Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Extreme weather report - 04/18/2016

The Merciless Rains of Climate Change Hammer Houston, Southeast Texas — 12-18 Inches Accumulation, More Than 1,200 Water Rescues Reported

I can hear your whisper and distant mutter. I can smell your damp on the breeze and in the sky I see the halo of your violence. Storm I know you are coming.”

18 April,2016
The atmospheric ingredients right now are ripe for some serious trouble. Globally, the world is just starting to back away from the hottest temperatures ever recorded. This never-before-seen heat plume, driven on by a fossil-fuel abetted warming not seen in at least 115,000 years and an extreme El Nino combined, has loaded an unprecedented amount of moisture into the Earth’s atmosphere. As El Nino shifts toward La Nina and the Earth marginally cools, a portion of this massive excess of water vapor is bound to fall out as rain — manifesting as terrible extreme precipitation episodes that can result in serious trouble. A seemingly endless procession of freak events that challenge the record books time and time again.

(Severe flooding around the world this week includes the Houston area — sections of which have essentially been crippled by 12-18 inches of rainfall over the past 24 hours. In total, more than 1,200 water rescues have been reported throughout the region. Many residents, like the gentleman above, appear to have been shocked and surprised by the flooding’s severity. Video source: Houston ABC News.)

Sudden, Extreme Flooding in Houston Area

In the US, the City of Houston and the region of southeastern Texas experienced its own extreme deluge. There, a stubborn and unyielding high pressure system over the US East Coast, an omega block in the Jet Stream, a cut off upper level low, and a nearly unprecedented amount of moisture streaming in from the Gulf of Mexico and regions to the Equatorial South all conspired to aim a train of powerful storms in the form of an eye-popping mesoscale convective system (MCS) at the Houston region. Since early this morning, between 12-18 inches of rainfall fell over the city’s western suburbs with 6-8 inches inundating the city center. In some places, rates of rainfall accumulation hit a crippling rate of nearly 4 inches per hour.

the Houston area was socked on Monday morning by a huge mesoscale convective system (MCS) that drifted southeast across the area, dumping eye-popping amounts of rain: 6” – 8” over central Houston, with 12” – 18” common over the far western suburbs… While individual thunderstorms often weaken after dark, the large mass of thunderstorms that makes up an MCS will often persist overnight and into the next morning, as the MCS cloud tops radiate heat to space and instability is enhanced.
The record single day rainfall total for Houston before today was 11.25 inches. It appears likely that 11.75 inches recorded at Houston International Airport today will mark a new daily high mark for a city that grew up out of fossil fuel burning but now appears to be drowning in the heat-intensified effluent. More to the point, most of Houston’s western suburbs experienced what amounts to an entire typical season’s worth of rainfall in just one 24 hour period.

Drainage systems, not designed to handle anywhere near so much water over so short a period, were rapidly overwhelmed. By midday, more than 70 subdivisions in the Houston region were reported flooded, more than 1,200 vehicle water rescue operations had been conducted along the inundated region’s streets and highways, and more than 1,000 homes were inundated. Seven hospitals were shut down, airport operations were crippled, and more than 100,000 people were reported to be without power. The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore, not known for understatement, may have hit a bit below the mark when he noted that this is a mind boggling situation earlier this afternoon. CNN, in its summation report of this, most recent, disaster declared that the entire city had been basically shut down.

Extreme Storms Houston Texas
(River of moisture flows up from the Equator and Gulf of Mexico and into the Houston region on Monday — spurring extreme rains that cripple the city. A pair of doggedly persistent weather systems — a blocking high to the east and an upper level low to the north contributed to the extreme weather over Houston. Climate change related features like record atmospheric moisture loading, and persistent ridge and trough generation due to Jet Stream changes likely linked to record low Arctic sea ice levels also likely influenced today’s severe storms. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

As of early this evening, a series of somewhat less intense storms still trailed through the Houston region as heavier rains marched off toward the east over Louisiana and Arkansas. A strong moisture flow is expected to persist over Eastern Texas and the southern Mississippi River Valley region through to at least Thursday as both the upper level low and blocking high complicit in Monday’s extreme flooding in Houston appear reluctant to budge from their current positions. As a result, NOAA is predicting another 4-5 inches of rainfall for areas near and just to the North and East of Houston over the next seven days. To this point, it’s worth noting that NOAA’s precipitation models had ‘only’ predicted about 4 inches of rainfall for the past 24 hour period in the near Houston area — a period that produced about five times that total for some locations. So it appears that weather models may be having a little bit of trouble managing the new and extremely dynamic atmospheric conditions now coming into play.

But One Extreme Event of Many in the Past Five Months

Consistent trough generation in the Jet Stream over the area (likely influenced by record low Arctic sea ice coverage), consistent above average sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, a strong moisture flow from a record El Nino, and record global temperatures contributing to high atmospheric moisture loadings all influenced severe storm formation over this area during recent months. Sadly, it’s a spate of severe weather that is likely to continue at least until the end of Spring.
Hat Tip to Colorado Bob
Hat Tip to Greg
Hat Tip to DT Lange
Hat Tip to Daniel Hatem

Su-34 jets strike huge ice-jam in northwest Russia to prevent flooding (VIDEO)

A still from Ruptly video

Over 4,500 people living along the Sukhona River in the Vologda region are currently in danger, as thick ice has created a natural dam that is preventing the river from traveling downstream, causing it to overflow its banks.

Two Su-34 jets took off from the Voronezh region in southwestern Russian on Monday on a mission to drop precision-guided explosives onto the frozen parts of the river in order to allow natural water flow to resume.

The warplanes were ordered to deploy explosives “every hour,” said the head of the Russian Emergencies Ministry, Vladimir Puchkov.

We just completed a flyby to once again look at the areas of the river being blocked by ice … We looked at the condition of the flooded territories. And using this information we will guide the latest operations taking place,” TASS quoted Puchkov as saying.

There are also two icebreakers nearby to break up the ice further.

In the meantime, the Emergencies Ministry is working on rescuing people in a number of danger zones.

Local authorities are also using boats to deliver food and other supplies to a number of towns and villages already affected by the flooding.

Other areas in Russia experiencing a similar problem this year included the Novosibirsk, Tyumen, Kurgan, Tomsk, and Kemerovo regions, according to data provided by the ministry.

Just a few months ago, Su-34 jets were being used by Russia in an anti-terror operation against Islamic State (IS, previously ISIS/ISIL) in Syria.

The Su-34 model is one of the most modern aircraft in Russia’s military arsenal. It began being developed in the mid-’80s as a replacement for the Su-24, with the first batch of new warplanes being delivered in 2006.

Dozens killed as flooding hits the normally desert-dry countries of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, and Qatar.

Unusual heavy rains have poured down on the Middle East, causing flash floods and resulting in the deaths of dozens of people.

Rains and flooding killed 18 people throughout Saudi Arabia and 915 had to be rescued from inside their vehicles, the General Directorate of Saudi Civil Defence said on Thursday.

Floodwaters inundated roadways in the capital Riyadh, Mecca, and the mountainous south of the mostly desert kingdom, the directorate said in a statement.

Videos posted on social media showed cars submerged in water in the southwestern city of Abha.

Heavy rains lashed Saudi Arabia for several days and the education ministry closed schools in and around the capital.

In neighbouring Yemen, heavy rainfall in several parts of the country caused widespread flooding that killed at least 16 people and caused the collapse of small dams, including two in Hajja and Omran provinces north of the capital, Sanaa, security officials and the Interior Ministry said on Thursday.

Damage to property was particularly heavy with rushing muddy water cutting off roads and sweeping away cars and cattle, according to the officials.

Besides Hajja and Omran, unusually heavy rainfall over the past 24 hours has also hit Sanaa and the southern port of Aden.

Iran's state TV reported on Thursday that heavy precipitation in the country's western and southwestern provinces resulted in flash floods that killed two people.

The wet weather continued in neighbouring Qatar, with heavy rains and hail backed by a lightning storm.

Flash floods claim 18 lives across Saudi Arabia

This November 17, 2015 photo shows Saudis coping with the aftermaths of floods and heavy rainfall in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah. (AFP)

Flash floods sweeping Saudi Arabia for the past week has left more than a dozen dead as the kingdom grapples with heavy downpours across the country.
Saudi Arabia’s civil defense agency said in a statement on Thursday that at least 18 people were killed in the floods which struck areas starting from the desert capital of Riyadh to Hail, Mecca, Medina, Al-Baha, Asir, Najran and Jazan.
The statement said a total of 915 people were rescued by the agency.

Flash floods in north Afghanistan kill 38 people overnight

Afghan officials say flash floods in northern provinces have killed at least 38 people overnight.

Remote, northern areas of Afghanistan often see flash floods triggered by heavy rains, which also cause landslides.

The officials said Monday that the flash floods struck the provinces of Takhar, Badghis and Samangan. Heavy rains have also hit the capital, Kabul, with no major damages.

Takhar’s natural disasters director Abdul Razaq Zinda says 13 people, including women and children, died in Kalafgan and Bangi districts. He says scores of houses were damaged, especially mud-brick structures.

In Badghis province, local spokesman Ahmad Khalid Safi says 19 people died in Muqur district. And in Samangan province, spokesman Seddiq Azizi says flash floods killed six people — three women and three children — and damaged about 20 houses.

Santiago in chaos: Millions left without water as flooding strikes Chile capital

Severe flooding has brought chaos to Santiago as heavy rains have been battering the region since Friday. An estimated four million people have been left without drinking water and, according to police reports, at least one person has been killed as a result of the floods so far. The capital was deluged after the Mapocho River overflowed its banks for the first time in 30 years

Extreme Drought in Micronesia Worsens; Palau, FSM Declare State of Emergency

Because of one of the strongest El Nino event in the past hundred years, Guam along with many islands in Micronesia are experiencing an extreme drought

A man walks along a flooded street in Santiago, April 17, 2016. © Ivan Alvarado.

Chile’s capital, Santiago, has been inundated by rains that caused the Mapocho River to breach its banks and flow into one of the city’s upbeat neighborhoods. The calamity has killed at least two people and left four million more short of water.

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