Extreme Jet Stream Pattern Triggers Historic European Floods

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:48 PM GMT on June 09, 2013

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A historic multi-billion dollar flood disaster has killed at least eighteen people in Central Europe after record flooding unprecedented since the Middle Ages hit major rivers in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Slovakia over the past two weeks. The Danube River in Passau, Germany hit the highest level since 1501, and the Saale River in Halle, Germany was the highest in its 400-year period of record. Numerous cities recorded their highest flood waters in more than a century, although in some locations the great flood of 2002 was higher. The Danube is expected to crest in Hungary's capital city of Budapest on June 10 at the highest flood level on record, 35 cm higher than the record set in 2006. The flooding was caused by torrential rains that fell on already wet soils. In a 2-day period from May 30 - June 1, portions of Austria received the amount of rain that normally falls in two-and-half months: 150 to 200 mm (5.9 to 7.9"), with isolated regions experiencing 250 mm (9.8"). This two-day rain event had a greater than 1-in-100 year recurrence interval, according to the Austrian Meteorological Agency, ZAMG. Prior to the late May rains, Austria had its seventh wettest spring in 150 years, which had resulted in the ground in the region becoming saturated, leading to greater runoff when the rains began.


Figure 1. Aerial view of the flooded Danube River in Deggendorf, Germany on Friday, June 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Armin Wegel)


Figure 2. The Danube River in Grein, Austria was barely kept in check by a floodwall built by IBS Engineering. Image credit: IBS Engineering.

Floods caused by a blocking high pressure system
The primary cause of the torrential rains over Central Europe during late May and early June was large loop in the jet stream that developed over Europe and got stuck in place. A "blocking high" set up over Northern Europe, forcing two low pressure systems, "Frederik" and "Günther", to avoid Northern Europe and instead track over Central Europe. The extreme kink in the jet stream ushered in a strong southerly flow of moisture-laden air from the Mediterranean Sea over Central Europe, which met up with colder air flowing from the north due to the stuck jet stream pattern, allowing "Frederik" and "Günther" to dump 1-in-100 year rains. The stuck jet stream pattern also caused record May heat in northern Finland and surrounding regions of Russia and Sweden, where temperatures averaged an astonishing 12°C (21°F) above average for a week at the end of May. All-time May heat records--as high as 87°F--were set at stations north of the Arctic Circle in Finland.


Figure 3. Nine-day rainfall amounts in portions of Southern Germany and Western Austria exceeded 12" (305 mm.) Image credit: ZAMG.

If it seems like getting two 1-in-100 to 1-in-500 year floods in eleven years is a bit suspicious--well, it is. Those recurrence intervals are based on weather statistics from Earth's former climate. We are now in a new climate regime with more heat and moisture in the atmosphere, combined with altered jet stream patterns, which makes major flooding disasters more likely in certain parts of the world, like Central Europe. As I discussed in a March 2013 post, "Are atmospheric flow patterns favorable for summer extreme weather increasing?", research published this year by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in German found that extreme summertime jet stream patterns had become twice as common during 2001 - 2012 compared to the previous 22 years. One of these extreme patterns occurred in August 2002, during Central Europe's last 1-in-100 to 1-in-500 year flood. When the jet stream goes into one of these extreme configurations, it freezes in its tracks for weeks, resulting in an extended period of extreme heat or flooding, depending upon where the high-amplitude part of the jet stream lies. The scientists found that because human-caused global warming is causing the Arctic to heat up more than twice as rapidly as the rest of the planet, a unique resonance pattern capable of causing this behavior was resulting. According to German climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf, "Planetary wave [jet stream] amplitudes have been very high in the last few weeks; we think this plays a role in the current German flooding event." More rains are in store for the flood area through Monday, then the blocking pattern responsible for the great 2013 Central European flood is expected to disintegrate, resulting in a return to more typical June weather for the next two weeks.


Figure 4. The northward wind speed (negative values, blue on the map, indicate southward flow) at an altitude of 300 mb in the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere during July 1980, July 2011, and the last twelve days of May 2013. July of 2011 featured an unusually intense and long-lasting heat wave in the U.S. (the 4th warmest month in U.S. history), and the normally weak and irregular waves (like observed during the relatively normal July of 1980) were replaced by a strong and regular wave pattern. Late May 2013 was also very extreme, resulting the great Central European floods of 2013. Image credit: Vladimir Petoukhov and Stefan Rahmstorf.

Links
Stefan Rahmstorf's blog (translated from German) on the unusual jet stream patterns that caused the Central European floods of 2013.

NASA has high-resolution MODIS satellite images showing the flooding of the Elbe River in Germany.

My April 2013 post, "Unusually cold spring in Europe and the Southeast U.S. due to the Arctic Oscillation", has a good summary of recent unusual jet stream patterns and the science behind them.


Video 1. Climate, Ice, and Weather Whiplash: In this June 3, 2013 video by the Yale Climate Forum's Peter Sinclair, Rutgers' Jennifer Francis and Weather Underground's Jeff Masters explore the 'Why?' of two years of mirror images of weather across North America.

I'm in Granby, Colorado this week for the American Geophysical Union's Chapman Conference on Climate Change Communication. Many of the talks will be webcast live; you can see a list of the talks (times in MDT) here. My talk, "The Weather Underground Experience," is scheduled for Monday at 4:30 pm MDT. I'll give a 15-minute overview of the history of wunderground, and what I've learned about communicating weather and climate change information along the way. There is live tweeting going on from the conference, #climatechapman. My blog updates this week may be somewhat random as a result of the conference, but I'm not seeing anything in the tropics worthy of discussion at this point.

Jeff Masters

June 9, 2013. Flood (Danube)
Budapest 2013/06/09 06:35 CEST. Flood. The ninth day
June 9, 2013.  Flood
"Welcome on board?" (barbamz)
Certainly no embarkments today ...

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Quoting notanotherwrong:
yeah osteen is next to deltona
i have an osteen mango tree... don't know that name came from a locality...
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Andrea...not a drop in Pensacola. Today, however...4.5" and counting.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
"Based on a lot of shear and african dust" it's hard to predict the two days even weeks out in advance can't imagine months.


Yes... Because if you could the powerhouse mets would be a heck of lot more accurate as to the long term outlook.
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Volcano Eruption in Russia [Asia] on Sunday, 09 June, 2013 at 16:52 (04:52 PM) UTC.

Description
The Kamchatkan volcano Shiveluch has thrice emitted columns of hot volcanic ash and gas. The tallest plume reached nine kilometers above the sea level, the Kamchatkan branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Geophysical Service reported on Sunday. A code orange alert was issued for the volcano. "Volcano seismicity is excessive, with rocks tumbling down its slopes," the report said. In turn, the Kamchatkan territorial department of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said Shiveluch did not jeopardize residential areas and there had been no ash-fall. Rescuers do not recommend visiting the erupting volcano, because ash may cause allergy in people and clog automobile systems. Shiveluch is the northernmost active volcano of Kamchatka; it is situated 45 kilometers away from the Klyuchi town in the Ust-Kamchatsk district with the population of about 5,000. It is also one of the largest volcanoes in Kamchatka. Activity of Shiveluch intensified in May 2009, and a crack of about 30 meters deep went through its dome.


http://hisz.rsoe.hu/alertmap/site/?pageid=event_d esc&edis_id=VE-20130609-39530-RUS
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The GFS's culprit...

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I grew up near osteen, never thought I would see that town on this site. Use to run to skips boots an back. from Courtland and doyle
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Not really. It's moving too fast and should be plagued with high wind shear.


Edit: If it were able to slow down and brew in the Bahamas or into the Gulf, it might be able to turn into something. I think speed is its main problem now.
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Quoting notanotherwrong:
we just had a t storm here in osteen florida that lasted almost 2 hours 48mph winds and almost 3.25 inches of rain.... made andrea look like a drizzle and hair dryer but we get these t storms almost everyday
Osteen? That's a mango variety...
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Quoting Dakster:


Why confuse the issue with facts?
"Based on a lot of shear and african dust" it's hard to predict the two days even weeks out in advance can't imagine months.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Does this sound like a normal blogger to you?..someone is obviously trolling when they make a post that is beyond ridiculous and can't back it up with facts.


I'm aware of who he is, but if he wants to actually partake in the discussion with his forecasts instead of just screaming "FLORIDA SAFE AS USUAL" he should now try to at least attempt to back up his forecasts.
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Quoting kingcane:

Live in south Florida, does any one thing this wave has a shout of building convection? As a nice LLC, we have had so much rain here near west palm beach,


Not really. It's moving too fast and should be plagued with high wind shear.
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Quoting notanotherwrong:
thats insane are you guys all ok in tampa?


We are ok, thank God this wasn't worse for us. Yes, we need to do repairs on the roof and the tomato plants suffered the punch of the wind but we saved them.
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19.50 Clock: corpse discovered in the river Elbe near Pirna


In the Elbe near Pirna, a body has been found. If it were likely to a 74-year-old resident of a nursing home situated in the vicinity, tells the Saxon Ministry of the Interior. The body was discovered on Saturday afternoon near a ferry terminal. Whether the person had drowned in the water, would yet been determined. "Currently, there is no evidence of violence," said the Saxon Minister Mark Ulbig (CDU). The 74-year-old was said to be suffering from dementia and have previously indicated that they want to help in flood.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Does this sound like a normal blogger to you?..someone is obviously trolling when they make a post that is beyond ridiculous and can't back it up with facts.


Why confuse the issue with facts?
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Quoting notanotherwrong:
my 2013 forcast..... 13 named storms 4 huricanes 2 major huricanes and 1 landfall between mexico and new jersey...... i base this on alot of shear in the atlantic this year and a lot of african dust and strong atlantic high pressure which will aid in recurving most of the storms out to sea
Quoting CybrTeddy:
#157,

.. er, shear isn't above average though. You're forgetting that shear is always high in June and in spite of that Andrea still managed to make a run for hurricane status.

Tropical Atlantic (MDR) shear:


Caribbean shear:


East coast shear:


GOMEX shear:
Does this sound like a normal blogger to you?..someone is obviously trolling when they make a post that is beyond ridiculous and can't back it up with facts.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Ex-92L is still hanging in there, but it has the back-burners on full blast. It must be moving around 25mph.


Live in south Florida, does any one thing this wave has a shot of building convection? As a nice LLC, we have had so much rain here near west palm beach,
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Quoting MississippiWx:


I'm more impressed with how instability has rebounded this year. 2012 never had a day with above average instability in the Atlantic and was way below average most of the year. It had been below average most of this year, but as we get further into hurricane season, it seems to be recovering even further and staying at least average.

Caribbean:



Atlantic:


Agreed.
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 14 Comments: 8699
#157,

.. er, shear isn't above average though. You're forgetting that shear is always high in June and in spite of that Andrea still managed to make a run for hurricane status.

Tropical Atlantic (MDR) shear:


Caribbean shear:


East coast shear:


GOMEX shear:
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Quoting notanotherwrong:
my 2013 forcast..... 13 named storms 4 huricanes 2 major huricanes and 1 landfall between mexico and new jersey...... i base this on alot of shear in the atlantic this year and a lot of african dust and strong atlantic high pressure which will aid in recurving most of the storms out to sea


Can you narrow down the landfall a little more than the entire exposed eastern side of the North American Continent?
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164. MPI88
Quoting Patrap:


Hurricane Isaac (2012)

Er, Isaac

Hurricane Isaac was a slow-moving tropical cyclone that caused severe damage in the Caribbean and along the northern Gulf Coast of the United States in late-August 2012.


Isaac was one weird and memorable storm. It really put the New Orleans barrier system to the test.

Without the Post Katrina barrier system Isaac probably would have flooded major parts of New Orleans.

Hurricane Sandy remains the "big one of 2012" it was a freak storm after all.

Still wondering what this year will bring, another major event and FEMA's bank-account is definitely toast.
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German dam breaks near Magdeburg as Hungary floods recede

A dam has broken on the flood-swollen River Elbe in eastern Germany, forcing thousands of people to leave their homes around the city of Magdeburg.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22835154
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Ex-92L is still hanging in there, but it has the back-burners on full blast. It must be moving around 25mph.

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Quoting CybrTeddy:
156. Ah yea, for whatever reason that one slipped my mind. Isaac was quite memorable too and I was surprised they didn't retire it.

It could have been a lot worse
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Hello everyone. I shared this video yesterday night and maybe some of you haven't see yet so here is again. I hope you like it.


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156. Ah yea, for whatever reason that one slipped my mind. Isaac was quite memorable too and I was surprised they didn't retire it.
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Quoting Luisport:
19.26 Clock:
RTL meteorologist Christian Häckl the one hand, encouraging other, but also some bad news: Although intended in the eastern flood areas (mainly Saxony) low go rainfall between 20 and 50 liters until the morning, but by a renewed significant rise of the Elbe is not expected . Very different the situation in Bavaria: "Hardly the flood on the Lower Danube has adopted set from the Alps out strong thunderstorms and heavy rain, in the night and morning on towards the Danube and the Bavarian forest spread," the weather expert. Although the rains are much lower than the previous week, but can occasionally because of thunderstorms and heavy rain again up to 150 liters per square meter go down!



19.09 Clock:
Also in Schnackenburgallee on the border with Saxony-Anhalt same leads as much water as never before: With 7.72 meters, the highest level in 2002 (7.51 meters) was exceeded. Lower Saxony Prime Minister Stephen Weil (SPD) wants to visit several places affected by floods tomorrow.


150 L per sq meter is about 6" of rain, easier to wrap my head around inches of rain, but even an inch more in the flooding areas is way too much.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Defiantly, 2012 was anemic at best and wouldn't be very memorable if wasn't for the monster that was Hurricane Sandy.


Hurricane Isaac (2012)

Er, Isaac

Hurricane Isaac was a slow-moving tropical cyclone that caused severe damage in the Caribbean and along the northern Gulf Coast of the United States in late-August 2012. The ninth tropical cyclone, ninth named storm, and fourth hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, Isaac developed from a tropical wave located east of the Lesser Antilles on August 21, strengthening into a tropical storm later that day. Isaac passed over Hispaniola and Cuba as a strong tropical storm, killing at least 29 people in Hispaniola, before it entered the Gulf of Mexico.

Once Isaac went into the gulf, it was forecast to become a strong Category 2 hurricane. However, the land interaction with Hispaniola disrupted the system and prevented a solid core from developing until just before landfall. Isaac reached hurricane strength the morning of August 28. The storm made its first U.S. landfall at 7:00 p.m. CDT that evening (0000 UTC), near the mouth of the Mississippi River. It made a second and final landfall at 3:00 a.m. CDT (0800 UTC) the next morning at Port Fourchon, Louisiana. Due to its large size, the hurricane produced a relatively large storm surge. At least nine fatalities have been confirmed in the United States: five in Louisiana and two each in Mississippi and Florida.


Visible satellite image during the early morning of August 29 of Isaac as it slowly moves over the northern Gulf of Mexico.
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In regards to comment 152 Teddy, you hit right at the true heart of the issue. I don't want to turn this political so I won't expound on it more; but very well and accurately stated sir.
Member Since: April 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2437
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Quoting MississippiWx:


I'm more impressed with how instability has rebounded this year. 2012 never had a day with above average instability in the Atlantic and was way below average most of the year. It had been below average most of this year, but as we get further into hurricane season, it seems to be recovering even further and staying at least average.

Caribbean:



Atlantic:



Defiantly, 2012 was anemic at best and wouldn't have been very memorable if wasn't for the monster that was Hurricane Sandy.
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Quoting Tribucanes:
While those who know what the science says see very clearly what is happening; 40-45% of the Western world does not acknowledge man driven GW is even happening. If the last fifteen years of overwhelming scientific and visual evidence hasn't been enough, it makes you wonder what it will take to convince the masses. If the jet stream is in this extreme phase now, one has to wonder what it will look like in the next twenty to fifty years. Drought and flooding could very well be at a level never seen. We are seeing dramatic changes over an amazingly short period of time. The prognosis which climate scientists have given us for the next 100 years would seem to me to be very very much on the too conservative side. Not their fault, they had to be very conservative in their estimations; the masses are already so incredulous.


50% of the western world would argue with the theory of gravity if it went up against political and corporate agendas.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Another, if needed, further indicator of an active CV season is the cool anomalies Gulf of Guinea:


Compare this with 2012, which had a dead CV year.


This year is going to be a lot more "meaty" that last season and I expect numerous powerful CV hurricanes to develop as soon as late-July, based on how extraordinarily vigorous these waves are already becoming (92L being the most vigorous tropical wave I've ever seen in June and indeed may have been a brief tropical depression).


I'm more impressed with how instability has rebounded this year. 2012 never had a day with above average instability in the Atlantic and was way below average most of the year. It had been below average most of this year, but as we get further into hurricane season, it seems to be recovering even further and staying at least average.

Caribbean:



Atlantic:

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Nice boomers in Houston today. Gotten about 0.25 inches at my house. The lawn is loving it.
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Bratislava missed a horrible flood by a few cm, I was there and my Botel closed just as I arrived. If this rain had lasted one more day it would have swamped a large historic quarter. They say they were prepared for a 1000 year flood (previous climate!). Now in Budapest, and half the city is lining the embankments, passers-by were helping with the sandbagging. Lovely day though!
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Levi has some interesting tweets about the GFS development in Western Caribbean.

Link
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Another, if needed, further indicator of an active CV season is the cool anomalies Gulf of Guinea:


Compare this with 2012, which had a dead CV year.


This year is going to be a lot more "meaty" than last season and I expect numerous powerful CV hurricanes to develop as soon as late-July, based on how extraordinarily vigorous these waves are already becoming (92L being the most vigorous tropical wave I've ever seen in June and indeed may have been a brief tropical depression).
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While those who know what the science says see very clearly what is happening; 40-45% of the Western world does not acknowledge man driven GW is even happening. If the last fifteen years of overwhelming scientific and visual evidence hasn't been enough, it makes you wonder what it will take to convince the masses. If the jet stream is in this extreme phase now, one has to wonder what it will look like in the next twenty to fifty years. Drought and flooding could very well be at a level never seen. We are seeing dramatic changes over an amazingly short period of time. The prognosis which climate scientists have given us for the next 100 years would seem to me to be very very much on the too conservative side. Not their fault, they had to be very conservative in their estimations; the masses are already so incredulous.
Member Since: April 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2437

Gusty t-storms will be moving through St. Louis, MO during the next 30 minutes



Trees blown down near Gainesboro, TN from strong t-storm; power outages in the area
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If you wanna live in paradise you gotta pay the price..for insurance and storms..You all haven't figured it out have you?..they are trying to make Florida into a vacation/resort state more than it already is..It's what they're doing here in D.C as well...
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The QBO is westerly this year and should remain westerly, prompting higher amounts of CV activity and activity in the MDR, and many of these storms should end up going more west than normal based on the pressure setup.
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Latest Southern Oscillation Index values

SOI values for 09 Jun 2013

Average for last 30 days 13.0
Average for last 90 days 5.3
Daily contribution to SOI calculation -6.3
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 14 Comments: 8699
Quoting taistelutipu:


Yes, you're absolutely right about that. The thawing of the permafrost soil is a major problem for the maintainance of any infrastructure in the North. A large proportion of the permafrost soil is basically peatbog which will become unstable when it thaws. Houses, railways and roads would start to sink gradually into the soil, causing cracks in the structures. I don't know any estimated costs for that, not sure if anyone ever tried to calculate that.

Besides the infrastructure, the issue of carbon dioxide and methane release from the thawing bogs will further increase greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which in turn further exacerbates the melting of ice in the arctic and the crazy jet stream patterns we've seen recently. I'm really worried about the next 10-20 years up North.


I agree 100% on the infrastructure issues and the release of methane and carbon dioxide when the permafrost thaws. Two issues that I see overlooked, at least in discussing moving agriculture to Canada, are the topography and the underlying geology. Most of the area in Canada proposed for agriculture is very rough terrain with many hills and small lakes. There is a very thin layer of topsoil covering some of the world's oldest and hardest granite. for more information, maps and images, read: Wikipedia Canadian Shield.
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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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