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 sunlinepr:
That's a couple of weeks old. :S
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Hey, Grothar....I am heartsick over Beell....his instinct for weather is second to none... IMHO...and his will be a great loss to this blog....always steady,kind and calm....just got over almost losing you, ya know :\ Lordy, Lordy


What's up with Beell?
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Quoting Hurlo:
Beell is gone. Accepting no mail.

Where will it end.


Hope, at least,,,,, that he comes back again with a new name and avatar....
Refreshing himself as a new blogger....
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9874
1132. Grothar
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Hey, Grothar....I am heartsick over Beell....his instinct for weather is second to none... IMHO...and his will be a great loss to this blog....always steady,kind and calm....just got over almost losing you, ya know :\ Lordy, Lordy


I know what you mean. I have always liked his posts and he always provided the some of the best forecasting skills. Other than the fact he's a nice, witty guy. I hope he reconsiders. And don't you think of going anywhere. Who will post the Intellicast images when GeoffWPB isn't here?
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
well all of his blog entrys have been removed i think he is done

been a slice friend i may not be far behind ya
gettin tried now
been here 6 years 28,000 posts later myself


Now Keeper...I don't want to even hear you say things like that !!! YOU WILL stay on this blog and that is FINAL !!!!
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
1129. Grothar
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
well all of his blog entrys have been removed i think he is done

been a slice friend i may not be far behind ya
gettin tried now
been here 6 years 28,000 posts later myself


KEEPER, come on now. You have at least 78 good posts left in you. I know it gets a little rough in here sometimes, but you have to tough it out. Look, if I can come back from the dead to this blog, you can at least provide a little comfort to your friends.
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Woke up with a toothache and see we have a new Cape invest.

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Quoting Grothar:


Beell. I hope you are not serious. I will respect your decision if that is what you want, but at least drop some of us a line. You are a good blogger and a good friend to many.


Hey, Grothar....I am heartsick over Beell....his instinct for weather is second to none... IMHO...and his will be a great loss to this blog....always steady,kind and calm....just got over almost losing you, ya know :\ Lordy, Lordy
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
1126. Grothar
Quoting nweatherlover:


LOL! Well, I'm definitely not "knocked up" and I'm pretty sure that you aren't either Grothar!!


I get my English idioms a little messed up sometimes. They are not easy you know. After years of saying "That's how the cookies crinkles" someone was nice enough to correct me.
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1125. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Beell...don't be saying things like that...I hope you're not serious ??
well all of his blog entrys have been removed i think he is done

been a slice friend i may not be far behind ya
gettin tried now
been here 6 years 28,000 posts later myself
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1123. JLPR2
Hmm, Maria kept at 65mph at 2am.
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1122. Grothar
Quoting beell:
Well, that's it for me folks. Five years is enough.

Goodbye, WU.
(good night, Neighbor Lady)


Beell. I hope you are not serious. I will respect your decision if that is what you want, but at least drop some of us a line. You are a good blogger and a good friend to many.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Hurlo:


coconuts are one of the largest seeds produced.

That allows them to drift for years and colonize distant shores

Yes. They do migrate.


It was a Monty Python reference, not a real question, but thanks for answering anyway. :-)
Member Since: October 2, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 43
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9874
Quoting Grothar:
I thought we were all knocked up. The blog was down for a long time. I'm sure it couldn't have been anything we said.


LOL! Well, I'm definitely not "knocked up" and I'm pretty sure that you aren't either Grothar!!
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1115. Grothar
Quoting Hurlo:
Most creatures find themselves on a far away island by chance.

Why would humans arrive in a different fashion?


You have asked a question that has been argued by many anthropologists over the years. We know of the migration of many animals over thousands of years and still notice the migration today of birds, eels, turtles, salmon, etc. Is is a learned behavior or instinctive behavior or a combination of both. It therefore would be reasoned that in animals it is a subconscious behavior. In the study of human migration, the question has always arisen that it may have been more of a conscious decision based upon reasoned thought and less instinctive. However, even today, people still are on the move. Always looking for a better place to live or for adventure. I am sure than on this blog alone, very few people are living where they were born. It could be many reasons, from instinct, survival to simple adventure.
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1114. JLPR2
I smell a 70mph TS at 2am.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


You ever been married?


LOL! Oh,now that was a gooder Orca!
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Quoting beell:
Well, that's it for me folks. Five years is enough.

Goodbye, WU.
(good night, Neighbor Lady)


Beell...don't be saying things like that...I hope you're not serious ??
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
Quoting Grothar:
I thought we were all knocked up. The blog was down for a long time. I'm sure it couldn't have been anything we said.



whew... I thought it was just here...
stuck at 947 comments for 40 minutes,

but now I see the comments WERE getting posted and time stamped....
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9874
1107. Grothar
I thought we were all knocked up. The blog was down for a long time. I'm sure it couldn't have been anything we said.
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Quoting Grothar:


Perhaps I should reword my question. How did they know there were land masses that far away? I am being serious.


Big volcanic explosions like Krakatoa, many years BC, showed them by the debris that there were far away islands....
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9874
1105. defdogz
Quoting beell:
Well, that's it for me folks. Five years is enough.

Goodbye, WU.
(good night, Neighbor Lady)


:-(
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1104. Grothar
Quoting WoodyFL:


It took us 500 years to get rid of the Danes and less than a century to get rid of the Swedes. LOL


Hey, Woody, the Danes weren't so bad. They messed up our language a little, but thats all. The Swedes left quietly.
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1103. JLPR2
Well now, the center being in that location gives Maria a nice shot at becoming a cane.
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http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_phoenix_metr o/central_phoenix/reports-of-'glowing-object'-flyi ng-across-arizona-sky




A view of the glowing orange light in the night sky around 7:45 p.m. Sept. 14, 2011.
Photographer: Brien McElhatten

By: Erisa Nakano
PHOENIX - There have been numerous reports across Arizona regarding an orange "glowing object" flying across the night sky.

ABC15 is working to confirm what it really was. We started getting reports of the possible meteor around 7:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Our multimedia journalist Brien McElhatten captured the attached photo in Chandler when he saw the glowing object before it started streaking across the sky.

Many of our viewers are also sounding off about it on the ABC15 Facebook page.

Sharon Roesch wrote, "It was huge and incredible- we were driving and too much in shock."

Althea Keegan wrote, "It had a green tail and burned out just as I had my camera ready to snap a picture."

The ABC15 newsroom confirmed that there have been similar reports in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.
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1101. WoodyFL
Quoting bappit:
Grothar is probably a big fan of Roald Amundsen.

"In 1903, Amundsen led the first expedition to successfully traverse Canada's Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (something explorers had been attempting since the days of Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, Jacques Cartier, and Henry Hudson), with six others in a 47-ton steel seal-hunting vessel, Gjøa."

He reached some obscure town with a telegraph in 1906 and learned that Norway had won independence from Sweden.

Amundsen received news that Norway had formally become independent of Sweden and had a new king. Amundsen sent the new King Haakon VII news that it 'was a great achievement for Norway'. He said he hoped to do more and signed it 'Your loyal subject, Roald Amundsen.'"

Of course, Amundsen could have made the trip in a single summer the way things are now.


It took us 500 years to get rid of the Danes and less than a century to get rid of the Swedes. LOL
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I thought the big Meteor sighted had landed on the WUserver....

40 minute BLOG HOLE



....now that I look at time stamps, blog was still active, but here it kept showing as stuck at 947 comments

oh well....
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1098. JLPR2
Looks like WU froze for a bit.
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Quoting twincomanche:
That's really dumb kid.


its really hard to tell if you're just pulling my leg or are just legitimately that immature and are in fact serious right now.
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1091. owntime
Quoting Patrap:


Dr Jeff Masters and I were both born in 1960.


Masters is a good friend and supporter of Portlight and I've had the pleasure of conversing with Him on a few Portlight Conference calls.

As have many others.




Thanks Pat for all that you do and many thanks for the information that you provide us along with the other posters and they know who they are.

Thanks Again,

Owntime
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1090. defdogz
Quoting GTcooliebai:
The reason I show these is that I'm a big believer in hydroelectric energy as a form of renewable energy and I think tapping into the flow of water from water falls is a great idea for powering houses to people close by and even far away from the water falls.


The first major hydroelectric plant in the world was designed by Nicola Tesla and built (by George Westinghouse) on the Niagara river just above the falls. There are still 5 hydroelectric plants operating there, supplying enough electricity to power 3.8 million homes.
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1089. beell
Well, that's it for me folks. Five years is enough.

Goodbye, WU.
(good night, Neighbor Lady)
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caneswatch:


+1000000

Couldn't have said it any better.
Agree with you 100 % for a long time I read this remarks against this gentleman, Al Gore, actually don't understand why. He have dedicated his life to a great caused, trying to improve the environment world wide. You have the choise to agree or no agree with him, that's ok. But the guy had a succesful political carreer to the point that he won the majority of the votes for president of the U.S. Great, he lost the electoral vote,and those of you probably celebrated and enjoyed the "wonderful" Bush years,, wow. Despite the horrible turn the world took after he gave up the election, Gore continue working and fighting for the causes that he believes in, nothing wrong with that!
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test
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1086. beell
Well, thats it for me folks.
Goodbye, WU.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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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