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Extreme Rains Swamp Detroit

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 5:43 PM GMT on August 12, 2014

An extreme deluge nearly unprecedented in Detroit history brought the Motor City to a virtual standstill during the evening rush hour on Monday, with 4.57" of rain falling at the official measurement site at Detroit Metro Airport. The only wetter day in Detroit history (4.75") occurred on July 31 - August 1, 1925--over two years before the Ford Model A went into production. A slow-moving low pressure system tracked over Michigan on Monday, bringing thunderstorms that dumped 4 - 6" of rain--nearly two months' worth--over Metro Detroit in just four hours. Many major expressways in the city remain closed today due to floodwaters and flood damage. The northern Detroit suburb of Warren, where 5" of rain fell, has declared a state of emergency. Over 1,000 vehicles have been abandoned on major thoroughfares, and many more in neighborhoods. One person died in the storm--a heart attack victim found dead in her flooded car. All of Detroit's major expressways were closed due to flooding during the deluge; in my 40 years living in the area, I've never seen a flood do that. Detroit radar shows that a new round of showers is affecting the area this afternoon, which will slow efforts to drain the water off of blocked roads.


Figure 1. I-94 East in Detroit at Livernois on August 11, 2014. Image posted to Twitter by Ali B. (@AABaydoun.)


Figure 2. Erosion damage to I-75 South near I-696 in Detroit on August 12, 2014. Image credit: @MDOT_MetroDet via Twitter.


Figure 3. Rainfall amounts in the 24-hour period ending at noon EDT August 12, 2014, for Southeast Michigan. A wide area of 4+ inches of rain fell across Detroit and its northern suburbs. Image credit: National Weather Service.


Figure 4. The Rouge River in Detroit crested 4.5' above flood stage on Tuesday morning, August 12, 2014. This was the 5th highest crest since 1950. Fortunately, there are not many homes and businesses in the Rouge River flood plain in Detroit. Image credit: NOAA.

Thanks go to TWC's Jon Erdman and Nick Wiltgen for some of the links in this post. TWC has a good article with many images of the historic flood.

Jeff Masters
Record Rain/Flooding in Berkley 5
Record Rain/Flooding in Berkley 5
I recorded 6.25
Record rainfall floods metro-Detroit
Record rainfall floods metro-Detroit
4 to 5.5" of rain flooded the metro Detroit area today, catching most off guard.
I-75 and 696
I-75 and 696

Flood

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

that is a big fish storm
Quoting 499. MAweatherboy1:


Islip is up to over a foot now, and still coming fast!


Cells have been training in a diagonal fashion over southern Nassau to northern Suffolk Counties since before daybreak.

NWS is reporting 12.27 in at Islip over a half hour ago.

Rainfall totals.
503. beell


MESOSCALE PRECIPITATION DISCUSSION 0269
NWS WEATHER PREDICTION CENTER COLLEGE PARK MD
401 AM EDT WED AUG 13 2014

AREAS AFFECTED...NORTHEASTERN NJ/SOUTHEASTERN NY/LONG ISLAND/CT/RI/SOUTHERN MA...

CONCERNING...HEAVY RAINFALL...FLASH FLOODING LIKELY

VALID 130800Z - 131200Z

SUMMARY...TORRENTIAL DOWNPOURS CONTINUE TO IMPACT THE NJ COAST EARLY THIS MORNING WITH HOURLY RAINFALL RATES REACHING THE 2-3" RANGE. EXPECT THIS ACTIVITY TO CONTINUE LIFTING NORTH AND EAST WITH THE HEAVY PRECIPITATION SPREADING INTO LONG ISLAND/CT/RI. GIVEN THE HISTORY OF THIS SYSTEM...FLASH FLOODING WILL BE LIKELY THROUGH AT LEAST 12Z.

DISCUSSION...THIS AXIS OF CONVECTION CONTINUES TO REMAIN LOW-TOPPED GIVEN THE GENERAL LACK OF LIGHTNING BEING OBSERVED IN THE PAST FEW HOURS. HOWEVER...HIGHLY EFFICIENT WARM RAIN PROCESSES HAVE DOMINATED AND BROUGHT TORRENTIAL RAINFALL FROM THE BALTIMORE MD AREA NORTHEASTWARD THROUGH NORTHERN DE AND INTO SOUTHERN/EASTERN NJ. MOST RECENTLY THE MESONET OBSERVATIONS DEPICTED HOURLY RAINFALL AS HIGH AS 3.06" IN SHARK RIVER HILL...NJ WITH 5.57" OF RAIN OBSERVED IN BEACHWOOD...NJ BETWEEN 04-06Z. IT APPEARS AN AREA OF LOW PRESSURE DEVELOPING ALONG THE AXIS OF LOW-LEVEL CONVERGENCE HAS HELPED LOCALLY ENHANCE VERTICAL MOTIONS OVER THESE AREAS.

LOOKING AHEAD...THE 06Z RAP FORECAST STILL SHOWS ANOMALOUS PWATS BEING ADVECTED NORTH-NORTHWESTWARD TOWARD LONG ISLAND VIA A ROBUST 35 TO 40 KNOT SOUTH-SOUTHEASTERLY 850-MB JET. DYNAMICS REMAIN STRONG AND SEEM TO BE MAKING UP FOR THE LACK OF INSTABILITY. MUCAPE VALUES FROM THE 06Z RAP OBJECTIVE ANALYSIS ARE ONLY AROUND 200-300 J/KG. THE HIGH-RESOLUTION MODELS DOING BEST WITH THE CONVECTION ARE THE 06Z HRRR AND 00Z NSSL-WRF. WHILE SLIGHTLY OFF IN TIMING...BOTH DEPICT HEAVY RAINFALL CONTINUING WITH THE LATTER MODEL FOCUSING THE ACTIVITY ACROSS MUCH OF LONG ISLAND AND INTO WEST-CENTRAL CT. CONFIDENCE REMAINS HIGH THIS COMPLEX WILL REMAIN INTACT THE NEXT FEW HOURS WHILE MORE UNCERTAIN THEREAFTER.

RUBIN-OSTER

Link
I count only 4 thunderstorms across the entire MDR this morning in mid August with just 3 weeks to the peak of hurricane season. Hard to believe that this year could be even more depressing than 2013 was.

505. beell

Current RAP 2 hr Sfc Pressure Change, Winds


Current RAP 850 mb Moisture Transport
Good Morning Folks.  E-Pac continues on the move in mid-August while the Central-Atlantic still bone dry:


Likely already Karina:

508. SLU
Quoting 504. StormTrackerScott:

I count only 4 thunderstorms across the entire MDR this morning in mid August with just 3 weeks to the peak of hurricane season. Hard to believe that this year could be even more depressing than 2013 was.




If we got nothing else for the rest of the year it will still be more interesting than 2013 with 2 hurricanes already. :)
Quoting 506. weathermanwannabe:

Good Morning Folks.  E-Pac continues on the move in mid-August while the Central-Atlantic still bone dry:





Yep, El-Nino is about to finally come on it appears as the SOI continues to drop and a second warm pool forms.



Tight cluster near 1.5C which would be a moderate El-Nino come january.


And here is today's Hovmoller for the E-Pac and Atlantic ITCZ; both are situated at the magical 10N line but the Atlantic side has significant "gaps"..
Latest ATLAN Zonal Mean IR Temperatures

Latest EPAC Zonal Mean IR Temperatures 


tropical storm soon

Quoting 504. StormTrackerScott:
 
Hard to believe that this year could be even more depressing than 2013 was.


Bold claim is bold. Very bold.
Quoting 508. SLU:



If we got nothing else for the rest of the year it will still be more interesting than 2013 with 2 hurricanes already. :)


Well the CFS dam near shuts the Caribbean down for the rest of the year which is very surprising. I suspect we get a strong western Caribbean system come October.
Americans still live in Detroit? I thought we fenced it off to make a high security prison. I must be thinking of another city.
515. beell
Quoting 499. MAweatherboy1:


Islip is up to over a foot now, and still coming fast!


13 06:56 E 6 0.50 Heavy Rain Fog VV012 69 68 96% NA NA 29.72 1006.2 4.37
13 05:56 N 17 0.50 Heavy Rain Fog VV006 68 67 96% NA NA 29.73 1006.5 5.34

Almost 10" in 2 hrs.

Islip, NY Obs History
Lots of rain across New England today.

Hi everyone

It's 84 feeling like 89, partly cloudy kind of day here on the island this morning.

For those that are interested, we've finally got the first of two web cams up and running from where I work. If you'd like to take a look, here's the link:

Link

Hope all is well with everyone!

Lindy
I know that some folks will inevitably come on in the next several weeks with the standard "boring" comment in terms of a potentially suppressed Atlantic Cape Verde season but I would substitute the word "good" for boring; don't mind the break for the Caribbean and Florida in terms of a relative lack of intense hurricanes plowing through for as long as it will last.  The flip side, assuming that we do get Central Atlantic suppression is to keep an eye of waves that get into the Western Caribbean and/or Gulf; SST's in those parts are very high and there are considerable warm pools present through the Yucatan Channel region with a large warm pool eddy in the Southern Central Gulf this year:
 
Quoting 494. darbyderp:



what is this?


The ax of death chopping up the Tropical Waves as they exit Africa.
Quoting 490. hydrus:


490. hydrus
9:25 AM GMT on August 13, 2014

Quoting 487. HurrikanEB:

I'm anticipating reading at least a few comments about Hurricane Charley's 10 year anniversary today.
So, I'm just going to take a minute to remember his forgotten twin tropical storm Bonnie as well.
Together, with Bonnie coming ashore near Apalachacola on the 12th and Charley in Punta Gorda on the 13th, they are the only pair of storms to hit the same state in a 24 hour window. A prelude as to what Florida was in for that year. I remember them like they were yesterday.




2004..worse year of my life..


Charley hit on Friday 13th! What an unbelievable CAT 4 hurricane. I was travelling through central Florida just after it hit, and was amazed how heavy the damage was inland ... in the Kissimmee and Orlando areas!

Charley was following Bonnie, and was expected to make landfall in the Tampa area. It was caught up in a rare deep trough in the GOM, and turned more northeasterly... sooner than expected. Punta Gorda and Charlotte, FL were slammed.

This began the epic year of 2004 when 4 hurricanes slammed the state of Florida!
521. MahFL
Quoting 520. Stormwatch247:
This began the epic year of 2004 when 4 hurricanes slammed the state of Florida!


Ah the good old days...I was watching Charley at work on the radar and I thought to myself "It's turning right, I hope those people SE of Tampa are ready ".
Quoting 489. largeeyes:



You could probably make a circle for Ike over the ohio valley.....


Hurricane Ike - 2008 was unbelievable !!!!

The surge along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida flooded many areas, far inland. The fact that it brought hurricane force wind gusts to the Ohio Valley was incredible.

Ike ranks up there with other legendary hurricanes that have brought high winds far inland .... Hazel 1954, Hugo 1989, Opal 1995.
Finally; today's Africa shot; impressive wave about to emerge from the coast, not much behind it, and dry stable air out ahead of it to keep it suppressed. As good as it looks coming off the coast at the moment, getting past the Cape Verde islands in viable shape, and sustaining persistent convection to help create a reasonable moisture envelope for potential development, is another matter:



Quoting 447. TropicalAnalystwx13:




Cool Map !!!

Central Gulf Coast: Betsy, Camille, Eloise, Frederic, Elena, Erin, Opal, Georges, Ivan, Dennis, Katrina !!!

They were ALL bad !
Big night tonight as I'm heading to a TI concert tonight here in Orlando.

Link
Central atlantic looks like lava. once a wave hits water, completely fizzles out. GFS has been hinting at least 1 CV storm forming at the end of the month.
Ain't nothing fly about the Atlantic Basin this year.

Link
Invest 90E

Invest 90E
Last Updated Aug 13, 2014 12 GMT
Location 11.2 138.1W Movement W
Wind 25 MPH
down town detroit is really nice great stadium. problem is someone now has to pay the bills for it. .
532. beell
Low sun angle and the RGB loop seems to serve as a good cross-check to the CIMSS SAL product. The clear area surrounding the central Atlantic wave on the CIMSS product may be a bit deceiving.



invest 90E IS here now!!
I see a little something off NC coast but dont think it is anything
As the Atlantic sits dead the East Pac continues to crank out named storms.

EP, 11, 2014081312, , BEST, 0, 171N, 1104W, 35, 1005, TS

No surprise on this one given the improving satellite presentation. It may make a run at hurricane status in a couple days.

Morning all

So, with multi run support, the question becomes is this mostly based on climo; or can we expect to see it start to ramp up in the next 5-10 days. I am guessing the latter. Tide is aware of SAL. Corinne (ECMWF) showing anything in the same time frame?



tropical storm by 11am
Quoting 536. StormJunkie:

Morning all

So, with multi run support, the question becomes is this mostly based on climo; or can we expect to see it start to ramp up in the next 5-10 days. I am guessing the latter. Tide is aware of SAL. Corinne (ECMWF) showing anything in the same time frame?






Nothing on the Euro. Also the lows the GFS is showing are very weak. September is just 2 weeks away and I just don't see things changing from where they are now.

Nice MJO and we can't even get a storm and now suppression is coming back toward the Atlantic later this month something you don't want to see heading into September.



day 6 tropical low!!
All eyes should be pointed to the E-Pac the next few weeks as it looks very active across this region as another strong MJO moves in later this month.
The gfs are still showing at lest. 5 more name storms after this one for the rest of AUG if things keep going like this in sep. I think the E PAC has a vary good ch of hitting. The Z storm this season some in we have not seen in the E PAC in a long long time
Quoting 536. StormJunkie:

Morning all

So, with multi run support, the question becomes is this mostly based on climo; or can we expect to see it start to ramp up in the next 5-10 days. I am guessing the latter. Tide is aware of SAL. Corinne (ECMWF) showing anything in the same time frame?





As Scott said, nothing on Corinne. It's becoming increasingly possible we won't see development this month. It's still more likely than not we get at least one storm, but it shouldn't be too surprising if we don't.

Bertha formed July 31 by the way, so it wasn't an August development.
543. beell
Quoting 536. StormJunkie:

Morning all

So, with multi run support, the question becomes is this mostly based on climo; or can we expect to see it start to ramp up in the next 5-10 days. I am guessing the latter. Tide is aware of SAL. Corinne (ECMWF) showing anything in the same time frame?






Posted this last Saturday-and maybe a reason why the "disturbance" seems to hang around in the same spot.

Over the last few runs, GFS is getting pretty aggressive with the African Monsoon next week. A strong reversal of the easterlies (west winds) along the equator. One of the stronger monsoons I have seen in this model and certainly the best this year. Something an easterly wave(s) could take advantage of.

Getting out there a bit wrt to timeframe (Monday after next). Some evidence of a noticeable low level wind reversal begins to show up as early as this Thursday or Friday. Sometimes worth giving the GFS the benefit of the doubt regarding synoptic scale features.



08/09 18Z GFS 700 mb heights, rh @ 204 hrs
(black dashed line represents axis of the monsoon circulation)


And today's 06Z version at the same modeled time (Monday, 8/14 06Z)


08/13 06Z GFS 700 mb heights, winds, and rh-Valid Monday, 08/18 @ 06Z
538...May not be bombing them out, but it is showing the largest, and best defined 850mb signature we've seen to date.



And again, it has supported this idea for several days now, run after run.

Quoting 542. MAweatherboy1:


As Scott said, nothing on Corinne. It's becoming increasingly possible we won't see development this month. It's still more likely than not we get at least one storm, but it shouldn't be too surprising if we don't.

Bertha formed July 31 by the way, so it wasn't an August development.
Bertha was. UTC.
Thanks bl. I've asked/pointed out several times that it was odd to see the potential low propagate N towards the CV's before beginning its track west. That's the first explanation I've heard that makes some sense.

Not saying that the GFS IS going t o verify, but am gaining a little confidence. Usually when it is persistent with a feature, there is at least something in the ballpark that does end up verifying.


Quoting 538. StormTrackerScott:



Nothing on the Euro. Also the lows the GFS is showing are very weak. September is just 2 weeks away and I just don't see things changing from where they are now.

Nice MJO and we can't even get a storm and now suppression is coming back toward the Atlantic later this month something you don't want to see heading into September.


That doesn't look like sinking air to me. A little bit on the August 17 timestamp still lingering in the Caribbean, but that makes sense if you extrapolate the current conditions.
There will be a "cluster" of several Cape Verde storms at some point in the peak period this year like every year (and the last two seasons).  The issue, as I see it, is whether we will actually see any hurricanes (as opposed to struggling topical storms) form in the Central Atlantic before reaching the islands because of the similar dry-stable air issues so far in the Atlantic as noted by Dr. M yesterday.  No way to know (no crystal ball) how conditions might change, for the better or worse, for any particular wave or storm as it crosses the Atlantic or after it enters the Caribbean region during the peak.

For now, the E-Pac rules.   
For those that missed it...Notice the Sandy track, slap in the face to Tide/Gyre, on Corinne's panels. Either way, not junk computers...



Gyre...

Quoting 545. KoritheMan:


Bertha was. UTC.


Oh yeah, that's true. I just looked at the advisory archive and saw the 31st.
551. beell
Quoting 546. StormJunkie:

Thanks bl. I've asked/pointed out several times that it was odd to see the potential low propagate N towards the CV's before beginning its track west. That's the first explanation I've heard that makes some sense.

Not saying that the GFS IS going t o verify, but am gaining a little confidence. Usually when it is persistent with a feature, there is at least something in the ballpark that does end up verifying.


20 knot easterly winds in the model at 700 mb is notable.
Quoting 519. StormTrackerScott:



The ax of death chopping up the Tropical Waves as they exit Africa.


The SAL as it progresses off the coast of Africa has had that ENE to WSW orientation for most of this season. Which is essentially driving that dry air right into the heart of the MDR aiding in reducing vertical instability.
The 00z Euro has one lonely ensemble member developing ex 94L and taking it to NC..I cant even call that a trend..LOL..
Good Morning Everyone. Today marks the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Charley's landfall in Southwest FL. To those of us who were living in the Tampa Bay area, Charley was originally forecasted to make landfall up here, but made the right hand turn earlier then expected. Thankfully, today they are no Charley's in the Atlantic.



Quoting 548. weathermanwannabe:

There will be a "cluster" of several Cape Verde storms at some point in the peak period this year like every year (and the last two seasons).  The issue, as I see it, is whether we will actually see any hurricanes (as opposed to struggling topical storms) form in the Central Atlantic before reaching the islands because of the similar dry-stable air issues so far in the Atlantic as noted by Dr. M yesterday.  No way to know (no crystal ball) how conditions might change, for the better or worse, for any particular wave or storm as it crosses the Atlantic or after it enters the Caribbean region during the peak.

For now, the E-Pac rules.   
in seasons like this we look for surprise storms forming in the gulf,season is almost at its height..the dangerous months lie ahead
I used to watch TWC a lot more back in those days, my favorite Meteorologist was Dr. Steve Lyons.
Quoting 542. MAweatherboy1:


As Scott said, nothing on Corinne. It's becoming increasingly possible we won't see development this month. It's still more likely than not we get at least one storm, but it shouldn't be too surprising if we don't.

Bertha formed July 31 by the way, so it wasn't an August development.

I will be shocked if we get no named storms between now and 8/31. Even 1983 had Alicia and Barry. 2013 even had development. Last year with no development in August especially late August 1997. No development would be surprising.
Quoting 556. LargoFl:

in seasons like this we look for surprise storms forming in the gulf,season is almost at its height..the dangerous months lie ahead
Hey Largo, were you here for Gabrielle in 2001?
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
Good thing the forum has excessive rains in BWI and ISP to discuss.

Quick look at GEFS members and 1004 mb or below lows, and 16 day Euro control, I'd say the odds of finishing August w/o another named storm is about 50/50, despite the late month uptick of climatology. September, maybe the changing pattern into Autumn gets things going. No se.


That said, the 6Z GFS 16 day forecast of a TC possibly getting trapped beneath a ridge, who knows, maybe they'll be something to talk about besides heavy rain and EPAC/CPAC. If the cold front has pushed a little farther into the Gulf, that'd be a topic, but it didn't...
563. MahFL
Quoting 540. StormTrackerScott:

All eyes should be pointed to the E-Pac the next few weeks as it looks very active across this region as another strong MJO moves in later this month.


Why, nothing there but fish and dolphins....
Quoting 514. Pallis1:

Americans still live in Detroit? I thought we fenced it off to make a high security prison. I must be thinking of another city.

The adults here would be most grateful were everyone to spew their vile, ignorant, and bigoted comments elsewhere. So, you know, TIA...
565. 1344
Quoting 563. MahFL:



Why, nothing there but fish and dolphins....


It's because tracking hurricanes are fun.
I was told yesterday NOAA data is misleading and these maps are useless until a storm forms but I'm going to still post them hoping those bloggers are wrong and NOAA instead is right..