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 Stormchaser2007:


Lets compare 2009 to 2010.

Worlds apart. Also im pretty sure no one was thinking of a "much above average" season. In fact im sure of it.



That image says it all.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


We had warm SST's last year as well. An interesting thing to do is to read last year's blogs during the same period.




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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


We had warm SST's last year as well. An interesting thing to do is to read last year's blogs during the same period.


Lets compare 2009 to 2010.

Worlds apart. Also im pretty sure no one was thinking of a "much above average" season. In fact im sure of it.

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Quoting KoritheMan:


The abundance of subsidence doesn't bode well for SSTs, as it will continue to aid with the rapid warmup.


We had warm SST's last year as well. An interesting thing to do is to read last year's blogs during the same period.
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I appear to be in my own little time lag :(
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Quoting StormJunkie:
Orca, looks like those should be AON's...Areas of non-interest.

Alex, don't know enough one way or another for my opinion to really matter...But that said, I generally agree with Chucktown...Extreme forecasts are what gains public interest and I know Joe tends to give those from time to time ;)


The whole area is non interest.. and until the spill gets cleaned up... lets hope it stays that way
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It's still the Creek CT...lol...good to see you. And yeah, we needed that rain.
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Quoting Chucktown:


I respect you're defense of Joe, I'm just not a big fan. He just reminds me of a meteorological tabloid or maybe like the National Enquirer of weather. Even though he has his moments, he and the rest of accuweather lives by sensationalism.


Well, I prefer the people taking the risks and making the solid and clear forecasts without hiding behind statistical probabilities like NOAA does. Not to bash them....I just don't consider statistical probabilities to be a real forecast. Stuff like "60% chance of warmer-than-normal and 40% chance of colder-than-normal" just doesn't appeal to me. Give me the forecast. If you're wrong you're wrong, if you're right you're right.

And if your forecast is wrong....people won't buy your product. If you're right, they will.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Nothing is going to form in the Atlantic basin anytime soon...Link


The abundance of subsidence doesn't bode well for SSTs, as it will continue to aid with the rapid warmup.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 553 Comments: 19890
What's up SJ? How's da Creek been? At least we got some rain.
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Bloggers on here have been saying active season since March. He acts like he invented the idea and now the models are following along. Anyway, have a nice evening everyone.
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Quoting Levi32:


What happened to " If he were to predict an average winter or average hurricane season, then no one would go to accuweather. The public likes anomalous weather - its what accuweather strives for."??

Anyway, so he "does that every year"? Forecasting a cold snowy eastern seaboard? Ok, look at the last warm winter we had in the east, '07-08, and then look at Joe's forecast:

US Temperature Anomalies for the winter (Dec-Jan-Feb) of 2007-08:
BR

The extended winter forecast for the months of November through March calls for a cooler than normal start and end but the traditional winter months, December through February, may be one of the top 10 warmest winters ever for the southeastern United States. The heat will be centered over the Tennessee Valley and the Carolinas. For the nation as a whole, this winter will be warmer than last winter; especially in the second half of January and February when last winter season was at its coldest.When looking at the past three winters, we find that population weighted, this may be as warm as the 1998-99 winter and the 2001-02 winters. Unlike the winter of 2005-06 and last winter, where significant shots of cold and snow showed up in major areas during 35-50% of the winter months, this winter may have over 75% of the days above normal in most of the nation southeast of line from the Great Lakes to the Southwest. The only signal for below normal is over the Pacific Northwest.

......cut it off here..........


I respect you're defense of Joe, I'm just not a big fan. He just reminds me of a meteorological tabloid or maybe like the National Enquirer of weather. Even though he has his moments, he and the rest of accuweather lives by sensationalism.
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Orca, looks like those should be AON's...Areas of non-interest.

Alex, don't know enough one way or another for my opinion to really matter...But that said, I generally agree with Chucktown...Extreme forecasts are what gains public interest and I know Joe tends to give those from time to time ;)
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Quoting Drakoen:


Not as far in advance? I am sure that CSU, Glosea, and TSR look at the same data that he does. Whether he chooses to go out on bombast and forecast earlier is purely on his own volition. Could you show me his forecast verification on forecasting the number of tropical storms since he started to do so? as well as the date where he released his numbers?


They unfortunately don't archive his posts, and I think they should, and I can't tell you the exact numbers and dates for the past 10 years, but I can point out the recent seasons. For instance, this is an article on his forecast for 2007.

Bastardi's May forecast had 13-14 named storms with 3 majors. The NHC was higher with 13-17 named storms and 3-5 majors, and CSU was up at 17 named storms and 5 majors in both their April and June forecasts.

The reality? 14 named tropical storms (15 including Subtropical Storm Andrea) and 2 majors.
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AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Nothing is going to form in the Atlantic basin anytime soon...Link

Well not at least till late May.

Nice TUTT though.

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Good evening as well stormjunkie What do you think of bastardi?
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Evening all

I see we are Bastardi loving or hating...

Good to see everyone.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Not many curving storms this year...


It will be a long season...more storms, greater chance of everyone getting smacked.. lol
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Now I'm out, have a good night, God bless.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Nothing is going to form in the Atlantic basin anytime soon...Link
Looks like it.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Nothing is going to form in the Atlantic basin anytime soon...Link
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Quoting laflastormtracker:
But seriously, so we have more storms to track. Most of them may recurve. So you're tracking more, but what fun is that? Do you all remember last year's pattern?
Not many curving storms this year...
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
But seriously, so we have more storms to track. Most of them may recurve. So you're tracking more, but what fun is that? Do you all remember last year's pattern?
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Quoting Levi32:


They do a good job too, but not as far in advance as Joe. I've been following him for 9 years, and I've never seen anyone better. Of course everyone will get it wrong sometimes and he does, but not as often as CSU or others.

What long-range forecasting? United States/European seasonal forecasts and hurricane forecasting....those are his specialty areas.


Not as far in advance? I am sure that CSU, Glosea, and TSR look at the same data that he does. Whether he chooses to go out on bombast and forecast earlier is purely on his own volition. Could you show me his forecast verification on forecasting the number of tropical storms since he started to do so? as well as the date where he released his numbers?
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


EUMETSAT
Thank you
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Quoting Chucktown:


I'm not talking about hurricanes up the east coast, I'm talking about his snowstorm mongering during the winter and how everyone along the east coast has a blizzard in its forecast each week. And I'm not just talking about 09-10 winter, he does that every year. Eventually, he would be right.


What happened to " If he were to predict an average winter or average hurricane season, then no one would go to accuweather. The public likes anomalous weather - its what accuweather strives for."??

Anyway, so he "does that every year"? Forecasting a cold snowy eastern seaboard? Ok, look at the last warm winter we had in the east, '07-08, and then look at Joe's forecast:

US Temperature Anomalies for the winter (Dec-Jan-Feb) of 2007-08:



AccuWeather.com 2007-2008 Winter Forecast

JOE BASTARDI'S ACCUWEATHER.COM WINTER FORECAST


The extended winter forecast for the months of November through March calls for a cooler than normal start and end but the traditional winter months, December through February, may be one of the top 10 warmest winters ever for the southeastern United States. The heat will be centered over the Tennessee Valley and the Carolinas. For the nation as a whole, this winter will be warmer than last winter; especially in the second half of January and February when last winter season was at its coldest.When looking at the past three winters, we find that population weighted, this may be as warm as the 1998-99 winter and the 2001-02 winters. Unlike the winter of 2005-06 and last winter, where significant shots of cold and snow showed up in major areas during 35-50% of the winter months, this winter may have over 75% of the days above normal in most of the nation southeast of line from the Great Lakes to the Southwest. The only signal for below normal is over the Pacific Northwest.

......cut it off here..........
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Quoting laflastormtracker:


Because you do not live in the hurricane zone, perhaps..


Whats wrong with that? He likes tracking fish storms, those are very interesting to watch.. the beauty and power of a Hurricane without the damage it comes with. I've been hit by Isabel, Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne, Dennis, Wilma, the works.. I still enjoy tracking them. As long as they go out to sea its all OKAY by me!!
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23565
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Anyone got an African satellite that updates more often than 6 hours?


EUMETSAT
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Quoting presslord:


it means "Don't sweat it...no big deal..."
oh, thanks
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
huh?


it means "Don't sweat it...no big deal..."
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Anyone got an African satellite that updates more often than 6 hours?
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Quoting Tazmanian:
am all so forcsting 10 cat 5 hurricne hiteing LA



LOL LOL LOL


and takeing gas up too $10


LOL. We pay higher gas prices anyway. Let the 2010 summer gas price hiking begin!
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Quoting presslord:


if that's the worst thing you do, it'll be a good life...
huh?
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Quoting Levi32:


His early March hurricane forecast last year WAS average. And he came steadily down in the numbers ahead of everybody else....he was in fact the first to catch on to the lack of activity, before NOAA, and before most others.
BR

And don't bash him for the east coast major hurricane thing....he is right about the 50s, and after this year we may start to see more tracks farther to the north up the eastern seaboard like he is saying. Don't expect him to nail the year that that starts happening, but he is probably right that it will eventually occur as we start this cold PDO, the same climate cycle as in the 1950s.


I'm not talking about hurricanes up the east coast, I'm talking about his snowstorm mongering during the winter and how everyone along the east coast has a blizzard in its forecast each week. And I'm not just talking about 09-10 winter, he does that every year. Eventually, he would be right.
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Quoting lilElla:
#812 Bordonaro - please, "never" compare a 'donkey' to Rush! There is nothing to compare - loving, gentle, smart, good common sense, never lies.... And no, I am not talking about Rush..........

:) :) :)

I don't like to judge people, because the same judgment comes back on me! Rush makes statements that are inflammatory to build up his "listening audience".

I don't agree with many of the Republicans ideas, nor do I agree with alot of the Democratic ideas. I am an "Independent".

I did not mean to insult donkeys :o).
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I love cats, I have 1 as a matter of fact, I just thought it was kind of funny, but I guess not, sorry about the inconvenience.


if that's the worst thing you do, it'll be a good life...
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am all so forcsting 10 cat 5 hurricne hiteing LA



LOL LOL LOL


and takeing gas up too $10
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Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:
I do :D I like tracking storms. I just dont like the damage and kiling that comes with t hem :(


Because you do not live in the hurricane zone, perhaps..
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Quoting Drakoen:


What specifically are you talking about? Long range forecasts in regards to what areas?

What about CSU and the UKMET office


They do a good job too, but not as far in advance as Joe. I've been following him for 9 years, and I've never seen anyone better. Of course everyone will get it wrong sometimes and he does, but not as often as CSU or others.

What long-range forecasting? United States/European seasonal forecasts and hurricane forecasting....those are his specialty areas.
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Quoting WinterAnalystwx13:
Yea, I agree. People are making fun of the poor kitty-cats. What did the cat do to you? :o
I love cats, I have 1 as a matter of fact, I just thought it was kind of funny, but I guess not, sorry about the inconvenience.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Who wants a repeat of 2005, anyway? I don't! Yuck!
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Yes…El Nino is basically gone…Yes, SST’s are high in most areas….wind shear can change daily…Where is the A/B going to eventually set up?....Saharan Dust is kind of low now, but how will it be in a few months? We just don’t know now.
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Quoting Tazmanian:



re move that i dont find it funny
It has been removed. Sorry.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
if anyone need to see this vid that JB's made here it is and you need to see it

Link


Thanx, interesting vid. The continued high visibility to things will certainly bring more clarity for all :) L8R
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Quoting Levi32:


I think he feels the need to point out his successes due to all the attacks he gets from a lot of places. What you call "hyping" is just him hunting for the biggest impact that may occur. Frankly, that's exactly what he should be doing. Bringing attention to the biggest event that will affect the public the most is what he focuses on, and in regards to this hurricane season he is absolutely right. He's also "hyping" the big cool-down in the east this weekend, due to the growing season being ahead of schedule and frosts/freezes will have a large impact there. That's not exactly a life-threatening event, but he's all over it because it is the biggest event impacting the public this weekend. He also "hyped" the bust hurricane season last year....shattering the beliefs of many people who say he forecasts disaster after disaster every year.

The reality is he's right on more long-range/seasonal forecasts than anybody I've ever seen, including NOAA. I challenge anyone to show me a person or agency that has done better than him. NOAA and the CFS get it wrong a lot more than he does...


What specifically are you talking about? Long range forecasts in regards to what areas?

What about CSU and the UKMET office
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
This cat is fatter...



ROFLMAO



re move that i dont find it funny
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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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