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 KerryInNOLA:
Is this weather going to continue all winter? I thought La Nina was supposed to give us a warm and dry winter?


Models hint at a more typical La Nina pattern after this next arctic outbreak.
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Merry Christmas from Archie Bunker:

Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11557
Quoting Grothar:


Don't you people have reverse cycle on your air conditioners with heat?


We turned it on. Slowly warming up inside now.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
It's beginning to look alot like Christmas...
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Quoting xcool:
Tonight

Clear Rain / Snow Showers Late


weather.com zip codes 70458.


Hey Scott.. how u doing mane.. hope is well.. Im probably will get some cold rain or freezing rain.. This weekend is looking crazy and into monday.. if that next system pans out..
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458. MTWX
SNow tonight... Severe weather Saturday!!! Love this crazy weather! Link
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



Good evening, all!


Ae you coming or going?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting Grothar:


Sorry, door, just old age. Don't feel badly. I forget where I'm from sometimes. Any snow in your forecast?


They saying maybe, kinda, but who knows!
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Quoting Grothar:


Yes, it is getting colder. Hope your Mom gets better. Just looked out the window and saw this: Gecko alert!!!



Giving free insurance?
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454. xcool
Tonight

Clear Rain / Snow Showers Late


weather.com zip codes 70458.
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Quoting doorman79:


How dare you forget me!

Just kidding, Northshore of lake Ptrain in Louisiana.


Sorry, door, just old age. Don't feel badly. I forget where I'm from sometimes. Any snow in your forecast?
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Good evening, all!
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Quoting hydrus:
when Mom is better. I miss Florida a lot. I herd its gittin a bit chili dern ther....he he..


Yes, it is getting colder. Hope your Mom gets better. Just looked out the window and saw this: Gecko alert!!!

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting Jeff9641:


It may start off as sleet pellets or flakes and then quickly change to rain.

Yeah i hear you and thats what the NWS is saying, but i remember last year covered the ground and the roads north of Tampa. Stay warm dude and will talk later.
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Quoting Grothar:


It be cold! How cold are you supposed to get tonight, way up North there?


LOL. See my last. The air is so dry that we shouldn't have frost, thankfully.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
You southerns sound mighty excited about about getting "snow",or "Flakes".Don't worry you'll get your chance.Yes and by the way I thought december was suppose to be above average for the south,and east mid-atlantic for december.The modles may want to reconsider...


Yea I love snow, but of course I live in the south.. So maybe one day I will move up north someday.. Maybe near Cleveland where most of my family is at..
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Quoting Jeff9641:
Very strong disturbance moving toward LA right now. NOLA may soon get snow or ice overnight.


I hope not, I gotta work in the mess tomorrow!
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Quoting Jeff9641:


Day was busy and yours! I have extra interest in this disturbance moving our way it appears snow is coming and the models are finally beginning show what I've been saying for days now.


been relaxing for once.. But checking up on this weather and what can happen in the morning or into the weekend or maybe monday..

Shall be interesting..
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NWS, Melbourne, FL:



"Tonight: Clear, with a low around 30. Northwest wind around 5 mph."
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Quoting Grothar:


No, it really is cold. I forget where you are door?


How dare you forget me!

Just kidding, Northshore of lake Ptrain in Louisiana.
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



Yeah, we switch the thermostat to "heat". 45.3 here, at the moment.

What it is, Instigator?


It be cold! How cold are you supposed to get tonight, way up North there?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting Grothar:


When are you going to move back to sunny Florida? 10 is ridiculous.
when Mom is better. I miss Florida a lot. I herd its gittin a bit chili dern ther....he he..
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Quoting Jeff9641:


36 here buddy.

Hi Jeff, been awhile and yes i remember you saying last week it might. kinda want to see some but not looking forward to the drive thursday morning.I think i could get to 25 tonight and a hard freeze.
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Freeze Warning for Inland Broward County, FL

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MIAMI HAS ISSUED A FREEZE WARNING... WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 1 AM TO 9 AM EST WEDNESDAY.

WINDS TONIGHT ARE EXPECTED TO BECOME LIGHT NORTHWEST AND EVEN CALM IN AREAS OVERNIGHT. DRIER AIR WILL ALSO BE MOVING IN FROM THE NORTH. THIS ALONG WITH A MOSTLY CLEAR SKY WILL ALLOW FOR STRONG RADIATIONAL COOLING TO OCCUR TONIGHT. TEMPERATURES ARE FORECAST TO FALL INTO THE MID 20S TO AROUND 30 OVER MUCH OF GLADES AND HENDRY COUNTIES... AND 29 TO 32 OVER INLAND PALM BEACH COUNTY AND BROWARD COUNTY. TEMPERATURES OVER THE SOUTHERN AREAS AWAY FROM THE COASTS ARE FORECAST TO FALL INTO THE LOWER TO MID 30S EXCEPT AROUND 30 OVER THE REDLANDS.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting Grothar:


Don't you people have reverse cycle on your air conditioners with heat?



Yeah, we switch the thermostat to "heat". 45.3 here, at the moment.

What it is, Instigator?
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Just updated for West Palm Beach

Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11557
435. MTWX
Quoting Jeff9641:
Heavy snow moving toward western LA right now. I bet C FL gets some flakes or sleet tomorrow night.

not quite snow yet. Shreveport says accumulations up tp 1" by morning though
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You southerns sound mighty excited about about getting "snow",or "Flakes".Don't worry you'll get your chance.Yes and by the way I thought december was suppose to be above average for the south,and east mid-atlantic for december.The modles may want to reconsider...
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Quoting Jeff9641:
Very strong disturbance moving toward LA right now. NOLA may soon get snow or ice overnight.


Hey Jeff.. how was ur day sir?? pretty chilly all day here.. Hopefully we will get some snow sometime this winter.. ;)
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
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Quoting caneswatch:


Have the same thing going for me but it's 64 inside.


Don't you people have reverse cycle on your air conditioners with heat?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Oh yeah and R.I.P to Elizabeth Edwards.So sad what she had to go through with her cancer,and husband.He could've been their for her but what did he do instead?.He did her wrong......
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Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Going to have a nice electric bill next month! Have the air off and it's 69 in my house. Nice sleeping weather.


Have the same thing going for me but it's 64 inside.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Quoting hydrus:
Good evening. Just wanted to say hello before callin it a day. It is 15 degrees here at the house. Forecast to get down to 10. I just to a short walk outside. Its cold.


When are you going to move back to sunny Florida? 10 is ridiculous.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting Grothar:


Actually it is a little cold here. I had to bring in my vertubenblubens and and gernockens in before they froze. (P.S. I drive just fine, just don't know why everyone else drives on the wrong side of the road on I-95.)
Good evening. Just wanted to say hello before callin it a day. It is 15 degrees here at the house. Forecast to get down to 10. I just to a short walk outside. Its cold.
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Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting stillwaiting:
forecast for swfl tomorrow night,lows in mid 30's inland with 20% chance of rain,i bet a few wet flakes might mix in somewhere east of the tampa area!!!
You sound mighty excited.I just know that I would love some snow so we can have an early break.(The goverment gets out on the 22,or 23).Damn....
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Vertubenblubens and gernockens bloom best when it is cold.
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Quoting MTWX:
Down to 32 here already! Man that temp drops as sooon as the sun goes down!


ya.. I just got to 38.. its dropping pretty good..
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Quoting caneswatch:


I got 39 over here in RPB. I have a pair of socks on and my feet are still cold.


Going to have a nice electric bill next month! Have the air off and it's 69 in my house. Nice sleeping weather.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11557
Quoting Grothar:


Actually it is a little cold here. I had to bring in my vertubenblubens and and gernockens in before they froze. (P.S. I drive just fine, just don't know why everyone else drives on the wrong side of the road on I-95.)


I think you love that square-dance flag a little too much.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Quoting doorman79:


88?

We been freezing our high knees off up here!

Evening all!


No, it really is cold. I forget where you are door?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210

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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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