Missouri River flood hits unprecedented flow rates

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:18 PM GMT on June 17, 2011

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The most expensive tornado/severe weather disaster in American history is the great May 21 - 26, 2011 storm that spawned the Joplin, Missouri EF-5 tornado. According to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide, insured damages from that storm will amount to $4 - $7 billion, the greatest damages ever for a spring severe weather outbreak. However, the damages from the huge, slow-moving low pressure system that spawned the Joplin tornado have not yet been fully realized. The powerful storm pumped huge quantities of warm, moisture-laden air from the Gulf of Mexico northwestwards into Montana, where the moisture condensed into record-breaking heavy rain and snow. In portions of eastern Montana, the storm brought a year's worth of precipitation in a week, swelling the tributaries of the Missouri River to unprecedented heights. Billings, Montana recorded 9.54" of precipitation in May, its single wettest month on record, and not far from its annual average precipitation of 14.5". A great 100-year flood has arrived along the Missouri River and its tributaries from Montana to Nebraska. Record spring rains, combined with snow melt from record or near-record winter and spring snows, brought the Missouri River at Williston, North Dakota to 30' today (June 17), two feet above the record crest set in 1912. Tributaries to the Missouri, such as the North Platte River in Nebraska, are also flooding at all-time record heights. With warm summer temperatures and 2 - 5" of rainfall expected over much of the area during the coming week, snow melt and rain runoff will swell area rivers even further, creating an even more dangerous flood.

Flooding along the Missouri River has already broken two levees and closed two portions of I-29, a key trucking route that extends from Kansas City through Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota to the Canadian border. A 20-mile stretch between Council Bluffs and the Missouri Valley area is closed, as well as a 22-mile section in southwest Iowa and northwest Missouri, causing significant disruptions to the trucking industry.


Figure 1. Satellite image taken at 5:45pm CDT May 22, 2011, when the Joplin, Missouri tornado was occurring. The counter-clockwise flow of air around the spiraling low pressure system that caused the Joplin tornado drew large quantities of Gulf of Mexico air into Montana, creating record-breaking rains. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.



Figure 2. Levee breach along the Missouri River levee L-575 near Hamburg, Iowa, on June 14, 2011. The town of Hamburg is being protected by a new temporary levee. So far, only farmland has flooded. Image credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Army Corps cranks up water releases on Missouri River dams to double the previous record
Six flood control dams lie on the Missouri River between eastern Montana and Sioux City, Iowa; these dams were built between 1940 and 1964. As water from this spring's record precipitation have flowed into the Missouri River basin, the reservoirs behind these dams have risen to record levels. On May 31, the Army Corps of Engineers was forced to open the the spillway gates on the massive Garrison Dam, 50 miles northwest of Bismark, North Dakota. It was the first time since the dam was built in 1955 that the spillway gates were opened. (Remarkably, during 2007 and early 2008, Lake Sakakawea water levels behind Garrison Dam were the lowest since the dam was built--46 feet below the current level--thanks to a decade-long drought.) On June 3, as the record flood progressed downstream, the spillway gates on the Big Bend Dam opened for the first time since that dam was completed in 1964. This week, the Army Corps of Engineers increased water flowing through all six dams to more than double the previous highs set during the floods of 1975 and 1997. The flow rates are now a massive 150,000 cubic feet per second, 1.5 times greater than the typical flow of Niagara Falls. These extreme flow rates will need to be maintained into at least mid-August, and are expected to severely strain levees on the Missouri River as it flows through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas. According to a press conference put on by NWS and the Army Corps last week, the Missouri River flood control system is based on an 1881 estimate of the maximum amount of water an extreme flood season could generate--40 million acre-feet of water during the spring and summer flood season. However, this year's flood is expected to pump 42 - 43 million acre feet of water into the system, stressing it beyond its designed limits. In May alone, the Missouri River basin just upstream from Sioux City, Iowa, received 10.2 million acre feet of water, more than 25% above the previous May record of 7.2 million acre feet set in 1995. Additional levee failures along the Missouri are likely this summer, particularly if widespread heavy summer rains occur.


Figure 3. The Oahe Reservoir Stilling Basin north of Pierre, S.D., on June 5, 2011. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers increased the water releases from the Oahe Dam into the stilling basin to a record 147,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water release on June 8. The previous record was 59,000 cfs in 1997. Image credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/ Carlos J. Lazo

Four-day period of critical fire conditions expected in the Southwest
Powerful southwest winds of 20 - 30 mph, gusting to 40 mph will continue through Saturday in Eastern Arizona and western New Mexico, making progress containing the region's severe fires difficult. Even worse conditions are begin predicted for Sunday, when NOAA's Storm Prediction Center forecasts forecasts that wind gusts up to 50 mph will occur. With hot conditions and humidity values below 10%, these are likely to be among the worst fire conditions the region has seen this year.

While the exceptional drought gripping Arizona is largely to blame for terrible fire conditions this year, unusually windy and dry weather has also been a significant factor. These windy and dry conditions have been caused, in part, by a stronger-than-average jet stream over the region. According to the National Weather Service in Phoenix, the period April-May 2011 was the 11th windiest and had the 6th lowest average relative humidity value on record in Phoenix. Combined, it was the 3rd windiest-driest April-May on record.

Our weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has an interesting post on The Worst Wild Fires in World History. Arizona's Wallow Fire, at 750 square miles, has a long way to go before matching the largest fire in U.S. history, the great Peshtigo Fire of 1871. That fire burned 5,938 square miles of Wisconsin and Michigan.

Tallahassee hits 105°, their hottest day on record
On Wednesday June 15 at 307 PM EDT, the Tallahassee Regional Airport in Florida recorded a high temperature of 105 degrees. This temperature breaks the previous all time high temperature record for Tallahassee of 104 degrees, set most recently on June 20th 1933. The period of record for Tallahassee dates back to 1892.

The Atlantic is quiet
The Atlantic is quiet, with no tropical cyclones predicted over the next seven days by the reliable computer models. However, the GFS model predicts that moisture will begin increasing early next week in the western Gulf of Mexico, and a tropical disturbance could form next week in the Gulf, bringing much-needed rains to the coast of Texas. Droughts of the magnitude of the current Texas drought are hard to break, though, so I'd like to see more support from the models before believing in this forecast.

Have a great weekend everyone! I'll be back Monday with a new post.

Jeff Masters

ABANDONED For Wetland Project in Flood (BEME)
Another old farmstead,within the wetlands 'project'..near Highway 2 [to Nebraska City,Nebraska]..Water's getting higher. [photo taken Wednesday afternoon]
ABANDONED For Wetland Project in Flood
Won't be Open Much Longer (Nikongranny)
Highway 2 east of Nebraska City will be closing very soon.
Won't be Open Much Longer
Trying to Keep Ahead (Nikongranny)
of the approaching water. Crews working frantically building this earth berm to keep the advancing Missouri River out of Hamburg.
Trying to Keep Ahead

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Quoting AussieStorm:
Anyone read about the earthquake swarm at Katla volcano in Iceland?
Looks like a dike intrusion, no indication of an impending eruption.

http://www.jonfr.com/volcano/?p=1062
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If you see something on Texas radars most of it is Virga and not hitting the ground: HAVE ADDED SLIGHT CHANCE/LESS THAN 20 PERCENT
COVERAGE ALONG AND WEST OF I-35...AS MOST RAIN SHOULD BE IN THE
FORM OF VIRGA. GUSTY ENVIRONMENTAL SOUTH WINDS COULD BE ENHANCED
IN THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY OF ANY VIRGA WHICH BEARS WATCHING IN
STEEP LAPSE RATE ENVIRONMENT
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Quoting AussieStorm:

How long does it take to shut down a nuclear power plant, SAFELY?
From running to completely cold shutdown? 15+ days.

From running to just needing to keep cool? 1-2 minutes. (if the reactor is scrammed)

For an orderly shutdown to just needing to keep cool? 2-3 hours, afaik.
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1493. barbamz
Quoting Chicklit:
Hi Baha, me too. I am flying out of here on Summer Solstice for one whole month and have to get the last minute stuff done and house ready for sitters!!!
Glad to hear there is some good news for Texas Nea.
Let's hope some of this Caribbean moisture makes its way up there soon.


Hi Chicklit, have a good journey and a recreative time, especially in our Germany! It will be nice to see you back on the blog (hopefully not delayed by any volcanic eruptions in Iceland) and telling us, what you've found out in the world.
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To add a little more:

EP, 02, 2011062012, , BEST, 0, 160N, 1027W, 55, 995, TS, 50, NEQ, 25, 25, 20, 20, 1006, 200, 20, 0, 0, E, 0, , 0, 0, BEATRIZ, D,
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Beatriz 12z Best Track:

EP, 02, 2011062012, , BEST, 0, 160N, 1027W, 55, 995, TS
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
0-0-0 wouldn't be a shock given how little is reflected on the models.

06z GFS 10 days, off US East Coast there's a system. That's all I see on the models.




Not even the BOC low that GFS and ECMWF had in past runs?
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1488. smuldy
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


I hear ya, I got about 2" from a thunderstorm on Saturday here in South Dade, other than that it has been dry all of this year.
Ya and NWS can say whatever it wants with the GFS forecasting that damn ridging for the next 10 day and further out its going to stay brutal no matter what vertical instability they want to focus on, but here is to hoping my 2ams are nice again and that we get some drought relief before we reach August and regret having wished for it, anyway this trooper is back to lurking and will be glad to communicate at that other place when this season gets a bit busier and there is something more to talk about than our poor a/c.
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Good morning, lots of rain around Orlando again last night. Looks as if the rainy season has finally started.
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hope the gfs is right and we do get a shear axis across the gulf. could mean a decent amount of rain heading toward fl. noticed the local weather service have upped the chances of rain this wkend of course the western side of the fl should get the heaviest
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4724
Quoting smuldy:
Well MIA is inland and about 45 minutes from here so not shocked they would be more fortunate, reality is we have had 2 days with rain these last 2 months and it has been more ungodly hot/humid/saunalike than I can ever remember. This is a large metroplex like LA and most of us here still walk out to what can only be described as hell daily, I am lucky in that regard and am able to avoid daylight in the summers but even the nights here have been worse than I have ever seen.


I hear ya, I got about 2" from a thunderstorm on Saturday here in South Dade, other than that it has been dry all of this year.
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1484. smuldy
Quoting Neapolitan:

The NHC's official rain gauge is at the airport. And I know how you feel: those state county-by-county drought maps show Collier to be "wetter" than the rest of Floirda, but that's because those maps include a swath of Everglades 30 miles south and east of me that is abnormally moist; here in northern Collier, it's every bit as dessicated as it is elsewhere.
Ya that sums it up. I'm a northeasterner relocated to Miami Beach not Kendal/Hialeah and I go there about as often as I go to Georgia and for the same reason. Out here rain is non existent so long as this ridging holds.
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1483. smuldy
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


That would be at the "official" site, Miami International Airport. Large increase in the last two weeks:


Well MIA is inland and about 45 minutes from here so not shocked they would be more fortunate, reality is we have had 2 days with rain these last 2 months and it has been more ungodly hot/humid/saunalike than I can ever remember. This is a large metroplex like LA and most of us here still walk out to what can only be described as hell daily, I am lucky in that regard and am able to avoid daylight in the summers but even the nights here have been worse than I have ever seen.
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Beatriz will be a hurricane by today. She really wound up last night.
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Quoting smuldy:
Rarely post here just lurk now and again to see if anything is worth looking at but had to chime in: not sure which Miami you are talking about but here on Miami Beach after yesterday's impressive .58 inches of rain we have now accumulated a whopping .74 inches of our 6.90 inch monthly average, which is following May's wonderous 1.93 inches compared to its 4.90 monthly average.

The NHC's official rain gauge is at the airport. And I know how you feel: those state county-by-county drought maps show Collier to be "wetter" than the rest of Floirda, but that's because those maps include a swath of Everglades 30 miles south and east of me that is abnormally moist; here in northern Collier, it's every bit as dessicated as it is elsewhere.
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Anyone read about the earthquake swarm at Katla volcano in Iceland?
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Quoting smuldy:
Rarely post here just lurk now and again to see if anything is worth looking at but had to chime in: not sure which Miami you are talking about but here on Miami Beach after yesterday's impressive .58 inches of rain we have now accumulated a whopping .74 inches of our 6.90 inch monthly average, which is following May's wonderous 1.93 inches compared to its 4.90 monthly average.


That would be at the "official" site, Miami International Airport. Large increase in the last two weeks:


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0-0-0 wouldn't be a shock given how little is reflected on the models.

06z GFS 10 days, off US East Coast there's a system. That's all I see on the models.


Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24164
1477. bappit
From the Houston forecast discussion:

FRIDAY UPPER RIDGING EXPANDING EAST SHOULD BRING BACK
WARMER TEMPERATURES (MID TO POSSIBLY UPPER 90S) AND RAIN CHANCES FALL QUICKLY AS CAP INCREASES. WEEKEND LOOKING DRIER AS UPPER RIDGE QUICKLY BUILDS OVER N TX PER ECMWF BUT WHAT MAY BE THE FIRST TROPICAL SYSTEM IN JUNE TRACKS INTO THE CENTRAL AND WESTERN CARIBBEAN.
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Quoting IKE:
I think the total for June in the ATL will be 0-0-0 on July 1st, 2011.....

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 AM EDT MON JUN 20 2011

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER FRANKLIN





that seemed to kill the blog.
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Quoting bohonkweatherman:
Not sure where you are getting your info but our Local Texas weathermen are saying it may not hit 100 Wednesday? We have a 20 to 30 percent chance of rain then Strong High Pressure moves back in by Thursday. NOW FOR THE BAD NEWS. A RIDGE OF HIGH PRESSURE IS FORECAST TO
BUILD ACROSS TEXAS FROM THE WEST BY LATE WEEK AND OVERTAKE THE
ENTIRE STATE BY THE WEEKEND. THIS QUICK CHANGE WILL PUT AN END TO
OUR SHORT-LIVED RAIN CHANCES AND BRING BACK THE OPPRESSIVE HEAT.


That's pretty much what I was saying: a few days respite, then back to the convectionless convection oven that is Texas 2011. :-\
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1474. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
T.C.F.W.
02E/TS/B/CX
MARK
15.23N/103.63W
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Quoting IKE:
I think the total for June in the ATL will be 0-0-0 on July 1st, 2011.....

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 AM EDT MON JUN 20 2011

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER FRANKLIN


I agree Ike although we still have 1/3 of the month left and several waves moving across the Atlantic.
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8392
Quoting bappit:

What I learned from earlier events is that there is shut down and then there is really shut down. As long as there is anything at the site that has to be kept cool then it is not really shut down.

Correct me if I'm wrong for me to think of the flooding as a slow moving tsunami. Even though this flooding will be moving relatively slowly compared to a normal tsunami, they can still take out vital components.
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1471. bappit
Quoting AussieStorm:

How long does it take to shut down a nuclear power plant, SAFELY?

What I learned from earlier events is that there is shut down and then there is really shut down. As long as there is anything at the site that has to be kept cool then it is not really shut down.
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1470. IKE
I think the total for June in the ATL will be 0-0-0 on July 1st, 2011.....

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 AM EDT MON JUN 20 2011

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER FRANKLIN


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Quoting Chicklit:
Flood warning issued for second Nebraska nuclear power plant (Cooper).

Link

Floodwaters from the Missouri river overtop a levy in Brownville, Neb., Sunday, June, 19, 2011. When the Missouri River reached 42.5 feet, or 899 feet above sea level Sunday morning, the Nebraska Public Power District issued a flooding alert for its nuclear power plant, Cooper Nuclear Station. Cooper, located near Brownville, is at 903 feet elevation, and NPPD officials said the river would have to climb to 902 feet at Brownville before officials would shut down the plant.


How long does it take the water from Brownville to reach the power plant? How long does it take to shut down a nuclear power plant, SAFELY?
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1468. smuldy
Quoting Neapolitan:



(Miami, on the other hand, is catching up at 147% and 94%, so it's not all bad.)

Rarely post here just lurk now and again to see if anything is worth looking at but had to chime in: not sure which Miami you are talking about but here on Miami Beach after yesterday's impressive .58 inches of rain we have now accumulated a whopping .74 inches of our 6.90 inch monthly average, which is following May's wonderous 1.93 inches compared to its 4.90 monthly average.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Flood warning issued for second Nebraska nuclear power plant (Cooper).

Link

Floodwaters from the Missouri river overtop a levy in Brownville, Neb., Sunday, June, 19, 2011. When the Missouri River reached 42.5 feet, or 899 feet above sea level Sunday morning, the Nebraska Public Power District issued a flooding alert for its nuclear power plant, Cooper Nuclear Station. Cooper, located near Brownville, is at 903 feet elevation, and NPPD officials said the river would have to climb to 902 feet at Brownville before officials would shut down the plant.

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Quoting Neapolitan:

Good morning, all.

I wouldn't say I'm out looking for that which glows; courtesy of global wind patterns, the apocalyptic is doing a great job of finding its own way to us. ;-)

Good news: After today, Texas will run nearly ten degrees cooler for the next three days. Bad news: temperatures will bounce right back to where they've been after that.

Thanks to a few showers this weekend, Naples has now received 17% of its normal June rain, and 31% of the normal yearly rain. Meanwhile, WPB is at 19% and 28%, and Fort Lauderdale is at a very dry 4% and 17%. (Miami, on the other hand, is catching up at 147% and 94%, so it's not all bad.)

Not sure where you are getting your info but our Local Texas weathermen are saying it may not hit 100 Wednesday? We have a 20 to 30 percent chance of rain then Strong High Pressure moves back in by Thursday. NOW FOR THE BAD NEWS. A RIDGE OF HIGH PRESSURE IS FORECAST TO
BUILD ACROSS TEXAS FROM THE WEST BY LATE WEEK AND OVERTAKE THE
ENTIRE STATE BY THE WEEKEND. THIS QUICK CHANGE WILL PUT AN END TO
OUR SHORT-LIVED RAIN CHANCES AND BRING BACK THE OPPRESSIVE HEAT.

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Magnitude 5.3 - MYANMAR-CHINA BORDER REGION
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Good morning to all.

Wave passing mainly to our south today,but the moisture combined with dayime heating will for sure cause scattered showers mainly in interior PR. The next wave is forecast to also pass mainly south of the island on thursday.
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1463. IKE

Quoting aquak9:
(crickets)

g'morning dayshift. AtHome's done an entire book of seduko, Ike's ignoring us, and Nea's out fishing for something glowing and apocalyptic.

Could see SPC upgrade to a quick high later in the day.
:(
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Hi Baha, me too. I am flying out of here on Summer Solstice for one whole month and have to get the last minute stuff done and house ready for sitters!!!
Glad to hear there is some good news for Texas Nea.
Let's hope some of this Caribbean moisture makes its way up there soon.
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a mid level trough stretching over the gulf could happen as beell posted
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4724
Quoting aquak9:
(crickets)

g'morning dayshift. AtHome's done an entire book of seduko, Ike's ignoring us, and Nea's out fishing for something glowing and apocalyptic.

Could see SPC upgrade to a quick high later in the day.

Good morning, all.

I wouldn't say I'm out looking for that which glows; courtesy of global wind patterns, the apocalyptic is doing a great job of finding its own way to us. ;-)

Good news: After today, Texas will run nearly ten degrees cooler for the next three days. Bad news: temperatures will bounce right back to where they've been after that.

Thanks to a few showers this weekend, Naples has now received 17% of its normal June rain, and 31% of the normal yearly rain. Meanwhile, WPB is at 19% and 28%, and Fort Lauderdale is at a very dry 4% and 17%. (Miami, on the other hand, is catching up at 147% and 94%, so it's not all bad.)

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Morning all....

Chick, it still looks like the basin's pretty dry... only the most westerly of those waves have that moist look.

However, they look pretty far north for Twaves in June.... not sure what that portends for later in the season.

I gotta get on the road.... I have a hectic day ahead, but will check in if and as time allows...

Enjoy the day, even if it IS Monday... lol

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Shear not too bad either.



...Still it is June and we've all seen the chart a few times...
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Looks like the wave train has left the station.
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1456. aquak9
(crickets)

g'morning dayshift. AtHome's done an entire book of seduko, Ike's ignoring us, and Nea's out fishing for something glowing and apocalyptic.

Could see SPC upgrade to a quick high later in the day.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 166 Comments: 26045
Quoting weatherganny:

Hey xcool...and athomeintexas!!!! Dont know if you remember me but I am here every year! Hoping for some rain here in south east Texas.


Hi Weatherg! Yep I remember you. Looks like our neck of the woods will get some rain. Any rain will be welcome of course. The upper level high thats been keeping us so hot and dry will be moving back over us starting around Thursday/Friday. Yuck! I'm with the channel 12 met. Why cant that high be on top of us in September?!Ah well, nothing to do but stay informed. Glad to see ya back. It's going to be a long season.
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925 vort

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1452. beell
Not to say anything will come of it. But some model support for development of a shear axis stretching across the Gulf. Left behind as the western high builds back to the east over TX and eastern ridging returns over the eastern gulf in the wake of the trough just now exiting the Rockies.

No model support for any tropical development-but possibly a conditional chance. Wind shear does not look too bad in the central GOM (w to e). Stronger westerly shear closer to the northern gulf coast.

Model support for this feature at 500mb also. Some confidence on my part that we will see a shear axis to a certain extent and any activity may show a preference for moving east along the axis-but that's about as far as you could go with it at this point

GFS sketch below is the 00z 6/20 @ 700mb Valid next Sunday (yeah, right). Could happen sooner/later or not at all.


Photobucket

6/20 00z GFS @ 144 hrs
Direct Link to Graphic
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1451. msphar
Almost the summer solstice, time for the sun to stall in its Northward progression and reverse course. Been watching it move lately. Looking forward to this reversal.
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Quoting weatherganny:


This means rain...maybe for Texas???


I do think you guys are likely to see at least some rainfall, most likely in the several inch range. This system will be quite large and wet.
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Beatrice appears to be consolidating herself very well.
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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.