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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The tropical waves rolling of africa ARE unusually vigorous for May, but upper-level winds are not favorable for development in that area this time of the year. But keep and eye on that wave as it tracks westward for the next 2 weeks. It could end up as the first EPAC system when the next positive MJO pulse comes back around in 2 weeks or so. If enough wave energy concentrates in the swrn Carib Sea, then the next MJO pulse could trigger an early season TS down there. But...it could just as easily...and more likely...be the first EPAC storm.

adrian
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Quoting NRAamy:
MARCO!!!!!

POLO!!!!!!
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Quoting StormChaser81:


This was shown on CNN two nights ago.

I feel like the NHC releasing daily update maps. pretty neat stuff though.


Looks great!
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2899
Quoting Levi32:
Alarming warming continues in the Caribbean.

May 4th, 2010:



May 4th, 2005:





Interesting that the hot spot is so symmetrical. Just looked at some of the plates to see if there was any anomalous connection, just in case, and nope. Only a DSDP spot right there.



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MARCO!!!!!
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 317 Comments: 31946
Quoting StormChaser81:
This is what I'm producing.



This was shown on CNN two nights ago.

I feel like the NHC releasing daily update maps. pretty neat stuff though.
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
This is what I'm producing.

Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
Nino 3.4 really falling hard.

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15946


the march begins
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Quoting Levi32:
Alarming warming continues in the Caribbean.

May 4th, 2010:



May 4th, 2005:





Indeed.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15946
Off topic, Chemical Explosion at an Alabama army base. no one killed, possible only injuries.
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Quoting Patrap:



Been living it since Aug 29,2005.

John Goodman iz a Uptown neighbor, and I give HBO an 8 for production,and a 9 for content.


I'm sure you have man! Nice to see John Goodman acting again. Seems like he was off the radar for a while. What a great show! Life after Katrina is something we should all be mindful of even almost 5 years later.
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2899
Alarming warming continues in the Caribbean.

May 4th, 2010:



May 4th, 2005:



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Quoting hurricanejunky:
Sorry to be off topic (well not completely) but has anyone here been watching Treme on HBO? If not, you should!
What a great show!!



Been living it since Aug 29,2005.

John Goodman iz a Uptown neighbor, and I give HBO an 8 for production,and a 9 for content.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
2009 had 90L and 91L and a FLooding event Memorial Day weekened in Fla,before June 1.

So,spect the same avg this year,..1-2 invests before the Season Officially Starts.


I personally begin the Atlantic May 15th now and the East PAC,May 1.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Sorry to be off topic (well not completely) but has anyone here been watching Treme on HBO? If not, you should! What a great show!!
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2899
Quoting crownwx:


Yes, seriously. I corresponded with him a bit last night on facebook and he indicated that someone on the other end dropped the ball, which led to the funding falling through.

the beeping beeps.
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Even showing an interest in African Waves in early May should be reason enough for concern about the 2010 season.

I think our first system will be Caribean spawn, but we may get our first Cape Verde storm around the first of June if this keeps up.

It will be an event-filled year in the tropical Atlantic basin.

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Quoting AussieStorm:

omg, serious, he was so loking forward to it, and i was looking forward to his live on the road show while on the road with the vortex2.


Yes, seriously. I corresponded with him a bit last night on facebook and he indicated that someone on the other end dropped the ball, which led to the funding falling through.
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And the Truck was so ready too.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting crownwx:
In case you haven't heard, Bob Brookens from the Barometer Bob Show's storm chasing trip with Vortex 2 next week was cancelled due to lack of funding. I feel really, really bad for him!!....it completely and totally sucks!!!! :-(

omg, serious, he was so loking forward to it, and i was looking forward to his live on the road show while on the road with the vortex2.
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Quoting crownwx:
In case you haven't heard, Bob Brookens from the Barometer Bob Show's storm chasing trip with Vortex 2 next week was cancelled due to lack of funding. I feel really, really bad for him!!....it completely and totally sucks!!!! :-(


Poor Bob must be devastated..and the Hurricane Hollow Family.

Well.,,theres always Cane season
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting StormW:
Fresh off the press!

TROPICAL WEATHER SYNOPSIS MAY 05, 2010 ISSUED 11:20 A.M. PHTFC

Great synopsis as always.
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ESL by LSU
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
In case you haven't heard, Bob Brookens from the Barometer Bob Show's storm chasing trip with Vortex 2 next week was cancelled due to lack of funding. I feel really, really bad for him!!....it completely and totally sucks!!!! :-(
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DATE: May 05, 2010 01:53:29 CST



Unified Command Mobile to hold media availability at Institute for Marine Mammals Studies


* 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: Institute for Marine Mammals Studies, with NOAA scientist

WHAT: Media availability to discuss mammal and turtle rehabilitation

WHEN: Wednesday, May 5, 2010, at * 11 a.m *

WHERE: Institute for Marine Mammals Studies, 10801 Dolphin Lane, Gulfport,
Miss., 39503-6371

RSVP to MobileJIC@gmail.com
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting hurricanejunky:


What happened to your Naples trip man? We have a beer appointment also! The Landsharks and key limes are ready and waiting...oh wait today is Cinco De Mayo. You're out of luck!


Still in the works, but it all depends on the clients...
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Per the GFS long-range conditions close to home should remain hostile for tc development for the next 10-14 days. Around mid month things (could) get a little interesting as the mjo moves in.

Models did indicate the redevelopment of a coherent MJO wave into ph. 1 which has allowed for some impressive convection across the ITCZ. I'd think the QBO is tied into all of this somehow, especially over the ITCZ in Africa, where even the slightest tropopause fluctuation has a solid impact
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492. beell
Quoting StormW:


Analysis of Windsat however, appears as if it may be a low amplitude wave. Wind shift seems to indicate a low amplitude inverted "V" signature:



Pretty close call either way. The surface trough is of course "inverted" and would carry an inverted "v" shape. Just because I don't "see" any support higher up to suggest an AEW does not mean it ain't there! The GFS 700mb analysis shows a barely there feature that dampens out pretty quick.

Thanks for your thoughts.







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A lovely reminder of what's happening:

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Quoting Floodman:


Good morning, sir...I'm hoping that we might get a chance to have that beer we've been talking about for the last three years pretty soon; I may need to be in the St Pete area in the next month or so


What happened to your Naples trip man? We have a beer appointment also! The Landsharks and key limes are ready and waiting...oh wait today is Cinco De Mayo. You're out of luck!
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2899
Quoting weathermanwannabe:


Dust is forcast to be weak this year, so IMHO, sheer will determine the start and end of this season, as it usually does every year; the biggest issue will not be the numbers per se, but, trajectory and intensity at landfall The last piece of the puzzle right now is where the A-B high sets in place for the Summer;


yeah I forgot about the a-b high positioning but it seems that lately we haven't had the North/South Carolina (happy Press?) coast type setups we saw in the 90's.
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2899
Looks like most of the usual suspects are here today.

Is the ITCZ usually that far south this time of year?
I'm interested in the long term shear forecast too.
Couldn't get the vid of the dome on #478 to play. Just goes black an nothing happens.
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...fyi....today is Karl Marx birthday......just sayin.....
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Quoting StormW:


Wind shear.


Good morning, sir...I'm hoping that we might get a chance to have that beer we've been talking about for the last three years pretty soon; I may need to be in the St Pete area in the next month or so
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Quoting hurricanejunky:
Hard to say though, we've had many pre-season predictions of VERY active recently that haven't panned out for one reason or another. What is, in everyone's opinion here, the biggest factor to pay attention to as we head into this potentially dangerous hurricane season? Wind shear, saharan dust? We know SST's are there.


Dust is forcast to be weak this year, so IMHO, sheer will determine the start and end of this season, as it usually does every year; the biggest issue will not be the numbers per se, but, trajectory and intensity at landfall The last piece of the puzzle right now is where the A-B high sets in place for the Summer;
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Hey StormW, while we're on the subject of wind shear. How are wind shear forecasts looking right now? How far out do they go and how reliable have they been historically? Thanks again!
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2899
Quoting StormW:


Wind shear.


How are you today StormW? I thought the same thing. Thanks for the input!
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Oh my God they gotcha Pat. U betcha!!!
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Cool Perspective Keeper!

Vocabulary word of the day: Equifinality
His model was all messed up but his forecast was correct. That's a case of Equifinality.
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Hard to get many VOC readings with dat Nw Wind a breezing thru...


Itsa Gaw-jus day here for sure.

Current Conditions

Mid City Station, New Orleans, Louisiana (PWS)
Updated: 0 sec ago
Clear
79.3 F
Clear
Humidity: 73%
Dew Point: 70 F
Wind: 3.0 mph from the NNW
Wind Gust: 5.0 mph
Pressure: 29.98 in (Rising)
Heat Index: 82 F
Visibility: 8.0 miles
UV: 4 out of 16
Clouds:
Clear -
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 25 ft
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089





BP: One of three leaks capped in Gulf

An oil sheen has been spotted about two miles offshore by an oysterman, according to Plaqumines Parish President Billy Nungesser. Officials are sending a plane to confirm the report. It was spotted near the St. Bernard-Plaquemines border.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Evening all.
Nice wave coming off Africa, could it be our first long range storm?
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Quoting 47n91w:


Keep in mind that the Air Quality Index (AQI) is usually based not only on ozone, but also PM 2.5, PM 10, NOx, SOx, and CO.

There may be more going on in along the central Gulf Coast. In addition, it looks like a section of the Texas coast will also be in the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (USG) category today.

Yep, all those things are considered, but today is about ozone.

LA: http://www.deq.state.la.us/portal/tabid/2505/Default.aspx
TX: http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/compliance/monitoring/air/monops/forecast_today.html

Ozone action day down here. Of course, might not be related to the oil slick's VOCs. Would have to run a chemistry model to find out...more time than I have right now.
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Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Response

Gulf of Mexico-Transocean Drilling Incident



DATE: May 05, 2010 04:03:37 CST
Unified command activated for West Coast of Florida

* 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



ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -

In response to the possibility of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill affecting the West Coast of Florida, representatives from BP, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are meeting to plan a multi-agency response.

Working together, the agencies have reviewed the area contingency plan and ensured all partners have access to, and are familiar with the plan.

In meetings over the last couple days, the Coast Guard and Florida DEP have spoken with trustees from various national and state wildlife refugee areas, along with every county emergency management office on the West Coast of Florida.

The agencies also met with over 30 members of non-governmental environmental organizations including Tampa Bay Watch, Save our Seabirds, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Sierra Club, etc.

The latest predictions from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), indicate no impact to the western coast of Florida, from Taylor County to Collier County within the next 72 hours.

"We are standing up a unified command, consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Department of Environmental Protections and BP, to facilitate planning and identify resource requirements to ensure a robust multi-agency response," said Capt. Tim Close, Commander, U.S. Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. "We are planning for the worst case, but hopeful any impact will be substantially less than that, if at all," said Close.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Hard to say though, we've had many pre-season predictions of VERY active recently that haven't panned out for one reason or another. What is, in everyone's opinion here, the biggest factor to pay attention to as we head into this potentially dangerous hurricane season? Wind shear, saharan dust? We know SST's are there.
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2899
Quoting Tazmanian:
20 to 28 name storms 7 too 10 hurricans and 5 cat 3 or higher hurricanes



my forcast


Wow, Taz...I guess you'd call that "All in"
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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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