early as Sunday should start pumping oil up to the Deepwater Enterprise, which is capable of storing 139,000 barrels of oil, processing it at a rate of 15,000 barrels per day.

BP hopes it will be able to collect as much as 85 percent of the oil leaking from the sea floor. The company, along with contractor Wild Well Control, are also building two other domes at a manufacturing facility in Port Fourchon, LA, just south of Houma. The other two domes should follow a few days behind the first.

"We don't know for sure" whether the equipment will work, BP spokesman Bill Salvin hs said. "What we do know is that we have done extensive engineering and modeling and we believe this gives us the best chance to contain the oil, and that's very important to us."

Meanwhile, chemical dispersants piped 5,000 feet to the main leak have significantly reduced the amount of oil coming to the surface, BP said. The company has already managed to shut off one of the smaller of three leaks, though that plug might not reduce the flow much, said Doug Suttles, BP PLC's chief operating officer.

"It's a gift of a little bit of time. I'm not resting," U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 3420
I will be updating my blog later this evening with some very interesrting stuff, be sure to check in at around 8:00 PM EDT.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
BP Tries To Restrict Volunteers
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2895
Quoting SomeRandomTexan:


WOW!!! if things don't change soon, we will be in same conditions. No rain in forseable future.


I know. :( That's one nasty ridge. Which as has been mentioned already is going to cook the gulf too. The time line on that video surprised me. Four hours after landfall she was between Beaumont and Jasper but was down graded to a cat2 with 100-105 mph winds. That does explain a lot though. Once again a clear case for inland hurricane warnings.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SomeRandomTexan:


WOW!!! if things don't change soon, we will be in same conditions. No rain in forseable future.

Spring of 2001 was wet. TS Allison just added to it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Bordonaro:

Check out the article link in my previous entry. Three 6TH graders swallowed dry ice on a dare. Hope they're OK, I don't think they'll do that again :o)!!


I doubt they'll be able to even if they were stupid enough to try something like that again.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
well i may be wrong as i stated before the oil leak will reach the shore before any tropical activity. i feel the folks on the gulf coast especially from se la to fla pan handle are much more concerned about the oil than a tropical threat right now. and asi stated before if the worse with this spill happens we given a choice would take 4 hurricanes in the place of this. sorry for being a little frustrated but seems like the priorities of folks are a little off balance. have a blessed day.
Member Since: August 20, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 706
I found a subsurface graphic that updates everyday. Some warm waters are left while the cool waters are creeping towards the surface.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting homelesswanderer:


The guy in Beaumont rode it out at ST E. He said the roads were thigh deep around him but that we were in a 15 inch deficit before Rita and before the rain started dust was blowing down the street.


WOW!!! if things don't change soon, we will be in same conditions. No rain in forseable future.
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1837
Quoting Bordonaro:
Iceland Volcano is on the RAMPAGE this afternoon. Notice to Ash Plume through the lower clouds, AMAZING!!


Wow!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SomeRandomTexan:
Hey Homeless!

Thanks for the vid! I will have to watch it after I get off. We don't have access to vids at work.

Care to expound upon the conditions?


The guy in Beaumont rode it out at ST E. He said the roads were thigh deep around him but that we were in a 15 inch deficit before Rita and before the rain started dust was blowing down the street.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Iceland Volcano is on the RAMPAGE this afternoon. Notice to Ash Plume through the lower clouds, AMAZING!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hey Homeless!

Thanks for the vid! I will have to watch it after I get off. We don't have access to vids at work.

Care to expound upon the conditions?
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1837
Quoting SomeRandomTexan:


LOL.. sorry I didn't make myself clear. I choose those 2 years for the storms they produced. I meant to ask how the Springs were. If they were dry or wet.


Hey SRT I don't remember 2001 conditions either but 2005 is talked about at the end of this video. Rita threaded the needle between Sulphur and Beaumont. So you know what that means.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It does..as 90L and 91L formed before June 1,2009

June 1 is a arbitrary Date based on the past.


The Future is now.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125753
Quoting all4hurricanes:
I'd think the Epac would have the higher chance of development considering their season starts earlier and they've already had a few nice blobs
I think our season should also begin on May 15th.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
One thing's for sure, the entire Gulf Coast has been anomalously dry this May, which, if continues, will rapidly warm SSTs. :/
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting RitaEvac:
2001 was Allison, and 2005 was Rita


LOL.. sorry I didn't make myself clear. I choose those 2 years for the storms they produced. I meant to ask how the Springs were. If they were dry or wet.
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1837
Quoting all4hurricanes:
I'd think the Epac would have the higher chance of development considering their season starts earlier and they've already had a few nice blobs


Climatologically speaking, this is correct. Even in 2005, the Pacific saw development before the Atlantic did.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I'd think the Epac would have the higher chance of development considering their season starts earlier and they've already had a few nice blobs
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2001 was Allison, and 2005 was Rita
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good Afternoon everyone!

Right now there is very little activity in the way of early season tropics. There is a lot of showers and thunderstorms in the ITCZ but nothing that will develop in the near future. There is one feature off the coast of Georgia which is showing some promise but not expected to become anything due to high shear, cool SST's, and the fact that it lacks vorticity in the lower and mid levels of the atmosphere. In the EPAC there is a lot of showers and thunderstroms all over the place but nothing that will develop soon.

Chance of development in the Atlantic in the next 72 hours: 10%

Chance of development in the EPAC in the next 72 hours: 5%
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting RitaEvac:


Yea and I remember vividly 1998. never rained, and had to tropical storms hit Central TX coast. And boy did we get our rain


I don't remember 98 but wonder how 2001 and 2005 were.
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1837
Quoting Bordonaro:

CRAZY 6TH Graders swallowing dry-ice, which is at -105F.


Potential Darwin Award candidates.
Member Since: December 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2498
Quoting Bordonaro:

CRAZY 6TH Graders swallowing dry-ice, which is at -105F.


OMG! I just read a book about a case involving dry ice. They talked about how it didn't melt and it burned the skin. That's horrible. I always told my kids not to listen to other kids because they don't know any more than they did. They didn't listen to me either I guess I'm lucky their friends never thought this one up.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ecflawthr:
the expression growing up was a dry May and you will Pay


Yea and I remember vividly 1998. never rained, and had two tropical storms hit Central TX coast. And boy did we get our rain
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Miami:

Current temp 90

Heat index 100

dew point 75

o-o
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting xcool:
'hey Ladies and gentlemen,

ITCZ start tooo wake upppppp

Xcool, when this season starts, it could potentially be very, very busy.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NRAamy:
how do you swallow dry ice???

Check out the article link in my previous entry. Three 6TH graders swallowed dry ice on a dare. Hope they're OK, I don't think they'll do that again :o)!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NRAamy:
how do you swallow dry ice???


add a little HCl
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1837
how do you swallow dry ice???
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 316 Comments: 31944
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:
Are ya freakin' kidding me?

CRAZY 6TH Graders swallowing dry-ice, which is at -105F.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SomeRandomTexan:


That is true...

In 2008 we had a very dry spring here in SeTx if you recall and low and behold we got IKE


Seems lately that spring and summer have been nothing but dry since 2001. What I wouldn't give for an all day thunderstorm.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Santa Rosa County FL SitRep's 1-6 available here:Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
634. Skyepony (Mod)
Vortex2 is going to be chasing from Central KS on Thurs.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Special weather statement issued for..
City of Toronto
Windsor - Essex - Chatham-Kent
Sarnia - Lambton
Elgin
London - Middlesex
Simcoe - Delhi - Norfolk
Dunnville - Caledonia - Haldimand
Oxford - Brant
Niagara
City of Hamilton
Halton - Peel
York - Durham
Huron - Perth
Waterloo - Wellington
Dufferin - Innisfil
Grey - Bruce
Barrie - Orillia - Midland
Belleville - Quinte - Northumberland
Kingston - Prince Edward
Peterborough - Kawartha Lakes
Stirling - Tweed - South Frontenac
Bancroft - Bon Echo Park
Brockville - Leeds and Grenville
City of Ottawa
Gatineau
Prescott and Russell
Cornwall - Morrisburg
Smiths Falls - Lanark - Sharbot Lake
Parry Sound - Muskoka
Haliburton
Renfrew - Pembroke - Barry's Bay
Algonquin
Burk's Falls - Bayfield Inlet.

A cold front will give gusty winds to 80 km/h this afternoon and into
this evening.

A cold front currently over lower Michigan will move through the
regions from west to east. Along the cold front showers with
isolated thunderstorms will produce wind gusts of 60 to 80 km/h.
The cold front will be over Eastern Ontario early this evening.
Wind gusts of 90 km/h or greater require severe thunderstorm warnings
and therefore the Ontario storm prediction centre will continue to
monitor the situation and issue watches or warnings as required.

Listen for further statements. Additional information may also be
found by consulting the latest public forecast. The next public
forecast will be issued by 3.30 PM.

END/OSPC
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52406
Quoting toontown:
And here is your daily snow picture, showing what our situation was this morning.

Current temperature 42 F, projected overnight low 27 F.

No further comments at this time.


wow too bad its 27 or 80 here in suburbs of toronto but storms coming soon
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52406
Are ya freakin' kidding me?
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
Santa Rosa County FL, Deepwater Horizon Situation Report #7, 1000, 5 May 2010

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
629. Skyepony (Mod)
Jeff9641~ With any luck I'll see some of the rain. Little north of me at the moment. Saw a waterspout on radar south of Daytona. There's a mesocyclone in N Brevard headed toward KSC. Looks like a few fires west of me. My high for the day so far is 96.4ºF & I've hardly had any sun. Kinda interesting. There was a L in the big bend area of FL this morning on the surface map associated with what is now on the E side playing in the seabreeze.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
;)
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 316 Comments: 31944
Quoting toontown:


I'm stuck in a snow bank ;]

I live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.


ROFLMAO... awww poor stubble Jumpers :)
(jk) from Victoria BC :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
626. xcool
'hey Ladies and gentlemen,

ITCZ start tooo wake upppppp
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NRAamy:
see!!!!!

;)


Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah

OK, so you win again.

LOL
Member Since: December 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2498
see!!!!!

;)
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 316 Comments: 31944
Quoting SQUAWK:


Wow, that is up there. Maybe Siberia wasn't so far off after all! LOL

'bout 130 miles north of Moose Jaw.


Yup, we live North of Moose Lips.

We are net exporter of cold fronts for weather generation in the lower 48.

We have two seasons - winter and poor sledding

Or we have two seasons - frost bite and sun burn !!

The summer days (when summer finally arrives) are nice and long and can get very warm.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 673 - 623

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24Blog 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.