2 to 4 Inches of Rain by Sunday? Flash Flood Risk
At yesterday's Association of Minnesota Emergency Managers I asked what keeps these professionals up at night.
The answers surprised me.
From Beltrami County: high winds impacting our forests. The Bemidji area experienced 4 separate storms packing 80-100 mph winds in July. From Ramsey County: ice. A major freezing rain event could paralyze the metro with power outages lasting days, even weeks.
Dan Luna, heading up the Twin Cities National Weather Service, worries about a 1965 Fridley-like tornado outbreak. "If an EF-4 tornado hits the metro and we do everything right - the warnings are accurate - will the public do the right thing?" Luna asked.
Roving gangs of thunderstorms may squeeze out 2-3 inches of additional rain by Thursday night; as much as 3-6 inches south/east of MSP. The result: an elevated risk of urban and river flooding, and that's why a Flash Flood Watch is posted until Thursday evening.
Yes, it's a little unnerving tracking flooding storms in late September, when we should be watching the leaves change color.
Some of this moisture is from Tropical Storm Paine, which hit Baja California. Paine, as in Paine in the ... Doppler.
4km NAM Future Radar courtesy of NOAA and AerisWeather.
Another Volatile Pattern. The heaviest rains are forecast to fall south and east of the Twin Cities between now and Thursday night, but the immediate metro may still see some 2-3" amounts - heaviest rains probably south metro, according to the Twin Cities National Weather Service.
Key Take-Aways from NOAA. Here are a few bullet points highlighting major points about the ongoing flood threat from the local Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service:
- Potential Impacts: Flooded roads, rising rivers, urban flash flooding.
- Timing: Southern Minnesota tonight, central/southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin Wednesday through Wednesday evening, southeastern Minnesota and Wisconsin Thursday.
- Amounts: Widespread 2 to 4 inches, locally 6+ inches - especially in the Moderate Risk area for flash flooding shown below.
- Forecast Confidence: High for potential impacts and timing. Moderate for location of heaviest rain/flood risk and amounts.
The Flash Flood Watch is in effect until Thursday evening. Here are more details on the flood risk from NOAA:
FLOOD WATCH NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN 700 PM CDT TUE SEP 20 2016 ...MULTIPLE ROUNDS OF HEAVY RAINFALL WILL BRING AN INCREASING RISK OF FLOODING THROUGH THURSDAY... .A FLASH FLOOD WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR MUCH OF EASTERN AND SOUTHERN MINNESOTA AS WELL AS WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN FOR TONIGHT THROUGH THURSDAY. THE WATCH AREA IS ALONG AND SOUTH OF A LINE FROM SPRINGFIELD TO APPLE VALLEY TO EAU CLAIRE. RAINFALL AMOUNTS ARE FORECAST TO RANGE FROM 2 TO 5 INCHES ACROSS SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA TO PORTIONS OF WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN ALONG AND SOUTH OF I-94. TWO TO 3 INCHES SHOULD FALL FURTHER NORTH ACROSS CENTRAL MINNESOTA AND THE REST OF WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN. LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS ARE LIKELY...PARTICULARLY ACROSS SOUTHERN MINNESOTA. CONFIDENCE WITH THE HEAVY RAINFALL POTENTIAL IS FAIRLY HIGH. THE PATTERN FOR MIDWEEK CLOSELY MIMICS SEVERAL HIGH END RAINFALL EVENTS IN THE PAST...INCLUDING SEPTEMBER 23 2010 WHERE RAINFALL TOTALS OF 5 TO 8 INCHES FELL ACROSS ALL OF SOUTHERN MINNESOTA. MAJOR FLOODING RESULTED.
June Drags On. The warmth is nice, but the potential for a major flooding event in late September is a little odd. Once again the maps look more like June than September. Models print out nearly 3" of rain by Sunday in the Twin Cities. Some communities will see significantly more than that. Model data: Aeris Enterprise.
Soil Moisture: Off The Scale. Recent heavy rains have left the topsoil over much of central and southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin very wet; in the 99th percentile according to NOAA NCEP. The implications of this? Rain won't be able to soak into the ground, but almost immediately run off into streets and streams, increasing the potential for flash flooding.
Aeris Weather Briefing: Issued Tuesday, September 20th, 2016:
- A period of very wet weather is setting up tonight through Thursday across parts of the upper Midwest. The target of heaviest rain currently is from southern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin, but the axis could still shift slightly.
- At least 2-5” of rain will fall across portions of Minnesota and Wisconsin between tonight-Thursday along a stalled frontal boundary, with isolated higher amounts possible.
- This will lead to the potential of flash flooding in the region as well as rising lake and river levels.
Stalled Front. A warm front will be lifting northward into southern Minnesota and Wisconsin tonight. That will be the initial trigger for showers and thunderstorms with a very moisture-rich environment. The front will stall across the region Wednesday into Thursday, leading to rounds of training thunderstorms (areas of heavy rain that move over the same region within a short amount of time). This will heighten the threat of excessive rain amounts and flash flooding. Graphic credit: Aeris Mapping Platform (AMP).
Three Day Rain Totals. This forecast from the Weather Prediction Center shows the greatest rainfall totals over the next three days across southern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin, with at least 2-5” of rain falling. Some spots, especially where training storms do develop, have the potential of 6” or more falling within mainly a 24-48 hour period. Map credit: WeatherBell.
Wiggle Potential? In the bullet points at the top, I mentioned that the axis of heavy rain could still shift a little bit. This is one model, the American NAM, showing that potential with the heaviest rain totals a bit further north, across parts of central Minnesota and Wisconsin. This would be due to the associated warm front lifting further north before stalling out.
Because of the uncertainty in the placement of the front, local weather service offices are holding off on issuing Flash Flood Watches at this moment. However, I would expect watches to be issued later today across southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
Flash Flooding Potential. The heaviest of the rain across the upper Midwest is expected to occur Wednesday. Due to this, the Weather Prediction Center has outlined areas across parts of southern Minnesota, western Wisconsin, and far northern Iowa under a “moderate” threat of excessive rainfall that could lead to flooding. Map source: NOAA.
One Hour Flash Flood Guidance. This product of the National Weather Service shows the average amount of rain that would need to fall over a certain county in a given time period for flash flooding to occur. Many areas over southern Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin would need less than two inches of rain within an hour for flash flooding to occur. Map credit: NOAA.
Three Hour Flash Flood Guidance. Many of the same areas would need about 2” of rain within a three hour period for flash flooding to occur. That is even less in the Twin Cities metro, with an average of about 1.6”-1.8” needed for flash flooding to occur. With training thunderstorms expected over the next 72 hours, it is likely we will see Flash Flood Warnings issued, especially on Wednesday.
Not The End Of The Rain. Unfortunately for the region, this won’t be the end of the rain for the week, as another storm system will move in over the weekend, bringing the potential of another couple inches of rain with it to parts of the upper Midwest.
Summary. A warm front will be lifting northward tonight across the upper Midwest before stalling out across portions of southern Minnesota and central Wisconsin. With a very moisture-rich environment, rounds of heavy rain are expected along and near that frontal boundary, with at least 2-5” of rain expected. Isolated 6”+ are possible, especially over southeast Minnesota. Due to the expected excessive rain amounts, flash flooding can be expected across this region, especially on Wednesday. Facilities across these areas that normally experience problems during flash flood scenarios should be on alert for issues over the next few days.
D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, AerisWeather
Spurts of Warmth. With record rains, flooding and farmers increasingly concerned about getting out into their fields for a successful harvest I'm actually looking forward to puffs of cooler (drier) Canadian air in the coming weeks. Saturday looks like the next warm day with highs near 80F in the Twin Cities. ECMWF data: WeatherBell.
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Illustration credit: Minh Uong/The New York Times.
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Photo credit: "
announced a plan to move its 350 facilities in 59 countries to renewable energy by 2050. The auto company has been one of the more pioneering players among the world’s top automakers when it comes to reducing fossil fuel consumption. GM is responsible for the Volt and the upcoming all-electric Bolt, which will have more than 238 miles of range and will cost somewhere around $30,000 to $35,000 after federal and state incentives have been applied. Those two factors make the Bolt the only car in production from a major manufacturer that could rival the also-upcoming and all-electric Tesla Model 3..."Last week, GM
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Photo credit: "Highest of tech; powered by human waste." (Reuters/Gary Cameron)
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78 F. high yesterday at KMSP.
79 F. average high in the Twin Cities on September 20.
72 F. high on September 20, 2015.
September 21, 2005: An unusually intense late season severe weather event affects parts of central Minnesota and west central Wisconsin during the late afternoon and evening hours. Baseball-sized hail, damaging thunderstorm winds, and tornadoes result from several supercell thunderstorms. The most widespread damage occurs across the northern and eastern portions of the Twin Cities. Three tornadoes rake across parts of Anoka and northern Hennepin counties, including an F2, but the tornado damage is overshadowed by the widespread extreme wind damage associated with the rear flank downdraft of the supercell. In addition to the severe weather, many locations received substantial amounts of rain. Many streets and underpasses in the northern Twin Cities metro area were flooded Wednesday night, where radar precipitation estimates were in excess of 3 inches.
September 21, 1994: 1/2 inch hail in Blue Earth County results in $6 million in crop damages.
September 21, 1924: Very strong winds occur in Duluth, with a peak gust of 64 mph.
TODAY: Flash Flood Watch. Heavy showers and T-storms. Winds: E 10-15. High: 73
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: T-storms, locally heavy rain with a flash flood risk. Low: 62
THURSDAY: Rain, heavy at times. Lingering flood risk. Winds: NE 8-13. High: 69
FRIDAY: More showers and T-storms. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 58. High: 66
SATURDAY: Some warm, sticky sun, T-storms late. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 62. High: near 80
SUNDAY: Showers, storms taper, PM clearing possible. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 63. High: 72
MONDAY: Sunny and dry. It's a miracle. Wake-up: 56. High: 71
TUESDAY: Plenty of sun, still very pleasant. Wake-up: 52. High: 72
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Photo credit: Friends of Cooper Island.
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Graphic credit: "Policy experts talked climate change at the National Press Club Thursday." Visual by Georgetown Climate Center.
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Graphic credit: "