Massive flooding in Australia cuts off city of 75,000

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:52 PM GMT on January 03, 2011

The arrival of the new year has brought continued misery to northeast Australia, where unprecedented flooding continues in the wake of weeks of torrential rains. The floods have killed at least ten people and covered an area the size of France and Germany combined, cutting off the coastal city of Rockhampton. Today, the military was forced to fly in food, water, and other supplies into Rockhampton, a city of 75,000, due to the lack of unflooded roads into the city. The local airport, all access roads, and all rail lines into the city are closed. The flooding has affected at least 21 other towns, and 200,000 people in northeast Australia. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard stated last week, "Some communities are seeing flood waters higher than they've seen in decades, and for some communities flood waters have never reached these levels before [in] the time that we have been recording floods." According to the National Climatic Data Center, springtime in Australia (September - November) had precipitation 125% of normal--the wettest spring in the country since records began 111 years ago. Some sections of coastal Queensland received over 4 feet (1200 mm) of rain from September through November. Rainfall in Queensland and all of eastern Australia in December was the greatest on record, and the year 2010 was the rainiest year on record for Queensland. The heavy rains are due, in part, to the moderate to strong La Niña event that has been in place since July. The relatively warm waters that accumulate off the northeast coast of Australia during a La Niña typically cause heavy rains over Queensland.


Figure 1. Comparison of river conditions in Queensland from today to December 30, 2010. While some rivers have fallen below major flood stage, the Fitzroy River at Rockhampton is rising, and may peak at levels not seen since 1918 on Wednesday. Image credit: Australian Bureau of Meteorology.


Figure 2. Rainfall in Queensland, Australia for December, 2010. Image credit: Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

The rains over Queensland continued yesterday and today, with many of the flooded regions receiving 1/2 - 1 inch (about 12 - 25 mm) of rain. Total rainfall amounts in the flood region over the past month are generally in the 16 - 24 inch range (400 - 600 mm). Predicted rainfall amounts for the next two days in the flooded region are less than 1/2 inch (12 mm), which should allow for river levels to peak by Tuesday or Wednesday, then slowly fall. However, heavy rains are predicted to affect the area again by Thursday, and it may be several weeks before the summer rains ease enough to allow all of Queensland's rivers to retreat below flood stage. Damage to infrastructure in Australia has been estimated at over $1 billion by the government, and economists have estimated the Australian economy will suffer an additional $6 billion in damage over the coming months due to reduced exports, according to insurance company AIR Worldwide. Queensland is Australia's top coal-producing state, and coal mining and delivery operations are being severely hampered by the flooding. Damage to agriculture is currently estimated at $400 million, and is expected to rise.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting belizeit:
Hi hows everyone ? We are in desperate need of rain here in the tropics we now have 33 days with almost no rain we have had a few traces of rain but its bone dry out here .
Wuzup Belize....Does not look like rain any time soon for you.
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The Mayans certainly wont like dat..
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Hi hows everyone ? We are in desperate need of rain here in the tropics we now have 33 days with almost no rain we have had a few traces of rain but its bone dry out here .
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GFS long-range ensembles beginning to hint at the pattern finally going to what it was "supposed" to be after New Year's. The pattern on Day 15 has a trough over the east but a weak one at that, and no real arctic air available with it due to the southwesterly flow into Canada off the Pacific. One can see the big negative in the western Pacific has migrated east from its previous position centered over Japan, and by Day 15 the pattern looks warm for Alaska. However, this negative will likely continue to migrate east towards western North America, all the while driving the cold air out of the eastern U.S. and probably getting the La Nina ridge to show its face over the southeast. Eventually we should get the typical pattern of very cold from Alaska through western Canada to the Pacific northwest and warmer than normal from Texas to New England for the latter half of the winter. We shall see.

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Highest pressure is 1064mb in the US in Montanna in the 83 outbreak
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 10534
GFS Euro I think
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 10534
Quoting RitaEvac:
Models were indicating a 1070mb high sliding over into the Yukon, but has since backed off to at least 1060mb. Other day that site was forecasting lows in the low -90s and has since backed off on that as well to only the -80s.


Which site was this?
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Models were indicating a 1070mb high sliding over into the Yukon, but has since backed off to at least 1060mb. Other day that site was forecasting lows in the low -90s and has since backed off on that as well to only the -80s.
Only in the minus 80,s....:)
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Models were indicating a 1070mb high sliding over into the Yukon, but has since backed off to at least 1060mb. Other day that site was forecasting lows in the low -90s and has since backed off on that as well to only the -80s.
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 10534
Quoting RitaEvac:


Temp could rise 100 degrees and it would still be snowing, now that is insane
And the record low on earth is more than 55 degrees below that.....lol...The lowest temperature ever recorded at the surface of the Earth was 128.6 at the Russian Vostok Station in Antarctica July 21, 1983.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
30.66 what is that in millibars?


1038.3mb
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30.66 what is that in millibars?
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Temp could rise 100 degrees and it would still be snowing, now that is insane


How it is even snowing at that temperature and pressure is remarkable. I wonder if it is not just heavy ice crystals floating in the air that they are calling snow.
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Ojmjakon, Russia (Airport)
Updated: 48 min 48 sec ago
-72 °F
Snow
Humidity: 93%
Dew Point: -73 °F
Wind: Calm
Wind Gust: -
Pressure: 30.66 in (Rising)
Visibility: 12.0 miles
Elevation: 2444 ft

http://www.wunderground.com/global/stations/24688.html


Temp could rise 100 degrees and it would still be snowing, now that is insane
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 10534
Quoting MichaelSTL:


The real cause of both the colder temperatures and the hurricane tracks is the unprecedented negative NAO, which will very likely be negative for the 16th consecutive month - the previous record streak was only 9 months in 1968-1969:



Also, despite having a La Nina instead of an El Nino, this pattern is virtually identical to last winter! In other words, ENSO is having virtually no effect on the patterns these days.


This is a very poor statement. To say that the most influential and variable equatorial ocean cycle can ever cease to have significant effects on the longwave pattern north of it is quite ridiculous.

One must realize that the monster block over Greenland is the only anchoring feature that is similar to last year's winter, and there are many explanations for why it has lasted so long, one of them possibly being all the arctic volcanic activity during the last several years.

So far this winter, there has been a block in the northern Pacific sticking up into eastern Siberia, a signatory feature of La Nina patterns, which has allowed Alaska to be much colder than normal thus far, the complete opposite of last winter. Furthermore, a La Nina in the Pacific means the lack of a southern jet, which there has been, and this has not allowed the troughing in the eastern U.S. to draw back all the way into Texas like it did last winter and caused all the snow in Dallas. Instead, Texas has been averaging warmer than normal so far this winter.

Also, the tendency for heights to lower over the eastern United States has been explained very nicely by the high hurricane activity we just had in the Atlantic basin, a relationship that was brought to light by Joe Bastardi's father, and recently echoed by Joe when he constructed the winter forecast this year.

Let us not start dismissing one of the most important climate cycles as starting to become somehow ineffective with what is happening in the mid-high latitudes.

Dec 2009-Feb 2010 500mb Height:



Dec. 1st, 2010 to Jan. 1st, 2011 500mb Height:

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Ojmjakon, Russia (Airport)
Updated: 48 min 48 sec ago
-72 °F
Snow
Humidity: 93%
Dew Point: -73 °F
Wind: Calm
Wind Gust: -
Pressure: 30.66 in (Rising)
Visibility: 12.0 miles
Elevation: 2444 ft

http://www.wunderground.com/global/stations/24688.html
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 10534
Quoting Neapolitan:

That's right in line with what many climate scientists had been predicting as the oceans and air warm: fewer storms overall, but more powerful ones when they do occur. For instance, there was but one category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic in the eight years from 1995 through 2002, yet there have been seven in the eight years since then (and there will have been eight if Igor is bumped up, a distinct possibility). I would expect much more of the same in the future.
That would be bad news for regions within the hurricane belt. I would rather ride out 5 cat-1 hurricanes than 1 cat-4 or 5. I do realize a cat-1 can still be devastating, especially if they hit back to back. But I have been through Cat-1 -2 -3 -4.....Charley was the worst. ..Jeanne was 2nd.
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Quoting bappit:


??? And by what means have we determined peak hurricane intensity from 1968 to now? dvorak estimate unless HHs were present at the right moment and found FLIGHT LEVEL maximum and reduce to surface value. QuikScat has an amazingly wonderful pass coincident in swath and time to find a maximum. SFMR on HHs comes along...best to date, but still requires HHs to find the maximum and be present at the right time. Maximum surface wind speed in hurricanes TODAY, IN 2010 2011, is still debatable. Historical records of it are terrible. And, likely, slanted in the weaker direction given that the right spot and time had to have been found to measure it. Otherwise, a lesser value is used as the max surface wind speed.

See how that keeps from stretching out the blog?

And when I quote you again (because for once I agree with you), the benefits are doubled. By the way, I've been watching too much SG1 lately. The double spacing habit is a bit like the flashing eyes and deep voice of the snakey things. You know, Goa'uld.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
??? And by what means have we determined peak hurricane intensity from 1968 to now?

dvorak estimate unless HHs were present at the right moment and found FLIGHT LEVEL maximum and reduce to surface value.

QuikScat has an amazingly wonderful pass coincident in swath and time to find a maximum.

SFMR on HHs comes along...best to date, but still requires HHs to find the maximum and be present at the right time.

Maximum surface wind speed in hurricanes TODAY, IN 2010 2011, is still debatable.

Historical records of it are terrible. And, likely, slanted in the weaker direction given that the right spot and time had to have been found to measure it. Otherwise, a lesser value is used as the max surface wind speed.


??? And by what means have we determined peak hurricane intensity from 1968 to now? dvorak estimate unless HHs were present at the right moment and found FLIGHT LEVEL maximum and reduce to surface value. QuikScat has an amazingly wonderful pass coincident in swath and time to find a maximum. SFMR on HHs comes along...best to date, but still requires HHs to find the maximum and be present at the right time. Maximum surface wind speed in hurricanes TODAY, IN 2010 2011, is still debatable. Historical records of it are terrible. And, likely, slanted in the weaker direction given that the right spot and time had to have been found to measure it. Otherwise, a lesser value is used as the max surface wind speed.

See how that keeps from stretching out the blog?
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 18 Comments: 6957
Quoting Ossqss:
Hummm, ACE ?



http://www.coaps.fsu.edu/~maue/tropical/


That's right in line with what many climate scientists had been predicting as the oceans and air warm: fewer storms overall, but more powerful ones when they do occur. For instance, there was but one category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic in the eight years from 1995 through 2002, yet there have been seven in the eight years since then (and there will have been eight if Igor is bumped up, a distinct possibility). I would expect much more of the same in the future.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15193
Quoting Ossqss:
331 -- Hummm, ACE ?



http://www.coaps.fsu.edu/~maue/tropical/

14 tropical storms for the N.W.Pacific and 8 tropical storms for the East Pacific....This truly amazes me..Tropical weather always does...
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331 -- Hummm, ACE ?



http://www.coaps.fsu.edu/~maue/tropical/

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And this looks like an ice storm....Way to far out in time to take seriously...
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This looks like a big winter storm in the making...
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Quoting alfabob:
Did some research on hurricanes since 1949 and found the following: pre-1968 the data on hurricane intensity by nhc updates most likely has large errors (when comparing the spread of speeds measured); when considering the most accurate data, ACE has been rising on average (linearly) 2.5 per year from 1968; and when considering the individual speeds (how frequently an update with a certain speed is released is increasing as follows (from 1968 up, based on 1968-2009 average):

155mph: 8.9% increase per year
150mph: 6.4% increase per year
145mph: 6.3% increase per year
140mph: 5.9% increase per year
135mph: 6.2% increase per year
130mph: 5.2% increase per year
125mph: 3.2% increase per year
120mph: 0.7% increase per year
115mph: 1.5% increase per year


??? And by what means have we determined peak hurricane intensity from 1968 to now?

dvorak estimate unless HHs were present at the right moment and found FLIGHT LEVEL maximum and reduce to surface value.

QuikScat has an amazingly wonderful pass coincident in swath and time to find a maximum.

SFMR on HHs comes along...best to date, but still requires HHs to find the maximum and be present at the right time.

Maximum surface wind speed in hurricanes TODAY, IN 2010 2011, is still debatable.

Historical records of it are terrible. And, likely, slanted in the weaker direction given that the right spot and time had to have been found to measure it. Otherwise, a lesser value is used as the max surface wind speed.
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Quoting Bordonaro:
Great ;0)
Good morning Bord. If you have a moment, there was talk of an ice storm for the deep south. Please give me you thoughts on the chance of this really occurring. We have been gettin our share of winter weather here on the plateau. I was hoping for some kind of reprieve from the cold so we can finish some yard work. (which we have a lot of ) ..:)
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Quoting RitaEvac:
GFS guidance for DFW shows temperatures below freezing from the 12th to the 20th during the entire period
Great ;0)
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Quoting MichaelSTL:


The real cause of both the colder temperatures and the hurricane tracks is the unprecedented negative NAO, which will very likely be negative for the 16th consecutive month - the previous record streak was only 9 months in 1968-1969:



Also, despite having a La Nina instead of an El Nino, this pattern is virtually identical to last winter! In other words, ENSO is having virtually no effect on the patterns these days.
That's what I said!.2011 isn't being original,and isn't bringing us good weather.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 12 Comments: 22732
Apparently we don't need to do anything about climate change...

We'll just change the climate back ourselves!!!

/sarcasm\

Link
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Quoting HurricaneKatrina:
The warm air appears to push the cold south. Anyone have any ideas on how this will impact Vermont?
The new models should pin things down a little bit, but my guess is snow for Vermont..
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2010 is on track to be the Earth's warmest year since record-keeping began in 1880, according to the National Climatic Data Center. From January-November, the Earth's temperature was 1.15 degrees F above the 20th-century average and .03 degrees above the previous warmest year, 2005.

Data for the entire year will be available on or about Jan. 14.

This will be the 34th consecutive year that the global temperature will be above average, according to the data center. The last below-average year was 1976.

Warmer-than-average temperatures occurred from January–November for most of the world's surface (see map, above). The warmest 11-month above-average temperatures occurred throughout the high-latitude regions of the Northern Hemisphere, Canada, Alaska, the tropical Atlantic Ocean, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and northern Africa.

Temperatures were notably cooler across the southern oceans, most of the eastern Pacific Ocean, western Scandinavia, parts of central Russia, and parts of Australia.

According to Environment Canada, 2010 set a record as the warmest January–November period for the country, at 5.2 degrees F above normal.

Global precipitation for the period January–November was also well above average, ranking 4th-wettest on record since 1900.

Link
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Several 40s in Greenland right now.
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Quoting hydrus:
They had a couple good snow storms too...

Yes, they did--and those were covered in comment #314. I just wanted to add some of the heat records for those curious types who might be interested.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15193
The Smithsonian Institution/U.S. Geological Survey

22 December-28 December 2010

New Activity/Unrest: | Etna, Sicily (Italy) | Kizimen, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) | San Cristobal, Nicaragua | Stromboli, Aeolian Islands (Italy) | Tengger Caldera, Eastern Java (Indonesia) | Tungurahua, Ecuador
Ongoing Activity: | Bulusan, Luzon | Fuego, Guatemala | Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) | Kilauea, Hawaii (USA) | Krakatau, Indonesia | Sakura-jima, Kyushu | Shiveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia) | Soufriere Hills, Montserrat
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Quoting hydrus:
The GFS also shows a huge amount of warm air advecting to extreme Northern Canada as cold air plunges south into the U.S.Link
The warm air appears to push the cold south. Anyone have any ideas on how this will impact Vermont?
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Crazy year, indeed. There were other things too, of course: Austin broke its previous all-time high of 107 by reaching 110 one day, and 112 the next; Dallas reached 111 in early September, that city's hottest September reading ever; by early September, Del Rio had already seen 57 100 degree+ days, while Dallas had seen 44; and so on.

All in all, definitely an active weather year for them...
They had a couple good snow storms too...
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Quoting RitaEvac:
SE TX 2010 Year in Review

Crazy year, indeed. There were other things too, of course: Austin broke its previous all-time high of 107 by reaching 110 one day, and 112 the next; Dallas reached 111 in early September, that city's hottest September reading ever; by early September, Del Rio had already seen 57 100 degree+ days, while Dallas had seen 44; and so on.

All in all, definitely an active weather year for them...
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The NGP shows the possibility of two winter weather events for the south...Link
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Quoting RitaEvac:
GFS guidance for DFW shows temperatures below freezing from the 12th to the 20th during the entire period
The GFS also shows a huge amount of warm air advecting to extreme Northern Canada as cold air plunges south into the U.S.Link
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Quoting RitaEvac:
GFS guidance for DFW shows temperatures below freezing from the 12th to the 20th during the entire period
Yep.

And ~12 F for a high temp with a 1040 mb high pressure Jan 17th to 18th.

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GFS guidance for DFW shows temperatures below freezing from the 12th to the 20th during the entire period
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SE TX 2010 Year in Review

Jan 9:

Strong arctic high pressure brought some of the coldest air to the region in over 20 years. Locations along and N of US 59 were at or below freezing for 36-40 hours with hard freezes for 3 nights in a row. This was one of the longest and coldest outbreaks since the Christmas 1989 arctic outbreak.

Lows for the 9th were:

College Station: 18
Conroe: 15
IAH: 21
Sugar Land: 16
Tomball: 18
Hobby: 21
Victoria: 17
Port Lavaca: 22
Austin: 10
DFW: 13
El Campo: 18
Waco: 8
Fort Worth: 9


Feb 10:

Sleet fell for 1-2 hours before changing to rain in Wharton, Fort Bend, and western Harris counties. Surface temperatures were in the low 40’s so everything melted on impact.


Feb 11-12:

Historic snows fell over N TX. 8-14 inches of snow fell over the Dallas/Fort Worth areas. Totals included:


DFW: 11.2
Haslet: 14.2
Ennis: 10.25
Rockwall: 11.0
Denton: 12.0
Fort Worth (NWS): 12.6
Royse City: 12.0
Keller: 13.8

DFW established a new 24-hr snowfall record of 12.5 inches.


Feb 23:

A rare late season snow event for SE TX. Snow accumulated across the northern 1/3rd of the area.


Huntsville: 3.0
Bryan: 3.0
Madisonville: 3.0
College Station: 2.0
Brenham: .75
Conroe: dusting


April 15-16:

Anchored convection over Live Oak and McMullen counties in south-central Texas produced 12-15 inches of rainfall resulting in significant flash flooding.


April 24:

A strong gravity wave from a thunderstorm complex over N TX traveled southward under a strong capping inversion aloft and produced winds of 40-60mph over the western end of Galveston Island. Winds at Jamaica Beach were recorded sustained at 49mph with a gust to 69mph and a gust to 79mph at San Luis Pass. Homes on the west end of Galveston sustained roof damage.


May 14-15:

Slow moving disturbances combined with Gulf moisture to produce copious rainfall and flooding over the coastal bend of TX into SE TX. In Victoria County alone over 40% of the roads were impassable on the morning of the 15th. Totals included:

Victoria: 9.12 (5.74 inches in 3 hours)
Bloomington: 6.37
Port Lavaca: 4.88
Inez: 6.32
Sugar Land: 4.06
Richmond: 4.17
Palacios: 4.54


May 24:

7.12 inches of rain falls at Del Rio, TX. May 2010 became the wettest May on record for Del Rio with 10.45 inches of rain.


June 3:

A powerful bow echo moved off the middle TX coast producing widespread wind damage from Seadrift to Corpus Christi. A wind gust of 79mph was recorded at NAS Corpus Christi and 85mph at an offshore oil rig.


June 9:

4.0 inches of rainfall in 50 minutes in Seguin, TX. 8-12 inches of rainfall over the upper Guadalupe River basin produced a dangerous flash flood through recreational areas along the river. The river rose over 25 feet in a few hours.


June 24:

A lightening strike from the top of an anvil cloud (thunderstorm top) miles away killed one person and injured another on a boat at the TX 124 bridge over the Intercoastal Waterway in Chambers County.


June 30:

Hurricane Alex made landfall in northern Mexico about 100 miles south of Brownsville. Moisture surged inland across all of coastal Texas resulting in flooding rains. Alex was a 100mph category 2 hurricane at landfall (rare so early in the season). In fact since 1886 there have only been six June category 2 or higher hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, the last being Hurricane Alma in 1966.


July 2:

Deep tropical moisture from Hurricane Alex produced flooding rainfall across Brazoria and Harris Counties. Rainfall totals of 4-6 inches were common over Harris County leading to flooding of bayous and streets. In Brazoria County up to 12 inches of rain fell which resulted in widespread flooding.


July 2010:

Flooding rainfall of up to 40.0 inches in Mexico from both Hurricane Alex and TD 2 produced record flooding along the Rio Grande River. Starting on July 14th, Flacon reservoir was releasing 60,000 cfs to relieve pressure against the dam and this release rate continue until July 27th. Falcon Reservoir crested at a new record storage level of 309.31 feet on the 17th (previous record was 308.1 in Oct 1958). The Reservoir pool was above flood stage for 31 days straight. Property and crop damages totaled over 100 million dollars and most of the Rio Grande Valley counties were declared federal disaster areas.


August 23:

Severe thunderstorms moving SW out of east TX produced damaging winds across SW Harris, Fort Bend, and Wharton counties. Wind gust to 65mph were recorded in Richmond and Sugar Land producing widespread power outages, down trees, and roof damage. Core of worst winds were found about 10 miles either side of a line from US 59 and the Brazos River SW across Greatwood to Pleak, TX.


September 6-8:

Tropical Storm Hermine made landfall in extreme northern Mexico and moved NNW across South TX into central TX wind widespread damaging winds and flooding rainfall. San Antonio recorded a wind gust of 64mph after the center had been inland for over 20 hours. The worst rainfall and flooding developed in a band along I-35 from San Antonio to north of Austin where a trailing feeder band stalled late on the 7th overnight into the 8th. Austin recorded 7.04 inches in 24-hours. Totals of 10-16 inches were common from central Williamson County into Travis County (highest total was 16.37 inches at Lake Georgetown). Several persons lost their lives after driving vehicles into flooded low water crossings.

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Quoting ILwthrfan:


When are the long range models forcasting for a nuetral or positive NAO?



Possible Midwest blizzard too? This is all subject to change of course, but most text discussions have a very powerful inverted trough cutting right from Denver to DC then up the eastern Sea board.


Well the greatest moisture advection will be along the coast and riding up the Eastern seaboard in the warm sector of the low pressure system
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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