May 28 2013

A Few Good Reads (5/28/13): Deadly Flash Flooding in San Antonio, the Deluge in Norway, and the Central Plains Facing Flood Threat

This week: Record flash flooding in San Antonio, the inundation in Norway, Iowa and the Central Plains dealing with flood threat, photography from the devastating tornado in Oklahoma, and more thoughts on the restoration of the Elwha River.

Texas flash floods kill 2 in San Antonio (CBS)

At the height of Saturday’s torrential downpours, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro urged residents not to drive as a flash flood warning covered nearly two dozen counties. Nearly 10 inches of rainfall was reported in a matter of hours Saturday at the city’s airport.

The rains left more than 200 residents of the Texas city stranded in cars and homes when water rose unexpectedly up to 4 feet in some spots. Traffic also was snarled, making driving difficult.

2 killed, more than 200 rescued in San Antonio floods (Marshfield News Herald)

Saturday marks the second-wettest day ever recorded in San Antonio, the San Antonio Express-News reported. The wettest day on record is Oct. 17, 1998, when 11.62 inches of rain fell. In that flood, the Guadalupe and San Antonio River basins overflowed, leaving more than 30 people dead, according to the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority.

The 1998 record is likely to stand as the heavy rains have moved east of the city. (Because the gauge at Olmos Creek is not an official weather station, the National Weather Service does not consider it to be a record.)

Flood levels on the San Antonio River at Loop 410 reached a new record of 34.2 feet, beating a previous record of 32.57 feet set on Oct. 17, 1998, CNN reported.

The weather has been unsettled across the region over recent weeks, and in just the last couple of days the rain has turned very heavy. Lillehammer reported 64mm of rain on Wednesday, which is more than is expected in the entire month.

Melting snow has also added to the problems.

On 18 and 19 May, the temperatures in Lillehammer soared to 29C. In the surrounding mountains, this sudden rise in temperature caused the snow to suddenly melt.

As the water poured down the mountainside, some of the rivers burst their banks.

One of the worst hit towns was Kvam, which is situated along the Gudbrandsdalslagen River.

More Flooding for Iowa, Central Plains This Week (AccuWeather)

More downpours and strong thunderstorms will sweep from portions of the Dakotas to eastern Nebraska, Iowa, northern Missouri, northeastern Kansas, southern Minnesota and Illinois.

Iowa River Flooding Raises Concerns (KCRG)

The rising Iowa River is causing concern for people living nearby this morning. Communities from Marengo, to Iowa City are trying to prepare for the potential flooding. The Iowa River is currently about five feet above flood stage at nearly 19 feet. The National Weather Service predicts the river won’t crest until Saturday. That’s when it’s expected to reach about 20 feet. With the rain forecasted for the coming days, however, those estimates are likely to chance. The highest the river ever got was 21.38 feet, that was back in 2008.

Tornadoes wreak havoc in US (The Big Picture)

Tornadoes can form anytime of year, but occur most frequently in April, May, and June, due to favorable weather conditions. Earlier this week a massive 200-mile-per-hour EF5 tornado hit Moore, Okla., killing some two dozen people, damaging thousands of structures, and causing an estimated $2 billion in damage. This year, twisters have already touched down in Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, and Alabama.

Getting Nature Right is Hard, Episode XVII: Restoring the Elwha (inkstain)

Nearly a century of sediment trapped behind the dam simply overwhelmed the best efforts of human engineering. And that’s primarily with just the first of the two dams gone. Removal of the second dam is underway, but according to Mapes only 18 percent of the anticipated sediment flow has come down the river so far. The rest is still trapped behind the second dam upstream.

What’s intriguing here is the difficulty in unwinding a complex human-nature system built up over the course of a century. Best laid plans, and all.

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