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 aquak9:
mmm..maybe I got misunderstood-

The shrimpers and fishers would rather be earning their livelihood, by fishing and shrimping. Even if it was way less money, than attending to an oil spill.

Anyone who makes money offa this disaster, and is happy about it? Shame.



If you mean they'd rather be fishing/shrimping, etc., than cleaning up crude...I strongly 'spect you're correct...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting FatPenguin:


Those water temps are going to do some serious damage to the coral reefs by the end of the year.


Yeah, its a shame.
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Aqua,

I agree - sadly its the attorneys who will get rich from this disaster. They are circling like a buzzard after a carcass. The are holding meetings, calling them "town hall" meetings... They are slick, smooth talking, well, they are attorneys! LMAO

Anyone who makes money offa this disaster, and is happy about it? Shame.

Quoting aquak9:
mmm..maybe I got misunderstood-

The shrimpers and fishers would rather be earning their livelihood, by fishing and shrimping. Even if it was way less money, than attending to an oil spill.

Anyone who makes money offa this disaster, and is happy about it? Shame.
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1069. aquak9
mmm..maybe I got misunderstood-

The shrimpers and fishers would rather be earning their livelihood, by fishing and shrimping. Even if it was way less money, than attending to an oil spill.

Anyone who makes money offa this disaster, and is happy about it? Shame.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Amazing for May 5th.





Those water temps are going to do some serious damage to the coral reefs by the end of the year.
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as a matter of fact....I think 'profit', 'interest', and 'dividend' are beautiful words...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Good morning all. Thought I'd share that I got this email last night:

From: Chicken Little
Msg: The sky is falling!
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Amazing for May 5th.



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Regarding the boats that are helping with the clean up... they are expensive to operate & expensive to maintain.
We were told that if they get in the oil slick areas that the intake could damage their engines.
Most of the shrimpers I know work two jobs...
I do know that Charter Boats charge more $1200 for a full day of fishing & you can bet that BP has checked past income.

Miss Nadia - can I come up and work with your neighbor for a month or two? LOL
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Just checkin in, hope everyone has a great day :)
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The GOM remains severe clear
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There are a few rather strong thunderstorm clusters in the Atlantic this early in May.. is this the precursor?
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Hello,

I have a neighbor who in a smart, hard working, young man who is a shrimper. He owns a 60 foot boat and fishes about 20 days / month.
His largest gross for one month in the last 5 years was $60,000!
He pays the crew 15 percent of gross. Sooo, the BP payments aren't too far out of line.
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btw...I'd like to amend my earlier comment by changing 'profiteering' to 'gouging' ; )
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting beell:


May have to extend that caveat to the oil companies!


I would extend that to anyone price gouging
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1056. beell
Quoting presslord:
look....these people should absolutely be compensated....I'm just referring to rampant profiteering...


May have to extend that caveat to the oil companies!
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Quoting MahFL:
"I think the fishers and shrimpers would rather make less money, doing what they normally do."

Thats a somewhat naive thought...


It is rather unimpressive for one industry to "control" another, whether direct or indirect
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look....these people should absolutely be compensated....I'm just referring to rampant profiteering...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
1051. MahFL
"I think the fishers and shrimpers would rather make less money, doing what they normally do."

Thats a somewhat naive thought...
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1049. beell
Quoting presslord:


THAT is an entirely reasonable question...as appropriate as it may be to criticize BP, it is equally appropriate to criticize anyone who profiteers during this...


Maybe not, press. Especially if you're a commercial fisherman.
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1048. CAAM
Hello all. Long time lurker in S Florida...

You can see the people on the volcano Web cam this morning. :)

Link

Scientists, I guess?
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1047. MahFL
ROV's will light up the dome and position the dome in the correct spot. It will then sink into the mud some......
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1046. aquak9
missnadia...i don't think any of the boaters or fishers will "get rich". If this were not happening, they'd be fishing and shrimping, 1o-14 hours a day, at least. They still have to buy fuel, pay for boat insurance, upkeep the nets and lines, etc.

I'm sure they don't want the money, although it's gotta be a huge incentive. The money is needed, but under the circumstances,it's a bitter pill to swallow.

Not totally disagreeing, but regardless of the monetary incentive, I think the fishers and shrimpers would rather make less money, doing what they normally do.
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Isn't the first 1500 feet of pipe still vertical. I would imagine they have to cut that pipe at some point. I noticed there was a side panel the other day missing, is that the side they will side they will try to slide over vertical pipe . I think pottery is right this will be an amazing feat if they pull it off. 5000 ft. of cable has to have a lot of play although they do have a pretty good weight.
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Quoting MissNadia:
Good Morning,
Does anyone know what kind of money BP is paying cleanup crews.
I have seen $2000/ day for a shrimp boat and $38 / hour for labor!
At those rates ,lots of people will get rich over the next couple of years.


THAT is an entirely reasonable question...as appropriate as it may be to criticize BP, it is equally appropriate to criticize anyone who profiteers during this...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting pottery:

Positioning a ship over a point on the sea bed is one thing. Placing the dome exactly over a small point on the sea floor is quite another. It is a long way down, and even if there are thrusters on the dome (are there?), it will be a real challenge.....


I hear you....Your earlier point about the dome knocking off the well head is well taken (a nightmare scenario)......This "mission" is essentially in "deep space" except underwater at an extreme depth and flying blind in pitch black waters.....Unprecedented technological challenege, and achievement, if this works.
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1042. pottery
Quoting weathermanwannabe:


They will hopefully pull it off, in terms of location placement, because they are probably using one of those specialized vessels which has "thrusters" tied in to a GPS system which can keep the ship stable over a particular spot........Whether the "cap" will actually work once they get it in place is another issue.

Positioning a ship over a point on the sea bed is one thing. Placing the dome exactly over a small point on the sea floor is quite another. It is a long way down, and even if there are thrusters on the dome (are there?), it will be a real challenge.....
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Good Morning,
Does anyone know what kind of money BP is paying cleanup crews.
I have seen $2000/ day for a shrimp boat and $38 / hour for labor!
At those rates ,lots of people will get rich over the next couple of years.
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Quoting leftovers:
not sure about the gulf but keeping a boat directly on top of something in the atlantic is not easy. the direction and strength of a current are not the same on the top as it is near the bottom. lots of variables involved with this project. i hope but doubt they are going to be able to set that thing on top of the hole


They will hopefully pull it off, in terms of location placement, because they are probably using one of those specialized vessels which has "thrusters" tied in to a GPS system which can keep the ship stable over a particular spot........Whether the "cap" will actually work once they get it in place is another issue.
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1038. pottery
Quoting leftovers:
not sure about the gulf but keeping a boat directly on top of something in the atlantic is not easy. the direction and strength of a current are not the same on the top as it is near the bottom. lots of variables involved with this project. i hope but doubt they are going to be able to set that thing on top of the hole

One of the things that will be causing some sleepless nights, is the possibility that you could break-off the existing well head, by bumping it with the heavy "dome" that you are trying to place.
Then you would have a free-flowing well.........
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http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic/real-time/tpw2/natl/anim/latest72hrs.gif

You can see how as the High digs down into the caribe it is causing that that convection.

Which leads me to to a question? Does CIMSS and the satellite pics compensate for the height of the moisture on on the returns? It seems to me that sometimes you see an area with a high PW that is not all that moist except at upper levels.

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Thanks sailing that's kind of what I though. It does have convergence and divergence at that location along with low shear but no spin.
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Good Morning. One of my children has a "pre-planned" school field trip to St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, on the Gulf Coast south of Tallahassee on Apalachee Bay, today and the agenda, which was set in place for the trip a month ago before the oil rig explosion, it to walk the marshes and coastlines with the Park Rangers to view the coastal wildlife and discuss the habitat and ecosystem.....I'm sure the presentation will take on the new twist with the potential threat from the oil slick. Kids are very impressionable, and, the Rangers very passionate about the environment; have a feeling my kid is going to volunteer our family for help with cleanup if the slick makes it to our shores. I gave my kid the go-ahead and told her to feel free to give them our number. On a related note, the oyster fisherman in Apalachicola are getting training from authorities on how to deploy booms if the slick comes there way. Here is an excerpt from this morning's Tallahassee newspaper:

Oystermen, fishermen and boaters are continuing to train on deploying booms in the Gulf of Mexico to protect the Franklin County coast from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Training is being offered twice a day at the county's Emergency Operations Center near the airport. People interested in signing up for the classes are asked to call (850) 387-5982 or (850) 370-0967 or (850) 370-0274. While we realize there will be the need for more specialized official training, we are just being pro-active in our planning and preparing,” said Franklin County Emergency Management Director Pam Brownell in a written release. “We know there are no guarantees that come with this training, however we wanted to identify boats and crew that could be available as a ‘vessel of opportunity.' "

BP will decide who would be hired to deploy booms and take part in other response efforts if the oil spill heads toward Franklin County.


If you are a boater in the Big Bend region, please consider taking the classes and getting involved.


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1032. DDR
Quoting pottery:
Good morning.
An area of heavy rains on the coast of Africa, accompanied by a low this morning.
The rest of the Atlantic basin, including the E. Pac. looks like dryness will prevail for a while yet.Oh well, it's only May 6.
Some rains here would be nice.....

Morning
The gfs is forecasting rain next week.
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1031. pottery
Good morning.
An area of heavy rains on the coast of Africa, accompanied by a low this morning.
The rest of the Atlantic basin, including the E. Pac. looks like dryness will prevail for a while yet.Oh well, it's only May 6.
Some rains here would be nice.....
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1030. aquak9
Yet again the media fail to grasp the issue.

oh, they grasp the issue quite well. Feed the sheeple, keep'm happy. Keep'm blind.

sigh.....
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Quoting gordydunnot:
Its a little early but does anyone know whats causing the showers around 19n 56w. No vorticity but looks kind of interesting on visible this morning.


I saw that last night..more convection this morning. I'm pretty sure it's the boundry area between a drier cooler airmass over the eastern caribbean and the warmer moist tropical air to our east..

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Its a little early but does anyone know whats causing the showers around 19n 56w. No vorticity but looks kind of interesting on visible this morning.
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Morning all,68.7 at the house this morning and no rain yesterday. Leftovers that jeff from orlando knows his stuff. I've been reading his comments since dec.2009 and his forecasts are very good.
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1026. MahFL
Long range charts are here for Europe.

Link
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Quoting leftovers:
hope they cap that well soon seems as if a finger of the spill is heading southeast cyber the african aspect could change back to the negative quickly sandy areas dry out


Maybe.. but I just don't see how SAL's going to be an issue. SAL was bad in 2005, didn't stop most of the storms. Heck, IIRC only Emily and Irene were CV storms in 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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