Floods overwhelm North Dakota levees; floods kill 175 in China

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:33 PM GMT on June 23, 2011

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Flood waters from North Dakota's Souris River are pouring over the levees protecting Minot, North Dakota today, and flood heights are expected to rise to the highest levels in recorded history tonight. The Lake Darling flood control reservoir located about 15 miles upstream from Minot is full to overflowing, and record releases of water are occurring to prevent the lake's dam from over-topping. By this weekend, the Army Corps of Engineers will open the dam's flood gates to a maximum flow rate of 20,000 cubic feet per second, which is roughly double the flow rate that the levees in Minot can handle. Water began flowing over the levees yesterday, forcing the mandatory evacuation of 12,000 residents. By Sunday, water levels on the Souris River are expected to peak at four feet above the previous all-time flood height, set in 1881. Torrential rainfall in Canada on Sunday and Monday, combined with very heavy rainfall and snow melt over North Dakota over the past month, are responsible for the record flood. The Souris River Basin near the Rafferty Dam in Saskatchewan received four to seven inches of rain Sunday into Monday. Flood heights along the Souris River near the Canadian border upstream from Minot are already two feet above the previous all-time highest mark, and that pulse of water is now arriving in Minot. The unprecedented flood is expected to keep much of Minot underwater for at least two weeks. Fortunately, no new heavy rains are expected over the next five days, though up to 1/2" of rain could fall over portions of the Souris River watershed.


Figure 1. Still frame from a Youtube video of the Souris River in Minot, North Dakota flowing over the levees in that town. The video was shot on Wednesday June 22, 2011, from a North Dakota National Guard helicopter.


Figure 2. Observed (blue line) and forecast (green line) stage of the Souris River in Minot, North Dakota. The river is currently at its 3rd highest level on record, and is expected to rise above the record flood stage of 1558' tonight. The record was set back in 1881. Image credit: NOAA AHPS.

Record rains in China kill 175, do $5 billion in damage
Torrential rains triggered severe flooding in eastern China this week, with the death toll for June floods now standing at 175, with 86 people missing. Ironically, the same region experienced severe drought at the beginning of June. The estimated $5 billion in damage from the floods would make 2011 the third most expensive year for floods in China in the past decade. This year is the second consecutive year floods have caused exceptional damage in China. Last year, Western China saw summer precipitation more than 200% above average, and torrential monsoon rains triggered catastrophic landslides that killed 2137 people and did $759 million in damage. Monsoon floods in China killed an additional 1911 people, affected 134 million, and did $18 billion in damage in 2010, according to the WHO Collaborating Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED). This was the 2nd most expensive flooding disaster in Chinese history, behind the $30 billion price tag of the 1998 floods that killed 3656 people. China had floods in 1915, 1931, and 1959 that killed 3 million, 3.7 million, and 2 million people, respectively, but no damage estimates are available for these floods. During the period 2000 - 2009, China averaged $3.7 billion in damage and 674 deaths per year due to floods and landslides, according to the WHO Collaborating Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. This does not include the toll from typhoons. Speaking of typhoons, Tropical Storm Meari, currently located a few hundred miles east of the Philippines' Luzon Island, is expected to track north-northwestwards towards China today and Friday. By Saturday, Meari is expected to be a Category 1 typhoon, and will spread heavy rains over eastern China, worsening the flooding situation there--though the heaviest rains will likely remain offshore.



Figure 3. Rainfall amounts in excess of 18 inches (450 mm) fell in Eastern China southeast of Shanghai in a 1-week period, June 13 -19, 2011. A China Daily report from June 18 described the rains in parts of Zhejiang Province as unprecedented. High waters broke 100-meter (300-foot) holes in levees, inundating nearby villages. Some homes were buried in 3 meters (10 feet) of water. This image is based on data from the Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis produced at Goddard Space Flight Center, which estimates rainfall by combining measurements from many satellites and calibrating them using rainfall measurements from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite. Image credit: NASA.



Figure 4. Visitors watch as water gushes out from the Xiaolangdi Reservoir on the Yellow River in Central China's Henan province, June 22, 2011. Image credit: Xinhua.

The Atlantic is quiet
The Atlantic is quiet, but several models, including the NOGAPS and GFS, are predicting that a tropical disturbance capable of becoming a tropical depression could form in the southern Gulf of Mexico in the Bay of Campeche Tuesday or Wednesday. There will be a strong ridge of high pressure over the Gulf next week, which would tend to keep any storm that might form far to the south, with impacts limited to Mexico and perhaps South Texas.

Jeff Masters

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IF! the ridge stays in place like it did last year than the U.S could be spared.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16439
30 minutes later. Lotta lightning in them there clouds.

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CMC 12z, hurricane in the GOMEX again. Further south.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23627
Mark 26N/97W & 11N/80W Link
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Lol the Gulf of Mexico is almost shaped like a perfect G on it's side.Look!
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16439
Yellow circle in the cariibean/gom by late tomorrow or early Saturday?
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Good afternoon all.

Boy the waves at the beach here in southeastern North Carolina mean business. The waves almost come over me, and I'm 5" 1'!

In other news, the storms here mean business also. There was a wind report of 75 mph in Wilmington.

2008 75 WILMINGTON NEW HANOVER NC 3428 7792 GUST OF 75MPH WINDS MEASURED AT KILM. (ILM)
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GOM..

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211. beell
Quoting PrivateIdaho:


You took your rain gear off....you get some rain?


Good gosh yes! 1.94". This is Texas so I guess I should say we got just a bit over 2"!
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 141 Comments: 16265
Quoting beell:
From Dr. Master's blog post today:

There will be a strong ridge of high pressure over the Gulf next week, which would tend to keep any storm that might form far to the south, with impacts limited to Mexico and perhaps South Texas.


You took your rain gear off....you get some rain?
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Looks like most or all the models are excited about development.I'm not that really excited though.Let's see what happens.
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208. beell
From Dr. Master's blog post today:

There will be a strong ridge of high pressure over the Gulf next week, which would tend to keep any storm that might form far to the south, with impacts limited to Mexico and perhaps South Texas.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 141 Comments: 16265
Quoting alfabob:

Explains the positive feedback mechanism which will allow the anomalies to increase throughout july and maybe august. Link


It may be a terminology issue with wind direction, but I have to head back to work. I'll read it more thoroughly later.
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Quoting blsealevel:
Another idea is to get yourself a couple 5 gallon buckets with lids clean them out good and store water in them you will be supprised just how handy a 5 gallon bucket will become.
What I did and it really helped in Georges was freeze 2 liter bottles with water. We had a large chest freezer devoted to that. In Georges my family were without power for 2 weeks. The bottles came out of the freezer, into the frig until defrosted then used as drinking or washing water. Even some of the bottles were handed out to neighbors. Works well.
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203. beell
Evolution of the 500mb ridge from today's 12Z GFS. Next Tuesday through Friday (maybe i should say "non-evolution").

click any graphic to open in a new window


Tuesday 12Z


Wednesday 12Z



Thursday 12Z



Friday 12Z
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201. Jax82
Quoting StAugustineFL:


Looking out my window to the west things appear to be coming together quite nicely in West-Central St John's County. Can't wait for the fireworks to get started.


Our lawns will be watered naturally for the next few days i believe!
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Quoting Levi32:


What's the link to the paper again? I'd like their reasoning for that, as it seems implausible to me.



What do they mean by eastern Atlantic though? Tropical or subtropical? Because the cooling Gulf of Guinea increases low pressure in the eastern Atlantic which does induce easterly anomalies farther north, over the mid-latitude and northern subtropical Atlantic. In the tropics though, it's all westerly anomalies.
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Quoting scooster67:
I hope you get some of it. Those cells went over us here in Columbia County nicely :)


Me too. Took this 5 minutes ago.

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Quoting jasonweatherman2010:
i saw a big spin off the West Africa coast!! wow!! wow!! thanks Grothar
relax man.
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Quoting alfabob:

"First, the monsoon rainfall distribution is such that it induces zonal sea level pressure gradients and easterly anomalies in the eastern Atlantic. Second, the strong cross-equatorial southerlies advect the easterly momentum from the south into the equator. Finally, zonal pressure gradients associated with the equatorial ocean cooling accelerate surface easterly winds in the middle and western Atlantic. This interaction of equatorial SST and zonal wind causes their westward copropagation, analogous to that in the equatorial Pacific."
'Interaction of the Atlantic Equatorial Cold Tongue and the African Monsoon'


What's the link to the paper again? I'd like their reasoning for that, as it seems implausible to me.
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The head meteorologist at my university suggested to me that with our warming climate, city planning is where the big money is going to be when considering, among other things, higher flood potential and the eventual sea level rise.
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Quoting alfabob:
Cooling of the GOG induces stronger trade winds, which then allows for a strong A/B high; at least that would make sense to me since a strong high usually induces strong easterly winds.



That is incorrect. The trade winds do not exist over the Gulf of Guinea. The summer flow there is monsoonal, where the southeast trade winds curve northward right into the African continent. What happens when the water cools there? The air pressure rises and increases the monsoonal southerly flow into the African continent.

Climatological mean surface winds June-September:

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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
this is what I think will happen with TS Arlene



That was Alex I think
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Quoting StAugustineFL:


Looking out my window to the west things appear to be coming together quite nicely in West-Central St John's County. Can't wait for the fireworks to get started.
I hope you get some of it. Those cells went over us here in Columbia County nicely :)
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Patrap, Keeper, you guys see anything coming from the blob in western GOM?
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Quoting scooster67:
Round 1 for Jax



Looking out my window to the west things appear to be coming together quite nicely in West-Central St John's County. Can't wait for the fireworks to get started.
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TBH the only setup that is analogous to this system is Hurricane Alex from 2010. This setup is nearly identical to that. Dolly from 2008 is also a possibility.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23627
other solutions

Dolly 08


Arlene 05 (less likely)


Cindy 05 (bit more likely than Arlene)


Beryl 00


Gordon 00


Keith 00


Katrina 99


and a few more I'll be back soon
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Another idea is to get yourself a couple 5 gallon buckets with lids clean them out good and store water in them you will be supprised just how handy a 5 gallon bucket will become.
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Round 1 for Jax

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A strong TS or low end HC1 Arlene



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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.