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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713. ReefMaster
8:18 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
Quoting Jeff9641:
It snowed in Freeport,Bahamas in 1989 the same year FL got pasted with snow. I remember my granddad saying it snowed in Nassau sometime either 1977 or 1978.

I was in Luxembourg delayed due to snow in Bermuda...1975 or '76.
Member Since: August 27, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 53
712. Neapolitan
2:22 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13281
710. IKE
2:17 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
NEW BLOG!
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
708. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
2:07 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
that will be nice i get a workout for a day and a half
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52274
706. IKE
2:05 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
Snow so close....if it wasn't so dry....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
705. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
2:04 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
Quoting cat5hurricane:
Who will get pounded? Hmmm...

ne from texakana to the spine up and over eastern seaboard she goes by mon she be just over extreme eastern lake ont as it finishes up the run lake effect to follow over lakes enhancing local amounts stay tune for info on this high impacting widespread weather event
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52274
704. TBPauly
2:02 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
Quoting cat5hurricane:

Holy Crap. That is astounding. Say bye-bye to the citrus crop.


How accurate is the Euro, usually? 15 in Orlando would probably mean about upper teens in Tampa, and would put the all-time record of 18 in play.
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 25
700. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
1:58 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
Quoting stillwaiting:
...its never snowed in the bahamas that im aware of....
well there is a first for everything
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52274
698. stillwaiting
1:54 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
hey by the way I just wanted to know from you guys what you think if it snowed over the yucatan cuba cayman and bahamas (besides that it is improbable)
...its never snowed in the bahamas that im aware of....
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
697. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
1:50 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
Quoting Jeff9641:
Before this cold gets here Sunday night we should see one dangerous line of thunderstorms charging through with winds gusting to 50 maybe 60 mph as this squall line blast through. I would also expect that N FL and the Panhandle will get a dusting of snow as this wrap around moisture should be significant.




first there was secondary then comes prime

waitin on rtn flow
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52274
694. BCtotheG
1:41 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
So I usually lurk and this is off topic but...

I just finished a MET final and the only question I couldn't figure out was a definition for 'Low Density Rimming'. I found nothing on google or even the AMS glossary. Does anybody know?

Member Since: December 16, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 22
689. Patrap
1:26 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
.."All we are saying,..is Give Peace a chance"...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125628
685. IKE
1:04 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
"""Everybody's talkin and no one says a word"""

"""Their starvin back in China so finish what you got"""

"""There's a little yellow island to the north of Katmandu"""


Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
684. GeoffreyWPB
12:53 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10578
683. severstorm
12:50 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
Quoting WxLogic:


I'm in Apopka, FL.

Ok, I know were thats at. Very nice area over there and a big lake to go fishing in.
Member Since: November 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 956
682. WxLogic
12:49 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
Quoting Ameister12:

That's cold? Yeah right. How does 8 degrees sound to you?


:(... Yeah that's colder... jeje.
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 4881
681. WxLogic
12:48 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
Quoting severstorm:

Morning where are you at in cfl? I am in zephyrhills next to the green swamp have 21.9


I'm in Apopka, FL.
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 4881
680. severstorm
12:22 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
Quoting WxLogic:
Morning...

Man is cold!!! 28.5F in CFL.

Morning where are you at in cfl? I am in zephyrhills next to the green swamp have 21.9
Member Since: November 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 956
679. IKE
12:22 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
Quoting severstorm:
Morning Ike, Are those two lakes keeping you warm this morning?


Warmer this morning. Low of 31.1. Clouds moving in now from the west.

Yeah...the 2 lakes help some. PWS about 6 miles from here and it's 23.2 there.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
678. jrweatherman
12:19 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
Quoting WxLogic:
Morning...

Man is cold!!! 28.5F in CFL.


44 here in Oldsmar at 7:00. It was 39 at 11:00 last night. Didn't expect the temp to rise overnight.
Member Since: May 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 650
677. PensacolaDoug
12:18 PM GMT on December 08, 2010



It dropped down to 28 overnight but its been coming up for the last couple of hours as the moister comes in.
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 519
676. Ameister12
12:18 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
Quoting WxLogic:
Morning...

Man is cold!!! 28.5F in CFL.

That's cold? Yeah right. How does 8 degrees sound to you?
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4499
675. WxLogic
12:10 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
Morning...

Man is cold!!! 28.5F in CFL.
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 4881
674. severstorm
12:05 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
Morning Ike, Are those two lakes keeping you warm this morning?
Member Since: November 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 956
673. Chicklit
12:03 PM GMT on December 08, 2010
It's 35 degrees in New Smyrna Beach.
By Friday and Saturday it will be in the 70s.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11047
672. IKE
11:51 AM GMT on December 08, 2010
Defuniak Springs,FL. forecast....

Sunday Night
Much colder. Mostly clear. Lows around 24.

Monday
Colder. Mostly sunny. Highs around 38.

Monday Night
Mostly clear. Lows around 19.

Tuesday
Partly cloudy. Highs around 47.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
671. severstorm
11:30 AM GMT on December 08, 2010

OUCH.......Good Morning
Member Since: November 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 956
670. Neapolitan
10:05 AM GMT on December 08, 2010
I'm seeing readings for my ZIP code of 44, 41, and 41--still a way from the forecast 34. Not sure whether we'll make it, though there are two hours of darkness left. Freezing seems unlikely; however, the dew point is 37 and there's no wind, so a bit of frost on certain surfaces is inevitable.

Oh, yeah: good morning. The fire is down to embers; I'm gonna stir it up a bit, throw on a couple of small sticks, and get some coffee going. Then I'll stop back by...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13281
669. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
7:58 AM GMT on December 08, 2010
India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #6
WELL MARKED LOW PRESSURE, FORMER BOB06-2010
11:30 AM IST December 8 2010
=========================================

At 6:00 AM UTC, Depression BOB06-2010 over coastal Andhra Pradesh has weakened into a well marked low pressure area and now lays over central Andhra Pradesh.

This is the final tropical cyclone bulletin from the India Meteorological Department
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 48 Comments: 43690
668. FLPandhandleJG
6:38 AM GMT on December 08, 2010
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



I hope you have a nice night.


U too.. Night!
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
667. PSLFLCaneVet
6:26 AM GMT on December 08, 2010
Quoting FLPandhandleJG:


haha.. Im probably heading to bed to watch a movie then sleep..



I hope you have a nice night.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
665. FLPandhandleJG
6:25 AM GMT on December 08, 2010
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


Apparently. More tunes?


haha.. Im probably heading to bed to watch a movie then sleep..
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
664. PSLFLCaneVet
6:21 AM GMT on December 08, 2010
Quoting FLPandhandleJG:


Am I the only one still up.. lol


Apparently. More tunes?
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414

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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.