Flash Floods Kill 3 in Colorado; Dangerous 93L Developing in Gulf of Mexico

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:06 PM GMT on September 12, 2013

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Devastating flash floods swept though numerous canyons along the Front Range of Colorado's Rocky Mountains Wednesday night and Thursday morning, washing out roads, collapsing houses, and killing at least two people. The floods were triggered by widespread torrential rains of 4 - 6" that fell in less than twelve hours, thanks to a flow of extremely moist air from the southeast that pushed up against the mountains. These sort of upslope rain events are so-named because as the air flows uphill, it expands and cools, forcing the moisture in it to fall as rain. Balloon soundings from Denver last night and this morning recorded the highest levels of September moisture on record for the station. The total precipitable water (PW), which is how much water would fall at the ground if the entire amount of water vapor through the depth of the atmosphere was condensed, was 1.33" at 12Z (8 am EDT) on September 12, and 1.31" at 00Z September 12. The previous September record was 1.23", set on September 10, 1980. Balloon soundings began in 1948. Wednesday night's rainfall was heaviest near Boulder, Colorado, where a flash flood watch continues through Thursday evening. Though rainfall amounts today are not expected to be as great as on Wednesday, the soils are saturated, and additional flash flooding will occur today as an upper-level low centered over the southern Great Basin continues to pull a moist southeasterly surface flow of air across Eastern Colorado. A map of Boulder flood zones and detailed history of previous floods in the area may be found here.


Figure 1. Flooding in Boulder, Colorado on Wednesday evening, September 11, 2013. Photo posted by brandish on Instagram @photogjake.


Figure 2. Radar-estimated rainfall for the Colorado's Front Range from the September 11 - 12 flash flood event. Rainfall amounts of 6 - 8" (dark rad colors) were indicated near Boulder (circle with a "+" symbol), and confirmed by rain gauge measurements.


Video 1. Flooding in Boulder, Colorado at 36th and Colorado Street on Wednesday night, September 11, 2013.

Dangerous 93L developing in the Gulf of Mexico
A low pressure system (Invest 93L) over the Southwestern Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche is generating heavy rains over the Yucatan Peninsula and adjacent waters as it moves west-northwest at about 5 mph. Radar loops from Mexico show that 93L has a pronounced rotation and is developing low-level spiral bands, and there is a strong possibility that the Air Force hurricane hunter plane scheduled to investigate 93L Thursday afternoon will find that a tropical depression has formed. Satellite loops show only a modest area of heavy thunderstorms, but these are steadily growing in intensity and areal coverage. The atmosphere is unusually moist, ocean temperatures are a very warm 29 - 29.5°C (84 - 85°F), and wind shear is a moderate 10 - 15 knots. These favorable conditions for development are expected to continue through Monday, according to the latest SHIPS model forecast. The computer models predict a landfall location along the Mexican coast between Veracruz and a location a few hundred miles south of the Texas/Mexico border by early next week. The storm is expected to maintain a forward speed of about 5 mph during the coming five days, and this slow motion will potentially allow 93L enough time to intensify into a hurricane before landfall. The high levels of moisture and slow motion of 93L make it a very dangerous rainfall threat, and I expect rainfall amounts of 5 - 10 inches will affect portions of the Mexican coast between Veracruz and Brownsville, Texas over the next five days. An added danger is the presence of tropical disturbance 90E in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, on the other side of Mexico. If 93L intensifies sufficiently, it could draw in the moisture from 90E across Southern Mexico, resulting in torrential rains on both the Pacific and Atlantic sides of Southern Mexico. In their 8 am EDT Thursday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 2-day odds of development of 60% and 5-day odds of 80%.


Figure 3. Latest satellite image of Tropical Depression Ten.

Humberto peaks in intensity
Hurricane Humberto is headed northwards over the far Eastern Atlantic, and has likely peaked in strength, with 85 mph winds. Humberto is listed in NHC's preliminary Best-Track data repository as having achieved hurricane strength at 8 am EDT on September 11, which would tie it with Hurricane Gustav of 2002 for latest appearance of the season's first hurricane since 1941. Satellite loops show that Humberto is well-organized hurricane with a distinct eye, but the storm has moved over waters cooler than 26°C, and wind shear has risen to 20 knots, which will likely cause weakening over the next few days. Humberto is not expected to be a threat to any land areas.

Gabrielle heads towards Canada
Tropical Storm Gabrielle is headed northwards to Canada after bringing 40 mph winds and just over an inch of rain to Bermuda on Tuesday night. Satellite loops show that wind shear has ripped up Gabrielle, leaving the storm with almost no heavy thunderstorms, and exposing the low level circulation to view. Wind shear is expected to rise to an extremely high 45 - 70 knots on Friday as Gabrielle encounters a trough of low pressure, which will likely destroy the storm. Gabrielle's remnants will likely bring heavy rain to the Canadian Maritime Provinces on Friday and Saturday.

Jeff Masters

After the Rain (mtnwoman67)
Lots of rain in Colorado for weeks. Last evening's setting sun gave us a great show east of us.
After the Rain

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Quoting 470. CaribBoy:


And TD 11 east of the Lesser Antilles too?


Any rain yet, CaribBoy?

What island are you on?
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Quoting 483. FL1980:


Yeah and MSNBC, CBS, ABC, CNN and NBC don't do the same?? Give me a break!


Lol people make this argument all the time. Yes all of the media deceives you but none are more blatantly apparent and agenda driven than Fox. Not to mention Fox is the worst when it comes to climate change.
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3323
497. beell
Overall, even if all of Texas were to get a good douche of rain from 93L we would still be in some form of long-term climatological drought.



But we have seen worse...

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Quoting 491. CybrTeddy:
No renumber on 93L.. yet. We'll probably have it within an hour though.


Yup, still very early
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Yup, the rain here in Boulder continues to get progressively worse as another set of heavy rains approach our town. The flooding here is absolutely insane and the relentless rain doesn't seem to help. CU Boulder is continuously sending out alerts to us students. An hour ago, a wall of water was reported to be travelling down Boulder Creek. I'm slightly worried as my residence is close to the swollen Boulder Creek. It also doesn't help that I live in the basement...
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Man I can't understand why the dry air is still an issue for EX98L ... ON SEPTEMBER 12!!!
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No renumber on 93L.. yet. We'll probably have it within an hour though.
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Quoting 483. FL1980:


Yeah and MSNBC, CBS, ABC, CNN and NBC don't do the same?? Give me a break!


Well said they all have an agenda whether its democratic or republican networks. It's funny Nea plussed the post.
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Quoting 482. sar2401:

That brings up a pet peeve of mine. The term "denialist" wasn't invented by AGW proponents. It was first applied to people and groups the denied the holocaust ever happened. Many of those in the AGW camp are very clever when it comes to the use of words and how they can influence public perception. Linking those that disagree with, or even have doubts, about AGW with Nazis is a very powerful use of the term. I don't have a problem with anti-AGW, doubters, or disbelievers. I do have a problem with denialists.

The AGW alert system should now be going off, letting the AGW propaganda team a "denialist" post has been made, so expect a snarky answer within the next 15 minutes.


Do what I do, I identify them and then I put them on my Ignore list. Maybe we could start a AWG denialist blog in here. United we'll win.
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Quoting 470. CaribBoy:


And TD 11 east of the Lesser Antilles too?

Doubt it. That storm (ex-98L) is in a less favorable environment and is moving into more shear over the coming days. It may develop but not for a while. 93L yes, ex-98L no.
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Quoting 484. xcool:
ding I was rite
you were.
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Quoting 473. SLU:
Now up to 0.726. Warmest in a long, long time.





The Gulf of Mexico's sea surface temperature lagged behind the climotological norm until just recently, now it's warmer by almost a degree and unless the temperature change gradient is steeper on the way down than the way up, it'll be warmer for a while longer.

EDIT: Actually, so did the Caribbean, East Coast and Sub-Tropical Atlantic...

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Quoting 474. StormWx:


Wow you are good! Can you predict the weather for tomorrow for me? Exact temperature and rain amount too? Awesome!


Yeah 92 for a high and a 100% chance of Trolls.
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484. xcool
ding I was rite
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Quoting 462. Xulonn:


Yeah and MSNBC, CBS, ABC, CNN and NBC don't do the same?? Give me a break!
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Mr Mixon...sorry to hear of the loss of life with the CO flooding. Thanks for making us aware of the situation there. I am sure residents there aren't experiencing that as a minor event. In my prayers...
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BEGIN
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Quoting 471. CaneHunter031472:


No it's going to get absorbed by a Gamma ray fronta system approacing from the North.


HA HA HA XD
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Second day in a row of really intense weather in Albany. Lightning was firing off like popcorn.
It is bizarre for mid September.
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Earlier the "hurricane expert" on TWC was showing how South Texas (Corpus to Brownsville) could get some decent rain from 93L.
But the majority of the rain is expected to stay south of the boarder.
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BEGIN
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AL, 09, 2013091218, , BEST, 0, 225N, 291W, 75, 982, HU, 50, NEQ, 60, 60, 40, 60, 1011, 400, 20, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, HUMBERTO, D,
AL, 09, 2013091218, , BEST, 0, 225N, 291W, 75, 982, HU, 64, NEQ, 30, 30, 20, 30, 1011, 400, 20, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, HUMBERTO, D,
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Quoting 356. WalkingInTheSun:
Wow, there has been so much windshear squashing storms right & left, "out of the blue" this year that it could almost make someone believe in a Supreme Being of some kind!
I wonder if CaribBoy has gotten any rain yet.  Well, anyway, shear is cropping up again even in front of 93L, like on the storm before it.



No rain... unfortunately
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Quoting StormTrackerScott:


GFS is showing a very active Gulf and SW Atlantic over the coming weeks. This means flooding rains for Florida.




Wow you are good! Can you predict the weather for tomorrow for me? Exact temperature and rain amount too? Awesome!
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473. SLU
Now up to +0.726. Warmest in a long, long time.

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Quoting 465. CaribBoy:


Wow is it going west?


No it's going to get absorbed by a Gamma ray fronta system approacing from the North.
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Quoting 361. TropicalAnalystwx13:
We should have TD 10 at 5 pm AST.


And TD 11 east of the Lesser Antilles too?
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Joe Bastardi ‏
ECMWF taking Ingrid (to be) to near La Pesca, about 120 s mouth of Rio Grande. looks pretty good to me

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Quoting 439. BA:


the reason I even comment when people say this thing needs to go to Texas they need rain or this is best for Texas is because I live on the Texas coast and those types of comments are mostly from people that don't live on the Texas coast, otherwise, they would know that a little storm can ramp up to complete devastation very quickly...basically, you don't want storms coming your way this time of year if you live on the Texas coast, period...once you've gone through a few you know that...you also know that we will get the rain in other ways
No need to go from one extreme to the other. Late summer-early autumn rains in the SE US climate are in some part produced by tropical cyclones and disturbances. Without this component the chances for drought are increased. No tropical activity at all is not necessarily a good thing. OTOH, I can gladly go forth without having to weather another hurricane at this point in my life ... so I understand your concerns ... this coming from someone who lives on a Florida east coast barrier island.
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Henry Margusity
"The pattern is going toward a potential tropical attack on the U.S. The typhoon is recurving in the Pacific, and the blocking pattern is returning which means the tropics will open up and may threaten the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf Coast. Keep in mind, we are still seem to be running behind by a month in the overall pattern, so it makes sense that the end of the month should be active in regards to the tropics."
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Quoting 363. HurricaneAndre:


Thanks for the updated graphics!
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Quoting 399. CybrTeddy:
Just a little OT topic here:

Voyager 1 has left the solar system!


Wow is it going west?
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The Weather Channel ‏@weatherchannel 1 min
RT @mikebettes: #BOULDER - Jim Brautigam, the city manager for the City of Boulder has declared a disaster.

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er the last ice age ended only 10,000 years ago.

You may wanna wiki dat.

There was no mention of it in the Doc's blog today yet it rears it's ugly head. The disaster in Denver and the waking up Tropics should be the topics were talking about today but once again the GW banter has begun again. At least we made it through the first half of the day without it. I've figured out there is no point in arguing, both sides have their argument and it just depends on which side you're on but I'm done. Neither side is ever going to win and I doubt too many of us alive today will ever know just how much man really is responsible for GW. 700 million years ago the Earth was covered in a 1 mile thick sheat of ice so yes the Earth is warming but just how much man is causing that is arguable so we will probably never know the answer.
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Quoting 292. Tygor:


I can't believe people turn to Fox News for weather/climatology information.
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Quoting 439. BA:


the reason I even comment when people say this thing needs to go to Texas they need rain or this is best for Texas is because I live on the Texas coast and those types of comments are mostly from people that don't live on the Texas coast, otherwise, they would know that a little storm can ramp up to complete devastation very quickly...basically, you don't want storms coming your way this time of year if you live on the Texas coast, period...once you've gone through a few you know that...you also know that we will get the rain in other ways


For example a rain dance.
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Quoting 410. WalkingInTheSun:


Remember, you are talking about TX...in September.
It is not unfathomable that a Cat 1 hurr. could come up to CC, pass over, be met by a frontal system from the North, stack up T-storms & rain all over the state.


And we would love that, because the entire state is in a very severe drought. The lakes that supply water to the Austin metro, for example, are at around 33% of capacity, just above all-time record lows set in the 1950s.

Unfortunately, this thing, like all tropical storms in the last several years that have ventured into the Western Gulf, is going to slam into Mexico and die on the mountains and send almost nothing to South Texas, let alone the rest of the state.
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Humberto stays at 75kts on 18z Best Track.

AL, 09, 2013091218, , BEST, 0, 225N, 291W, 75, 982, HU
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Quoting 440. Matt74:
There was a cape verde season?


Obviously no....
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Quoting 451. 69Viking:


There was no mention of it in the Doc's blog today yet it rears it's ugly head. The disaster in Denver and the waking up Tropics should be the topics were talking about today but once again the GW banter has begun again. At least we made it through the first half of the day without it. I've figured out there is no point in arguing, both sides have their argument and it just depends on which side you're on but I'm done. Neither side is ever going to win and I doubt too many of us alive today will ever know just how much man really is responsible for GW. 700 million years ago the Earth was covered in a 1 mile thick sheat of ice so yes the Earth is warming but just how much man is causing that is arguable so we will probably never know the answer.


(Shhh, maybe a short trip in my time-machine booth will help me find out how it goes,...but if I say how it ends, I would have to prove it, nobody would believe me, and it would start another argument.)%uFFFD

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The answers are well known.

Seeking them take time.


We are all entitled to ones opine, but never ones own facts.

climate.nasa.gov/evidence
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Quoting 405. MrMixon:


Perhaps... but rain continues to fall. This might be predecessor to a larger slide. Numerous slides have been reported throughout the county. If I find a photo of a larger slide I'll post it for you, alright?




Small solace for the families of the three people who have died today and the numerous people who are still trapped in homes or vehicles.



Sorry, folks, if our disasters in Colorado aren't big enough for this blog. I thought my updates were on topic, but I'll discontinue them if I am bothering people. Check my blog for additional updates.


Mr.Mixon - please keep them coming. I've been using that great website you provided w/ their hydrologic maps, along w/ Patrap's live feed he provided. It's definitely a dangerous situation. Latest info is on failure of Meadow Dam, and maybe others.
Member Since: June 26, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 1327
Officials said an earthen dam in Big Elk Meadows has given way. A reverse notification was sent to residents in Pinewood Springs and Blue Mountain, warning them that river water levels will rise quickly and that they should be prepared to move to higher ground.

Another reverse notification sent to residents in the Big Elk Meadows area warned residents that other dams in that area, off County Road 47, were in danger of giving way due to flooding.

Source: 7news.com

Here's a map of the dams. Scanner traffic confirms the dams for all four of these reservoirs have broken:



This will be sending significant water first towards the houses shown below and then further on down the N. St. Vrain Creek to Lyons. People in Lyons should stay away from the banks of the St. Vrain Creek.

Member Since: March 26, 2006 Posts: 44 Comments: 1520
Product: Air Force High Density (HDOB) Message (URNT15 KNHC)
Transmitted: 12th day of the month at 18:29Z
Date: September 12, 2013
Aircraft: Air Force Aircraft (Last 3 digits of the tail number are 302)
Mission Purpose: Investigate fifth suspect area (flight in the North Atlantic basin)

Mission Number: 1

Observation Number: 11

18:29:00Z 25.417N 90.983W 392.7 mb
(~ 11.60 inHg) 7,719 meters
(~ 25,325 feet) - 405 meters
(~ 1,329 feet) From 92° at 16 knots
(From the E at ~ 18.4 mph) -17.5°C
(~ 0.5°F) -33.4°C
(~ -28.1°F) 17 knots
(~ 19.5 mph) 19 knots
(~ 21.8 mph) 0 mm/hr
(~ 0 in/hr) 17.9 knots (~ 20.6 mph)
111.8%
Time Coordinates Aircraft
Static Air Pressure Aircraft
Geopotential Height Extrapolated
Surface Pressure D-value Flight Level Wind (30 sec. Avg.) Air Temp. Dew Point Peak (10 sec. Avg.)
Flight Level Wind SFMR
Peak (10s Avg.) Sfc. Wind SFMR
Rain Rate Estimated Surface Wind (30 sec. Avg.)
Using Estimated Reduction Factor Peak Wind at Flight Level to
Est. Surface Reduction Factor

HDOB Observations

Independent Calculations from Tropical Atlantic

At 18:19:30Z (first observation), the observation was 261 miles (421 km) to the S (188°) from New Orleans, LA, USA.

At 18:29:00Z (last observation), the observation was 320 miles (515 km) to the S (190°) from New Orleans, LA, USA.
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Quoting 405. MrMixon:


Perhaps... but rain continues to fall. This might be predecessor to a larger slide. Numerous slides have been reported throughout the county. If I find a photo of a larger slide I'll post it for you, alright?




Small solace for the families of the three people who have died today and the numerous people who are still trapped in homes or vehicles.



Sorry, folks, if our disasters in Colorado aren't big enough for this blog. I thought my updates were on topic, but I'll discontinue them if I am bothering people. Check my blog for additional updates.


Now THAT is big enough! I was talking about the pics of the very minor creek water merely. This other photo is just fine. Hey, remember, we are in modern times, where newscasters on TV will stand next to a flooded puddle in a low corner of the street somewhere & stagger intentionally to make it look like bad weather going on. REAL weather pics like this other one are okay. :-)
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Quoting 428. Patrap:
Alarmists?

Do you you know where your blogging ?

LOL


There was no mention of it in the Doc's blog today yet it rears it's ugly head. The disaster in Denver and the waking up Tropics should be the topics were talking about today but once again the GW banter has begun again. At least we made it through the first half of the day without it. I've figured out there is no point in arguing, both sides have their argument and it just depends on which side you're on but I'm done. Neither side is ever going to win and I doubt too many of us alive today will ever know just how much man really is responsible for GW. 700 million years ago the Earth was covered in a 1 mile thick sheat of ice so yes the Earth is warming but just how much man is causing that is arguable so we will probably never know the answer.
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
449. txjac
Quoting 445. Luisport:
KDVR FOX31 Denver ‏@KDVR 3m

#Boulderflood report: Volunteer firefighter stuck in tree in Lefthand Canyon since 5AM just rescued. Serious injuries …
Link


OMG, this is so horrible. People need to get off the roads .. keep safe to any on the blog who are in Boulder
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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.