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

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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

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Quoting pottery:

All is well!
And you?


Was good until Drak said snow! Being in the doorway just pi$$es you off lol.
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Good evening ...
Very strong north winds in the FL Keys this eve. I've got new wonderful windows holding out the wind tonight. Upper 40's forecast tonight.

- thanks Drak for that analysis (56).

GFS is forecasting another big blow next week (+30 knots).

Yikes.
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Quoting doorman79:


What up Pott!

All is well!
And you?
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GFS-Animation Loop

Keeps flip flopping..
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
Quoting doorman79:


Man I hope not, all the snow does is make a mess! Plus I have to work in it. :(

Depends on which side of the door your on...
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Quoting pottery:

He probably realises that his arguments are futile with some people.
And the rest of us dont need convincing.

Enjoy the cold, and the hot, and the fact that you obviously think that they even each other out.

Really strange weather, anyhow....
And coming after the record heats of the summer.
Great stuff.


What up Pott!
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Quoting Drakoen:
The potential for snow Wednesday morning looks good across central portions of Louisiana and Mississippi around and to the north of I-10 where 1000mb-700mb thickness sub 2840gpm will set up. The models show a 500mb shortwave trough advecting from Texas and into Louisiana Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, providing a mechanism for uplift as the shortwave gathers moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. The potential for frozen hydrometeors exists as precipitation falls into the freezing layer of the lowest 10,000ft. Model soundings show saturation of the mid levels but the issue maybe closer to the surface around 925mb where humidity values are lower so precipitation may first appear as virga before enough moistening allows for full snowfall to the surface. The ECMWF and GFS show a good coverage of light QPF in the aforementioned areas to allow for light snow to fall.


Man I hope not, all the snow does is make a mess! Plus I have to work in it. :(
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Quoting Drakoen:
The potential for snow Wednesday morning looks good across central portions of Louisiana and Mississippi around and to the north of I-10 where 1000mb-700mb thickness sub 2840gpm will set up. The models show a 500mb shortwave trough advecting from Texas and into Louisiana Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, providing a mechanism for uplift as the shortwave gathers moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. The potential for frozen hydrometeors exists as precipitation falls into the freezing layer of the lowest 10,000ft. Model soundings show saturation of the mid levels but the issue maybe closer to the surface around 925mb where humidity values are lower so precipitation may first appear as virga before enough moistening allows for full snowfall to the surface. The ECMWF and GFS show a good coverage of light QPF in the aforementioned areas to allow for light snow to fall.


thanks for the insight Drakoen..
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
The potential for snow Wednesday morning looks good across central portions of Louisiana and Mississippi around and to the north of I-10 where 1000mb-700mb thickness sub 2840gpm will set up. The models show a 500mb shortwave trough advecting from Texas and into Louisiana Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, providing a mechanism for uplift as the shortwave gathers moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. The potential for frozen hydrometeors exists as precipitation falls into the freezing layer of the lowest 10,000ft. Model soundings show saturation of the mid levels but the issue maybe closer to the surface around 925mb where humidity values are lower so precipitation may first appear as virga before enough moistening allows for full snowfall to the surface. The ECMWF and GFS show a good coverage of light QPF in the aforementioned areas to allow for light snow to fall.
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Did a little research on early freezes in Tampa...if it gets to 32 here either tonight or tomorrow, unless I miss a figure, it's the earliest freeze there in 40 years.
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Quoting xcool:
snow in my forecast,


Heck yeah Scott..
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brb
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Just took the pup out for a walk. With the wind it is really cold. May turn on the heat for only the second time this year.
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snow in my forecast,
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Quoting FLPandhandleJG:

Flurries just north of you, just keep ya fingers crossed, lol.
Link
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Quoting GrillinInTheEye:


Not really. Was up in Daytona when it snowed last year. Looked the same. Don't wish to see it again.


I don't get to see snow that often, being a native South Floridian... You can't tell me it wouldn't be nice to have some snow on xmas morning???

A Florida white xmas is usually when we go to the beach on xmas day and make sand castles.
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Already 48 at my house in Lake Worth.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
Isn't Nea usually flashing this map around? or does he only do it on weeks where it proves his theory?

Records:

Snowfall: 328
High Temperatures: 119
Low Temperatures: 177
Lowest Max Temperatures: 144
Highest Min Temperatures: 75

He probably realises that his arguments are futile with some people.
And the rest of us dont need convincing.

Enjoy the cold, and the hot, and the fact that you obviously think that they even each other out.

Really strange weather, anyhow....
And coming after the record heats of the summer.
Great stuff.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Dakster:
Thoughts and prayers to those in Colombia!

Would be neat to see SNOW again in Miami... Don't think it will happen, but would be neat nonetheless.


Not really. Was up in Daytona when it snowed last year. Looked the same. Don't wish to see it again.
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Isn't Nea usually flashing this map around? or does he only do it on weeks where it proves his theory?

Records:

Snowfall: 328
High Temperatures: 119
Low Temperatures: 177
Lowest Max Temperatures: 144
Highest Min Temperatures: 75
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For West Palm Beach

Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11155
Thanks, Doc. I will rethink my plan of going to Colombia for Christmas and New Year. What a tragedy for those folks. Almost two million homeless?
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Waiting to hear from a friend who is from Colombia.
We (SW Michigan) are currently the recipients of lake-effect snow. In fact, we have been within the track of one of the heaviest belts in the area. Will try to post some photos tomorrow.

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* I mean 6 to 8 degrees below forecast, temps are about 20+ below normal
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The whole snow idea can't be thrown out the window completely in Florida, the air mass over Florida will continue to be very cold, and will continue be very cold as you increase with height, in other words, very steep lapse rates. The NWS says they aren't expecting anything to fall out of these clouds on Wednesday, but I wouldn't be surprised if that forecast turns out wrong. I have seen winter disturbances be surprising before in Florida. Even further, the weather service themselves have admitted this cold weather outbreak has so far been even more potent then it was forecasted to be, I was supposed to have a low of 43 but it reached 38 this morning. Today was supposed to have a high of 58, but as I thought temps area wide in West Central Florida were held in only the low 50's, about 6 to 8 degrees below normal.
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GFS says snow for Alabama and Georgia sunday night. Man would that be awesome. WU, TWC, and accuweather all say rain though, and that's probably what will happen.
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Thoughts and prayers to those in Colombia!

Would be neat to see SNOW again in Miami... Don't think it will happen, but would be neat nonetheless.
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Wow, did anyone see this? Wiki leak re: climate?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/dec/03/wikileaks-us-manipulated-climate-accord
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Quoting MTWX:

Columbus, MS. NWS in Jackson is saying up to 1/2 inch of accumulation.


Nice.. its a slim chance for me in Niceville, FL that is close to Destin.. would be nice :)
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31. MTWX
Link to the Jackson NWS homepage.
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30. MTWX
Quoting FLPandhandleJG:


where u at?

Columbus, MS. NWS in Jackson is saying up to 1/2 inch of accumulation.
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Quoting MTWX:
Snow in the forecast for us tomorrow night and Wednesday morning!!!


where u at?
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28. MTWX
Snow in the forecast for us tomorrow night and Wednesday morning!!!
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Quoting DoverWxwatchter:
Wonders what that innocent looking little west Gulf low will be doing in 72 hours and 96.


should be interesting..
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133




hmmm

By Tuesday night...our attention will turn to a shortwave diving
southeast out of the intermountain west and arriving on our doorstep
by 12z Wednesday. The European model (ecmwf)/GFS are in excellent agreement on depicting
some robust synoptic lift and deep moisture from 700 mb and above.
The Fly in the ointment for any significant precipitation will be the dry
airmass present in the lowest 5000 feet. A look at area forecast
soundings...partial thicknesses...and surface wet bulb temperatures indicate the
the predominate p-type would be snow for much of the area. Given the
strong upper level forcing prognosticated by guidance...will mention a
chance of snow flurries for all areas north of the immediate coast
early Wednesday morning. If future model runs show more saturation in the
low levels...we may have to add a chance of light snow to the
forecast. In either case...this looks to be a very minor event with
no accumulations. We did go a few degrees above MOS for Wednesday morning
lows given the transition to mostly cloudy skies after 06z which will
impede radiational cooling for the rest of the night.


The shortwave passes through the area by midday Wednesday with more
dry and cold weather in store. An abundance of middle level clouds
persist through much of Wednesday which will keep highs only in the
upper 40s to lower 50s. The center of surface high pressure moves into
the southern Appalachians Wednesday night...but ridging will extend all the
way into eastern Louisiana...giving US a good chance of decoupling
overnight. Another very cold night with lows in the low to middle 20s.

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Global warming in Florida

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Quoting DoverWxwatchter:
Are there any places in central or south FL that could have their earliest freeze on record tonight?
Palm Beach will set a record if it sees a freeze tonight. Link
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Dang the 18Z GFS shifts even further west, now showing rain and severe storms for the East Coast rather then snow... :/
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Colombia Rain Crisis - Cartagena





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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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