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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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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MrstormX:


Well, this years season does favor the area you speak of... but you never know. Anywhere from Texas to Maine is fair game so everyone should be prepared.
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.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
this may be some good news


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.


People keep forgetting that ocean waves that are generated by a tropical system, can push the oil away from its path.
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Just a post for curiosity's sake, I happened to notice the entire nexrad system in the southeastern US seems to be having quite a bit of ground interferance.

I've never seen it happen on so many at once, and was wondering, what exactly would cause this?

http://www.wunderground.com/radar/mixedcomposite.asp?region=d4&size=2x&type=loop

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Quoting doabarrelroll:
I really think people need to me more concerned with the dangers Hurricanes present in South East Florida. The focus as really shifted


Well, this years season does favor the area you speak of... but you never know. Anywhere from Texas to Maine is fair game so everyone should be prepared.
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Quoting doabarrelroll:


which completely ignores the fact the Hurricanes mostly form in the Atlantic or Caribbean. Hurricane Katrina has really shifted the focus away from the fact that Miami is by far the most likely target and probably the worst case scenario target




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.



http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20100504/sc_livescience/hurricaneseasoncouldhaltoilspillcleanup
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5092 Comments: 115710
Quoting Tazmanian:
this may be some good news


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.


Ehh... I guess its kind of good news... but not really. Think about it like this if a major hurricane, or large hurricane (ie. Ike) is bearing down on the Gulf chances are the storms surge alone will actually push the oil inland, and by the time the circulation center gets to the oil spill source any impact would be minimal.

The good news is, that if what you say about the oil actually holds true then tropical storms development will be limited in that area. In the past storms like Edouard, Claudette, and 2002s Bertha have formed in that exact area. Overall however the oil leak itself is probably worse then a moderate strength tropical storm.
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Pcola Dan, See Post 290.
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Quoting bappit:
It all depends on where you live. If they tell you to leave, you better well do it. People panicked in Houston with Rita. They left before a hurricane warning was ever issued.

For all those people who lived in areas that had evacuation orders, of course you should leave, but most of Houston is not in an evacuation zone. Also, a lot of the deaths could have been avoided by people protecting themselves from heat stroke/heat exhaustion.

I doubt it will happen like that again though ... right? Everyone was freaked out by Katrina. Two cat 5's in the Gulf in almost the same month like that? No way ... right?
Oh, I've learned NEVER to say, "Oh, it won't happen again", or "It can't possibly happen again". Having lived in Houston now 35 years I've seen to many floods and tropical storms here to say it can't happen. It will, eventually.
And "homelesswanderer", it is a tough call to make. Even though we're 50 miles from the coast on the NE side of town, I too almost got us out of town. But calmed myself down and realized I'd done the best I could to get us ready. If we were living on the coast, we'd have gone WAY before the evac was ordered.
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this may be some good news


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.
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5092 Comments: 115710
With Rita roads were clogged at 5 am Thursday. The first hurricane warning came out about 5 or 6 hours later--and that was to provide extra lead time for an evacuation. Gasoline was gone by then. Food stores were empty.

I was told that the employees who would have delivered more gasoline to the gas pumps had taken off. No one had thought the thing through.

So they had a meeting today to further refine their plans and lessons learned.

Here's a link to another news story.

http://www.click2houston.com/weather/23454458/detail.html

"If you live in surf zone you need to evacuate. If you don't live in a surf zone, but want to evacuate just because you think you will lose power, we ask you to reconsider," said Sanchez.

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Quoting homelesswanderer:


I'm glad y'all made it too. I think it was people from different areas going into other towns and counties and then trying to merge. Like you said we had no choice north on 105 then north on 96. We had the graduated zip code evac going on in SE TX side of the border. But I know there were many who didn't go that way. When We merged on 96 in Evadale we were beside a man who had left Port Neches when he was supposed to 10 hours earlier. I hope everyone has learned something.

Thanks to you and Bord for not flaming me. It is a difficult call to make. The only thing I can think would be worse would be not to have an option either no transportation or a safe house to stay in. So look out for your neighbors everyone. Especially if you live where there is no public transportation.

My son, his family and I thought seriously about moving to Galveston, TX in 2007. We decided if there was a CAT 3 in the GOM aiming for SE TX, we'd leave a day before everyone else.

I totally understand how hard it would be to evacuate. SE TX highways cannot handle the traffic volume on a "normal day'.

Hopefully they stage evacuations in the future, contra flow and allow exits to be open every 5 miles or so or set up special stations along the way to prevent people from running out of fuel or water. Maybe they can charter buses and have people park their cars to reduce traffic. There is a way to do this, in SE TX and anywhere a hurricane threatens. It will take creativity and planning!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting Patrap:


Buras Landfall..Cat-4

2nd Landfall Cat 3 Slidell.



According to the NHC official tropical cyclone report, Katrina landfalled near Buras with an intensity of 110 kt, just under Category 4 status.

See for yourself.
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Quoting southlouisiana:


And what category did Rita end up?


The same.
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.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Looks to be about .4 or so.



Means we're in neutral category now, correct?
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Quoting southlouisiana:


Glad you made it ok. The memory can play tricks but as I remember it that hurricane changed track late that night. Galveston and Houston were already evacuating when it made its 11th hour tack to the north. That is what made it so bad. Any storm that close though and I have every TV in the house on it all day and night.


I'm glad y'all made it too. I think it was people from different areas going into other towns and counties and then trying to merge. Like you said we had no choice north on 105 then north on 96. We had the graduated zip code evac going on in SE TX side of the border. But I know there were many who didn't go that way. When We merged on 96 in Evadale we were beside a man who had left Port Neches when he was supposed to 10 hours earlier. I hope everyone has learned something.

Thanks to you and Bord for not flaming me. It is a difficult call to make. The only thing I can think would be worse would be not to have an option either no transportation or a safe house to stay in. So look out for your neighbors everyone. Especially if you live where there is no public transportation.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It all depends on where you live. If they tell you to leave, you better well do it. People panicked in Houston with Rita. They left before a hurricane warning was ever issued.

For all those people who lived in areas that had evacuation orders, of course you should leave, but most of Houston is not in an evacuation zone. Also, a lot of the deaths could have been avoided by people protecting themselves from heat stroke/heat exhaustion.

I doubt it will happen like that again though ... right? Everyone was freaked out by Katrina. Two cat 5's in the Gulf in almost the same month like that? No way ... right?
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Quoting HaboobsRsweet:
For those of you doubting the Gulf will warm up in time...I heard that Gulfport hit a record high of 90 yesterday. I am not for sure it is a record and have not checked the stats myself but that is what i was told. We did hit 87 in Biloxi today. hot hot hot.
Hous/Galv got to the upper 80's today, supposed to head towards the low 90's by the end of the week, into the weekend. Yep, the GOM will warm up fast. Take a look at the sat. pics--no cloud cover, none.
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Pcola Dan, re: the information on boom placement.
Dan, Those came from a newsletter from Escambia Co. FL.
Here is the URL to their website:
BeReadyEscambia.com
You have to sign up for the newsletters.
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Quoting homelesswanderer:


Yes there were deaths in the evacuation. But nobody who wasn't home in those destroyed towns died. It really never ceases to amaze me how someone that is so bad ass they can face down a hurricane will whine to no end about being stuck in traffic. Amazing.

I'm fairly certain there were a lot of people who didn't evacuate and survived. Still you are more likely to die in a hurricane than if you moved, and your life is something I wouldn't bet avoiding a few hours in traffic on
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For those of you doubting the Gulf will warm up in time...I heard that Gulfport hit a record high of 90 yesterday. I am not for sure it is a record and have not checked the stats myself but that is what i was told. We did hit 87 in Biloxi today. hot hot hot.
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...hhhmmm...
Link
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting bappit:
"the evacuation effort for Hurricane Rita cost over 100 lives and $2 billion." from http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=915&tstamp=200803. He made another post that referenced the Rita debacle, but I haven't found it yet.

Nobody's whining about being stuck in traffic.
Well, at least the city leaders in Houston learned from their mistakes with the evacuation of Rita. Or at least I think they have. I went to work the morning the evac. started at 0530, and I remember coming up on Hwy 59 and taking the overpass to go southbound to IAH. I was absolutely STUNNED to see the traffic backed up northbound looking both ways as far as I could see. And then coming home, what normally takes me 15min took 30min. Traffic was still backed up looking both ways as far as I could see. Cars on the side of the road, dead. Families out of water, food, gas,etc. It was shocking to see. From that mess and tragedy, it's a graduated evac. via zip codes, with fuel to be stationed along the way, and reverse flow on the opposite side freeways. A much better plan in place. And we still lost the electricity for 4 days and no generator. Well, that changed the following year and the genny came in handy after Ike---14days no electrical service.
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Quoting homelesswanderer:


Yes there were deaths in the evacuation. But nobody who wasn't home in those destroyed towns died. It really never ceases to amaze me how someone that is so bad ass they can face down a hurricane will whine to no end about being stuck in traffic. Amazing.

You tell 'um girl!! What is better, dying or spending several hours in traffic?

I'd choose the second option!!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting presslord:
Order now...while supplies last...
Link

Cute and so true!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting presslord:
Order now...while supplies last...
Link


Hooray! A t-shirt!
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Order now...while supplies last...
Link
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Good Evening.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting southlouisiana:
That is because you obviously never fought across the wasteland that is a miles clogged road while under martial law. We couldn't go East because Katrina had torn up everything. West was galveston and Houston with too early an evacuation tying up 150 miles of road. That left two two-lane highways north for SW Louisiana and East texas. In 100 degree heat. The first 60 miles took almost ten hours...and like many we had two young babies. No gas, food, restroom stops or water (or any kind of drink). Everything boarded up or state police blockading the exits. Just what you carried.
You can look up the unexplained spike in deaths of those over 65 after Rita. No proof but I always suspected it was the tremendous stress of evacuation in those conditions. My grandmother and two neighbors died within two weeks. They were old already I'll admit but lots of empty houses after all said and done.


Yep was right there in the big middle of it. Trying to keep my elderly parents. My sons family and my 4 week old granddaughter, Me and my husband, daughter, and puppy together. We finally ended up in the same place on day 7. My 90 year old grandmother was luckily taken ahead on a bus to another nursing home. Dad paid for the workers hotel rooms because a lot of them had no money. It took our truckload 19 hours to go 150 miles. I know exactly how it felt. And I know it was stressful. I'm sorry about your family and neighbors passing. But had my family stayed home they would have died. Son's apartment and the nursing home were condemned. Only my parent's house survived. Although had they stayed they would have been in dire straits from the heat and no refrigeration for their medications. Me lost the house and about a hundred different other nightmares. But I can't feel bad about being here to bitch about it. :)
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"the evacuation effort for Hurricane Rita cost over 100 lives and $2 billion." from http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=915&tstamp=200803. He made another post that referenced the Rita debacle, but I haven't found it yet.

Nobody's whining about being stuck in traffic.
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Quoting bappit:
The Houston evacuation for Rita killed over 100 people. It was a fiasco.


Yes there were deaths in the evacuation. But nobody who wasn't home in those destroyed towns died. It really never ceases to amaze me how someone that is so bad ass they can face down a hurricane will whine to no end about being stuck in traffic. Amazing.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
compare maps 2010/2005

African coast reaching 88˚F! Wow!
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194

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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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