Presentation on theme: "The meteorology of the 1913 flood"— Presentation transcript:
1 The meteorology of the 1913 flood Sarah Jamison, Service HydrologistNational Weather Service Forecast Office ClevelandHello everyone.I am a member of the Ohio and Pennsylvania Silver Jackets teams, and that is who I represent here today.For those of you unfamiliar with the Silver Jackets team, we are a group consisting of state, local, and federal agencies that work in flood control and flood preparedness who meet to discuss state and local flood concerns. Where are the most pressing issues, how can we use our members knowledge base or resources to address these problems. It is a group approach to addressing these flood concerns.
2 Storms of March 23-27th produced flooding over a thousand miles long and several hundred miles wide from Illinois to Connecticut.
3 Heart of the Nation ¼ of U.S. Population directly affected JD RockefellerAndrew CarnegieFor the first time a natural disaster’s impacts spread to the rest of the country and international interestsRailroad Tracks 1900¼ of U.S. Population directly affectedAt the turn of the 20th century the Ohio Valley was the largest producers of steel manufacturing, railroads, coal and natural gas
4 State Capitals Inundated Columbus, OHAlbany, NYIndianapolis, INState Capitals Inundated
5 Weather Related Fatalities of March 1913 Tornado FatalitiesFlood FatalitiesSevere Wind FatalitiesI want to focus more on the weather that led to such a catastrophic event, and then talk a bit about how flood mitigation and recovery has been reshaped from 1913 through to today.When the water finally receded around 600 to 800 people had drowned. More died in severe storms and tornadoes that preceded and followed the rainstorms.Approximately 1,000Source: National Weather Service Climate Records
6 Why was this event so catastrophic? Dayton Ohio March 29, 1913
7 March 21, two days prior to the onset of the heavy rains, there was a significant gale across the region.Here are some sustained surface winds in the area. Note the Hurricane force winds! Gusts of 60 to 84 mphs! These winds knocked out power for a good part of the region, which was still out in many places as the floods moved in.This is indicative of what we would term a very “active” weather pattern, seeing this and knowing the storms that are soon to come.The Weather Bureau Offices in Detroit reported “A gale of unprecedented severity swept over southern Michigan. Buildings were razed, roofs blown off, chimneys toppled over, signs blown down, trees broken and uprooted, overhead wires prostrated, and several lives lost as a result of the storm’s fury.” Monthly Weather Summary, March 1913
8 March 23-Easter SundayJust before 6 p.m. local time on March 23rd, a strong tornado tore through an affluent part of Omaha, completely destroying hundreds of houses and displacing thousands. The tornado tracked for five miles through the heart of town with a width up to a ¼ mile. This resulted in 103 fatalities, 49 more in other tornadoes and storms in Nebraska and Iowa. Photo courtesy of the NOAA Photo Library
9 Reanalysis of 1913 WeatherTo review the weather of the Great Flood, I used a recently developed tool by NOAA researchers which uses historic pressure and surface weather data to model or simulate the weather patterns that produced them. This data goes all the way back to 1871! Though not an exact replica, it does reasonably retrace this historic weather event. The first ballon radiosonde flight was 1937.Support for the Twentieth Century Reanalysis Project dataset is provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (DOE INCITE) program, and Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER), and by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Program Office
10 March 23, 1913This is what we call an upper level, or 500 mb plot. This indicates where the ridges and troughs and subsequent jets lie that drive our weather at the surface.What is shown here is a deep trough over the Rockies, and a ridge of warmer air over the southeast.Image provided by the NOAA-ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder Colorado from their Web site at
11 March 23, 1913HLThe subsequent surface analysis shows a deepening low over Colorado and a departing high pressure system over New England. The winds would have increased between these two features out of the south, pulling gulf moisture into the plains.Image provided by the NOAA-ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder Colorado from their Web site at
12 March 23, 1913MPH5347403326Here are the low level, or 850mb winds, which show a very strong flow out of the gulf. These strong winds increase the shear in the environment, and support severe and tornadic storms, along with bringing a high volume of moisture into the Ohio Valley.20Image provided by the NOAA-ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder Colorado from their Web site at
13 March 24, 1913By the 24th the upper level pattern had not changed much at all.Image provided by the NOAA-ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder Colorado from their Web site at
14 March 24, 1913HLLLAnd the surface pressure continued to show low pressure over the Rockies, another over Texas, and the exiting first storm over the Ohio Valley.Image provided by the NOAA-ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder Colorado from their Web site at
15 March 24, 1913MPH605447403326The wind shear had increased, continuing to feed out of the gulf of mexico.20Image provided by the NOAA-ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder Colorado from their Web site at
16 March 24, 1913Inches18.104.22.168.00.8This is a plot showing perceptible water, or water content that was estimated in the atmosphere at the time of the rain over Ohio.0.60.4Image provided by the NOAA-ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder Colorado from their Web site at
17 This plot shows the climatology of PW over Dayton. A value of 1. 2-1 This plot shows the climatology of PW over Dayton. A value of in March exceeds the 99th percentile. Essentially, the airmass was saturated as much as it could hold for that temperature and time of year.
18 March 25, 1913By the 25th, the Upper level trof had shifted slightly more east.Image provided by the NOAA-ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder Colorado from their Web site at
19 March 25, 1913HHLAt the surface two areas of high pressure where locking a front over the Ohio valley. This area of convergence became the focus for heavy rain this day.LImage provided by the NOAA-ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder Colorado from their Web site at
20 March 25, 1913MPH605447403326The best low level jet had shifted east and weakened slightly, but was still relatively strong and still bringing moisture from the gulf.20Image provided by the NOAA-ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder Colorado from their Web site at
21 March 25, 1913Inches22.214.171.124.00.8The precipitable water values were off the charts. Unprecedented. Rainfall must have fallen like a tropical environment, torrential at times.0.60.4Image provided by the NOAA-ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder Colorado from their Web site at
22 March 26 ,1913HBy the 26th the surface front was pushing through NW Ohio shutting of rain there.LImage provided by the NOAA-ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder Colorado from their Web site at
23 March 26, 1913Image provided by the NOAA-ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder Colorado from their Web site at
24 March 26, 1913Inches126.96.36.199.00.8Heavy moisture sources still over Ohio River.0.60.4Image provided by the NOAA-ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder Colorado from their Web site at
25 March 27, 1913A notably deep, and cold trough moved over the Great Lakes.Image provided by the NOAA-ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder Colorado from their Web site at
26 March 27, 1913LHSurface low was over new England as cold high pressure built in from the west. Cold air and snow accompanied the front, bringing more misery to survivors with no power or heat.Image provided by the NOAA-ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder Colorado from their Web site at
29 Conclusion Largest natural disaster national had ever been faced with. 1913 flood reshaped National perception on governments role in flood controlFlood policy has changed significantly expanding across several agencies and jurisdictions1913 flood a good reminder of what is possibleNothing to prevent the same weather pattern from forming again.The biggest difference will be our ability to warn, prepare, and react.In all, we should use the events that transpired in March of 1913 to remind us of what is possible. How many here have witnessed a major flood, only to hear those affected state how they “never thought it could get this bad”, even though that may not of been the flood of record. It is important to know what has happened in the past, and what is possible, if we are to be prepared to fight it today.And we are better prepared to warn, protect, and prepare for a similar flood of its might todayThe NWS provides warnings days in advance, flood control projects now support flood waters that of or exceeding the 1913 flood (40% in Miami Basin).Agencies from the local to federal level have means of working together to improve the use of resources and information to prepare, respond, and recover after a flood, to reduce the risk of life and property. But it is equal important for us to remind citizens that though we offer great support for floods today, when it comes right down to it, each individual is responsible for his or her own safety.Thank You very much for your time, and I’ll now open it up for questions.