Heaviest rains in Colombia's history trigger deadly landslide; 145 dead or missing

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:07 PM GMT on December 06, 2010

Share this Blog
3
+

Colombia's heaviest rains in history triggered a landslide in the poor hillside community of Bello on Sunday, killing at least 20 people and leaving 125 missing. This year's unprecedented rainy season had already killed 176 people prior to Sunday, making it one of the deadliest flooding years in Colombia's history, according to the director of Colombia's national disaster management office, Luz Armanda Pulido. In 2009, 110 people died in flooding disasters, and 48 were killed in 2008, according to Colombian Red Cross director of national relief operations Carlos Ivan Marquez. This year's rains are the heaviest in the 42 years since Colombia's weather service was created and began taking data, agency director Ricardo Lozano said. The resulting flooding has destroyed or damaged the homes of 1.6 million people. Colombia's president Juan Manuel Santos said the number of homeless from the flooding could reach 2 million, and said "the tragedy the country is going through has no precedents in our history." Neighboring Venezuela has also been hard-hit by this year's severe rainy season--at least 30 people are dead from floods and mudslides, and tens of thousands homeless. More rain is in the forecast--the latest forecast from the GFS model (Figure 2)--calls for an additional 4 - 6 inches (100 - 150 mm) across much of western and northern Colombia in the coming week.


Figure 1. Satellite-observed rainfall over Colombia during the past two weeks shows a region of 100 - 200 mm (4 - 8 inches) has fallen near Medellin, close to where Sunday's landslide in Bello occurred. Image credit: Navy Research Lab, Monterey.

Colombia's rainy season usually peaks in October, then gradually wanes in November and December. The heavy rains are due to the presence of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, the area encircling the earth near the Equator where winds originating in the northern and southern hemispheres come together. When these great wind belts come together (or "converge", thus the name "Convergence Zone"), the converging air is forced upwards, since it has nowhere else to go. The rising air fuels strong thunderstorm updrafts, creating a band of very heavy storms capable of causing heavy flooding rains. This year is a La Niña year, which means there is a large region of colder than average water off the Pacific coast of Colombia. Colder than average water off the Pacific coast enhances rainfall over Colombia, and this year's La Niña, which is at the borderline between the "moderate" and "strong" categories, is largely to blame for Colombia's deadly rainy season.


Figure 2. Rainfall forecast from today's run of the GFS model predicts that region to the north and west of Bogota, Colombia may see another 100 - 150 mm (4 - 6 inches) during the coming week (red colors.) Image credit: NOAA/CPC.

See also my November 22 post, Colombia rainy season floods kill 136.

I'll have a new post on Wednesday.

Jeff Masters

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: 164 - 114

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15Blog Index

I'm out. Before I go, however, some may find the article below interesting. It discusses the situation in the disappearing Marshall Islands, and what that will mean for its status and sovereignty.

If seas swallow island state, is it still a nation?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Neapolitan:

"It's true that there are fewer people in the US leaning toward a belief in AGW, ..."

But Internationally, the opposite is true.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Pretty much the only thing that's keeping me warm:

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PensacolaDoug:
...they [the AGW crowd] are becoming fewer

It's true that there are fewer people in the US leaning toward a belief in AGW, but that doesn't mean much; millions of those same people believe the earth is only a few thousand years old, and that cavemen rode around on the backs of dinosaurs. At any rate, all that really proves is that those with a hugely vested interest in maintaining the fossil-fuel paradigm have conducted a fairly effective campaign of misinformation, disinformation, and obfuscation.

However, it's not at all true to state that the number of credible climate scientists is shrinking. Quite the opposite, in fact; every day more and more of those both most privy to the unbiased data and most able to correctly interpret it are signing on to the theory of AGW. The facts are becoming simply too overwhelming to ignore.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TampaFLUSA:

Europe is covered in snow.
we are under an extreme winter how extreme remains to be seen with winter 15 days away
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DoverWxwatchter:
Arctic ice cover still very low but increasing a little faster.


Once another week of obs make it into that average, we'll likely see another slow in the increase much like mid to late Nov.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Quoting Neapolitan:

The planet's warming, Jeff. The cold air that's "plunging south" is being replaced by warmer air, enhancing the ice melting process. Just like last year: there were record cold temps up and down the east coast of the United States, while Canada was having one of its warmest winters on record.

What's "on record?" The Indians kept records before Europeans arrived? I'm jk, I think.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Jeff9641:
That Arctic sea ice should really be gaining some ground now with all this Arctic Air plunging south. It's funny how the GW talks arise in the Spring in Summer.

The planet's warming, Jeff. The cold air that's "plunging south" is being replaced by warmer air, enhancing the ice melting process. Just like last year: there were record cold temps up and down the east coast of the United States, while Canada was having one of its warmest winters on record.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


south pole and north pole up to dec 2




as per navy

Europe is covered in snow.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pottery:

Yes, I see your point.
But the issue I am interested in, in the absence of rainfall rates, local geography, current land-use etc etc, is the fact that AS FAR AS THE NATION OF COLUMBIA IS CONCERNED this has been the worst flooding.

We can probably base this on known fatalities, money lost, and other physical things.
But overall, from their point of view, this is the worst flood in the history of Columbia.
They said that.
Yeah, they did.

I just hate vague, unclear terms. Call me the perpetual objectivist...

Could be I am just overzealous in "XXXX event ever" being based on measurable, objective data that has a valid control group.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
I wasn't trying to insinuate that what Dr. Masters was saying was inaccurate...but too often people post stories about some sensational weather happening in other parts of the world just so that it makes the headlines....and I am certainly not anti science for that matter. I am simply just hoping that the headline...which clearly reads worst flooding in Colombia's history is simply not journalistic sensationalism....even if this is a all science blog.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Jeff9641:
That Arctic sea ice should really be gaining some ground now with all this Arctic Air plunging south. It's funny how the GW talks arise in the Spring in Summer.
Actually has the opposite effect. think matter displacement. A deep trough also means a sharp ridge, which usually brings warmer air to the Arctic. Also, winds act to stack ice up on one side or another of the Arctic under this regime.

A really good cold snap in CONUS usually means a pause in ice extent growth this time of year.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
WPTV Storm Team 5
The forecast low for West Palm Beach
overnight(Dec. 7) is 32F. Earliest seasonal occurrence of 32 or lower
was Dec 12, 1934 and Dec. 12, 1957
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
-----
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PensacolaDoug:


Thankyou Thankyou!!!

Send money!
LOL.
Money? You are close to Texas, go over there, they have money to burn....110 billion dollars worth...he he...It only cost them 120 million to print it...And it is all worthless...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Jeff9641:
That Arctic sea ice should really be gaining some ground now with all this Arctic Air plunging south. It's funny how the GW talks arise in the Spring in Summer.


south pole and north pole up to dec 2




as per navy
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hydrus:
Lincoln himself could not have posted it better Doug...Excellent post.


Thankyou Thankyou!!!

Send money!
LOL.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PensacolaDoug:
To hear the AGW crowd...(And they are becoming fewer) When it's record breaking heat-it's AGW.. When it's recordbreaking cold and snow- It's "climate change". I've said it before. The Earth has gotten warmer. I beleive that. I just don't buy the point of view that it's all our fault.
Lincoln himself could not have posted it better Doug...Excellent post.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I love it Jeff. Keeps the electric bill low!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting atmoaggie:
In anything but a science-based forum, sure. And, flooding people out of homes in a terrific definition of terrible flooding.

But, for anyone to objectively try to classify this flood against any other flood in the history of the country as a climate or weather extreme isn't quite right given the available metric. Like I said, changes to land use, people building where they shouldn't, etc. make that metric a moving target.

That's all. Just sayin that clarity in the definition of "worst", in this case, can be important.

Yes, I see your point.
But the issue I am interested in, in the absence of rainfall rates, local geography, current land-use etc etc, is the fact that AS FAR AS THE NATION OF COLUMBIA IS CONCERNED this has been the worst flooding.

We can probably base this on known fatalities, money lost, and other physical things.
But overall, from their point of view, this is the worst flood in the history of Columbia.
They said that.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PensacolaDoug:



Consider the source. That's what I do.
i does what al does


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KerryInNOLA:
Local TV Weatherman says protect your junk tonight.

We are definitely NOT in a period of Global warming right now!


Correct! Climate change is bogus. Even though record low temps. in So. Fla. for the next few days.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
To hear the AGW crowd...(And they are becoming fewer) When it's record breaking heat-it's AGW.. When it's recordbreaking cold and snow- It's "climate change". I've said it before. The Earth has gotten warmer. I beleive that. I just don't buy the point of view that it's all our fault.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pottery:

Why the nit-picking?
The Country's President said that these are the worst floods in the the country's history.
One can discuss for hours, what he ought to have said, to be absolutely Politically Correct and Un-ambiguous.
For my part, I think that these are the worst floods in the History of Columbia.
In anything but a science-based forum, sure. And, flooding people out of homes in a terrific definition of terrible flooding.

But, for anyone to objectively try to classify this flood against any other flood in the history of the country as a climate or weather extreme isn't quite right given the available metric. Like I said, changes to land use, people building where they shouldn't, etc. make that metric a moving target.

That's all. Just sayin that clarity in the definition of "worst", in this case, can be important.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting atmoaggie:
Not to defend the dullard, but you do realize what you say is not simply what that means...

It means that at no time in the country's history has this many people been put out of their homes due to a flood. Why? Could be the largest rainfall in the smallest amount of time. Could be a lot more people are in floodplains than used to be. Could be that athropogenic changes to the rivers had an effect. Does anyone really know?

Just saying "worst" isn't specific enough and allows the reader to assume we've been measuring rainfall rates, river CFM flow, etc. for a significant period of time...

Why the nit-picking?
The Country's President said that these are the worst floods in the the country's history.
One can discuss for hours, what he ought to have said, to be absolutely Politically Correct and Un-ambiguous.
For my part, I think that these are the worst floods in the History of Columbia.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Neapolitan:

I'll say.
Then stop doing it, duh.
Quoting Neapolitan:

Unfortunately, it's nearly become a plank in the platform of an entire political party.

Oh, I didn't know there were any politicians present. None of them don't care what real science says. Never have, never will.

They only care about what gets money and votes.
But, I digress. How did we get to politics?

Let's go back to science and weather, please.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Strong LES band moving between Rochester and Buffalo. Expecting another foot or so in Erie too. This is a bit of a noteworthy event, I hope Masters mentions this and the freeze in Florida.



Question: when does CSU start playing darts for the 2011 season? Next week? Wasn't sure.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
From Miami NWS Discussion:

DISCUSSION...MAIN FORECAST CHALLENGE IS THE AREAL EXTENT OF A FREEZE
FOR TONIGHT AND TOMORROW NIGHT. AFTER REVIEWING CURRENT CONDITIONS
AND ALL GUIDANCE...HAVE UPGRADED THE FREEZE WATCH TO A FREEZE
WARNING FOR METRO PALM BEACH COUNTY. GFS/NAM MOS ARE SHOWING A FREEZE
AT PBI...AND EKDMOS IS EVEN COLDER...WHILE WRF IS SLIGHTLY WARMER.
SHOULD A FREEZE OCCUR AT PALM BEACH INTERNATIONAL TUESDAY
MORNING...THIS WOULD BE THE EARLIEST FREEZE EVER RECORDED AT WEST PALM
BEACH! THE EARLIEST FREEZE RECORDED AT WEST PALM BEACH WAS
DECEMBER 12, 1958.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting atmoaggie:
The anti-science bit is so very tired...

I'll say. Unfortunately, it's nearly become a plank in the platform of an entire political party.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Neapolitan:

You may want to read the article again: "Colombia's president Juan Manuel Santos said the number of homeless from the flooding could reach 2 million, and said 'the tragedy the country is going through has no precedents in our history.'" Did you get that? That was a quote; Colombia's president said the floods were the worst in the nation's history, not Dr. Masters.
Not to defend the dullard, but you do realize what you say is not simply what that means...

It means that at no time in the country's history has this many people been put out of their homes due to a flood. Why? Could be the largest rainfall in the smallest amount of time. Could be a lot more people are in floodplains than used to be. Could be that athropogenic changes to the rivers had an effect. Does anyone really know?

Just saying "worst" isn't specific enough and allows the reader to assume we've been measuring rainfall rates, river CFM flow, etc. for a significant period of time...
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
yikes is an understatement
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Chicklit:
Daytona Beach Area: Wind Chill Advisory in effect from 11 PM this evening to 9 am EST Tuesday...Freeze warning in effect from 3 am to 9 am EST Tuesday... Freeze watch in effect from late Tuesday night through Wednesday morning... Tonight
Clear. Lows in the mid 20s...except in the near 30 along the coast. Northwest winds 10 to 15 mph. Lowest wind chill readings 15 to 18 after midnight
Yikes!

thursday night my loc will see -15c with chills -20c maybe -25c which is 12f with chills of -2f to -4f depending on the winds storm coming up from central se us over the spine up the coast will draw even colder air yet to come winter is in full force grt lakes should see first acc snow storm friday
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 164 - 114

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15Blog 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.

Local Weather

Light Thunderstorms and Rain
62 °F
Light Thunderstorm Rain