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 Grothar:


You've done quite well yourself on many occasions.



Thank you, my friend.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Dicey and Icey somewhere come dawn..





Current Conditions

Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Airport)

Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Airport)

Updated: 14 min 10 sec ago

Clear
36 °F
Clear
Humidity: 82%
Dew Point: 31 °F
Wind: Calm
Pressure: 30.20 in (Rising)
Visibility: 10.0 miles
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125421
Quoting atmoaggie:
I'm near Covington. Slidell recorded a 24 F, Hammond, 25 F.

slidell: http://www.weather.gov/data/obhistory/KASD.html
hammond: http://www.weather.gov/data/obhistory/KHDC.html


I guess such readings along the north shore aren't that unusual in light of the northerly winds experienced last night.

Enjoy this while you can though, as the GFS hints at a more typical La Nina pattern for us after the next major arctic outbreak.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 521 Comments: 19109
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


I count myself in good company, then. Bring on the humor.


You've done quite well yourself on many occasions.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Something off topic, for a special few. Hehehe.



Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Quoting DoverWxwatchter:
Lake Eyre in Australia is filling up!




I thought Lake Eyre was a dry bed. Only filled temporarily. It was bone dry when I saw it.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Don't you live along the north shore? That's a rather low reading, isn't it?
I'm near Covington. Slidell recorded a 24 F, Hammond, 25 F.

slidell: http://www.weather.gov/data/obhistory/KASD.html
hammond: http://www.weather.gov/data/obhistory/KHDC.html
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Quoting EnergyMoron:
Grothar:

I left a question during the early evening shift one day for you that I didn't see an answer...


Your Viking furniture, did you get that on sale at Ikea?

(and did you recycle your cfl's there when you bought it)


Sorry, energy, I must have left. Are you referring to my ice bedroom? No, I didn't get it at Ikea; it just formed itself. LOL

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Quoting atmoaggie:
was 24 here this morning (SE LA)


Wow. Was 41 near the Dome here in Houston, but there is serious urban heat island effects at work and in the low 30's elsewhere.
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551. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #5
DEPRESSION BOB06-2010
5:30 AM IST December 8 2010
=================================

SUBJECT: Depression Over Andhra Pradesh

At 0:00 AM UTC, Depression BOB06-2010 over west central Bay of Bengal moved northwestwards and crossed Andhra Pradesh coast near Bapatla in the early thia morning. The depression lays centered at about 50 km northwest of Bapatla, Andhra Pradesh (near 16.0N 80.0E).

It would move northwestwards for some more time, then north-northwestwards and weaken gradually.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 48 Comments: 43639
Quoting atmoaggie:
was 24 here this morning (SE LA)


Don't you live along the north shore? That's a rather low reading, isn't it?
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 521 Comments: 19109
Quoting Grothar:


You are all sick! (smiling quietly to oneself)



I count myself in good company, then. Bring on the humor.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Quoting xcool:


update 00z gfs

sweet
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
That is outrageous, I wonder if they are the first ones to update the forecast based on the latest model runs? That would be colder than last winter in terms of absolute minimums. My lowest last winter was 25F, and the Orl. Exec. lowest was 29F.
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Gro and I have the same sense of humor. May be too much for others. A lot of inside jokes. Keeps me mostly sane.
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544. JRRP
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Quoting EnergyMoron:
There is this funny liquid dropping from the sky here in Houston....

and it is getting warmer (called a warm front I think).

Too bad the cold front later on is going to be dry.

Apart from the drought, the early cold weather I like.... lots of heating degree days but no freeze!
was 24 here this morning (SE LA)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Up to 57 in Houston
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541. xcool
update 00z gfs



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Grothar:

I left a question during the early evening shift one day for you that I didn't see an answer...


Your Viking furniture, did you get that on sale at Ikea?

(and did you recycle your cfl's there when you bought it)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting louisianaweatherguy:
So... it's looking more and more like a snow event across the I-12 corridor North of Lake Ponchartrain tonight/early morning hours (Hammond/Covington area)... 18z GFS shows about 1/2 inch or less of the white stuff... :) I love it!!!
Hey!

Call me skeptical of that prognosis, here...

(outside of Covington)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Quoting FLPandhandleJG:
its 34 in Niceville in the panhandle of FL


down to freezing in Fort Walton Beach. And all that rain is heading close faster than the forecast is calling for on the NOAA website...hmmmmm
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Gro and Geoff:



LOL
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Quoting Jeff9641:


Look at post 521 as that is from TWC and it just updated 10 minutes ago.

http://preview.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/tenday/USFL0372


Accuweather hasn't changed their forecast yet so I guess I'll wait a few hours for that forecast to materialize. Heck...if its 46 in Orlando, it should be in the 30as for highs on the Northern Gulf.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
There is this funny liquid dropping from the sky here in Houston....

and it is getting warmer (called a warm front I think).

Too bad the cold front later on is going to be dry.

Apart from the drought, the early cold weather I like.... lots of heating degree days but no freeze!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Jeff9641:


Look at post 521 as that is from TWC and it just updated 10 minutes ago.

http://preview.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/tenday/USFL0372


Hey.. my high is 41 with the same winds as well.. O god.. if it was 32 or so and snow.. Blizzard! lol but it wont.. that would be crazy..
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting atmoaggie:
Gro and Geoff:



You are all sick! (smiling quietly to oneself)

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
So... it's looking more and more like a snow event across the I-12 corridor North of Lake Ponchartrain tonight/early morning hours (Hammond/Covington area)... 18z GFS shows about 1/2 inch or less of the white stuff... :) I love it!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Thanks for the compilation of Colombia's flooding rainy season.

Here in Southern Ontario, some places have close to 150 cm of snow (5 ft). At my location there are 25 cm (10 in) on the ground.
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Woah Jeff, where did you see THAT forcast?!
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Quoting Grothar:


The cold must be affecting your senses.
Gro and Geoff:

Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
Jeff, it's about 39-40 in Altamonte right now, some cartops already have frost. As for next week, the forcast is only saying 37 as a low, but they tend to go lower and lower as the time draws near.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


What? I want to be a dentist and you have a big red nose. Sounds sensible to me.


It doesn't to me lol
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Just had a thought, which some of you more savvy types might be able to answer...

I was wondering what kind of set-up would be the worst for the SSTs and coming hurricane season?

I seem to remember people linking the record high SSTs in the Atlantic this summer to the long period the NAO spent negative last winter/spring, which resulted in lower winds in that region, and thence less cooling.

If I remember right, the severe cold weather in the UK and northern Europe started up in mid-to-late December, or so, and lasted to early/mid-Feb -- all driven by the NAO going and staying negative. This year, things have hit them hard, earlier -- and seem to be locked in again (I'm now out in Australia, so not as in tune with the UK's weather as I was last year when I was being hit by it :D).

So -- the question is, if the NAO holds negative like it did last winter (which seems feasible, given the low sea-ice measurements, and the lock-in of the jet-stream) -- will that contribute to reduced cooling in the MDR in the atlantic (again, reduced surface winds etc.), and therefore mean that we'll go into the next hurricane season with potentially higher SSTs, and to a greater depth, than we saw this year?

Would that, coupled to a La Nina trending back toward neutral, tend to set the scene for a pretty intense season next year? Particularly if the peculiar blocking setup that led to the Russian heatwave and Pakistini floods doesn't set up this coming season.

Am I missing something in my logic here? I'm not a meteorologist, but the pieces seem to hang together reasonably from what I've learnt on here over the last couple of years -- would be really interested to have those in the know tell me why I'm wrong :) I know, of course, that this is a form of future-guess-casting (given the NAO might revert to normal in a fortnight, and stay there for the rest of the autumn and winter), so please don't level the "We don't know how the NAO will behave" cannon at me -- I'm aware this is a hypothetical at the moment, but would be interested to know if my logic holds :)
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Quoting Grothar:


The cold must be affecting your senses.


What? I want to be a dentist and you have a big red nose. Sounds sensible to me.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Grothar and I:



The cold must be affecting your senses.
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


It was clearly not about Gro trying to confuse people. You took it out of context without having read the whole thread.



Nice way to put it. Kudos. A backhand, with class. Sweet.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Grothar and I:

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Quoting Jeff9641:


I live near Wekiva Springs and it is a very cold 35 right now.


Looks like another cold blast on Monday.
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


It was clearly not about Gro trying to confuse people. You took it out of context without having read the whole thread.


Thanks.
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About JeffMasters

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