Midwest flood price tag $8 billion; Extreme Weather magazine review

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:54 PM GMT on June 27, 2008

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The American Farm Bureau, a lobbying group that represents American farmers, estimated yesterday that crop damage from the Midwest's Flood of 2008 has amounted to $7 billion. More than half of this total--$4 billion--was in Iowa. Other states taking a hit from excessive wetness and flooding were: Illinois, $1.3 billion; Missouri, $900 million; Indiana, $500 million; Nebraska $500 million; and an additional $1 billion in remaining wet states. When added to the at least $1 billion in property damage the floods wrought (including $762 million in Cedar Rapids, Iowa), the $8 billion price tag of the Midwest Flood of 2008 ranks as the second most expensive U.S. non-hurricane flooding disaster on record. America's worst flood, the Midwest Flood of 1993, caused $26.7 billion in damage (adjusted to 2007 dollars).

The damage will continue to rise in coming days, as major flooding continues along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. A levee broke along the Mississippi just north of St. Louis this morning, sending flood waters towards the small town of Winfield. Heavy rains in excess of five inches have hit much of northern Missouri this week (Figure 1), and NOAA's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center is forecasting a high probability of heavy rain in the region today through Saturday morning. The culprit is a slow-moving low pressure system over Minnesota, which will drag a cold front through Missouri tonight. An additional 2-4 inches of rain will fall in some areas along the front. The additional rain should keep the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers in Missouri above flood stage for an extra day or two. Currently, these rivers are expected to reach their highest crests sometime between Monday June 30 and Wednesday July 2. The forecast looks somewhat drier for the Midwest next week, thankfully. The jet stream has regularly been taking a major dip southward into the Central U.S. the past two months, putting the favored track for rainy low pressure systems over the Midwest. The jet often gets "stuck" in a high-amplitude trough-ridge pattern which causes drought in one part of the country (California in this case) and floods in another. This "stuckness" often lasts for 3 months. The current 2-week forecast from the GFS and ECMWF models predicts a continuation of the "stuck" jet stream pattern, but decreasing in amplitude and sliding more to the east. This should result in the favored storm track moving more towards the East Coast, relieving flooding in the Midwest.


Figure 1. Precipitation for the 7 days ending on Friday, June 27, at 8am EDT. Image credit:NOAA.

Review of the new magazine, Extreme Weather
A beautiful new weather magazine called Extreme Weather has hit the bookstores this month. Published by Astronomy magazine, the new magazine features some truly spectacular weather photos, including a 12-page "Weathergallery" with awesome shots of tornadoes, lightning, floods, supercells, hail, hurricane winds, and waterspouts. The first article of the magazine features the equally fantastic photos of storm chaser Warren Faidley, who also happens to be the best writer among professional storm chasers, in my opinion. Additional articles in Extreme Weather include a balanced and interesting look at the hurricanes/global warming connection, plus some quality articles on dust storms, super cell thunderstorms, lightning, and the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900.

Extreme Weather is not yet a regular publication; the editors are gauging interest to see if they wish to make it so. I whole-heartedly encourage them to do so--this magazine rocks! You can order a copy at their website, it's $7.95.

Tropics
It's quiet in the tropical Atlantic. There are no threat areas to discuss, and none of the models are forecasting tropical storm formation in the next seven days.

Jeff Masters

500 Year Flood 2008 (UlaratheBard)
Iowa Flooding - Palo Iowa - The entire town of Palo Iowa was evacuated and was told to abandon due to flooding during the recent flooding of the the Cedar River and local water ways. During it's abandonment it was under military control. A week later the towns folk were allowed to re-enter their town to assess damage and begin clean-up. The town was devasted as you can see. Due to the fact the entire town was under water, their have been no coordinated efforts for donations, volunteer work, etc... plus, they've just been allowed back into their town and only during daytime hours. I'm sure they could use all the help they could get.
500 Year Flood 2008
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1512. pearlandaggie
11:02 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
1508. actually, it looks like TCHP is calculated as the integral of the enthalpy of the water column. given certain mixing, density, and velocity boundary layer assumptions, the integrated vertical enthalpy reduces to a measure of the amount of energy per unit surface area (kJ/sq. m.). the 2004 Emmanuel paper was very helpful.
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1509. nash28
10:59 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
No one knows JFV. You can't look that far ahead. You know how many times I have gone to bed to literally NOTHING in the ATL, then woke up with a pretty healthy invest that came out of nowhere??

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1508. beell
10:59 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
so then how is TCHP measured?

A combination of SST's by sat sensor and the small but detectable bulge of warmer, more bouyant water. Warmer water is less dense-right? It occupies more space and rises up a bit in comparison to cooler water. A higher mound of water as measured by sat radar altimetry indicates a warmer layer of upper ocean to a greater depth. Measured, as Drak posted down to the 26C isotherm. Very big computers then compute this potential energy using very big formulae that I don't understand.
Not really related to the atmospheric water column. Sea level pressure is also a factor in the height of the bulge. I guess they have a way of smoothing that out of the equations.

Globally speaking, sea level is a relative term.
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1506. weatherblog
10:55 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
If the ghost storm doesn't take a northerly course as the GFS is predicting then it'll be a different scenario as far as wind shear goes.
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1505. presslord
6:54 PM EDT on June 29, 2008
I hope y'all will excuse me this...but..

What we call 'fish' storms still have the potential to impact and endanger hundreds..and perhaps ...thousands...of souls at sea...

I know it's not as sexy as obliterateing entire towns and cities..but it's worth remembering...
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1504. hurricane23
6:56 PM EDT on June 29, 2008
1501. TerraNova 6:53 PM EDT on June 29, 2008
1491. nash28 5:45 PM EST on June 29, 2008
The stronger that High is will also increase the wind shear as well....

The GFS shows a heavily sheared system moving north of Puerto Rico. Wind Shear is presumably why the GFS looses the system as it progresses further west

Result of that TUTT in the area.Been mentioning it for a while now.
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1503. JLPR
10:54 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
The GFS shows a heavily sheared system moving north of Puerto Rico

good go north =P
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1502. sporteguy03
10:54 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
JFV,
All your questions on the GFS system will be answered in time until then buy a Magic 8 ball :)
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1501. TerraNova
5:51 PM EST on June 29, 2008
1491. nash28 5:45 PM EST on June 29, 2008
The stronger that High is will also increase the wind shear as well....


The GFS shows a heavily sheared system moving north of Puerto Rico. Wind Shear is presumably why the GFS looses the system as it progresses further west.
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1495. pearlandaggie
10:46 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
does a stronger A/B high also increase surface wind velocities? if so, then the evaporative cooling effect on the sea surface may also intensify, reducing total TCHP
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1491. nash28
10:44 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
The stronger that High is will also increase the wind shear as well....
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1488. Drakoen
10:39 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
It holds the closed low until the resolution goes out @192hrs.
Here's the track to 180hrs:
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1487. nash28
10:41 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
When we actually have a closed Low off the coast of Africa, then I'll start watching the models...
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1486. nash28
10:38 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
Not really buying the GFS....

For days, it had the system. Yesterday, it dropped it completely (don't remember the exact run.) Today, it has it, barely as a closed low...

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1484. Drakoen
10:37 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
The latest GFS 18z run is closely in line with the ECMWF 12z run.
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1482. TerraNova
5:32 PM EST on June 29, 2008
1479. JFV 5:32 PM EST on June 29, 2008
Indeed TerraNova, indeed! Did you also check it it's future porjected path bud?


So far the GFS has only completed it's run out to 168 hours, but it has it's Cape Verde system following the same general course as in previous model runs...along and around the southern edge of the high, which would fit the current steering pattern.
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1480. pearlandaggie
10:30 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
think i found it... from Emanuel et al, 2004:


We assume that vertical mixing is the only important effect on temperature during the passage of a tropical cyclone and ignore horizontal advection and surface heat exchange. Price (1981) demonstrates that surface temperature change is usually dominated by mixing, with cooling by surface fluxes a secondary factor. Under these conditions, the vertically integrated enthalpy remains constant:


- 0
|
| p Cp T dz
- -infinity

(sorry for the poor representation of calculus, but the figure wouldn't come out legible)

where Cl is the heat capacity of seawater, T is its temperature, and Ti is the initial temperature. In evaluating the integrals in (4), we approximate Cl and r as constants and, as illustrated in Fig. 1, we assume that the temperature lapse rate below the mixed layer is constant.

essentially, TCHP is the vertically integrated enthalpy of the water column based on some mixing and constant assumptions...


test
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1478. TerraNova
5:28 PM EST on June 29, 2008
The latest run of the GFS model develops the Cape Verde system (unlike the 12z model), and is generally less aggressive with it than in previous runs (00z/06z) until it clears -40W. The latest run still has the wave emerging on Tuesday.
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1475. presslord
6:17 PM EDT on June 29, 2008
speaking of SC...rammb seems to think there's soem remote chance of something popping offshore...How Come? What's it thinking?
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1474. GeoffreyWPB
6:16 PM EDT on June 29, 2008
Record high "low" temperature for West Palm this morning...80...ugggggg
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1473. Drakoen
10:16 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
1471. pearlandaggie 10:14 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
so then how is TCHP measured? it should be related to the latent heat of vaporization of the water, right? i guess it all depends on which thermodynamic baseline value you choose for "0".


Using the 26 degree isotherm and the vertical depth of the isotherm the ocean waters.
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1472. CybrTeddy
10:10 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
So, 23 are you thinking that Bertha might form here in a few weeks?
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1471. pearlandaggie
10:12 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
so then how is TCHP measured? it should be related to the latent heat of vaporization of the water, right? i guess it all depends on which thermodynamic baseline value you choose for "0".

judging by the units, it almost seems that TCHP is measuring a flux, for lack of a better analogy, but without being time dependent.
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1469. pearlandaggie
10:12 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
1467. i get it! LOL...i would have made a joke like that a while back, but i figured it would fall flat!
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1468. KoritheMan
10:09 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
in other words, can a strong storm (>Cat3) form in an area of low TCHP?

Flossie of last year rapidly intensified into a Category 4 in an area of low TCHP, so yes.
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1467. presslord
6:08 PM EDT on June 29, 2008
only the South Carolinians my get this...

but...

I thought Strom died a couple years ago....
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1466. pearlandaggie
10:07 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
look at this mess...looks like road rash!

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1465. pearlandaggie
10:04 PM GMT on June 29, 2008
doesn't it seem a little counterintuitive? i mean, if the amount of energy available for formation is low (i.e., shallow warm water, or cooler waters, etc.), it would seem that the situation would "cap" the maximum potential intensity of any storm that might form.
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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.

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