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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666. weathermanwannabe
9:33 PM EDT on May 27, 2007
Good Evening Folks.....It seems to me that it might be a slow start to the season (quiet in early June), but, that should not keep people from stocking up and preparing for what may become a memorable season come July and August...
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664. swatkins
1:26 AM GMT on May 28, 2007
HI folks...

The last few days Texas has been having a lot of storms... When I look on the front maps on this site I see no lows (L's) posted on the maps over texas.. Yet when watching the local weather station the maps the weatherman was point to showed three lows. They were the ones responsible for the rain in different areas and he was showing their movement and explaining what would happen when they moved over our area...

My question is.... Why does his maps show lows when the front maps here show nothing? Where can I find maps like his :)
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663. BahaHurican
8:38 PM EDT on May 27, 2007
Winds have been strong here all day; steady at abt. 20 mph, and lots of higher gusts - into the 30s at times.

I note the high is supposed to recede northward and weaken towards the end of this week. I'm wondering if we will see it replaced by low pressure . . .
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662. TheCaneWhisperer
1:15 AM GMT on May 28, 2007
Posted By: MichaelSTL at 12:20 AM GMT on May 28, 2007.

right now it still seems like we have lots of wind shear. Whats your thoughts?

Well, I don't know who told you that shear is very high; it is actually below normal across the Caribbean and tropical Atlantic.


Yes it is lower than normal but, still destructive to deveoplment over a good part of the Caribbean! 20kts plus will inhibit development! Over the next week or two shear should clear the entire Caribb! Rather deep layer trough is supposed to come through the area this week, definatly not normal! After that, seems a big change is forcast!
661. nash28
1:02 AM GMT on May 28, 2007
Well, here in the Tampa area, we are NOT struggling to make the 80 degree mark. Clearwater Beach is ALREADY around 83 degrees and climbing by the day.
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659. mermaidlaw
12:50 AM GMT on May 28, 2007
Thank you ALL! Have a Great night! I will be back soon! I love the weather info here, and am so happy that you help so much!!
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658. KoritheMan
12:47 AM GMT on May 28, 2007
STL, the shear may be averaging below normal since the beginning of the year, but there is one thing that is DEFINITELY not normal, and that is GoM temps; they should seriously be in the low 80s by now, and here they are struggling to make it above 78.
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657. KoritheMan
12:45 AM GMT on May 28, 2007
I'm from Baton Rouge, LA, iceman. I have been to New Orleans in 2006, and other times in the past as well. I currently live in Prairieville.
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652. mermaidlaw
12:24 AM GMT on May 28, 2007
Thank you so much Michael! I guess from reading through everything, I thought that wind shear was going to be high again this year. YOU always help me to learn here!! THANKS!
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647. mermaidlaw
11:25 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
Hello everyone Hope your ALL having a great night!

I am just wondering about the troughs this year. right now it still seems like we have lots of wind shear. Whats your thoughts? I know they say that this year will be active. Could it be like last year?
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646. GainesvilleGator
11:47 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
StormW has a point with the strong A/B high. The SST levels were above 2005 levels just 2 weeks ago in the Western Carribean, GOM, & SW Atlantic. The SST levels have moderated considerably over the past two weeks. It looks like they lag 2005 in these same areas now. I think Dr. Masters said that this high would be back to its normal strenght in about a week.
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645. anvilhead
4:52 PM PDT on May 27, 2007
lol
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644. stormpetrol
11:43 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
I would not write off those 2 blobs as yet, the one south of Jamaica, or the one north of Panama, I think they both have some potential still.
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643. kmanislander
11:28 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
dinner time
bbl
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642. kmanislander
11:21 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
The shear map and the WV loop I posted earleir does already show a high overhead. If the trough lifts out and leaves the low then something could get going.

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641. plywoodstatenative
11:19 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
if the navy would declare it an invest, then we could get some real time visible images or water vapor images
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640. plywoodstatenative
11:18 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
kman, however if the high builds in. then what happens. Any chance of getting a high over top of it
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639. kmanislander
11:18 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
Uh oh

seems to be expanding LOL

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638. plywoodstatenative
11:17 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
now the high comes in, then we would be talking about something. But until then the dry air to the north is cutting the development out and the ULL is slicing whatever does show up in half.
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637. kmanislander
11:16 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
Posted By: marlinsfan1 at 11:15 PM GMT on May 27, 2007.

Its kind of funny how interested we are in such a small little blob!!!! lol


Nothing else going on LOL
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636. plywoodstatenative
11:16 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
marlins, what else is there to talk about in the atlantic basin? one large trough thats got all the moisture that south florida needs and thats about it. Just some odd waves coming off of florida with alot of convection for this time of year.
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635. plywoodstatenative
11:14 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
heavy blowup of convection towards the center, nothing else. But of interest is that the NHC still has it labeled as an invest, while the Navy has taken it off as being invest
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634. marlinsfan1
7:14 PM EDT on May 27, 2007
Its kind of funny how interested we are in such a small little blob!!!! lol
633. kmanislander
11:13 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
That one little cloud is up around 45000 feet LOL
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632. plywoodstatenative
11:13 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
water vapor shows a small amount of dry air to its northwest and a heavy blowup of convection to north east of it, mostly from the trough.
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631. sarepa
11:13 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
guys i just came from the blob on the carribean... now im on route to td1 ;)
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630. plywoodstatenative
11:12 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
RGB
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629. plywoodstatenative
11:04 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
the shear is low, yes, but the trough is still hanging around. That will inhibit anything from wrapping in a sense around the remnants of the system and then allowing it to redevelop into something that would be considered an invest.
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628. kmanislander
11:04 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
Looks as if a high is being induced over the Caribbean by the departing ULL East of Fla and the Bahamas

Link
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627. kmanislander
11:02 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
Shear in the S Caribbean is now a very low 5 to 10 knots
Link
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626. plywoodstatenative
11:00 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
the ULL is the one that was perched nearby south florida earlier this week giving us all the rain and wind. Other than that I just wish the ULL would reverse paths and come back this way with all that nice moisture.
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625. plywoodstatenative
10:58 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
could we be looking at a late season neutral La Nina? Seeing how we had a late season El Ninno, could that option be there as well?
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624. kmanislander
10:58 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
The Caribbean
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623. kmanislander
10:57 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
Down but not out

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622. plywoodstatenative
10:56 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
kman, which one are we talking about. the one in the east pacific or the caribbean one
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620. kmanislander
10:53 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
Posted By: bocaman at 10:28 PM GMT on May 27, 2007.

kmanislander, I see the vortex you're talking about. It would have to have nearly perfect conditions meaning no wind shear to hold together and have a chance. There are some new storms that have fired around it in the last hour. Will be interesting after midnight to see if the showers around the 1010mb low center increase.

This system may be unimpressive right now but I have a feeling it is not done. The last frame shows a burst of small but deep convection
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619. plywoodstatenative
10:47 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
so then other than shear, what are looking at this year to inhibit storms?
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617. bocaman
10:36 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
How about 2%. Not much chance for the low north of panama.
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616. weatherblog
10:32 PM GMT on May 27, 2007
Posted By: hurricaneman23 at 10:31 PM GMT on May 27, 2007.

td2 on the way??? what are the chances- 30%??


Doubt it, proabably around 15%. That's being nice...lol
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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.

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