New floods in Pakistan kill 226; Maria heads towards brush with Bermuda

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:53 PM GMT on September 14, 2011

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A year after enduring the most devastating flooding in its history, Pakistan is again experiencing historic floods. An unusually heavy and late-lasting monsoon has brought torrential rains to Pakistan's southeast Sindh Province, which borders India to the east and the Arabian Sea to the south, and includes Pakistan's largest city, Karachi. The heavy rains began in the 2nd week of August, and have continued into the 2nd week of September, accumulating to 2 1/2 times more than average. According to Dr. Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, Pakistan's Federal Advisor on Climate Affairs, this is the highest 4-week monsoon rainfall total ever recorded in Sindh province, amounting to more than 37 million acre feet of water, "which is unimaginable." The "unimaginable" rains occurred after a 12-month period where the province received no rain and was under severe drought conditions. At least 226 people have been killed in the new flooding, 1.2 million houses have been damaged or destroyed, and 280,000 people made homeless. There were already 1 million people needing food aid and 800,000 families without permanent shelter due to last year's floods, making this year's renewed flooding particularly disruptive. According to the India Meteorological Department, by September 1, the monsoon usually begins to retreat from northwest India and southeastern Pakistan. That hasn't happened this year, and the monsoon rains are forecast to continue at least for the remainder of this week--well into the 3rd week of September. This very unusual monsoon season also started a week earlier than normal.


Figure 1. Rainfall during the 2011 monsoon season has accumulated to 8 to 12 inches above average over portions of Pakistan's Sindh Province. Image credit: Pakistan Meteorological Department. Before and after satellite images of the flood are available at NASA Earth Observatory.

Is there a climate change connection?
Last year, heavy monsoon rains were enhanced by a very unusual jet stream configuration that brought cool air and rain-bearing low pressure systems to northern Pakistan. The great floods of 2011--rightfully called Pakistan's Katrina--submerged one fifth of the country, killing 1985 people, leaving 11 million homeless, and doing a record $9.5 billion in damage. This year, the monsoon weather patterns were much different, but also highly unusual, resulting in yet another great flood in Pakistan. In an interview with dawn.com, Dr. Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, Pakistan's Federal Advisor on Climate Affairs, stated: "...climate change has become a reality for Pakistan. Clearly, Pakistan is heading for an increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events which included frequent floods and droughts, and the need of the hour is to plan for the future changes." These events are in line with international climate change projections, he said.


Figure 2. Evacuations in Pakistan's Sindh Province during the summer 2011 floods. Image credit: Pakistan Meteorological Department.

A skeptic of Dr. Qamar's arguments might point to the fact that monsoon rainfall in neighboring India was not all that unusual in either 2010 or 2011, and that major monsoon flooding disasters in back-to-back years in Pakistan were probably just bad luck. However, the monsoon in India and Pakistan has undeniably changed in recent decades. In a study published in Science in 2006, Goswami et al. found that the level of heavy rainfall activity in the monsoon over India had more than doubled in the 50 years since the 1950s, leading to an increased disaster potential from heavy flooding. Moderate and weak rain events decreased over the past 50 years, leaving the total amount of rain deposited by the monsoon roughly constant. The authors commented, "These findings are in tune with model projections and some observations that indicate an increase in heavy rain events and a decrease in weak events under global warming scenarios." A warming climate loads the dice in favor of heavier extreme precipitation events. This occurs because more water vapor can evaporate into a warmer atmosphere, increasing the chances of record heavy downpours. In addition, heavy downpours preferentially occur during thunderstorms, and a warmer climate produces a longer period of time during the year when thunderstorms can occur, giving more opportunities for heavy rainfall events. During August 2011, ocean temperatures in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Pakistan, in the region between 15°N - 25°N, 60°E - 70°E, were 0.8°C (1.4°F) above average, according to an analysis I did of the HADSST2 dataset. This was the 5th highest such value in over 100 years of record keeping. During the July 2010 monsoon, this region of ocean was 1.1°C (2.0°F) above average, the warmest July ocean temperatures on record. The extra heat in the ocean the past two summers have undoubtedly contributed to the high rainfall totals in Pakistan by allowing more water vapor to evaporate into the air. Thus, we should expect to see an increased number of disastrous monsoon floods in coming decades as the climate continues to warm and the oceans off the coasts of India and Pakistan heat up. Since the population continues to increase at a rapid rate in the region, death tolls from monsoon flooding disasters are likely to climb dramatically in coming decades. Another concern is that climate change might lead to more failures of the monsoon--years when the rains are far below normal, leading to widespread drought and crop failures. This is a more dangerous scenario, since historically, droughts have been much more deadly than floods in Asia. Failure of the monsoon rains typically occur during El Niño years, so if climate change increases the frequency of El Niño, we might see an increase in the failure of the monsoon rains. So far, climate models are unclear on how climate change might affect El Niño, so we don't know how great a concern future failures of the monsoon might be.

References
Goswami, et al., 2006, " Increasing Trend of Extreme Rain Events Over India in a Warming Environment", Science, 1 December 2006:Vol. 314. no. 5804, pp. 1442 - 1445 DOI: 10.1126/science.1132027

Tropical Storm Maria headed towards a brush with Bermuda
Tropical Storm Maria is finally pulling away from Puerto Rico, and is headed north-northwest towards a brush with Bermuda, which will occur Thursday morning. Wind shear has fallen about 5 knots since yesterday, and is now a moderate 10 - 15 knots. This reduction in shear has allowed Maria a strengthen some, and satellite loops show the storm has more heavy thunderstorms that are better organized. The storm's surface circulation is still exposed on the storm's west side, though, and Maria does not have anything close to a complete eyewall built. Maria passed near NOAA buoy 41046 this morning, which reported a 1-hour period of sustained winds of 38 mph, gusting to 45 mph. An outer spiral band of Maria is just beginning to appear on Bermuda radar.


Figure 3. Morning satellite image of Tropical Storm Maria.

Forecast for Maria
A trough of low pressure moving off the U.S. East Coast a predicted to turn Maria to the north-northeast by early Thursday, and accelerate the storm past Bermuda. The trough will also bring high wind shear of 20 - 30 knots beginning late tonight, which gives Maria just a short window of opportunity to intensify today. NHC gave Maria a 32% chance of reaching hurricane strength by Thursday in their 5 am EDT wind probability forecast. Intensification will be hampered by the fact that Maria will be passing over the cold water wake left by Hurricane Katia today. On Thursday morning, Maria will be making its closest approach to Bermuda. Bermuda will see an 8-hour period of sustained winds in the 25 - 35 mph range, accompanied by heavy rain squalls, beginning near 4 am local time on Thursday. Bermuda may experience a few hours where the wind rises above tropical storm force, 39 mph, near 8 am local time Thursday. Occasional rain squalls are expected to bring 1 - 3 inches of rain to the islands. Most of the models show that Maria will brush or strike Newfoundland, Canada on Friday afternoon. Most of the storm's high winds will be on the right side, and Maria will be weakening rapidly then, so I'm not expecting the storm will do much wind damage. Heavy rains could bring minor to moderate flooding to the eastern portion of the island.

Elsewhere in the tropics
Even the busiest of hurricane seasons have lulls, and we're hitting one this week during what is traditionally the busiest week of hurricane season. The models are backing off this morning on the development of a tropical depression or strong tropical disturbance late this week off the coast of Africa. The NOGAPS model continues to predict the Western Caribbean could see the development of a tropical depression 6 -7 days from now, but the other models are showing little support for this idea.

The Climate Reality Project
Those of you who like Al Gore's efforts to promote climate change awareness and solutions may be interested in checking out his latest effort tonight at 7 pm local time, in all 24 of the world's time zones, via climaterealityproject.org. It's a live streaming multimedia presentation created by Al Gore and delivered once per hour by 24 different presenters for 24 hours, representing every time zone around the globe.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Uhhhh...I don't think so. (:


Big thick slices of chocolate cake to everyone for not responding.
We can share :P
LOL
Good Night Maria...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting jpsb:
Curious, did the snow from last winter melt yet? My reading on recent weather patterns is that we are in for another cold wet winter. And yes it is still hot hot hot in Texas and sadly no rain in sight.


Have you looked at the radar or the forecast for N to NW Texas? Rain is definitely in sight.
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Quoting druseljic:
Isn't the CONUS area expected to have increased activity nest week MJO?


That's the thinking, yes.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34164
Quoting aislinnpaps:


Hands back the chocolate cake. I forgot the cold front is coming down. I had thought they didn't expect it to get that cold after all. 40% chance of rain is great!



Ignore those who need to be ignored and you get chocolate cake. Passing you yours.


He doesn't get cake.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34164
Isn't the Gulf area expected to have increased activity nest week MJO?

Edited.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


No! My Chocolate Cake!

Wow..



Hands back the chocolate cake. I forgot the cold front is coming down. I had thought they didn't expect it to get that cold after all. 40% chance of rain is great!

Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

...did you say chocolate?! Cake please!
:)


Ignore those who need to be ignored and you get chocolate cake. Passing you yours.
Member Since: August 22, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 3170
Quoting Levi32:


What?

levi would you consider june 2011 to now neutral or weak la nina? also what enso pattern has had more landfalls on the US? la nina or neutral? thanks!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

...did you say chocolate?! Cake please!
:)


Uhhhh...I don't think so. (:

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34164
574. jpsb
Quoting MrMixon:
While the tropics are snoozing, the Colorado mountains are about to (maybe) get our first real snow of the season...\
Curious, did the snow from last winter melt yet? My reading on recent weather patterns is that we are in for another cold wet winter. And yes it is still hot hot hot in Texas and sadly no rain in sight.
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Quoting hypercaneDOOMyGLOOM:
Announcement: The hurricane season is over. Have a good day!;)


I thought this guy was banned?
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Quoting aislinnpaps:
Big thick slices of chocolate cake to everyone for not responding.

Maybe some of that rain will come my way!

...did you say chocolate?! Cake please!
:)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CybrTeddy:
New pass in, highest flight level winds on Maria.

73 knots
(~ 83.9 mph)

Good full page of 60-65 kt flight level winds.

IMO, Maria could be up to 65 mph


or 70 mph.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34164
Quoting aislinnpaps:


You're about to lose your chocolate cake, TA13! Put that energy into finding rain for Texas instead.


No! My Chocolate Cake!

Wow..

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34164
Quoting CybrTeddy:
New pass in, highest flight level winds on Maria.

73 knots
(~ 83.9 mph)

Good full page of 60-65 kt flight level winds.

IMO, Maria could be up to 65.


And heading towards Bermuda, isn't she?
Member Since: August 22, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 3170
New pass in, highest flight level winds on Maria.

73 knots
(~ 83.9 mph)

Good full page of 60-65 kt flight level winds.

IMO, Maria could be up to 65 mph
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


:O

Oh boy..


You're about to lose your chocolate cake, TA13! Put that energy into finding rain for Texas instead.
Member Since: August 22, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 3170
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Quoting thisishsyterical:
well should i have said texans instead of mexicans its the same thing


:O

Oh boy..
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34164
559. jpsb
Quoting JNCali:

I see your Limbaugh and raise you a Hannity...
Why is it liberals always resort to name calling? Name calling does absolutely nothing to further your argument, in fact it does the opposite. We were having a very good informative debate.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
HA!

Product: Air Force Vortex Message (URNT12 KNHC)
Transmitted: 14th day of the month at 22:16Z
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 305)
Storm Number & Year: 14L in 2011
Storm Name: Maria (flight in the North Atlantic basin)
Mission Number: 7
Observation Number: 08
A. Time of Center Fix: 14th day of the month at 21:17:30Z
B. Center Fix Coordinates: 26°27'N 69°09'W (26.45N 69.15W) (View map)
B. Center Fix Location: 482 miles (776 km) to the SSW (213°) from Hamilton, Bermuda (GBR).
C. Minimum Height at Standard Level: 1,440m (4,724ft) at 850mb
D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 24kts (~ 27.6mph)
E. Location of the Estimated Maximum Surface Wind: 42 nautical miles (48 statute miles) to the WNW (303°) of center fix
F. Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: From 83° at 25kts (From the E at ~ 28.8mph)
G. Location of Maximum Flight Level Wind Inbound: 45 nautical miles (52 statute miles) to the NW (306°) of center fix
H. Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 1001mb (29.56 inHg)
I. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Outside Eye: 17°C (63°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,674m (5,492ft)
J. Maximum Flight Level Temp & Pressure Altitude Inside Eye: 20°C (68°F) at a pressure alt. of 1,678m (5,505ft)
K. Dewpoint Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): 10°C (50°F)
K. Sea Surface Temp (collected at same location as temp inside eye): Not Available
L. Eye Character: Not Available
M. Eye Shape: Not Available
N. Fix Determined By: Penetration, Radar, Wind, Pressure and Temperature
N. Fix Level: 850mb
O. Navigation Fix Accuracy: 0.02 nautical miles
O. Meteorological Accuracy: 2 nautical miles
Remarks Section:
Maximum Wind Outbound: 67kts (~ 77.1mph) in the southeast quadrant at 21:49:00Z
Maximum Flight Level Wind: 67kts (~ 77.1mph) in the southeast quadrant at 21:49:00Z
Displacement of Sfc. Center From Flt. Lvl. Center: Surface center is 8 nautical miles to the SSE (160°) from the flight level center
Maximum Flight Level Temp: 20°C (68°F) which was observed 10 nautical miles (12 statute miles) to the WSW (255°) from the flight level center

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34164
Big thick slices of chocolate cake to everyone for not responding.

Maybe some of that rain will come my way!
Member Since: August 22, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 3170
554. Reported. You'll be gone within the next 20 minutes hopefully.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


lol.

Well, it's something XD
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Not sure how recent this is, but here:

lol


lol.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34164
Quoting TxKeef:
We are getting rain in texas! woohooo!



That is all.


Nothing here in Kemah. Lot's of snakes around drying ponds and dead birds though. Even read from the Houston Chronicle how ranchers are releasing their donkeys and horses because they can't afford to keep them anymore and there are no buyers.

It ain't just the grass that's dying.
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Quoting basti11:



WHAT BRAIN LOL


One might ask the same question to you Basti...

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Where's recon?

Not sure how recent this is, but here:

lol
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Quoting Levi32:


What?


My brain just imploded after reading that.
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Its not even worth it...
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34164
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

lol Big difference.


Gotta hand it to TropicalAnalystwx13 - persistent in turning this season into something more remarkable than what it has been up to this point. Almost had me convinced last night.
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Where's recon?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34164
Quoting TxKeef:
We are getting rain in texas! woohooo!



That is all.


Awesome!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
We are getting rain in texas! woohooo!



That is all.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
536. jpsb
Quoting Birthmark:

Nope. Unless one wants to believe that all those fossil fuels would dig themselves up, set themselves on fire, and spew GHG's into Earth's atmosphere. And if one wants to believe that...then why discuss the topic at all since no amount of science can dissuade one from a belief in magic?


1971 – S. H. Schneider et al.
It is found that, although the addition of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does increase the surface temperature, the rate of temperature increase diminishes with increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. For aerosols, however, the net effect of increase in density is to reduce the surface temperature of Earth…………………….If sustained over a period of several years, such a temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age.


http://www.sciencemag.org/content/173/3992/138.ab stract
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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