Weather Wednesday – El Nino and the Texas Floods

KHOU via USA Today
KHOU via USA Today

What caused the recent devastating and deadly flooding in Texas, Oklahoma and other states? One thought, advanced by Accuweather and others, is that the developing El Nino played a role. As we’ve written before, an El Nino is warmer than expected waters in the Pacific Ocean. El Nino events result in a split jet stream and it the southern stream likely contributed to the flooding in the South. Typically, heavier than normal rains occur in Spring, Autumn and Winter of El Nino years in a swath from California into the Mid-South.

EPA
EPA

Historically, even weak and/or developing El Ninos can cause the extreme precipitation witnessed in May. California largely missed out although the area around San Diego picked up record rainfall. In past El Nino events California received most of its precipitation during winter months. It remains to be seen if the current event will last that long.

In the meantime drought conditions have been greatly lessened in Texas, at least in the short term. Of course that came with a terrible price…dozens of deaths and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. The toll continues to rise and many rivers remain in flood.
EDEN Flood Resources:

Agriculture

Flood insurance

Misc collected resources

eXtension Flood Page

Weather Wednesday — The Week That Was

It’s been an eventful week on the weather front, so let’s highlight a few points.

KSFY_damage_van_kb_150511_16x9_992
-Damage near Van, TX — KSFY

What started out as a very quiet first quarter of the year as regards the number of tornadoes has become much more active since mid-April. There have been several widespread, damaging and deadly outbreaks, especially over the last ten days or so.

The organization U.S. Tornadoes has begun to compile a rolling list of the highest incidence of tornadoes in 2015. One can see that May is headed toward reversing the early year trend of below normal activity.

storm-thumb-051015In addition, the storms over the past weekend (May 9 and 10) included extremely high rainfall rates in some areas which led to flash flooding and necessitated swift water rescues. Some of the rescues were broadcast live by television stations in Dallas and retransmitted to the entire country via The Weather Channel.

2015-05-09_10-snowfall
— NWS

And if that wasn’t enough, a late season snowstorm on the same weekend buried parts of the Rocky Mountains into the Dakotas. The heavy, wet snow damaged buildings and had to be shoveled out of Coors Field before the Colorado Rockies could host their Sunday afternoon game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

tropical-storm-anaAnd to top it all off, Tropical Storm Ana, brought gusty winds and copious amounts of rain to the Southeast.

Spring 2014 EDEN Newsletter

View the Table of Contents

From the EDEN CHAIR

As this issue of the newsletter highlights some of EDEN’s flood resources, I am reminded of something I came to realize several years ago.  For many of you this won’t be a surprise, but I started to draw parallels between river flooding, as opposed to flash flooding, and droughts.  Both of the events tend to build over time and take an exceptional emotional toll because those affected are generally powerless to do anything to change the outcome.  I contrast that with the tornado recovery in Gifford and Washington, IL which I have been observing since November 17.  At a simplistic level, the tornado strikes, survivors are accounted for and the clean-up and rebuilding begins often in just a day or two.  That’s not to say that there isn’t an emotional toll with the tornadoes.   There certainly is the loss of cherished possessions, upheaval in your life and the frustration of dealing with the government and insurers; but it seems different.  The light at the end of the proverbial tunnel is pretty much there from the start in a tornado.  With river floods and droughts, it is rarely apparent that recovery is around the corner until the water starts to drop or there are several consecutive months of good rain.  Regardless of our particular field of expertise, we all need to be aware of the emotional needs of those we are attempting to assist.  EDEN has some resources in this area.  We could always use more, so if you have some, get in touch.   Here’s to a safe Spring for all.

– Rick Atterberry

In this Issue

A Note from the EDEN Flood NEIL 

Even though there is some focus on flooding during the spring melt, flooding occurs during the entire year. It may be from a rapid snow melt following a heavy snow storm or a heavy rain event. The EDEN Flood NEIL is continuing to develop resources for both the EDEN and eXtension websites. An extensive cataloging of online resources has been completed and will be tagged on the EDEN website when its revision is completed. The eXtension flood site is being updated. These tasks will gain momentum this summer when the North Dakota State University Emergency Management graduate student will commit more time to the effort.  Fortunately the current NOAA snow water map does not show areas with water levels that would be expected to contribute to significant spring flooding.  The flooding potential map shows only scattered locations with a 50% probability or greater of moderate flooding and only a few locations with minor flooding at a 75% probability. Get specific information for your area by clicking on the NWS River Forecast Center for your area.

– Ken Hellevang

Back to Table of Contents

EDEN NEIL Responds to Drought

The drought that started for most of the U.S. in 2012 quietly rages on for more than one-third of the country in 2014. The National EDEN Issue Leadership team is still partnering with other national agencies and organizations to address drought issues.

Drought Forum

The NEIL is co-sponsoring a monthly Adobe connect sessions with National VOAD providing a conference line for a show and tell on the latest drought situation. Extension and emergency managers and volunteers from as many as 15 states have participated in the forum.

Drought Program

The EDEN homeland Security Project still has funds for a few communities to pilot the Community Capacity-Building Program for Drought Response.

Drought Matrix

Leaders from the NEIL are working with federal partners to develop a web-based tool for communities and the ag industry to better understand federal resources to prepare for our respond to drought. Contact Steve Cain for more information.

Back to Table of Contents

Upcoming Events

March 7, 2014
All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series: Straight Talk about Termites
1:00 PM Central Time Add to Calendar

March 20, 2014
Common Consumer Frauds & How to Avoid Them
10:00 AM Central Time Add to Calendar

April 4, 2014
All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series: Get TickSmart: 10 Things to Know, 5 Things to Do
10:00 AM Central Time Add to Calendar

April 25, 2014
Amy Dronberger will discuss her research findings about local disaster/emergency planning teams during this 60-minute session titled Building Rural Resiliency: Who Should Help? What Should They Do?
1:00 PM Central Time 
Add to Calendar

May 2, 2014
All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series: Are Those Itsy Bitsy Spiders Good or Bad?
1:00 PM Central Time Add to Calendar

May 30, 2014
Join Glenn Muske, NDSU Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development specialist during his presentation, Survive or Struggle: Your Choice in a Business Disaster.
1:00 PM Central Time Add to Calendar

Back to Table of Contents

Featured Disaster Resources 

EDEN Website
National Drought Mitigation Center
eXtension Website

Back to Table of Contents

PEDv Outbreak Update

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) made a surprise appearance in the United States in spring 2013. Caused by a distant (viral) cousin of Transmissible Gastroenteritis (TGE), the disease presents similarly with rapid dehydration resulting in a high percentage of deaths in young piglets.During the first half of February 2014, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, and Indiana accounted for the sources of the most new positive test results reported through the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. Since June 2013 the number of states affected has climbed from 14 to 25 as of February 2014. READ MORE