Heaviest 1-day rain in Oklahoma City history; 92L fizzles

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:45 PM GMT on June 15, 2010

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Oklahoma City's rainiest day in history brought rampaging floods to the city and surrounding areas yesterday, as widespread rain amounts of 8 - 11 inches deluged the city. Fortunately, no confirmed deaths or injuries have been blamed on the mayhem, though damage is extensive. Oklahoma City's Will Rogers Airport received 7.62" of rain yesterday, smashing the record for the rainiest day in city history. According to the National Climatic Data Center, the city's previous rainiest day occurred September 22, 1970, when 7.53 inches fell. Some rivers continue to rise due to all the rain, and the Canadian River east of downtown Oklahoma City is four feet over flood stage, with major flooding expected today. You can track the flooding using our wundermap with the USGS Flood layer turned on.


Figure 1. Radar-estimated precipitation for the period June 14 - 15, 2010, during the Oklahoma City floods. A large swath of 8 - 10 inches of rain (dark red colors) was indicated, from Oklahoma City northeastwards.

An inordinate number of major U.S. floods this year
We've had an inordinate number of severe floods in the U.S. so far this year. The worst was the May Tennessee flood, which killed 31 people--the highest death toll from a non-tropical cyclone flooding event in the U.S. since 1994, and the most devastating disaster in Tennessee since the Civil War. The Tennessee floods were rated as a 1000-year flood for Middle Tennessee, West Tennessee, South Central and Western Kentucky and northern Mississippi. Two-day rain totals in some areas were greater than 19 inches.Last Friday's disastrous flash flood in Albert Pike Recreation Area, Arkansas, killed twenty people. That flood was triggered by 8+ inches of rain that fell in just a few hours over the rugged mountains west of Hot Springs. And in March, record rains from a slow-moving and extremely wet Nor'easter triggered historic flooding in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts, with several rivers exceeding their 100-year flood levels. The 16.32" of rain that fell on Providence, Rhode Island, made March that city's wettest month in recorded history.

All of these flooding events were associated with airmasses though brought record-breaking warm temperatures to surrounding regions of the country. For example, during the overnight hours when the June 11 flood in Arkansas occurred, fifty airports in the Southern and Midwestern U.S. had their highest minimum temperatures on record. During the 1000-year flood in Tennessee, 51 warm minimum temperatures records were set in the eastern half of the U.S. on May 1, and 97 records on May 2. Rhode Island's record wettest March also happened to be its record warmest March. And the air mass that spawned yesterday's Oklahoma City floods set record warm minimum temperatures at 22 airports across the central and Eastern portions of the U.S. on Monday. All this is not surprising, since more moisture can evaporate into warmer air, making record-setting rainfall events more likely when record warm temperatures are present. The total number of airports in the U.S. considered for these comparisons is around 500, so we're talking about significant portions of the U.S. being exposed to these record-breaking warm airmasses this year. For the spring months of March - May, it was the 21st warmest such period in the 116-year record, according to the National Climatic Data Center. At the 500 or so largest airports in the U.S., daily high temperature records outnumbered low temperature records by about a factor 2.5, 1200 to 508. Record high minimums this spring outnumbered record low maximums by 1163 to 568. So far in June, record daily highs have outpaced record lows by 176 to 13, and record high minimums have outpaced record low maximums, 419 to 62.

Flooding and global warming
Groisman et al. (2004) found that in the U.S. during the 20th century, there was a 16% increase in cold season (October - April) "heavy" precipitation events (greater than 2 inches in one day), a 25% increase in "very heavy" precipitation events (greater than 4 inches in one day), and a 36% rise in "extreme" precipitation events (those in the 99.9% percentile--1 in 1000 events.) A sharp rise in extreme precipitation is what is predicted by global warming models in the scientific literature Hegerl et al. (2004). According the landmark 2009 U.S. Climate Impact Report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, "the amount of rain falling in the heaviest downpours has increased approximately 20 percent on average in the past century, and this trend is very likely to continue, with the largest increases in the wettest places." Most of this increase came since 1970, due to the approximate 1°F increase in U.S. average temperature since 1970. That 1°F increase in temperature means that there is 4% more moisture in the atmosphere, on average. According to the 2007 IPCC report, water vapor in the global atmosphere has increased by about 5% over the 20th century, and 4% since 1970. Satellite measurements (Trenberth et al., 2005) have shown a 1.3% per decade increase in water vapor over the global oceans since 1988. Santer et al. (2007) used a climate model to study the relative contribution of natural and human-caused effects on increasing water vapor, and concluded that this increase was "primarily due to human-caused increases in greenhouse gases". This was also the conclusion of Willet et al. (2007).

Dr. Joe Romm over at climateprogress.org has an excellent interview with Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center of Atmospheric Research on the subject of heavy precipitation events and global warming. Dr. Trenberth is the world's leading expert on water vapor in the atmosphere, and he comments that "since the 1970s, on average, there's about a 4% increase in water vapor over the Atlantic Ocean, and when that gets caught into a storm, it invigorates the storm so the storm itself changes, and that can easily double the influence of that water vapor and so you can get up to an 8% increase, straight from the amount of water vapor that's sort of hanging around in the atmosphere. This is reasonably well established." Dr. Trenberth further comments, "Now the physical cause for this is very much related to the water vapor that flows into these storms. And these kinds of storms, well all storms for that matter, reach out on average--this is very much a gross average--about 4 times the radius or 16 times the area of the region that's precipitating, the rain. And for these kinds of storms a lot of the moisture is coming out of the sub-tropical Atlantic and even the tropical Atlantic; some of it comes out of the Gulf of Mexico. And so the moisture actually travels about 2000 miles where it gets caught up in these storms and then it rains down. And the key thing is, that in the tropical and sub-tropical Atlantic the sea temperatures are at very high levels and in fact they're the highest on record at the moment right in the eastern tropical Atlantic. It's going to be interesting to see what that does for this hurricane season coming up."

We cannot say that any of this year's flooding disasters were definitely due to global warming, and part of the reason for this year's numerous U.S. flooding disasters is simply bad luck. However, higher temperatures do cause an increased chance of heavy precipitation events, and it is likely that the flooding in some of this year's U.S. flooding disasters were significantly enhanced by the presence of more water vapor in the air due to global warming. We can expect a large increase in flooding disasters in the U.S. and worldwide if the climate continues to warm as expected.


Figure 2. A portable classroom building from a nearby high school floats past submerged cars on I-24 near Nashville, TN on May 1, 2010. One person died in the flooding in this region of I-24. Roughly 200 - 250 vehicles got submerged on this section of I-24, according to wunderphotographer laughingjester, who was a tow truck operator called in to clear out the stranded vehicles.

Funding issues threaten hundreds of streamgages
According to the USGS web site, river stage data from 292 streamgages has been discontinued recently, or is scheduled for elimination in the near future due to budget cuts. In Tennessee, 16 streamflow gages with records going back up to 85 years will stop collecting data on July 1 because of budget cuts. Five gages in Arkansas are slated for elimination this year. Hardest hit will be Pennsylvania, which will lose 30 of its 258 streamgages. With over 50 people dead from two flooding disasters already this year, now hardly seems to be the time to be skimping on monitoring river flow levels by cutting funding for hundreds of streamgages. These gages are critical for proper issuance of flood warnings to people in harm's way. Furthermore, most of the northern 2/3 of the U.S. can expect a much higher incidence of record flooding in coming decades. This will be driven by two factors: increased urban development causing faster run-off, and an increase in very heavy precipitation events due to global warming.


Figure 3. Streamgages that have been discontinued or are being considered for discontinuation or for conversion from continuous record discharge to stage-only stations. Funds for these 292 threatened streamgages are from the U.S. Geological Survey and other Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies. For those streamgages that have already been discontinued, extensive efforts were made to find another funding source; however, when no funding was made available the streamgages had to be discontinued. If you have questions about specific streamgages, click on the state of concern on the USGS web page of threatened stream gages.

Dry air disrupting 92L
Invest 92L, which yesterday was a remarkably well-developed African tropical wave for so early in the season, has fizzled, due to dry air. Infrared satellite loops show the disturbance has lost nearly all of its heavy thunderstorms, and water vapor satellite loops show that the storm has wrapped a large amount of dry air to the west into the storm's center of circulation. With the storm continuing to track west-northwest to northwest into dryer air, the prospects for 92L developing into a tropical depression appear dim. With wind shear expected to rise from its current levels of 10 - 15 knots to 20 - 25 knots on Wednesday, the combination of shear and dry air should be able to pretty much destroy 92L on Wednesday. Shear values will likely increase to 30 - 40 knots by Friday, when 92L will move into the northern Lesser Antilles Islands. There is a window of opportunity this afternoon for 92L to fend off the dry air and organize into a tropical depression. One advantage the storm has it that it has developed a well-formed surface circulation. The low-level center of circulation is easy to spot on satellite imagery, since wind shear due to strong upper-level winds from the west have exposed the center to view. The National Hurricane Center is giving 92L a moderate (30% chance) of developing into a tropical depression by Thursday morning. I would put the chances a bit lower, at 20%. Even if 92L does develop into a tropical depression, it is highly unlikely to cause any trouble for the Lesser Antilles Islands, since wind shear and dry air will probably destroy the system before it can reach the islands.


Figure 4. Morning satellite image of Invest 92L. The low-level circulation is easy to spot on satellite imagery, since wind shear due to strong upper-level winds from the west have exposed the center to view. A small clump of heavy thunderstorms is located just east of the exposed center of circulation.

Elsewhere in the tropics
None of the reliable computer models is calling for tropical cyclone development in the Atlantic over the next seven days. There is a small swirl of low clouds visible in satellite imagery at 8N, 22W, just off the coast of Africa, associated with a tropical wave. This circulation is under wind shear of about 20 knots, which is probably too high for such a small circulation to survive in.

Oil spill wind and ocean current forecast
Light, predominantly southwesterly to westerly winds of 5 - 10 knots will blow in the northern Gulf of Mexico most of this week, according to the latest marine forecast from NOAA. The more westerly wind direction is expected to maintain a slow (1/2 mph) eastward-moving surface ocean current that will transport oil eastwards along the Florida Panhandle coast, according to the latest ocean current forecast from NOAA's HYCOM model. These winds and currents may be capable of transporting oil as far east as Panama City, Florida, by the end of the week. Oil will continue to threaten the coasts of Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi for the remainder of the week as well, according to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA and the State of Louisiana. The long range 8 - 16 day forecast from the GFS model indicates a typical summertime light wind regime, with winds mostly blowing out of the south or southeast. This wind regime will likely keep oil close to the coastal areas that have already seen oil impacts over the past two weeks.

NOAA has lauched a great new interactive mapping tool that allows one to overlay wind forecasts, ocean current forecasts, oil location, etc.

Oil spill resources
My post, What a hurricane would do the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
My post on the Southwest Florida "Forbidden Zone" where surface oil will rarely go
My post on what oil might do to a hurricane
NOAA has lauched a great new interactive mapping tool that allows one to overlay wi
nd forecasts, ocean current forecasts, oil location, etc.
Gulf Oil Blog from the UGA Department of Marine Sciences
Oil Spill Academic Task Force
University of South Florida Ocean Circulation Group oil spill forecasts
ROFFS Deepwater Horizon page
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery from the University of Miami

"Hurricane Haven" airing again this afternoon
Tune into another airing of my live Internet radio show, "Hurricane Haven", at 4pm EDT today. Listeners will be able to call in and ask questions. The call in number is 415-983-2634, or you can post a question in the comments area on my blog. You can also email the questions to me today before the show: jmasters@wunderground.com. Be sure to include "Hurricane Haven question" in the subject line. Some topics I'll cover today on the show:

1) Why did 92L die so quickly?
2) Is the formation of 92L a harbinger of an active hurricane season?
3) What damage could a hurricane do to oil drilling platforms and underwater pipes at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico?

Today's show, will be 1/2 hour, and you can tune in at http://www.wunderground.com/wxradio/wubroadcast.h tml. The show will be recorded and stored as a podcast.

Jeff Masters

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well it kept its convection mostly, which is more than it did at any other time in its life

still does not look as impressive as it did last night
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My internet went out for a while but I cannot stay on anyway so will catch you all later
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2329. Crawls
Morning All, as you post maps, could you include a link? My computer died and I lost most of my favorites I had saved. Thanks
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The big picture...

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Rattle and Roll..

16-JUN-2010 06:20:23 -1.87 136.23 4.8 35.0 IRIAN JAYA REGION, INDONESIA
16-JUN-2010 06:10:48 -1.93 136.38 4.9 35.0 IRIAN JAYA REGION, INDONESIA
16-JUN-2010 03:58:10 -2.37 136.48 6.2 19.9 IRIAN JAYA REGION, INDONESIA
16-JUN-2010 03:38:18 -2.48 136.64 5.1 35.0 IRIAN JAYA REGION, INDONESIA
16-JUN-2010 03:16:29 -2.14 136.46 7.0 28.8 IRIAN JAYA REGION, INDONESIA
16-JUN-2010 03:06:05 -2.45 136.50 6.4 25.1 IRIAN JAYA REGION, INDONESIA

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Link Ruc sounding ahead of 92l.
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Quoting IKE:


Has to go somewhere, unless it completely dissipates. Can't see it going up the east coast from what I've read. That only leaves one other option,IF it survives.

I'll give it a 1 in 3 shot of being some sort of entity, in the GOM. Anywhere from the BOC to the northern GOM.
If it can keep it's circulation in tact until it gets to the Caribbean I'm sure it will have no problems developing, right now it's life or death instead of people saying that it should be TD #1.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
2324. Nimitz
Quoting Patrap:
I've said it before an I'll stat my case again,for which Im certain.

Shear is like "bad gas",..it comes and goes and isnt the easiest to forecast downstream thru time.

So.........


Well, for myself, when I eat a brat with chili and onions and baked beans, "bad gas" is always forecast :)
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Quoting Patrap:
I've said it before an I'll stat my case again,for which Im certain.

Shear is like "bad gas",..it comes and goes and isnt the easiest to forecast downstream thru time.

So.........
LOL!
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
2322. Patrap
A bit o Elvis in that one StormW..

LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting StormW:


Funny..the GFS may have its quirks, but I've used it and compared it against the real time shear maps on a daily basis, and compared it to other shear models, and I've found it to be accurate for the past 3 seasons.


I have to agree, upper air has been rather accurate thus far. A few flip, flops but relatively accurate at the end of the day. Twas showing a marked improvement in the tropical Atlantic starting this Friday, I'm interested to see if it pans out. That was last week I was doing some analysis.
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2320. IKE
Quoting asgolfr999:


So Ike...from 2% to like....3%?


Has to go somewhere, unless it completely dissipates. Can't see it going up the east coast from what I've read. That only leaves one other option, IF it survives.

I'll give it a 1 in 3 shot of being some sort of entity, in the GOM. Anywhere from the BOC to the northern GOM.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:



I did some analysis last week of the 200mb GFS and it showed conditions rapidly improving starting this Friday, flipping the switch if you will.
Exactly. Take a look:

Notice the equatorial ridge strengthening and pushing the TUTT into the Caribbean and subtropical Atlantic.

GFS 06z 48 Hours - 200 millibar forecast -

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
The wrf shear model is part of the hwrf and supplys it with info on the shear so its definetly not a bad model to use.
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So what is going on with 92L?
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2315. Patrap
I've said it before an I'll state my case again,for which Im certain.

Shear is like "bad gas",..it comes and goes and isnt the easiest to forecast downstream thru time.

So.........
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting Drakoen:


Moving WSW possibly...




duckin the sheer!!!,I'm still thinking this could be a threat down the line,curious why the NHC hasn't designated 92L a TD yet???,again!!!!,not writing 92L off thinking it could be a problem in 5-7days as it enters the SW carib and advects northward after that point....
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Just some random Buoy water temps that I pulled up from NDBC

Station 42039 (LLNR 141) - PENSACOLA - 85.5 °F

Station PACF1 - 8729108 - Panama City - 84.0 °F

Station 42040 (LLNR 293) - MOBILE - 89.1 °F

Station 42021 - C14 Pasco County Buoy - 86.5 °F

Station 42003 (LLNR 1395) - E GULF - 85.8 °F

Station 42001 (LLNR 1400) - MID GULF - 84.0 °F

Station SPLL1 - S. Timbalier Block 52 - 86.0 °F
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Quoting StormW:


Funny..the GFS may have its quirks, but I've used it and compared it against the real time shear maps on a daily basis, and compared it to other shear models, and I've found it to be accurate for the past 3 seasons.
I agree.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting DestinJeff:
latest GFS shear forecast really shows shear lifting out after 24hrs, especially at 36hrs and beyond ..


and of course SSTs only become warmer as 92L approaches the islands.



I did some analysis last week of the 200mb GFS and it showed conditions rapidly improving starting this Friday, flipping the switch if you will.
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Quoting stormmasterg92:
At least the wrf doesn't change its opinion on shear every other run,Gfs is horrible in my opinion.
Ok, we all have opinions.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Actually add a 0 to those numbers. More like from 20% to 30%.


Waaaaayyyy too high
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2307. Patrap
Jeff Masters new Morning entry should be interesting.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
At least the wrf doesn't change its opinion on shear every other run,Gfs is horrible in my opinion.
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Quoting asgolfr999:


So Ike...from 2% to like....3%?
Actually add a 0 to those numbers. More like from 20% to 30%.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting IKE:
I think the odds have increased slightly that this winds up somewhere in the GOM.


So Ike...from 2% to like....3%?
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Quoting stormmasterg92:
Gfs is a horrible model to use for shear,use the wrf shear model its the best model there is.
No it's not. I use the 200 millibar GFS and it works just fine, never have used the WRF and never intend on using the WRF.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Gfs is a horrible model to use for shear,use the wrf shear model its the best model there is.
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2299. IKE
Quoting scott39:
Is it new or from the 13th?


From this morning.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
2298. hercj
Quoting IKE:
I think the odds have increased slightly that this winds up somewhere in the GOM.

Ike I am an amateur to say the least but the visible satellite image does not appear to be in much shear at the moment.
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2297. Patrap
LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
2296. scott39
Quoting IKE:
Anyone w/a Bastardi morning take on 92L?
Is it new or from the 13th?
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2295. IKE
Anyone w/a Bastardi morning take on 92L?
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
2294. scott39
Quoting IKE:
I think the odds have increased slightly that this winds up somewhere in the GOM.
When I see you say that, little beeds of sweat get on my forehead.LOL
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Here you can really see the shear doing a job on 92L, from just about due west.

Link


LOL!
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2292. Patrap
Here is the new Multiplatform Satellite Surface Wind Analysis from 12Z kman.

A slight improvement from 06Z

Multiplatform Satellite Surface Wind Analysis from 12Z
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting IKE:
I think the odds have increased slightly that this winds up somewhere in the GOM.
Agreed.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting Patrap:
12z Early Cycle NHC model tracks
Invest92

Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)




Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)





Nearly all of the models until now have weakened 92L at the end of the forecast period, now most of them have it holding steady or strengthening slightly towards the end. It shows that the environment could become more favorable by then if 92L remains intact.
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2288. scott39
92l 35mph moving W
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Quoting AllStar17:
Now this SHIPS has upped its intensity forecast again:
That's because the Caribbean is going to be favorable through where BAMM takes it. Let's see if it can keep its circulation in tact when it get's into the Caribbean and then it could possibly become TD #1.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
2286. IKE
I think the odds have increased slightly that this winds up somewhere in the GOM.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
2285. Patrap
12z Early Cycle NHC model tracks
Invest92

Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)




Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Now the SHIPS has upped its intensity forecast again:
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2283. eddye
wow 92 l looksreal good
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I'd say 93E is well on its way to Tropical Depression status.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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