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

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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

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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:
Quoting toontown:


I'm stuck in a snow bank ;]

I live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.


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

'bout 130 miles north of Moose Jaw.
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Quoting SQUAWK:


And just exactly where are you??????????


I'm stuck in a snow bank ;]

I live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
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Quoting NRAamy:
Siberia...


Nuh huh, your are in CA.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Siberia...
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 317 Comments: 31946
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.




And just exactly where are you??????????
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617. A4Guy
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


In South FL - the theory is that if "May is dry...in summer we cry." meaning that we get a tropical system. So far, April has been very wet for us in So Fla..not so much in frequency of rain, but the few events we have had dropped a lot of water.

So far, first five days of may are dry...but our rainy season doesn't typically start until mid-to-late May.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
the expression growing up was a dry May and you will Pay
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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.


Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Heavy oil spotted seven miles off coast

Heavy oil has been spotted 7 miles off the coast of Southwest Pass, according to Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
Quoting RitaEvac:
Having to water at the end of April and into May is insane. We used to get rain in late spring, I don't know whats happening. And when we have dry spring we get a tropical system


That is true...

In 2008 we had a very dry spring here in SeTx if you recall and low and behold we got IKE
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
Having to water at the end of April and into May is insane. We used to get rain in late spring, I don't know whats happening. And when we have dry spring we get a tropical system
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
This is wrong...


Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
Quoting RitaEvac:
I've forgot what even towering cumulus looks like. Haven't seen a thunderhead in so damn long, much less any rain!!


I know exactly what you mean... I kinda miss those things... I fixing to have to drill a well in my back yard to offset the cost of watering the lawn and garden
Member Since: August 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1857
The Acreage, West Palm Beach, FL
95.6 degrees
116 heat index

Good Lawd.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
Galveston now Over 4+ inches below normal rainfall and counting by the day.
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
Well in odessa we have a 50% chance of rain and theres been nothing all day i guess the cape is too strong today anyways heading out today is my first meeting with the navy.
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Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
I've forgot what even towering cumulus looks like. Haven't seen a thunderhead in so damn long, much less any rain!!
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
Quoting Jeff9641:


No, they are rebuilding as I am seeing very tall building cumulus clouds all around me. I think there is about to be an explosion of storms around the Orlando Metro area.


The radar is showing something different.


You can see them flare up with red and then go orange soon after.

I think the cap is really high today, that's why your seeing really high cumulus clouds building.

Just because the clouds are towering doesn't even mean its raining under them.
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
601. RitaEvac
6:19 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
600. wunderkidcayman
6:16 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
hey where is TampaSpins he needs to come out with a new tropics blog
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12719
598. RitaEvac
6:14 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
597. hurricanejunky
6:14 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Blob season starts whenever there's a blob!
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2899
596. wunderkidcayman
6:13 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Hey guys has blob watching season started yet
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12719
595. StormChaser81
6:13 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Quoting Jeff9641:


I'm just north of Orlando and the storms are quite intense as they are building all around me. Some areas to my north in Northern Lake County have seen 5.50" in hour. I think these storms may build in your direction later.


Those storms appear to be weakening.

Also there building up so quickly, there raining there selves out just as fast.
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
594. Tropicsweatherpr
6:05 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Does anyone has the latest subsurface in the Pacific graphic to see how is the battle between the warm waters and the cool waters going?
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14911
591. Jedkins01
5:56 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Quoting Floodman:


Dude, you have to study for calculus? Maybe you should put on your shirt and look at your notes...LOL

Just joking...my need to study for calc finals is way behind me...


yeah of course I do! My major is meteorology, a whole lot more ahead too!
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8028
590. Skyepony (Mod)
5:54 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Nashville's famed music quieted by flooding
Posted: May 05, 2010 1:13 PM EDT Updated: May 05, 2010 1:13 PM EDT


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Cumberland River winding through the heart of Nashville is receding as the city recovers from flash flooding blamed for 28 deaths in three states, including 17 in Tennessee.

Gaylord Entertainment CEO Colin Reed says it will be at least three months before the massive Grand Ole Opry entertainment complex has guests again. The old Opry home, the Ryman Auditorium, wasn't damaged.

Rita Helms, a customer service representative at the Opry, said some workers were in tears.

Residents who had frantically fled their homes returned to find mud-caked floors and soggy furniture.

The water at the closed Country Music Hall of Fame did not get in the exhibit area.

On the other side of the river, LP Field, the home of the Tennessee Titans, was drying out. The Titans' logo can once again be seen from the air.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 226 Comments: 39441
588. Stormchaser2007
5:53 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Quoting CybrTeddy:


Huh.. I did not know that! What's it at now? I heard someone say 0.6C but I'm not sure thats ONI.


The FMA average was at 1.2

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
587. Patrap
5:52 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
BP still in a Boatload of a pickle..



Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Response

Gulf of Mexico-Transocean Drilling Incident


DATE: May 05, 2010 11:29:56 CST
Controlled Burn Approved for May 5



* 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



ROBERT, La. - Favorable weather conditions have allowed responders to prepare to conduct a controlled burn today, May 5th.

As part of a coordinated response that combines tactics deployed above water, below water, offshore, and close to coastal areas, controlled burns remove oil from the open water in an effort to protect shoreline and wildlife.

No populated areas are expected to be affected by the controlled burn operations and there are no anticipated impacts to marine mammals and sea turtles. In order to ensure safety, the Environmental Protection Agency will continuously monitor air quality and burning will be halted if safety standards cannot be maintained.

A successful controlled burn, lasting 28 minutes and removing thousands of gallons of oil, was conducted on April 28th.

For more information, click here.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
586. RitaEvac
5:51 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
BP rolls dice and lands on "all 3 wells capped, clean up begins"

Next roll, "cat 4 barrels over loop current toward all 3 wells"
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
585. CyclonicVoyage
5:51 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
This would be a fitting song
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
584. RitaEvac
5:47 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Quoting FatPenguin:
Has the Blob Watch Season begun?


Yes the blob in the Gulf
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
583. CybrTeddy
5:46 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Quoting Stormchaser2007:


I think the ONI(3 month nino 3.4 average) has to be at or below .5C.


Huh.. I did not know that! What's it at now? I heard someone say 0.6C but I'm not sure thats ONI.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24579
582. Stormchaser2007
5:44 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Quoting CybrTeddy:


Question: If Nino 3.4 is below the 0.5 mark, doesn't that mean Neutral correct?


I think the ONI(3 month nino 3.4 average) has to be at or below .5C.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
581. Patrap
5:43 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
I wonder if U2 and Greenday are gonna Play the Dome Lowering?

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
580. CyclonicVoyage
5:39 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Domes are now on their way to the accident site.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
579. Patrap
5:37 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Quoting Floodman:


Make sure you draw an NFIP card...

Community Chest:
"Insurance agent says you don't need flood insurance; pay contractor $210,000"



You've played before obviously..

The COE took my easement,,..next to the Levee.

FEMA denied my claim as well.


Bankrupt.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
577. CybrTeddy
5:36 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Nino 3.4 really falling hard.



Question: If Nino 3.4 is below the 0.5 mark, doesn't that mean Neutral correct?
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24579
576. Floodman
5:34 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Quoting FatPenguin:
Has the Blob Watch Season begun?


Does it ever really end?
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
575. Floodman
5:32 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Quoting Patrap:



FLoodman,,you can develop those Hotels on Park Place now..and insure them 100%


Make sure you draw an NFIP card...

Community Chest:
"Insurance agent says you don't need flood insurance; pay contractor $210,000"
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
574. zoomiami
5:32 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


the march begins


Did you really have to do that??

we can wait a little longer!
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 4158
573. Floodman
5:30 PM GMT on May 05, 2010
Quoting Jedkins01:
Who here just loves studying for calculus and trigonometry finals?


Dude, you have to study for calculus? Maybe you should put on your shirt and look at your notes...LOL

Just joking...my need to study for calc finals is way behind me...
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922

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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.

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