Extreme Jet Stream Pattern Triggers Historic European Floods

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:48 PM GMT on June 09, 2013

A historic multi-billion dollar flood disaster has killed at least eighteen people in Central Europe after record flooding unprecedented since the Middle Ages hit major rivers in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Slovakia over the past two weeks. The Danube River in Passau, Germany hit the highest level since 1501, and the Saale River in Halle, Germany was the highest in its 400-year period of record. Numerous cities recorded their highest flood waters in more than a century, although in some locations the great flood of 2002 was higher. The Danube is expected to crest in Hungary's capital city of Budapest on June 10 at the highest flood level on record, 35 cm higher than the record set in 2006. The flooding was caused by torrential rains that fell on already wet soils. In a 2-day period from May 30 - June 1, portions of Austria received the amount of rain that normally falls in two-and-half months: 150 to 200 mm (5.9 to 7.9"), with isolated regions experiencing 250 mm (9.8"). This two-day rain event had a greater than 1-in-100 year recurrence interval, according to the Austrian Meteorological Agency, ZAMG. Prior to the late May rains, Austria had its seventh wettest spring in 150 years, which had resulted in the ground in the region becoming saturated, leading to greater runoff when the rains began.


Figure 1. Aerial view of the flooded Danube River in Deggendorf, Germany on Friday, June 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Armin Wegel)


Figure 2. The Danube River in Grein, Austria was barely kept in check by a floodwall built by IBS Engineering. Image credit: IBS Engineering.

Floods caused by a blocking high pressure system
The primary cause of the torrential rains over Central Europe during late May and early June was large loop in the jet stream that developed over Europe and got stuck in place. A "blocking high" set up over Northern Europe, forcing two low pressure systems, "Frederik" and "Günther", to avoid Northern Europe and instead track over Central Europe. The extreme kink in the jet stream ushered in a strong southerly flow of moisture-laden air from the Mediterranean Sea over Central Europe, which met up with colder air flowing from the north due to the stuck jet stream pattern, allowing "Frederik" and "Günther" to dump 1-in-100 year rains. The stuck jet stream pattern also caused record May heat in northern Finland and surrounding regions of Russia and Sweden, where temperatures averaged an astonishing 12°C (21°F) above average for a week at the end of May. All-time May heat records--as high as 87°F--were set at stations north of the Arctic Circle in Finland.


Figure 3. Nine-day rainfall amounts in portions of Southern Germany and Western Austria exceeded 12" (305 mm.) Image credit: ZAMG.

If it seems like getting two 1-in-100 to 1-in-500 year floods in eleven years is a bit suspicious--well, it is. Those recurrence intervals are based on weather statistics from Earth's former climate. We are now in a new climate regime with more heat and moisture in the atmosphere, combined with altered jet stream patterns, which makes major flooding disasters more likely in certain parts of the world, like Central Europe. As I discussed in a March 2013 post, "Are atmospheric flow patterns favorable for summer extreme weather increasing?", research published this year by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in German found that extreme summertime jet stream patterns had become twice as common during 2001 - 2012 compared to the previous 22 years. One of these extreme patterns occurred in August 2002, during Central Europe's last 1-in-100 to 1-in-500 year flood. When the jet stream goes into one of these extreme configurations, it freezes in its tracks for weeks, resulting in an extended period of extreme heat or flooding, depending upon where the high-amplitude part of the jet stream lies. The scientists found that because human-caused global warming is causing the Arctic to heat up more than twice as rapidly as the rest of the planet, a unique resonance pattern capable of causing this behavior was resulting. According to German climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf, "Planetary wave [jet stream] amplitudes have been very high in the last few weeks; we think this plays a role in the current German flooding event." More rains are in store for the flood area through Monday, then the blocking pattern responsible for the great 2013 Central European flood is expected to disintegrate, resulting in a return to more typical June weather for the next two weeks.


Figure 4. The northward wind speed (negative values, blue on the map, indicate southward flow) at an altitude of 300 mb in the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere during July 1980, July 2011, and the last twelve days of May 2013. July of 2011 featured an unusually intense and long-lasting heat wave in the U.S. (the 4th warmest month in U.S. history), and the normally weak and irregular waves (like observed during the relatively normal July of 1980) were replaced by a strong and regular wave pattern. Late May 2013 was also very extreme, resulting the great Central European floods of 2013. Image credit: Vladimir Petoukhov and Stefan Rahmstorf.

Links
Stefan Rahmstorf's blog (translated from German) on the unusual jet stream patterns that caused the Central European floods of 2013.

NASA has high-resolution MODIS satellite images showing the flooding of the Elbe River in Germany.

My April 2013 post, "Unusually cold spring in Europe and the Southeast U.S. due to the Arctic Oscillation", has a good summary of recent unusual jet stream patterns and the science behind them.


Video 1. Climate, Ice, and Weather Whiplash: In this June 3, 2013 video by the Yale Climate Forum's Peter Sinclair, Rutgers' Jennifer Francis and Weather Underground's Jeff Masters explore the 'Why?' of two years of mirror images of weather across North America.

I'm in Granby, Colorado this week for the American Geophysical Union's Chapman Conference on Climate Change Communication. Many of the talks will be webcast live; you can see a list of the talks (times in MDT) here. My talk, "The Weather Underground Experience," is scheduled for Monday at 4:30 pm MDT. I'll give a 15-minute overview of the history of wunderground, and what I've learned about communicating weather and climate change information along the way. There is live tweeting going on from the conference, #climatechapman. My blog updates this week may be somewhat random as a result of the conference, but I'm not seeing anything in the tropics worthy of discussion at this point.

Jeff Masters

June 9, 2013. Flood (Danube)
Budapest 2013/06/09 06:35 CEST. Flood. The ninth day
June 9, 2013.  Flood
"Welcome on board?" (barbamz)
Certainly no embarkments today ...

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Quoting Torito:


This is going to be so expensive to fix.. i hope these people have flood insurance....


As much as I've read: not too many, unfortunately. People say insurances didn't want to insure them because of high risks; insurances say people resisted their offers because people wanted to save money. So chose whom to follow.
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Quoting barbamz:


Hmm, maybe the wrong vocab. I'll change it to: completely flooded. I still need some exercise to cope whith the task of being a disaster reporter in English language, lol.


This is going to be so expensive to fix.. i hope these people have flood insurance....
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
i would not run regular gas thru those generators suggest you buy ethanol free fuel
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Quoting Torito:


the flooding went over the buildings?!


Hmm, maybe the wrong vocab. I'll change it to: completely flooded. I still need some exercise to cope whith the task of being a disaster reporter in English language, lol.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting barbamz:


At your service! I think you mean Doebeln. And there are bad news.

An article says, that the city of Doebeln was completely inundated by flooding Mulde River at June 2/3. 100 people had to be rescued. Now the waters have receded.

Watch the floodings:






the flooding went over the buildings?! I keep reading reports of houses underwater, and the whole city is covered by water now.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
i noticed some discussion on here about generators. a generator is only as good as it is maintained. as with most 4 stroke engines, they need to be run. as for generators this can be as little as once a quarter (follow mfg. recommendations). make sure that you run until all fuel is consumed. ethonal free fuel is recommended as ethonal can pit metal fuel tanks.
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Quoting pcola57:
Good Morning All..

Haven't read back on the blog yet..
But what is wrong with Gro??


He had a heart attack :{ Luckily, he is getting better.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting pcola57:
Good Morning All..

Haven't read back on the blog yet..
But what is wrong with Gro??


Post #433, pcola!
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Quoting HouGalv08:
Barbamz, any word you can get me about the little town Dubeln, about 40 miles to the west north west of Dresden would be appreciated. My grandmother was from that town, and I got a chance to visit there last year with my mother. Thanks, Gunther


At your service! I think you mean Doebeln. And there are bad news.

An article says, that the city of Doebeln was completely [edit:] flooded by Mulde River at June 2/3. 100 people had to be rescued. Now the waters have receded.

Watch the floodings:




Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Good Morning All..

Haven't read back on the blog yet..
But what is wrong with Gro??
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting 69Viking:


We picked up 3.75 inches of rain in NW Florida yesterday, first real rain we've had in about a month. Might get a little more today.


Picked up over 3" yesterday as well..

Precip map..

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Quoting WhereIsTheStorm:

I bought another brand since they were out of the Honda and it was noisy as hell, only a 5450 and drank gas. 7/12 gals every 12 hours at a time it was hard to find gas. It did run everything including a small window A/C; but no A/C and Microwave at the same time. Neighbor purchases a Honda 3000 ran everything in the house except A/C, he had to disconnect everything to use the microwave; but it ran 18 to 20 hours on 4 gals of gas.


I bought the Honda 3000 also..
Very quiet..
Like you said great on gas..
Had it for 7 years now..
Only thing happened is electric start failed and the cost of repair was prohibitive..
So two quick pulls and starts right up..
Runs all basic electrical stuff..
A life saver in the freezer and refrig. dept..
Small window A/C as well..
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting SouthernIllinois:
Picked up a quick 1" of rain down here in Union County in Southern Illinois. Oh yeah!!! :-)

Nat



We picked up 3.75 inches of rain in NW Florida yesterday, first real rain we've had in about a month. Might get a little more today.
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Quoting SouthernIllinois:
Picked up a quick 1" of rain down here in Union County in Southern Illinois. Oh yeah!!! :-)

Nat/SouthernIllinois



almost 1 inch here in the past 24 hours, and 2.4 inches from andrea. :P


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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Just talked to Grothar and read him your posts. He said thank you and your responses were unexpected and touching.

He closed with..."You will always be my favorite twits."


Get well soon Gro, prayers up for you!
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Just talked to Grothar and read him your posts. He said thank you and your responses were unexpected and touching.

He closed with..."You will always be my favorite twits."


Ahh... please get better, grothar..... :[

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Quoting barbamz:


Have a look at post #433, Torito.


Rainfall radar Europe. Similar pattern as mentioned in the entry of Dr. M. Rains are moving in from the easterly "backyard" and circling towards the Alpes.
Quoting barbamz:


Have a look at post #433, Torito.


Rainfall radar Europe. Similar pattern as mentioned in the entry of Dr. M. Rains are moving in from the easterly "backyard" and circling towards the Alpes.
Barbamz, any word you can get me about the little town Dubeln, about 40 miles to the west north west of Dresden would be appreciated. My grandmother was from that town, and I got a chance to visit there last year with my mother. Thanks, Gunther
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Quoting Luisport:
14.15 Clock: Record of 1855 wobbles


The situation in Lauenburg: At noon was measured at the level Hohnstorf a level of 9.30 meters. Which is already higher than that of the so-century floods 2006 (9.12 meters) and 2011 (9.22 meters). And there's no end in sight: The peak is expected for Tuesday with 10.15 meters - a new record. Highest ever measured water level in Hohnstorf were previously 9.88 meters on 20 Mrz 1855.


Webcam timelapse from Saturday to Monday morning of the rising waters at the river gauge of Lauenburg (which is situated very much downstream of Elbe River, not far from Hamburg).
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144HR NE FL
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The current setup looks rather ominous for an early cape verde season and to be precise,an early July low latitude cyclones
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14.15 Clock: Record of 1855 wobbles


The situation in Lauenburg: At noon was measured at the level Hohnstorf a level of 9.30 meters. Which is already higher than that of the so-century floods 2006 (9.12 meters) and 2011 (9.22 meters). And there's no end in sight: The peak is expected for Tuesday with 10.15 meters - a new record. Highest ever measured water level in Hohnstorf were previously 9.88 meters on 20 März 1855.
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Updated report on Spiegel English with photo gallery:
'Letting Us Drown': Flood Rushes North, Leaving Angry Residents Behind

Update on Deutsche Welle English:
Dam breaks on Elbe near Magdeburg, Germany

New overview page with links to the flood coverage on Deutsche Welle English:

Germany fights back floods
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563. SLU
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Indian Ocean is cooling and that is important in terms of the African Monsoon.


This is a near "perfect" setup.
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562. SLU
Quoting CybrTeddy:


Interesting to see cooling across both the equatorial Pacific and the Gulf of Guinea. This was also seen at this time in the season during the 2010, 2004, 2003, 2001, and 2000 Atlantic hurricane seasons. This may be a hint at an active CV season as 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2010 featured numerous Cape Verde hurricanes.
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Also PDO cools again and Gulf of Guinea continues to cool.


According to the CFS, the show is about to commence

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
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Quoting HouGalv08:
Honda if you can afford one. Ridiculously quiet, sips fuel. I made the decision to do so after Rita passed us by in 2005 and we lost electricity for 3 days. It was in the 100's and miserable. Almost killed our dog from the heat. So got the Honda 7000is after that near disaster. Had it for Ike and was glad we did. Ran 14 days on the generator. I'd wired it so that the generator fed the entire fuse panel. Throw the main breaker, trip the house air conditioner breaker, and bring the 2 phase breaker online for the generator. Powers the entire house normally and you can use a small window unit in whichever room you choose to cool. No extension cords running into the house.

I bought another brand since they were out of the Honda and it was noisy as hell, only a 5450 and drank gas. 7/12 gals every 12 hours at a time it was hard to find gas. It did run everything including a small window A/C; but no A/C and Microwave at the same time. Neighbor purchases a Honda 3000 ran everything in the house except A/C, he had to disconnect everything to use the microwave; but it ran 18 to 20 hours on 4 gals of gas.
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Quoting SFLWeatherman:


Indian Ocean is cooling and that is important in terms of the African Monsoon.
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Quoting SLU:
Hot off the press:



Also PDO cools again and Gulf of Guinea continues to cool.
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Quoting SLU:
Hot off the press:



Interesting to see cooling across both the equatorial Pacific and the Gulf of Guinea. This was also seen at this time in the season during the 2010, 2004, 2003, 2001, and 2000 Atlantic hurricane seasons. This may be a hint at an active CV season as 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2010 featured numerous Cape Verde hurricanes.
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555. SLU
Quoting Civicane49:


Waters remain neutral in the equatorial Pacific, and the MDR remains warmer than normal. Still favorable for an active hurricane season.


Yup
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Quoting SLU:
Hot off the press:



Waters remain neutral in the equatorial Pacific, and the MDR remains warmer than normal. Still favorable for an active hurricane season.
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Great explanatory video with well reinforced visuals and fundamentals.

IBS engineering has good reason to brag with that flood wall picture. Wow.

I thought the picture of the ferry sign gangway showing a broken bridge upstream was a great advert for taking the boat. But on reflection of the new angled image, nobody is taking the boat either.

Thanks

Speedy recovery Gro!
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552. SLU
Hot off the press:

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Good Morning. Godspeed to Grothar. Hoping that he will recover soon so he can officially activate the Grocon blob scale once we get to August if not sooner.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Just talked to Grothar and read him your posts. He said thank you and your responses were unexpected and touching.

He closed with..."You will always be my favorite twits."



Thankyou for posting this Geoffrey. I missed it the 1st time. Please pass on my wishes for him to
get well soon and I'll keep him in my prayers.

Doug Morrison
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Quoting Torito:
Anyone see grothar recently? i havent seen him in a while.


Have a look at post #433, Torito.


Rainfall radar Europe. Similar pattern as mentioned in the entry of Dr. M. Rains are moving in from the easterly "backyard" and circling towards the Alpes.
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Quoting percylives:


I was wondering about him myself and would appreciate the answer also.


He's had a heart attack, but is doing better. Prayers to him.
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Recently updated video on EuroNews: Central Europe record floods force thousands to evacuate
10/06 12:32 CET

BBC update: Thousands flee flood-hit parts of Germany and Hungary
10 June 2013 Last updated at 09:13 GMT

News video from the public local radio station MDR in German language. Pictures are from the region of Fischbeck and Schoenhausen where two crucial levees breached last night. Moreover they've flooded intentionally some polder areas to lessen water levels downstream (a bit!).


Source n-tv.de. Map from the newly flooded areas, where a very important railway bridge for high speed trains (connecting Berlin and Hamburg, Hannover and Frankfurt) had to be closed.

Gauge level readings

Postscript: The issue with Fig. 2 in the entry (see edited post #27) thankfully was fixed by Dr. Masters yesterday night.
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


See post 335


Done and thanks.

Grothar,

Hospitals are dangerous places. I do my best to avoid them but when I need to visit one I do my best to have a good time also.

Hope you're back here soon.

Percylives
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Regardless of Yagi making landfall in Japan, it will bring some heavy rain and high waves to southern Japan during the middle of this week.

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Quoting Torito:
Anyone see grothar recently? i havent seen him in a while.


I was wondering about him myself and would appreciate the answer also.
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6z GFS ensemble at 192 hours:

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Quoting Torito:
Anyone see grothar recently? i havent seen him in a while.


See post 335
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Yagi looks like a hurricane.......... i think there is an eye forming there now.

wind speeds arent high enough, but it still looks nice, none-the-less.

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