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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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.

Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 6 Comments: 4554
Quoting CybrTeddy:


06z GFS by 228 hours, development starting by 180 hours.


Oh ok it came back on this run. Now let's see if the next runs continue with it.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 76 Comments: 16821
Quoting CybrTeddy:


06z GFS by 228 hours, development starting by 180 hours.


1002 pressure, probs tropical storm strength if it stays there for the next 5-7 days..

Actually it might be 1007, which is TD at the most...
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 6 Comments: 4554
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Good morning to all,evening Aussie.

It looks like any development in the Atlantc side may have to wait for the MJO to arrive by late June or early July as the models don't have anything of significance. GFS dropped what it had showing in the Western Caribbean,CMC develops in EPAC and ECMWF doesn't have anything that looks to develop.


06z GFS by 228 hours, development starting by 180 hours.
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Anyone see grothar recently? i havent seen him in a while.
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 6 Comments: 4554
Heavy fog has set in this morning, here in Northwest Florida. Visibility was pretty low when I first woke --- seems to get lower as the morning progresses.
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Morning
There appears to be signs that hostile conditions in the tropical atlantic are coming to a slow end. the only area that continues to be unfavourable for development is bttwween the lesser Antilles as far east to the cape verdes. wind shear continues with a TUTT from Hispanoila to near costa rica. this is showing signs of weakening. there is also an upper low north of the islands which is causing additional shear. that low is moving west. Looking at the shear maps for the next few days, it appears that conditions will be decrease thereby making the tropical atlantic more conducive for cyclogenesis.
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 3087
Good morning to all,evening Aussie.

It looks like any development in the Atlantc side may have to wait for the MJO to arrive by late June or early July as the models don't have anything of significance. GFS dropped what it had showing in the Western Caribbean,CMC develops in EPAC and ECMWF doesn't have anything that looks to develop.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 76 Comments: 16821
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


Really? ??

Somehow we managed to get those 28 named storms there.
Very superficial statement I know


You will note though that we only had one or two Cape Verde hurricanes that year, and no major Cape Verde hurricanes. Most of them developed west of 50W, but the MDR had tons of Saharan air.
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60 years later, tornado's scars linger

For the survivors of the June 9, 1953, Worcester County tornado there is one common denominator.

When the sky turns a deep purple and rumbling thunder advances from the northwest, they pay attention to the severe weather warnings that flash across a screen or interrupt a radio broadcast.......

Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 16226
Still hanging on:

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11.15 Clock: flood after heavy rain in Thuringia


Thunderstorms and heavy rain have again led to over-irrigation of southern Thuringia roads, especially in Sonneberg and Steinach. There, the water masses oppressed partially manhole cover upwards. A supermarket in Sonneberg was flooded and had to be pumped out.


10.53 Clock: diversions in rail chaos


The record flooding in eastern Germany has greatly disturbed beginning of the week the railway. Because of a dam failure at Schoenhausen in Saxony-Anhalt to the nearby Elbe railway bridge had to be closed, as the German railway announced. Rail passengers must be set up to hours of delays. More chaos for train and how the trains are currently being redirected, click here .
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Good morning! I'm hastily checking in because I'll have to go to work. Very bad news from flood stricken Germany. More to post later when I'm back.

Germany steps up flooding evacuations
Published: 10 Jun 13 08:25 CET | Print version
Updated: 10 Jun 13 10:04 CET
German authorities urged 15,000 more people to flee their homes in Magdeburg on the swollen Elbe River, as the worst floods in a decade also began to burst through water-soaked dykes.

Read the whole article on "The Local"

Photo gallery on german Spiegel here
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527. vis0
Quoting notanotherwrong:
Local mets here in florida have been saying that the bermuda high will be strong again this year and not as close to the conus so that should help keep storms out to sea even more in recent past years .... lets hope they are right

ani. repeats12 times.

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Joe Bastardi‏@BigJoeBastardi5 h
Getting more impressed with set up for western lake to mid atlantic tornado outbreak wed into Fri, Will start hyoing tomorrow if need be
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UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.3
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 10 JUN 2013 Time : 073000 UTC
Lat : 23:42:48 N Lon : 134:21:34 E


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.3 / 987.1mb/ 51.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
3.3 3.6 3.8

Center Temp : -53.5C Cloud Region Temp : -54.0C

Scene Type : CURVED BAND with 0.88 ARC in LT GRAY

Positioning Method : FORECAST INTERPOLATION

Ocean Basin : WEST PACIFIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : PACIFIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : 0.7T/6hr
Weakening Flag : OFF
Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

C/K/Z MSLP Estimate Inputs :
- Average 34 knot radii : 43km
- Environmental MSLP : 1005mb

Satellite Viewing Angle : 30.2 degrees
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Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
first category is a tropical storm as I said.

when it gets to 65 knots JMA notes categorized is as strong typhoon.

(Why would it be called a strong typhoon if it was not categorized as a typhoon during the tropical storm phase)


Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 16226
521. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
first category is a tropical storm as I said.

when it gets to 65 knots JMA notes categorized is as strong typhoon.

(Why would it be called a strong typhoon if it was not categorized as a typhoon during the tropical storm phase)
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Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 16226
Quoting HadesGodWyvern:


subject line is my format

I have been going by a named storm gets a typhoon name. The categories for these typhoons are tropical storm, severe tropical storm, strong typhoon, very strong typhoon, and intense typhoon.

sorry for confusion.

Where does it say Yagi is a Cat 1 Typhoon. Which agency?
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 16226
518. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)


HadesGodWyvern, JMA has it as a TS also, not a Tyhoon.


subject line is my format

I have been going by a named storm gets a typhoon name. The categories for these typhoons are tropical storm, severe tropical storm, strong typhoon, very strong typhoon, and intense typhoon.

sorry for confusion.
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If the image shows...not organized but similar to the GFS and under a building ridge.

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All of the global models are enthusiastic about the upward MJO pulse returning to the eastern Pacific and Atlantic by late June. There is a chance that at least one more tropical cyclone develops in either of those basins this month.

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Quoting AussieStorm:


Tropical Storm or Typhoon? PAGASA has Yagi as a TS JTWC has it as a TS. JMA is Confused.


HadesGodWyvern, JMA has it as a TS also, not a Tyhoon.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 16226


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Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #19
TROPICAL STORM YAGI (T1303)
15:00 PM JST June 10 2013
===============================

SUBJECT: Category One Typhoon In Sea South Of Japan

At 6:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Yagi (992 hPa) near 23.4N 134.1E has 10 minute sustained winds of 40 knots with gusts of 60 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving north northeast at 10 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T2.5

Gale Force Winds
================
180 NM from the center in southeastern quadrant
120 NM from the center in northwestern quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
========================
24 HRS: 27.7N 134.8E - 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) near Minami daito, Okinawa
48 HRS: 30.1N 134.6E - 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Shikoku Prefecture
72 HRS: 32.1N 135.1E - 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Kii Peninsula


Tropical Storm or Typhoon? PAGASA has Yagi as a TS JTWC has it as a TS. JMA is Confused.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 16226
Quoting daddyjames:
Well all,

I am turning in. Aussie - good afternoon. VR46L - a good (early?) morning to you.

Have a good day!




Night mate!
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 16226
511. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #19
TROPICAL STORM YAGI (T1303)
15:00 PM JST June 10 2013
===============================

SUBJECT: Category One Typhoon In Sea South Of Japan

At 6:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Yagi (992 hPa) near 23.4N 134.1E has 10 minute sustained winds of 40 knots with gusts of 60 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving north northeast at 10 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T2.5

Gale Force Winds
================
180 NM from the center in southeastern quadrant
120 NM from the center in northwestern quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
========================
24 HRS: 27.7N 134.8E - 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) near Minami daito, Okinawa
48 HRS: 30.1N 134.6E - 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Shikoku Prefecture
72 HRS: 32.1N 135.1E - 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Kii Peninsula
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Well all,

I am turning in. Aussie - good afternoon. VR46L - a good (early?) morning to you.

Have a good day!



Member Since: June 25, 2011 Posts: 3 Comments: 6497
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Check out this monster of an upper-level low off the southwestern coast of California. It has an extremely dry core (RH values <10%).



Unusually dry cut-off low near the southern California coast

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Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 16226
I got 4 inches of rain in an hour earlier, with over an inch more expected tomorrow.

This is on top of the several inches we got mid-week last week...which was added on several inches by Andrea.

Gotta love June weather.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 128 Comments: 35751
506. VR46L
Just looked over the 00z models that have run over night Nothing much happening on them . The only real bone that they have thrown is the CMC @240hr ... a possible Barb #2 where a storm is heading for the area in Mexico where it could make a crossing into the BOC

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Quoting Hugo5:


Roger.

I agree should be our new invest. Any idea if it has model support?
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 16226
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Does anyone know the record for latest recorded first typhoon formation in the West-Pac? I don't believe we've had one yet this year and it doesn't look like Yagi will do it. It seems like this is very late in the year to not have had a typhoon out there yet.



Typhoon Conson (2010) July 11
Typhoon Faye (1995) July 19
Typhoon Otto (1998) August 1
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 16226
Quoting Levi32:
This is an experimental product of mine.

Analog-based "forecast" (based on May analysis) of 500mb height suggests that the positive AO/NAO regime will maintain itself through September, with September ridging setting up just south of the Great Lakes in a position that would promote hurricane landfalls.

ACC refers to the Anomaly Correlation Coefficient, which varies between -1 and 1, with 1 being a perfect match between the analysis and the analog year, and 0 having no correlation at all.

You kind of need the full-sized image to see anything.



Ah now I understand some of it. Pictures help. :)
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502. Hugo5
Quoting AussieStorm:


You mean at 102W 10N? (far left)




Roger.
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Quoting sar2401:

The one on now that I'm getting is about the Hindenberg. I imagine we'll get to lightning at some point.


Oh, the humanity!
Member Since: June 25, 2011 Posts: 3 Comments: 6497
Quoting Jedkins01:



Alright, tropical storm Andrea was nothing special, several EF0 tornadoes, heavy rain and gusty winds is typical summer weather in Florida. But I'm not sure where you concluded that it didn't produce any tropical storm force winds on land...

Link



Those are gusts, not sustained winds.
Member Since: June 25, 2011 Posts: 3 Comments: 6497
Nice LLC of a Low pressure SW of Western Australia right now.

Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 16226
Quoting txjac:



Goodness ...wish I knew what the "h-e double hockey sticks" the two of you are talking about!


Lol. I'm with you. It does sound interesting though. :)
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Quoting Hugo5:
Should have an EPAC investment later today, it appears that a cluster of thunderstorms associated with a trough have begun to organize. First guess is that it will be 10-20% chance for developement in 48 hours.


You mean at 102W 10N? (far left)


Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 16226
Quoting Jedkins01:


This is a different show now, seems interesting though, I think its about historical events on which weather was an important influence.

I'll be interested to see if they mention why the Hindenberg in terms of it being bouyant because of hydrogen and the United States role in making sure the Germans had to use hydrogen.
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495. Hugo5
Should have an EPAC investment later today, it appears that a cluster of thunderstorms associated with a trough have begun to organize. First guess is that it will be 10-20% chance for developement in 48 hours.
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Quoting sar2401:

Good evening, Nigel. 73 with a dewpoint of 69 here in SE Alabama. Our high was a riproaring 79. Cloudy all day with on and off showers, got.32" total. There's a menacing looking line of storms over in Mississippi, but it looks like the south end of the line is weakening as it approaches the South Alabama shield. Another round of showers and thunderstorms tomorrow, clears out Tuesday, and our high Wednesday should be about 97. About the only thing that changes fast here is the weather. :-)

Thanks for the info my friend!
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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."


Sad news about his heart attack, but good to hear he is recovering well. I've always enjoyed his contributions.

Master of Blobs, you must reclaim you're throne soon. Otherwise the kingdom will grow restless with the influx of wishcasters who know not of your wisdom! :)
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


If ya had to bet the house on it.......Would ya bet for or against a repeat of this scenario on storm tracks?

I don't think I'd bet the house unless I was already underwater on the mortgage. :-)
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Quoting sar2401:

The one on now that I'm getting is about the Hindenberg. I imagine we'll get to lightning at some point.


This is a different show now, seems interesting though, I think its about historical events on which weather was an important influence.
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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