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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Jey guys so what with the Tropical waves and check out this low
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Quoting washingaway:
Last Sunday, in Westwego, LA., the rain left a oily rainbow sheen on my truck windshield. Oil does evaporate.


No one is saying that it doesn't evaporate; just that it does so slowly.
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Last Sunday, in Westwego, LA., the rain left a oily rainbow sheen on my truck windshield. Oil does evaporate.
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Quoting Tazmanian:



that wind shear map is crap


Correct. CIMSS is best.
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369. 789
who was predicting a hurricane last year to hit NYC
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368. JRRP
Quoting xcool:



nice wave...


i just uppdate my bloggg

yeah.

Link
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Great post 364, hope you try it sometime.Busy hurricane season ahead hope you have a great day.
Member Since: September 18, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1314
post 355 that was a great interview by Levin with the survivor of the blast!
Member Since: September 18, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1314
Quoting xcool:






that wind shear map is crap
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Grab the Hipboots, It’s Getting Deep Here!

by Loki on May 4, 2010 · 0 comments


I encourage all of you, Left and Right, to use FactCheck. It is good for debunking the misinfo and flat out propoganda being promulgated. And do not delude yourself, no matter which side of the political spectrum you are on there is a lot of BS to sift through.

When it comes down to brass tacks we all want the same things: survival, food, a roof, a chance for happiness and a future for our children. Isn’t that more in common than left wing, right wing? As I understand it anything with only one wing flies around in circles until it starves.

-Loki, Founder ad Curator
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 430 Comments: 130817
WOW! Wisconsin Tornado and look at all the Wind Reports out of the NE/New England:

Link to individual reports:
Link
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
362. xcool



Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
360. xcool



nice wave...


i just uppdate my bloggg
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
I've wondered about that too GetReal. Rich thinks it's because they're being promised fat settlements---with not speaking to the press as a condition. That's a big part I think.

However, I'm surprised that not even one is speaking out.


That is indeed a logical question for sure. No matter the problem, there are always folks who make an appearance on the news or another reliable medium. I have seen the blog items, but only blog references? Strange!
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8192
Quoting xcool:
Xcool! shear is really low
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357. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
I've wondered about that too GetReal. Rich thinks it's because they're being promised fat settlements---with not speaking to the press as a condition. That's a big part I think.

However, I'm surprised that not even one is speaking out.



Ditto that thought; You would have thought some would have wanted to tell their story to the public... Then again there is probably large amounts of hush $$$$$ in play...
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There has been a development, or should I a lack of a development, in the oil spill in the GOM...

There were over 100 survivors to the rig explosion, that occurred nearly two weeks ago. Has anyone heard, or seen an extended interview with any of these survivors, or their families???

I am just surprised that none of them, out of the 100+, have not shown up on Larry King, or some other show. Just an observation...
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AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

Humor in Comments
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Still warming rapidly.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
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Wow, this is a interesting fact. Before the 2005 season forecasters at CSU were calling for 15/8/4 in May, now this May the same forecasters are calling for 15/8/4 yet again... very eerie thought
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Quoting HouGalv08:
20/11/5? I think I'm going to be sick, before it even "starts". June 1. One heck of birthday gift.

No, don't be sick, just be prepared.

This may be a bad comparison. I live in Dallas-Ft Worth, TX. Every Mar 15-Jun 15, we run the risk of severe thunderstorms with potentially damaging tornadoes. I am prepared, knowing what to expect, as a 30 yr N TX resident!

An EF-3 or larger tornado is possible every year here in N TX. There are 6.5 million people at risk. Mega-Disasters even did a show on "What an EF-5 Tornado would do to Dallas". And it can happen!

Normally a handful of EF-0 to EF-2 tornadoes will affect our area each year. This year has been very quiet!

On Mar 28, 2000, and F-2 tornado hit downtown Ft Worth, TX at about 6:20PM CDT, causing $500 million in damage in about 5 minutes. The same parent thunderstorm dropped an F-4 tornado in SE Arlington, TX in a residential neighborhood, causing a few million in damage in minutes. I saw the damage a week after the event, it was amazing, it was very bad!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
17 storms 9 hurricanes 5 major hurricanes for 2010.
Member Since: September 18, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1314
Quoting altesticstorm10:

I would say 2010 is SLIGHTLY warmer, but it's VERY close, contrary to hypecast belief. The Caribbean is comparable, the MDR is slightly warmer, 2005 extends slightly farther north in the ATL with the isotherem, and 2010 has a ever-so-slightly warmer Gulf. But it's extremely close.


What worries me, if anything, is the northern extent of the 26+ in the eastern atl. the '10 map is showing the verdes as surrounded by 26 already.

No hype by any means here, but this one's gonna be close.
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Repost.

Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15950
Quoting HouGalv08:
Yep, you said it favors Fla., and I agree. But I suspect a number of double whammies. Fla first, central gulf coast westwards as a second hit (a la Katrina).


Ohh okay, lol just a bit of mis-communication.
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Quoting altesticstorm10:

May 3, 2010

VS


May 3, 2008 (A Very Respectable Above-Average Hurricane Season, 16/8/5)


The comparisons are not even close. A prediction of 16 storms shall be met with laughter.


I'd really rather not look at THIS comparison, but...



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"We anticipate an above-average probability of United States and Caribbean major hurricane landfall," their prediction reads, citing the predicted weakening of El Niño conditions combined with a very strong anomalous warming of the tropical Atlantic for the severe season.

Bastardi agrees, worrying that a big hurricane could drive the oil slick into the current that loops around Florida and runs up the Eastern seaboard -- carrying oil up the coast and greatly spreading the problem.

"The big worry is there's a better that average chance of some of the oil getting into the Loop Current," he told FoxNews.com, and "any kind of tropical front that gets into Florida ... would get that oil into the Loop Current and up the Eastern seaboard."

Link
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Quoting doabarrelroll:


Why does this year favor that area? I thought it was too early to see any long term patterns?


I believe that was his point.
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Quoting MrstormX:


Exactly... didn't I say it favors Florida?
Yep, you said it favors Fla., and I agree. But I suspect a number of double whammies. Fla first, central gulf coast westwards as a second hit (a la Katrina).
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Quoting Patrap:


Sure did,,we were here.

..most werent running round with Hand Held anemometers neither.

If ya Focus on those Cat Numbers all tea time,instead of the Impact,,one could miss the Hurricane and drive right off a cliff..into the GOM





Very true. I learned that with Gustav.
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Quoting Tazmanian:




vary good post


but....


what dos Hurricane Katrina have too do with my post can any one ask me that my post dos not have any thing too do with Hurricane Katrina or any city a long the gulf coast



i re post the ?



this may be some good news


the oil may keep hurricanes at bay or weaker with the oil in the gulf




Another interesting question is what effect the oil spill could have on a hurricane?

Feltgen said that if an oil slick is large enough - on the order of several square miles - it could slow or even prevent the genesis of a hurricane or tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico because the oil layer would prevent the evaporation of seawater, which is crucial for a hurricane or storm to gather power.



h ttp://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20100504/sc_livescience/hurricaneseasoncouldhaltoilspillcleanup


I think the article may be onto something, seeing as though, in my limited studies regarding oil spills and tropical cyclones, I have come to a conclusion that oil does inhibit deep convection, albeit slightly, and not by a lot, particularly in a storm's later stages, when it is more moisture-laden and self-sufficient.

Also, while oil may well prevent evaporation (again, I believe that it does to an extent), it will likely have little to no effect on a Cape Verde hurricane entering the Gulf of Mexico, or one entering from the Caribbean. If a storm is moist enough, it will overcome the oil.
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No one can say where nor when a Hurricane will make Landfall.

The Best Advice is education and Preparation to be ready when the time arrives.

Have a Plan,and be ready to move when told to by your Local Authorities.

www.getagameplan.org



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 430 Comments: 130817
Quoting altesticstorm10:

LOL. 16/7/4 falls short of 2008 which had SSTs marginal at best during the hurricane season. I'm sorry, but that's downcasting.

20/11/5
20/11/5? I think I'm going to be sick, before it even "starts". June 1. One heck of birthday gift.
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Quoting HouGalv08:
Um...actually, the Se coast of Fla, east coast of Fla, Fla panhandle westwards, especially if the A/B high stays as far west as currently situated, and/or builds a second blocking ridge eastward as Storm alluded to last night.


Exactly... didn't I say it favors Florida?
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Quoting BenBIogger:


People keep forgetting that ocean waves that are generated by a tropical system, can push the oil away from its path.


Yes, so whoever made that statement obviously left that crucial bit out.
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318. Given the location and strength of the Bermuda High, Tropical Cyclones are more likely to follow pattern like the one in 2004 (which means strikes along the Florida Peninsula). But with SSTs the way they are the number of storms could be more like 2005.
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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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