Texas floods kill 5

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:59 PM GMT on May 26, 2007

Flash flooding triggered by heavy thunderstorm rains of up to seven inches in 24 hours claimed at least five lives in Texas Friday, and large portions of the state remain under flood warnings or flood watches today, as thunderstorms continue across the state. All of those killed were swept away in their vehicles, and police were still looking for a missing man who drove around a barricade blocking a swollen creek.

Figure 1. Precipitation for the 24 hours ending at 8am EDT Saturday May 26, 2007.

Drought last year, floods this year
As I discussed in a March blog last year, grass fires in drought-parched Texas killed seven people on March 12 in the Panhandle, four of them in a car crash on I-40 caused by thick smoke obscuring visibility. More than 1,000 square miles of Texas burned that day--an area about two-thirds the size of Rhode Island. It's amazing what a turnaround has occurred in the past year. Most of Texas and Oklahoma were under drought conditions that reached the extreme level last spring (Figure 2), but this year, the Texas/Oklahoma drought is gone (Figure 3), and instead has moved into the Southeastern U.S. We don't understand very well what causes these shifts in drought patterns, but they do seem to be linked to changes in large-scale sea surface temperature patterns in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific, plus shifts in the jet stream pattern. Are the floods in Texas this year and drought last year partially due to global warming? Yes, they might be. Global warming theory predicts that both droughts and floods will grow more severe as the climate warms. Floods will increase, since a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor that can then rain out into heavier floods. Scientists have already documented about a 5% increase in global atmospheric water vapor due to global warming, and this extra moisture is undoubtedly causing heavier rains and more flooding in some regions. Drought will increase in intensity due to global warming, thanks to the hotter temperatures drought-striken areas will receive when jet stream and sea surface temperature patterns conspire to keep rainfall from the drought area.

Figure 2. Drought map for March 7, 2006.

Figure 3. Drought map for May 22, 2007.

Jeff Masters

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462. TheCaneWhisperer
7:03 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
COC has been covered for a long time now and by the looks of Satalite is under little or no shear! No surface low? I find it hard to believe!
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459. TheCaneWhisperer
6:58 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
WV shows it's reaching high FLBOY! Due Time!
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457. 0741
6:54 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
would that dry air over florida move over carribbean pull area ne or kill area sw carribbean you can see wv that dry trying move into nw carribbean on loop of wv
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453. TheCaneWhisperer
6:39 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
Sorry FlBoy! I think this thing is going to Pop tonight! Very Soon! I had my doubts but, looking very good right now! Several Hours before the maximum but, remember, you have the MJO and the ITCZ in the area now!
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452. Alec
2:41 AM EDT on May 27, 2007
confirms my suspicions...*poof*
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449. Alec
2:38 AM EDT on May 27, 2007
hmm....you sound familiar FlBoy!

good night guys...been a lurker=)
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445. TheCaneWhisperer
6:27 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
This thing in the Caribb is going to go tonight FLBoy!
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443. TheCaneWhisperer
6:18 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
Heat Seeking ULL! Seems to be on a mission to intercept the High, lol! Pure Science!
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440. TheCaneWhisperer
6:04 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
The ULL will weaken the high off the southeast US coast! If, I stress IF, the trough over the central US stays put and doesn't move, the caribbean could have a chance! If the high weakens off the southeast US coast, shear would drop big time due to the lower pressure gradient to the trough currently in the central atlantic. Timing, as always, is the key!

2 corrections for location!
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439. hurricaneman23
6:01 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
what does that mean canewhisper?
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438. TheCaneWhisperer
5:45 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
Anyone else notice the little ULL trecking towards the High in the SE? Trough stays put in the Conus, bingo!
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436. hurricaneman23
5:28 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
do we have something to watch in the tropics?
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435. TheCaneWhisperer
5:22 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
Black line is where it should be this time of year, Blue line is where it is right now!
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433. TheCaneWhisperer
5:19 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
ITCZ is up in the SW Caribb Also STL!
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430. hurricaneman23
5:12 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
im going on a cruise on june 2nd through june 9th- bahamas, grand turks, st. thomas, and san juan- anything juicy for me in the tropics
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428. TheCaneWhisperer
5:03 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
Based on the 500mb-Z Ensemble (Shows major troughs, ridges ect..)the summer switch will happen by then. It actually starts the transition end of next week! Also of note, the weakness in the ridge is still present in the C-Atlantic at the end of the run, weakening, but still there.
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427. Tazmanian
4:45 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
Posted By: TheCaneWhisperer at 4:16 AM GMT on May 27, 2007.

Big pattern changes forcast to start at the end of next week, gets interesting around June 10th!

why you say that?
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426. EmmyRose
4:45 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
Thanks Skye that's what I wanted to hear
have a great night
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425. Skyepony (Mod)
4:42 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
Emmy~ Probibly not

More MJO~ Shees is right~ Hadn't seen this much green around us in all 2006.
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424. TheCaneWhisperer
4:38 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
Sheesh Skye! MJO and ITCZ influence! HUMMM!
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423. EmmyRose
4:36 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
just tell me is that blob headed to texas?
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422. Skyepony (Mod)
4:34 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
Hello MJO
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421. TheCaneWhisperer
4:29 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
hemispheric 500 mb Z
1. to get overview of major troughs, ridges, short-waves, etc. present & their motion
2. (geostrophic) wind pattern (jet axis, direction of flow, etc.)
3. possible Positive Vorticity Advection (High Pressure), Negative Vorticity Advection (Low Pressure) locations!
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420. EmmyRose
4:32 AM GMT on May 27, 2007

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418. EmmyRose
4:29 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
LOL damn that wall - doesn't work does it?
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416. EmmyRose
4:25 AM GMT on May 27, 2007
FL what does that mean? Right wing conspiracies again??? LOL
Explain please
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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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