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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66. nash28
7:12 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Hey JP! Good to see you. Well, buckle up:-) Season has started.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
65. kmanislander
7:09 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
louisianaboy444

If you look at the linked vis loop I think you will see that what is happening is that convection has just started building in earnest in that area and as the low level flow comes in and convection builds from the East it gives the impression that the system is moving in that direction. At least that is my take for what it is worth. I do not believe there is actually any motion per se

Link
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15842
63. seminolesfan
6:59 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Qscat of SW Carrib:Link

(Hehe-this time not only is it current data, but it's the right area too. lol)
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62. louisianaboy444
7:04 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
that looks more like a tropical storm right now but isnt it moving to the east are is that just an illusion
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61. kmanislander
7:03 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Hi Nash

Good to see you. Good question. Perhaps there weren't enough visible frames to warrant going out on a limb on. With the obs from Panama and the images we are seeing there is no doubt that something is trying to spin up in that area. Maybe he will come back on later with an update
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15842
60. nash28
7:01 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Not that it really matters, but I wonder why Dr. Masters didn't mention this area this morning.....

I suspect he may update once we get an invest.
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59. WPBHurricane05
3:02 PM EDT on May 26, 2007
Ok 1 more time to try to post our current disturbance.

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58. kmanislander
6:58 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
The "blob" of convection shown in the close up vis image I posted below can be seen in this image just on the 80W line. The area of convection is expanding from the last image of an hour ago

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57. louisianaboy444
6:55 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
haha o ok now i see it thanks it was just looking at the map it looked like the bay of campeche
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56. WPBHurricane05
2:56 PM EDT on May 26, 2007
NA

Tropical Storm Arlene, the first tropical storm of what became a very long and active 2005 Hurricane Season.

Compared with our current disturbance.

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55. kmanislander
6:52 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Posted By: louisianaboy444 at 6:50 PM GMT on May 26, 2007.

hey kman is that in the bay of campeche

East of Nicaragua, North of Panama near 12.5 N 79.5 W
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54. louisianaboy444
6:47 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
hey kman is that in the bay of campeche
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53. kmanislander
6:49 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
current and larger image of area of interest

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52. kmanislander
6:46 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
New image above
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50. kmanislander
6:14 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
I just checked on a few obs in Panama. Bocas del Toro(extreme NW Panama near the border with Costa Rica )has N winds @5mph
Colon which is further E ( about half way along the Panamanian coast ) has S winds @ 12 mph.
These winds strongly suggest a surface low near 12N80W ( where there are visible signs of a circulation from sat images )
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47. nash28
6:04 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Afternoon everyone. Just got back from dog grooming and my own haircut as well. I see the CMC has stuck with the Carribean disturbance, but now takes it away from FL.

After looking at the imagery, I do believe we will have to keep an eye on this. No closed LLC yet, but it has a chance.
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46. kmanislander
6:04 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
The area where the surface low is expected to form is currently under only 5 to 10 knots of shear.

Link
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45. bjdsrq
5:51 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
If whatever forms in w caribbean moves north, it will be sheared to pieces once it enters the GOM. Shear looks to be increasing in GOM in 72 hours. GFS had something here in GOM moving in FL for like 5 days (since last Friday) and then dropped this feature during the last couple day's worth of runs. We need some kind of rain to relieve the drought in SW FL, but I'm not counting on this being the savior. Probably finally see some seabreeze t-storm action in 5 days when this cranking high moves out a bit to the NE and we get some moist SE flow.
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44. KYhomeboy
5:45 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Levi32....thanks!!! Thats a big help
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43. stoormfury
5:39 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
the circulation in the sw caribbean is showing some signs of organisation. the shear at the moment is 20-25 knots over the system. there has been an increase in convection to the nw.
soon the area with shesr forecast to decrease will be called an invest
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42. Levi32
9:43 AM AKDT on May 26, 2007
There are hints of a surface rotation center in the SW corner of this loop. However the system remains very disorganized. Give it a couple days over water with lower shear and we could have a trouble-maker.
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41. IKE
12:41 PM CDT on May 26, 2007
A SURFACE LOW MAY FORM IN THE
VICINITY OF 12N78W OVER THE 24 HOURS.


That's right where that convection is firing up.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
39. WPBHurricane05
1:36 PM EDT on May 26, 2007
KYhomeboy...I saw that when looking at the loops.

Is Barry around the corner? We shall watch and see as it looks like the 2007 Atlantic Hurricane Season wants to start early.
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38. KYhomeboy
5:35 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
000
AXNT20 KNHC 261718
TWDAT

TROPICAL WEATHER DISCUSSION
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
205 PM EDT SAT MAY 26 2007

TROPICAL WEATHER DISCUSSION FOR NORTH AMERICA...CENTRAL
AMERICA...THE GULF OF MEXICO...THE CARIBBEAN SEA...NORTHERN
SECTIONS OF SOUTH AMERICA...AND THE ATLANTIC OCEAN TO THE
AFRICAN COAST FROM THE EQUATOR TO 32N. THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION
IS BASED ON SATELLITE IMAGERY...METEOROLOGICAL ANALYSIS...
WEATHER OBSERVATIONS...AND RADAR.

BASED ON 1200 UTC SURFACE ANALYSIS AND SATELLITE IMAGERY
THROUGH 1715 UTC.

...ITCZ...

ITCZ AXIS ALONG 9N13W 3N24W 5N35W 8N48W 6N58W. SCATTERED
MODERATE ISOLATED STRONG CONVECTION IS LOCATED WITHIN A 60 NM
RADIUS OF 5N37W AND WITHIN 60 NM EITHER SIDE OF A 6.5N42W 8N48W
7N51W 8.5N55W LINE.

...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.

CENTRAL ATLANTIC AND THE REMAINDER OF THE CARIBBEAN SEA...
BROAD RIDGING COVERS THIS AREA WITH THE AXIS LOCATED FROM NEAR
29N62W ACROSS THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TO NEAR 12N78W. THE RIDGE
IS CAPPED BY A SUBTROPICAL JET WITH ITS AXIS EXTENDING FROM
CENTRAL CUBA TO 28N70W TO 30N55W. THE JET THEN TURNS NORTHWARD
BEYOND 32N49W. CLOUD DRIFT WINDS ARE AS HIGH AS 60 KNOTS ALONG
THE JET. STRONG THUNDERSTORMS EXTEND NORTHWARD FROM THE COLOMBIA
COAST TO 18N BETWEEN 72W AND 78W. A SURFACE LOW MAY FORM IN THE
VICINITY OF 12N78W OVER THE 24 HOURS. AT THE SURFACE A
STATIONARY FRONT EXTENDS THROUGH 32N51W TO 23N62W AND THEN
CONTINUES AS A TROUGH SW TO NEAR 20N70W. CONVECTIVE ACTIVITY IS
STRONGEST WITHIN 4 TO 5 DEGREES N OF THE TROUGH AND A LOW MAY
DEVELOP NEAR 25N70W WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS.
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36. KYhomeboy
5:32 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Check out the latest visible sat loop. Now showing some new convective burts rigt over the circulation.
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34. KYhomeboy
5:29 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
A SURFACE LOW MAY FORM IN THE
VICINITY OF 12N78W OVER THE 24 HOURS. AT THE SURFACE A
STATIONARY FRONT EXTENDS THROUGH 32N51W TO 23N62W AND THEN
CONTINUES AS A TROUGH SW TO NEAR 20N70W. CONVECTIVE ACTIVITY IS
STRONGEST WITHIN 4 TO 5 DEGREES N OF THE TROUGH AND A LOW MAY
DEVELOP NEAR 25N70W WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS
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33. Levi32
9:28 AM AKDT on May 26, 2007
Yes Adrian, it's at the mid-levels. See the 850mb vorticity max under the convection.
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32. hurricane23
5:25 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
I do see hints of a circulation in the SW caribbean but it appears to be in the mid-levels for now.Maybe that will change in time.
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31. RL3AO
12:23 PM CDT on May 26, 2007
90E

1
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30. seminolesfan
5:20 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Yeah sorry guys, i just realized that qsat was OLD.

I'm gonna stop posting trash now. LOL :)
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29. melwerle
5:20 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
got it JP - right back at ya.
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28. KYhomeboy
5:16 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
seminolesfan...that quickscat didn't capture the entire disturbed area. The area which looks like a circulation is present is further west than what is on the current quickscat pass.
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27. LakeSuperior
5:15 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Thanks, Dr. Masters, for talking about western drought. Drought may not be the most exciting weather pattern, but it is going to be crucial to our entire society in the years ahead. I've heard that the whole assumptions behind major western water projects, such as the Central Arizona Project have rested on poorly developed assumptions about long term patterns of climate and precipitation. I'd love to hear more on those issues.

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24. seminolesfan
5:12 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
On the Quicksat there's not a closed low level circ, but there is a definate bend in the wind field.

Link

(btw-this qsat is 10 hrs old, so it's not the freshest of data. lol)
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23. melwerle
5:12 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
lol JP! Wooo hoooo...playing the mud! Now if we could only have a few good rain showers, we could all go play in the rain (geez...seems like years since I've done THAT).
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22. keywestdingding
5:02 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
hey storm junkie-you had some pics of sst's on jeff's last blog. i was wondering which dates the pics are from. i think the first pic is this year-not sure which the second one was from. thanks todd
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20. hurricane23
5:06 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Looks interesting IKE.
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19. 0741
5:05 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
i notice that shear is going down in that area on shear map
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18. IKE
12:04 PM CDT on May 26, 2007
12 UTC CMC has the system crossing eastern Cuba...cruising through the Bahamas and heading north..missing Florida...Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
17. melwerle
5:05 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
oooohhh...well take a look at THAT.

Doing well this morning - how is everyone? No rain here in GA...guess I should water my dead lawn. Anyone for playing in MUD?
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16. hurricane23
5:01 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Hey Melwerle maybe good afternoon hows everything?Something brewing maybe down in the SW caribbean in the next couple of days.
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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.