Texas floods kill 5

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

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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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216. ryang
6:21 PM AST on May 26, 2007
The SSD has it up as an invest
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215. IKE
5:21 PM CDT on May 26, 2007
...
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
214. IKE
5:22 PM CDT on May 26, 2007
The new 18 UTC GFS is running...puts in around the western tip of Cuba by Wednesday...in the SE GOM by Thursday May 31st. Could be some beneficial rains for Florida.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
213. IKE
5:18 PM CDT on May 26, 2007
Posted By: GainesvilleGator at 5:09 PM CDT on May 26, 2007.
I can't believe all this chatter about a cluster of unorganized thunderstorms in the Carribean. The NHC will pretty much telegraph whether or not a tropical depression is possible at least 24 hours in advance. They usually say something like: "There is the potential that a TD may develop in a day or two". They will give us the heads up so no point in overanlyzing blobs in the Carribean.


OK.......
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
212. kmanislander
10:12 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
TCW

Thanks for the apology but no offence was taken I assure you. Debate is what this blog is all about. I have seen your posts and have come to respect your opinion as well as that of many others. This system will be interesting to watch for various reasons, not the least of which is that many of the models have been hinting at development in this area over the past few days.

As far as shear goes if the system lifts to the N the odds are that it will be stronger when it passes over or near us than when it gets to Fla ( if it does ) given the position of the jetstream currently. All of that is too far out to worry about now
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211. stormpetrol
10:16 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Floater3 is now labelled Invest so I guess its got the NHC attention or potential for development.
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210. mermaidlaw
10:10 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Thanks JFLORIDA!

G-GATOR, I think we are just interested in watching. It does not mean something will always come of these things. However, IMHO, thats why we are here, to watch, and learn. LOL!
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209. weatherblog
10:11 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
...DISCUSSION...

GULF OF MEXICO...W ATLANTIC...AND THE NW CARIBBEAN...
A MIDDLE/UPPER LEVEL CYCLONIC CIRCULATION IS CENTERED OVER THE
FAR EASTERN GULF OF MEXICO NEAR 27N84W AND IS MOVING SLOWLY SW.
A TROUGH EXTENDS SW FROM THE CIRCULATION ACROSS THE E COAST OF
THE YUCATAN PENINSULA WITH CYCLONIC FLOW COVERING THE E HALF OF
THE GULF...THE NW CARIBBEAN...AND THE ATLANTIC W OF ABOUT 75W.
WATER VAPOR IMAGERY INDICATES STRONG SUBSIDENCE OVER THIS AREA.
BROAD RIDGING ALOFT COVERS THE WESTERN GULF WITH DIFLUENT FLOW
AIDING THE DEVELOPMENT OF THUNDERSTORMS OVER E TEXAS AND JUST
OFFSHORE OF THE LOWER HALF OF THE TEXAS COAST. AT THE SURFACE A
TROUGH EXTENDS FROM THE W TIP OF CUBA INTO CENTRAL HONDURAS.
VISIBLE IMAGERY INDICATES SOME CYCLONIC ROTATION AT THE LOWER
LEVELS AND A SMALL AREA OF MODERATE CONVECTION IS LOCATED NEAR
19N84W.


Probably if the convection persists...the development chance will increase. With that the NHC may add in their discussions potential devlopment for this system.


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207. GainesvilleGator
10:05 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
I can't believe all this chatter about a cluster of unorganized thunderstorms in the Carribean. The NHC will pretty much telegraph whether or not a tropical depression is possible at least 24 hours in advance. They usually say something like: "There is the potential that a TD may develop in a day or two". They will give us the heads up so no point in overanlyzing blobs in the Carribean.
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206. mermaidlaw
9:27 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Hello STORMW, and everyone. Hope you are all having a nice evening. It looks like we have a swirl to watch. It will be interesting to see how the season turns out. Wind shear is still high north of our swirl. Looks like the shear may be lower soon. The SAL seems to be less of a concern, this year if africa has enough rain.

What are your thoughts? THANKS!
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205. hurricane23
5:59 PM EDT on May 26, 2007
Here is the 18UTC surface map from the NWS.WNW-NW path.

g
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
203. WPBHurricane05
5:48 PM EDT on May 26, 2007
NA

Chances of development keep going up in the SW Caribbean.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
201. WPBHurricane05
5:43 PM EDT on May 26, 2007
Wow! Look at the shear just before March and May. It got down to 10 knots.
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198. TheCaneWhisperer
5:39 PM EDT on May 26, 2007
My applogies to Kman! I know you live in the Islands down there! More of a concern for you!
195. seminolesfan
9:39 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Nogaps lifts the shear northward as well.
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194. TheCaneWhisperer
5:33 PM EDT on May 26, 2007
Directly from the NHC

One of the most important atmospheric factors influencing tropical cyclone formation is the change in winds with height (termed vertical wind shear) between the upper (200 mb level) and lower (850 mb level) atmosphere. Weak vertical wind shear in this layer (less than approximately 8 ms-1) is required for tropical convective complexes to develop into tropical storms and ultimately into hurricanes, while stronger shear suppresses deep tropical convection and inhibits tropical cyclone formation.

193. WPBHurricane05
5:35 PM EDT on May 26, 2007
Posted By: pensacolastorm at 5:33 PM EDT on May 26, 2007.
So who is right on the shear?


For weaker systems you should watch the 850-500 shear if I'm correct.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
191. seminolesfan
9:33 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Posted By: TheCaneWhisperer at 9:25 PM GMT on May 26, 2007.
It can stay there as long as it wants! SHEAR is not going to get any better north of the area for at least 2 weeks!


Your own link shows the shear induced by the subtropical jet stream to be marching steadily north.
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190. pensacolastorm
4:31 PM CDT on May 26, 2007
So who is right on the shear?
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189. Miamiweather
9:31 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
so I have been reading the blogs and I just have a quick question what is the worse case senario if this thing does develop
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188. WPBHurricane05
5:29 PM EDT on May 26, 2007
850-500MB shear (Tropical Storms)
850-200MB shear (Hurricanes)
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187. kmanislander
9:31 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
well I have to run for now. Gotta get the grill ready for tonight !
Will check in later
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186. IKE
4:27 PM CDT on May 26, 2007
It might get drawn north eventually with a cold front that's suppose to head into the GOM the end of next week...this from the New Orleans extended..." More significant
synoptic scale forcing may develop Thursday into Friday as GFS has gone back
to bringing front through area on Friday."
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
185. WPBHurricane05
5:27 PM EDT on May 26, 2007
Shouldn't we be looking more at 850-500 shear. I don't think it will make it to hurricane status, I see more of a Tropical Storm IF it develops.
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
184. RL3AO
4:28 PM CDT on May 26, 2007
I disagree Cane. In that loop the destructive shear lifted from south of Puerto Rico to Cuba.
183. seminolesfan
9:28 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Link to steering layer

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181. TheCaneWhisperer
5:22 PM EDT on May 26, 2007
It can stay there as long as it wants! SHEAR is not going to get any better north of the area for at least 2 weeks!
180. seminolesfan
9:21 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Link
Not too much going on in the steering layer to move it N right now. And most of the models are forcasting the shear boundary to keep receeding to the N.
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178. kmanislander
9:21 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Hi KYHomeboy

I agree its been that way all day. This time of year is notorious for slow movers from down in that area
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177. RL3AO
4:21 PM CDT on May 26, 2007
From what I've heard, the hunters plan on budgeting their money and only flying when they feel its needed.
176. IKE
4:20 PM CDT on May 26, 2007
Posted By: hurricane23 at 4:13 PM CDT on May 26, 2007.
Posted By: jphurricane2006 at 5:08 PM EDT on May 26, 2007.

also keep in mind it is building during a time where most systems lose convection, lets wait to see if it continues to organize overnight.

That is very true JP persistence is always the key with a developing system.

ECMWF developes this area and deepens it a bit before bring it into the panhandle of florida.


Good..that's right where I live!
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
175. KYhomeboy
9:20 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
It seems to be pretty much stationary
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174. RL3AO
4:19 PM CDT on May 26, 2007
I was looking in the wrong place. I was looking at the large area of covection spaning from Puerto Rico to Columbia. I didnt see the area that you are actually watching.
173. louisianaboy444
9:18 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
if this storm does persist overnight do you think the hurricane hunters will possibly fly into this thing tomorow?
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172. kmanislander
9:19 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Posted By: TheCaneWhisperer at 9:18 PM GMT on May 26, 2007.

Unless it becomes barclonic 20 to 30 kts will destroy it.

IF it moves to the N now


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171. TheCaneWhisperer
5:17 PM EDT on May 26, 2007
Unless it becomes barclonic 20 to 30 kts will destroy it.
170. hurricane23
5:16 PM EDT on May 26, 2007
This area is basically stationary right now and also shear is suppose to gradually relax in most parts of the western caribbean.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
168. kmanislander
9:15 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
RL3AO

That happened to me too when I first clicked on it but then I refreshed and got the current image
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167. TheCaneWhisperer
5:06 PM EDT on May 26, 2007
Any movement North would put it in 20 to 30kts!

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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.