Tuesday, July 14, 2015

As Expected, Monday Was A Stormy Nightmare. Same Thing Today

Water rescues in Kentucky Monday.
Photo from Kentucky Emergency Management
As I noted early yesterday morning, the day would be a busy one for severe weather, and that certainly came true.

On top of the picturesque Kansas tornado I highlighted earlier today, much less fun, much more sad conditions stretched from Minnesota to North Carolina.

This included severe thunderstorm winds, hail, and even worse flash floods.

My prediction of a derecho I think came true, although that's still being verified. Derechos, you recall, are long lasting very severe thunderstom complexes that can literally almost go cross country.

The storm complex that developed with this outbreak got going near the North Dakota/Canada border Sunday, ended up in Wisconsin early Monday, and traveled toward the southeast, ending up in North Carolina last night.

Talk about a cross country journey! It produced damaging winds and flash floods along all of its path.

Behind this maybe derecho, more batches of intense thunderstorms formed. Some raked over the same areas over and over, dumping torrential rains and causing terrible flash floods.

One of the worst was in Kentucky, where at least one person died and several are missing. Widespread reports of flash flooding came in from Minnesota to West Virgina to western New York.

No one large area was devastated, but local flash floods caused extreme damage in some areas, plus the wind, the lighting and such I'm sure caused many, many millions of dollars worth of damage in wide areas of the central and eastern United States.

Today is shaping up to be almost as bad. Torrential thunderstorms continued into this morning in parts of Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia and southwestern New York. These same areas are due for more severe, torrential storms today, so things don't look good.

As of shortly past noon today, severe thunderstorm warnings and a tornado warning were up for parts of the Ohio Valley. A huge U-shaped area from western New York to Indiana and back over to Maryland were under flash flood watches.

Within this zone, some areas have flash flood warnings, which means the high water is happening now or will any second now.

As you can tell by this post, the most destruction from this severe storm outbreak came frorm torrential rain and flooding.

The inevitable question comes up: It seems these storms tend to cause more and more flooding. Is global climate change a culprit?

Maybe. These repeated, flooding storms are consistent with what climate scientists say would happen in a warming world. Just today, I read an article in which a team of German scientists concluded the last 30 years or so have seen a sharp increase in torrential storms and flooding across much of the planet.

In general, warmer air can hold more moisture than colder air, so if a storm comes along, there's more water available for heavier rain. Of course, if there's no storm system, and storms avoid a particular area, like California for months or years, you get big droughts, not big floods.

There has obviously always been big flash floods like the ones yesterday in Kentucky and elsewhere, but the trend is for the frequency and severeity of these floods to increase.

As an illustration of how bad things got, he's a video of a house washing away in the floods in Kentucky, then smacking into a bridge. Yikes!

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