|Above: Flooding in southwest Arkansas on July 16, 2019 from Tropical Depression Barry. Image credit: Brandon Clement via weather.com.|
Update: Dierks, Arkansas reported a 24-hour rainfall amount of 16.17" July 15 - 16, 2019, from Tropical Depression Barry, with an additional 0.42" falling during the previous three days, potentially from Barry. The storm total of 16.17 - 16.59" thus establishes a new all-time state record for rain from a tropical cyclone.
Rainfall from Tropical Depression Barry deluged southwest Arkansas over the past three days, with the 14.58” that fell at Murfreesboro on July 14 - 16 breaking the all-time state record for precipitation from a tropical cyclone. Barry’s heavy rains that fell over southwest Arkansas inundated multiple highways, including I-30, and prompted four high-water rescues, according to weather.com. The heaviest rains from Barry have been in Louisiana, though, with 23.58” at Beauregard.
On Tuesday, the heavy rains of Barry reached all the way into Michigan--a state unaccustomed to seeing tropical cyclone impacts. Heavy rains obscured visibility on I-96 north of Ann Arbor, causing a 40+ car pile-up that injured six people, and over 4” of rain fell in less than two hours at stations in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti--not far below the all-time state tropical cyclone precipitation record of 6.07” set in 1961 from Hurricane Carla.
For the third consecutive year, a mainland U.S. state has reportedly set a new record for wettest hurricane (since 1950). I've color coded by decade; of note, 11 of the Lower 48 States have set a new record since 2000. pic.twitter.com/PxDh1sizej— Steve Bowen (@SteveBowenWx) July 17, 2019
Five all-time state precipitation records broken in the past two years
Barry’s rainfall record in Arkansas is the fifth state all-time tropical cyclone precipitation record to fall in a span of less than two years, which is a pretty remarkable pace of record-breaking, since all-time state records are difficult to break. Just last year, slow-moving Hurricane Florence shattered the state precipitation record for both North Carolina (35.93”) and South Carolina (23.63”), and Category 5 Hurricane Lane broke Hawaii’s all-time record with 52.02” at Mountain View on the Big Island. Back in August 2017, Hurricane Harvey stalled over Texas and brought 60.58” to Nederland, Texas. This smashed the all-time record not only for Texas, but for the entire U.S. A total of 12 states have beaten their all-time tropical cyclone precipitation record since 2000.
Barry, Harvey, and Florence were all examples of slow-moving hurricanes that stalled near the coast, enabling them to dump record-breaking amounts of rain. As detailed in our Monday post, Slow-Moving Hurricanes Like Barry Growing More Common, slow-moving storms that stall near the coast have grown increasingly common in recent decades. While there has not yet been a scientific study formally linking this behavior to climate change, there is evidence that large-scale wind patterns that steer hurricanes are slowing down in the tropical Atlantic--behavior that we would expect to see as climate change causes the jet stream to weaken and shift more towards the pole.