Spring flooding hits Midwest; Southeast drought eases

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:04 PM GMT on March 20, 2008

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This year's annual spring flooding season is upon us, and it's been a worse flood year than usual across much of the Midwestern U.S. At least 13 people have been killed due to the flooding this week, with another three persons missing. A slow moving storm system brought rains in excess of ten inches to the region (Figure 1). These rains, combined with melting from unusually heavy snows this winter, have led to the floods.

Figure 1. Heavy rains exceeding 10 inches have fallen in some portions of the Midwest over the past week. Image credit: NOAA.

According to NOAA, 224 cities are experiencing flooding today, with major flooding reported in 13 cities in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Illinois. As snow continues to melt and runoff from the recent rains continues to increase the flooding, an additional 13 cities are expected to observe major flooding in the next 48 hours. Fortunately, no heavy rain is expected in the next three days, so a long duration flooding event is not likely.

Figure 2. The NOAA flood outlook calls for significant river flooding across much of the Midwest through Monday. Image credit: NOAA.

Flooding outlook for this Spring
According to NOAA, Above-normal flood potential is expected this Spring in much of the Mississippi River basin, the Ohio River basin, the lower Missouri River basin, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, most of New York, all of New England, and portions of the West, including Colorado and Idaho. Snow depths up to a foot above usual in upstate New York and much of New England could cause flooding in the Connecticut River Valley; locations in the mountains of Colorado and Idaho have 150 to 200 percent of average water contained in the snow pack, leading to a higher than normal flood potential there; and Wisconsin and northern Illinois have had heavy snows this winter that could cause continued flooding concerns this Spring.

Southeast drought continues to improve
On the plus side, the area of the Southeast U.S. covered by the severest form of drought--exceptional drought--has shrunk to a small spot over southern Tennessee/northern Alabama, and Georgia is free of exceptional drought for the first time since July. The drought is expected to continue to improve between now and June over the Southeast U.S.

Jeff Masters

Batesville's west side is flooded. (pb4ugo)
Hundreds of residents ere evacuated earlier today. As the water continues to rise, hundreds more may have to leave their homes.
Batesville's west side is flooded.
Flooding Strikes NE Arkansas & SE Missouri (ArkaTechHog77)
Severe flooding hits the area. My stepfather took a friend up and snapped these shots. Photos taken around HWY 53 area around Qulin and Poplar Bluff. Others taken in Clay County, Arkansas.
Flooding Strikes NE Arkansas & SE Missouri
Kroger 3 (Hawg8)
Local flooding
Kroger 3

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114. KoritheMan
11:13 AM GMT on March 22, 2008
Currently, the atmosphere itself is still very strongly in a La Nina state (at record levels accoring to one index), but that appears to be the only thing sustaining it right now, since warmer than normal water is already being upwelled (the surface water is normally warmer than the subsurface water, so even warmer than normal subsurface water can still cool the surface, but not as easily and it gets harder as the subsurface warms, which may eventually break down the atmsopheric circulation).

Are you saying that El Niño may develop? Or at least ENSO neutral conditions?

ive had this prediction for 2008 since sept 2007, im not backing out of it now

Look who just earned himself the ignore list. This is something I was hoping to avoid this year (heck, I'm even hoping to avoid the westcasters that want destruction, so don't feel bad), but alas, that's obviously too much to ask for.

Just watch what you say on here.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 603 Comments: 21852
113. Altestic
7:01 AM GMT on March 22, 2008
my early season hurricane predictions

3 tropical storms
0 hurricanes
0 major hurricanes

1 us landfalling ts
0 us landfalling hurricane

this season is going to be a bust, arthur will come early in the season and everyone will freak out that this season will be monstrous like 2005 but it will turn out to be a record low season

ive had this prediction for 2008 since sept 2007, im not backing out of it now
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112. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
6:55 AM GMT on March 22, 2008
RSMC: India Meteorological Department (New Delphi, India)

Tropical Cyclone Outlook (0600z 22MAR)
A well marked low pressure area formed over southeast Arabian Sea. It is likely to intensify further in association with the system convective clouds are seen over southeast Arabian Sea.

Convective clouds are also seen over parts of south pennisula of south Andaman Sea
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110. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
3:47 AM GMT on March 22, 2008

Western Australia has another invest to watch along with 96S that may creep back into the Central Indian Ocean region

Tropical Cyclone Potential
Sunday-Monday: LOW
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109. KoritheMan
3:27 AM GMT on March 22, 2008
does anyone have a ENSO outlook for summer 2008? and what impact itwill possibly have on upcoming hurricane season??

Go here. They mention in that article that La Niña could weaken a bit (it is already weakening a little bit) during the season, which could potentially alter the steering currents and put the U.S. in danger. They even mention the possibility of neutral conditions for this season, which is even worse (especially if it is a cold bias neutral, which is likely if La Niña weakens into an ENSO neutral event). The strongest La Niña's tend to cause storms to track further south and west, like in 1988 and 2007.

also does nay have any early predictions on upcoming hurricane season activity? thanks for any replys... hank

I'll throw a prediction out there, even though this is not going to count as my true prediction for the season (that'll come May 31): 13/9/4

Also, something else interesting...

Yet another tropical cyclone could hit Madagascar:

Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 603 Comments: 21852
108. Patrap
10:28 PM CDT on March 21, 2008
does anyone have a ENSO outlook for summer 2008?

Technical ENSO Update
19 March 2008

> Current conditions
> Expected conditions

Forecasting El Nino Link

Because El Nino has such a large effect of weather patterns, many wish to forecast its coming. Two approaches are used: Statistical Models and Dynamical Models. Both seem to be equally accurate (or inaccurate).

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107. Patrap
10:27 PM CDT on March 21, 2008
Happy Easter Weekend to All. And those up late updating too.
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106. stormhank
2:24 AM GMT on March 22, 2008
does anyone have a ENSO outlook for summer 2008? and what impact itwill possibly have on upcoming hurricane season?? also does nay have any early predictions on upcoming hurricane season activity? thanks for any replys... hank
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105. Astrophysics
2:17 AM GMT on March 22, 2008
I hope that low in the gulf of Mexico will stay in the gulf through the rest of tonight and into tomorrow morning and that the clouds dissipate here in Melbourne so that I can do my observation using FIT's new telescope. The weather is very unpredictable here and we need some clear nights to do some observations of transiting exoplanets around other stars which require high level of accuracy since the dip in the light curve of these stars are only a few percent max and any clouds will ruin the observation even with comparison stars and data reduction.
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104. Weather456
10:09 PM AST on March 21, 2008
The expose LLCC of 24P

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
103. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
12:57 AM GMT on March 22, 2008

At 0:00 AM UTC, Moderate Tropical Storm 14R [994 hPa] located near 16.0S 59.3E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts up to 50 knots. The storm was reported moving southwest at 5 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T2.5/2.5/D1.0/24 HRS

Near Gale-Force Winds in the southern semi-circle up to 90 NM from the center

Gale-Force Winds within the southeastern sector

Forecast and Intensity
12 HRS: 16.6S 58.1E - 35 knots (Tempête Tropicale Moderée)
24 HRS: 16.8S 57.0E - 40 knots (Tempête Tropicale Moderée)
48 HRS: 16.7S 55.2E - 50 knots (Forte Tempête Tropicale)
72 HRS: 16.5S 54.3E - 70 knots (CYCLONE Tropical)

Additional Information
Environmental pressures remain low and the gradient is weak in the center of the circulation (so winds near the center are rather weak) The center is still estimated on the northeastern edge of the deep convection, undergoing a moderate northeasterly vertical wind shear on the southern edge of the tropical easterly jet. Winds according to 1717z METOP/ASCAT DATA are still very weak near the center. The MSLP is estimated at 994 hPa, referring to Saint Brandon Island SLP 995 hPa. At 2300z Gale-Force Winds, justifying the naming, exists only in the south, rather far from the center and under deep convection.

Environmental conditions are expected to improve under the upper level ridge for the next 12-24 hours. Some further development is expected as this system should track west-southwestwards then west-northwestwards on the northern edge of subtropical high pressures during the next few days. A wide and deep trough should attract the system southward after 72 hours.

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102. hydrus
12:20 AM GMT on March 22, 2008
NOLA-lol-yes monitoring the floods up north but we need rain where i live.
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101. nola70119
12:13 AM GMT on March 22, 2008
Monitoring the Mississippi flood story, obviously...
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100. hydrus
12:05 AM GMT on March 22, 2008
CCHS-If it was june instead of march i would say we would get some much needed rain.
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99. bappit
11:58 PM GMT on March 21, 2008
Hades and others ... sometimes a hurricane kills like a heat wave does.

A number of deaths associated with Rita were from heat exhaustion. From http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/TCR-AL182005_Rita.pdf:

Seven fatalities have been directly attributed to the forces of Rita. One was due to drowning near Lake Charles, Louisiana; two people died in Hardin, Texas when a tree was blown down onto their home; one person died when a tree fell on her home in Point Blank, Texas; another person was killed by a falling tree in Angelina County, Texas; one person was killed in a tornado near Isola, Mississippi; and one person drowned in a rip current at Miramar Beach in the Florida panhandle on 24 September. At least 55 'indirect' fatalities have been reported in Texas. Six of these occurred in Beaumont due to carbon monoxide poisoning. A bus accident south of Dallas during the course of the evacuation killed more than 20 persons, mostly elderly evacuees from a nursing home. Other persons died during the evacuation due to heat exhaustion.

The numbers given are indefinite but the "other persons" had to be a large percentage of the indirect fatalities.
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11:50 PM GMT on March 21, 2008
i have it on ir enhance micron 11 shows tops to minus -38 to -42 i get updated imagest every 10 minutes
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 192 Comments: 59083
97. cchsweatherman
7:47 PM EDT on March 21, 2008
Good evening all. Watching the RGB imagery, it appears that some strong convection has just begun to develop over and around the surface low in the GOM. It could get quite interesting overnight as the low starts moving towards South Florida. Computer models indicate that we could some hefty rainfall all over the area, including Lake Okeechobee. Thoughts on the weather here tomorrow and early Sunday?
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10:28 PM GMT on March 21, 2008
let it begin
gom disturbance
wv shows something popin lets see how far it goes
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 192 Comments: 59083
94. TerraNova
6:29 PM EDT on March 21, 2008

Updated March 6, 2008

(Sea surface temperature (?C) departure from normal)

Current forecasts predict cold anomalies to slowly weaken through the 2008 Season.
Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 76 Comments: 4063
93. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
9:51 PM GMT on March 21, 2008

117 - 10yrs avg HURRICANE
170 - 10yrs avg EXCESSIVE HEAT


19 - 8yrs avg HURRICANE
230 - 8ys avg EXCESSIVE HEAT

That is some difference
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92. Skyepony (Mod)
9:22 PM GMT on March 21, 2008
Here's your post Katrina..

Here's the current nws SLOSH based product. Which this bigger picture one came out last year & wasn't really impressive (guess neither was our surges). East Central FL has one for where each type of surge is evaluted how far it may go. Really great info but not so user friendly. For current storms we have this. Goes down to streets on google earth, forecast or best preforming model usually.
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91. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
9:23 PM GMT on March 21, 2008
RSMC: India Meteorological Department (New Delphi, India)

Tropical Cyclone Outlook (0600z 21MAR)
Convective clouds are seen over southeast Arabian Sea and parts of South Andaman Sea.

1800z 21MAR - Marine Discussion
The low pressure area over Cape Commorin-Maldives area now lies over southeast Arabian Sea and adjoining Lakshadweep area and off Kerala coast persists.

The low pressure area mentioned above is likely to become more marked.
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90. Inyo
8:52 PM GMT on March 21, 2008
Michael, looks like that chart is Pre-Katrina though. Heat would still win but that would bump up hurricanes a bit
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87. TerraNova
3:25 PM EDT on March 21, 2008
That is wrong...

From the NCDC:

Drought/Heat Wave Summer 1988. 1988 drought in central and eastern U.S. with very severe losses to agriculture and related industries; estimated $40.0 (61.6) billion damage/costs; estimated 5,000 to 10,000 deaths (includes heat stress-related).

Wow...I never knew a heat wave could kill so many... You might want to email Dr. Masters about that information.
Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 76 Comments: 4063
85. LowerCal
12:13 PM PDT on March 21, 2008
84. Weather456
2:36 PM AST on March 21, 2008

The upper level pattern across the regions continues to flatten out with steady westerlies at 200 mb. Despite this, mid-upper level dry remains over the area hindering any vertical development of clouds. At the surface, the 1022 mb high over the Atlantic is providing the region with 10-20 knot surface winds which are driving patches of low level cloudiness into the region, mainly across the Northeast. This will induce persons of passing showers. Another area of increase cloudiness lies across Central America from Honduras to the Yucatan associated with a stalled out frontal boundary. Seas have generally subsided across the Atlantic shores of the Eastern Caribbean but remain high at around 10-15 ft and even higher through the various channels between the islands. Small craft advisory remains in effect. Seas should return to normal later this weekend and on Monday, and increasing again Tuesday and Wednesday as a cold front passes. 5-6 ft seas over Caribbean waters, subsiding to 4-5 ft west of 70W. Highest seas along the Colombian Coast/SW Caribbean on the order of 9-12 ft.

by W456

La Petite Anse, Saint Barts, Leeward Islands

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
83. BahaHurican
2:34 PM EDT on March 21, 2008
Afternoon, everybody. I'm not so pleased about the weather right now, though we can use the rain. I FINALLY have a few days off, and what happens? It rains! [sigh]

I'd planned to take advantage of the time off to do some sunrise-sunset photography, but so far the clouds have stymied me. Oh, well, it's a good excuse to hang around in here all afternoon. Maybe the clouds will garner me some super shots tomorrow evening or Easter morning. . . .
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82. Weather456
12:55 PM AST on March 21, 2008


A weak upper trough continues dig along 99W inducing dry conditions over Mexico and a southwesterly flow of mid-upper level moisture across the Gulf of Mexico in the form of cirrus clouds extending from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to the Southwest Atlantic. Visible imagery indicated that a surface low is situated over the South-Central Gulf just to the north of the Yucatan Coast with a frontal boundary extending from the low through the Florida Straits and into the Atlantic. A broad zone of scattered to broken cloudiness is seen across the Central and Southeastern Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, a broad surface anticyclone is sprawled out over the region at 34N/80W providing exceptional fair skies and tranquil conditions over the Southern United States, and 10-20 knot anticyclonic flow over the Gulf of Mexico. Seas will be lowest along the Northeastern Gulf coast where the flow is mainly offshore, 3-4ft and highest across central Gulf waters near the front at 7-9 ft.

The mid-upper moisture surge with the accompanied surface cold front below stretches from the Straits of Florida across the Northern Bahaman Islands and along 25N/75W 27N/70W 28N/65W to beyond 33N/50W. A well define band of scattered showers lies within 120 nmi of the front. Meanwhile, surface observations and QuikSCAT showed strong offshore winds of 35-40 knots producing 9-15 ft northwesterly swells across the Atlantic behind the front north of 30N. Some of these swells will travel and reach the shores the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos and Hispaniola. A 1022 mb high is located ahead of the front at 23N/65W supporting widely broken low clouds and 10 knot easterly flow south of 20N.

by W456

Rocky Bay, Bahamas

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
81. NEwxguy
6:25 PM GMT on March 21, 2008
Storm,were watching that low very closely here in New England,looks like it will move out to sea after Florida,but it makes me nervous
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 896 Comments: 16202
80. Patrap
1:25 PM CDT on March 21, 2008
High river puts city on alert
Thursday March 20, 2008, 9:06 PM
Story: Link

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6:18 PM GMT on March 21, 2008
we got 69 days till official start and counting it will move along wont be long now before u know it it'll be apr 21
then we'll have 39 days from that point
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 192 Comments: 59083
75. Patrap
1:09 PM CDT on March 21, 2008
GOM GOES-12 Low Cloud Product Image.
Click to ENlarge Link
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6:03 PM GMT on March 21, 2008
ya if it was this one will be one of those fast spin ups from nuttin to wicked in 12 hrs or less
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 192 Comments: 59083
73. TheCaneWhisperer
6:08 PM GMT on March 21, 2008
2nd that one my friend, could be a busy year for many if it doesn't.
71. stormdude77
1:54 PM AST on March 21, 2008
Good afternoon!

La Nina is starting to weaken (Slightly, not sure if it will continue). I have a blog on it (The information is from the ENSO Wrap up site). Link
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70. TheCaneWhisperer
5:58 PM GMT on March 21, 2008
Also agree with that. Another 3 or 4 months and we could be looking @ the Arthur.

There's some memory sparking names back this year.

2008 Hurricane Names
67. TerraNova
1:51 PM EDT on March 21, 2008
Glad it's not the season yet!

Afternoon, Storm. I couldn't agree more!
Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 76 Comments: 4063
5:32 PM GMT on March 21, 2008
it will ride below 28.0n
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 192 Comments: 59083

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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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