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

Share this Blog
3
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 823 - 773

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24Blog Index

Quoting help4u:
Nature does take care of itself



You still own that timeshare in Chernobyl?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Sometimes I see all the talk expecting great things from this hurricane season and the spirit of optimism starts to breathe in me again.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Nature does take care of itself
Member Since: September 18, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1301
Quoting Bordonaro:
Geoff, Rush needs help, he is making a total "donkey" out of himself :o). I cannot post off-topic pics, Dr M ALWAYS catches me :o)!!


I know my friend...but ditto heads say he did not say, then hear his own words, and say he is still accurate. Apply directly to the forehead!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
watch the video WPB posted...not much to debate, really...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting help4u:
Ijust love Rush tells it like it is!


He is not telling it like it is. He is telling it the way he sees things. If you agree with him, then he simply sees things they way you do; and I use the word simply loosely.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CaneAddict:


Not a good season ahead of us...It's definitely going to be near the 2005 numbers.
I agree.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The El Niño at this time of year in 2005 was about 1.0˚C, so we already got 05' beat in multiple things:

1. Warmer SST's.

2. Weaker El Niño.

3. Much less dust.

4. Much less shear.




Not a good season ahead of us...It's definitely going to be near the 2005 numbers.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hey presslord i love the debate!!You got 2 out of three right!!He is big and fat!!!!!!!!!lol!!!
Member Since: September 18, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1301
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Hey don't begin to go overboard on things, please be biased on your opinions and don't call people just plain fat liars. I understand your a democrat and you have completely different ideas than he does but don't go over. Thank you.



...it's the title of a book....written, as a matter of fact, by a United States Senator....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Did I see Iceland blew up again?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Geoff, Rush needs help, he is making a total "donkey" out of himself :o). I cannot post off-topic pics, Dr M ALWAYS catches me :o)!!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting help4u:
Listen to rush everyday.He did not say that.


Huh? First you say he did not say that...then you hear them say that...then you say he tells it like it is...Do you know how stupid you sound?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting presslord:
...poor, poor Rush.....he's just so misunderstood......

Wait! No! He's not misunderstood....he's just a Big Fat Liar.....
Hey don't begin to go overboard on things, please don't be biased on your opinions and don't call people just plain fat liars. I understand your a democrat and you have completely different ideas than he does but don't go over. Thank you.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Yep,big year ahead for hurricanes!!
Member Since: September 18, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1301
The El Niño at this time of year in 2005 was about 1.0˚C, so we already got 05' beat in multiple things:

1. Warmer SST's.

2. Weaker El Niño.

3. Much less dust.

4. Much less shear.


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Ijust love Rush tells it like it is!
Member Since: September 18, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1301
Quoting presslord:


we're goin' offshore Fri and Sat...shower's OK...but nothing major, please...


Should be fine. 2-4 footers at the most.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I would make a blog entry, but I am laughing to hard to type anything. See you all later. HAHAHAHHAHAHHHHAHH OHHHHH AAAAAAAAHH HAHAHA
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Chucktown:


Evening Press. Hope you enjoyed yesterday's rain cuz thats it for a while - maybe a shower Saturday, then cooler for Mom's Day, 70's.


we're goin' offshore Fri and Sat...shower's OK...but nothing major, please...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:
Another interesting fact I heard on the news, and explains the dead sea turtles and various other sea animals with no oil impacts, is that the chemical dispersants are causing the deaths. The damage may already be done, without the oil.

HOW CAN YOU PUT SOMETHING IN THE OCEAN WHEN YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'S GOING TO DO TO THE ECOSYSTEM, ARE WE REALLY THAT FREAKING STUPID IN 2010?


It is very possible. I served two tours of Vietnam many years ago, 1968 to 1969, and 1970 to 1971. From 1962 until 1971 the US Military sprayed 12,000,000 gallons of Agent Orange all over South Vietnam. Yes, 12 million gallons. Of a highly toxic, cancerous causing, dioxin filled Herbacide. You can look it up on Wiki, but be prepared, there is a photo of one of the birth defects it causes near the bottom of the article.

Sometimes we do more damage to ourselves and others than Nature has ever done to us.

And we are slow learners.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
GOM warming drastically. The South American eastern coast is cooling, a sign of El Niño weaning.

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting presslord:



one of my favorite Lowcountryisms...nice day today...Thanks!


Evening Press. Hope you enjoyed yesterday's rain cuz thats it for a while - maybe a shower Saturday, then cooler for Mom's Day, 70's.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
My official/final prediction for the 2010 Hurricane Season.

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Bastardi is one of the best.He know's his stuff.
Member Since: September 18, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1301
Quoting Chucktown:


He hypes his forecasts to drive people to his product - sooner or later a blind squirrel will find a nut.



one of my favorite Lowcountryisms...nice day today...Thanks!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Joe Who..?

A former Pro Wrestler?

Isnt that Fake Meteorology or something..?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129910
45°F overnight
currently
61.3°F rising
Updated at 10:00 EST
I'm going back to bed, meds are taking effect.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15979
Rain dance earlier cropped up some rather nasty storms moving through Palm Beach County. Right at my daughters bed time too, :-b
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
I'm especially enjoying the blog right now because there are no trolls, I wish it were like this during the season.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TexasGulf:
You've got to admit, Joe Bastardi is a really good tropical forecaster with a reliable track record.

He also is an experienced wrestler. I bet he could have taken that 2x4 to the eye and walked away without even showing a bruise.

When everyone is running around wondering 'where is Jim Cantore'... you never have to wonder where JB is going to be. He'll be at home relaxing and eating dinner. He already predicted what was going to happen, so why go there and verify. You won't see him in an AccuWeather cap and rain slicker standing in the storm for a live report. That would be a step down for him. ;>)


He hypes his forecasts to drive people to his product - sooner or later a blind squirrel will find a nut.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Thank you lord!!
Member Since: September 18, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1301


*Anyone have a link for an African Satellite that updates more often than 6 hours?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
Seasonal Forecasts are Like Voodoo dolls.

Know one can tell me where,when and How BAd.
So its all moot.

Every season has its own unique signature.
2010 will be no different.

She will Surprise us,maybe sooner,maybe later.


Amen to that - no matter how dire the forecast looks and how almost everyone on the blog is suddenly a wishcaster, Mother Nature has the final word. 2005, 28 named storms, not one ever threatened us here in South Carolina. 1992, only 7 named storms, of course historic Andrew rolled through. It only takes one folks to make it a memorable year.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
You've got to admit, Joe Bastardi is a really good tropical forecaster with a reliable track record.

He also is an experienced wrestler. I bet he could have taken that 2x4 to the eye and walked away without even showing a bruise.

When everyone is running around wondering 'where is Jim Cantore'... you never have to wonder where JB is going to be. He'll be at home relaxing and eating dinner. He already predicted what was going to happen, so why go there and verify. You won't see him in an AccuWeather cap and rain slicker standing in the storm for a live report. That would be a step down for him. ;>)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting help4u:
Listen to rush everyday.He did not say that.


that explains a LOT...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Listen to rush everyday.He did not say that.
Member Since: September 18, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1301
Quoting Patrap:



I have a wide stance..

Ha, ha, ha. I do not want to incinerate sensitive and very important body parts :o)!!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting Patrap:
Oh, I get it now.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Rush Limbaugh: Oil spill 'as natural as ocean water'

We all need Heavenly help from time to time. I know I need God's help :o).

Rush needs to lay off those pain killers. For an intelligent man, ALOT OF BS comes out of his mouth!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Rush Limbaugh: Oil spill 'as natural as ocean water'


Good Lord...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Wow!

This area of strong showers and thunderstorms over Africa is impressing me, why you may ask, check it out...

Here is the area of thunderstorms, now you may say, "Why the hell is this any different from any other wave that dies as soon as it emerges"



Well 18z Surface Analysis shows that it is associated with a strong 1002 MB low, this is definitely something to keep your eye on for the meanwhile.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15979
Quoting Bordonaro:

Interesting analogy :o). Glad I am not the one trying to put out that hotel fire :0)!!



I have a wide stance..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129910
Quoting Patrap:


Good deal..the dispersal spraying is like peeing on a Hotel fire.

Interesting analogy :o). Glad I am not the one trying to put out that hotel fire :0)!!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
JB..?


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129910

Viewing: 823 - 773

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Lake Effort Snow Shower Over Windsor, Ontario
Sunset on Dunham Lake
Pictured Rocks Sunset
Sunset on Lake Huron