Climate Change and a Mangled Jet Stream: Historic May Deluge for Bosnia and Serbia

Over the past week, a powerful heat dome high pressure system grew ever-more-entrenched over a region just north of the Caspian Sea. This sprawling high pushed an extreme amplitude ridge pattern north toward Arctic Russia, Scandinavia, and the Kara and Barents Seas. Behind this ridge, toward Central and Eastern Europe, a deep trough dipole pattern developed. A cold and unstable pit in the atmosphere hungry for storms and drawing in energy from the far-north Arctic near Svalbard.

By late Tuesday, the deep pit had fallen down into a cut-off and powerful low pressure system, wringing out the moisture spilling off the heat dome high. By today, that system had turned into a kind of inland hurricane as it dumped as much as four months worth of rainfall in less than 40 hours over broad sections of Bosnia and Serbia.

Serbia Floods May 15

(The very vision of a hydrological cycle amped-up by human-caused climate change — deluge over Bosnia and Serbia. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

The result was a staggering inundation of water that cut off entire towns, knocked out bridges, left thousands of people stranded and resulted in the loss of at least 5 souls. Flood waters surged through towns and villages, carrying away cars, capsizing homes, and turning streets into torrents. Hillsides collapsed into slurries of muck and the two main north-south rail lines through Serbia and Bosnia were cut off.

By today, officials were declaring the event the worst water disaster ever to occur in the region. Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic made an embattled appeal for aid from neighboring countries saying:

“What we are facing is the biggest water catastrophe in Serbia’s history.”

According to reports from Serbia Independent News, rainfall rates were the highest ever measured in all of the 120 year record. Records in Bosnia also hit their highest levels since measurements began in 1894.

In Bosnia, Maglaj, a town some 60 miles north of Sarajevo was inundated by a massive water surge, forcing 6,000 to evacuate as others climbed onto rooftops to avoid the rushing water. Harried Maglai Mayor Mehmed Mustabasic noted:

“The situation is alarming. We have no electricity, the phones are not working. We are cut off from the rest of the world.”

(Euro-News assessment of the still-ongoing disaster)

Bosnian and Serbian military helicopters scoured the countryside for stranded persons, ultimately evacuating hundreds more. EU troops stationed in the Balkans joined in with trucks and more helicopters, but many roads remained impassable either due to flooding or to heavy snowfall blanketing higher elevations. Almost all schools across the widely impacted region were closed.

“We have engaged all our manpower,” said Predrag Maric, a Serbian emergency official, as strong winds and rain cut off a key road to Croatia. “Water is rising everywhere.”

Unfortunately, the cut-off low pressure system setting off this historic storm is now entrenched and will likely continue to bring severe weather to the region into early Saturday. So relief is not likely to come until the weekend.

UPDATE: As of late Sunday, the upper level low remained in place dumping heavy rainfall over the Balkans. The area of major impact expanded into Croatia as nearly fifty souls have now been taken by this extraordinarily extreme event. New update article to follow later today or tomorrow.

Links:

LANCE-MODIS

Daily Rainfall in Belgrade Hits Record

Five Dead in Worst Floods to Hit Bosnia in 120 Years

Record Rain Causes Flooding Across the Balkans, Hundreds Evacuated

Hat-tip to Colorado Bob

 

107.9 litres per square metre in Belgrade, 110 litres per square metre in Loznica and 108.2 litres per square metre in ValjevoRead More at inserbia.info/today/2014/05/daily-rainfall-in-belgrade-valjevo-and-loznica-hits-record/ © InSerbia News
107.9 litres per square metre in Belgrade, 110 litres per square metre in Loznica and 108.2 litres per square metre in Valjevo,Read More at inserbia.info/today/2014/05/daily-rainfall-in-belgrade-valjevo-and-loznica-hits-record/ © InSerbia News
107.9 litres per square metre in Belgrade, 110 litres per square metre in Loznica and 108.2 litres per square metre in Valjevo,Read More at inserbia.info/today/2014/05/daily-rainfall-in-belgrade-valjevo-and-loznica-hits-record/ © InSerbia News

 

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54 Comments

  1. Things are just getting extremer and extremer…
    It’s just hot and smoggy here in the only slightly verdant Pacific Northwest.
    Thanks for the wealth of EXTREME info.
    David

    Reply
    • I’m wondering if you can smell those fires burning in SoCal or if it’s just local pollution or, even worse, Pacific flow pollution.

      Hope all is well with you, DT.

      Reply
      • Thanks,
        Most of the area around Portland is valley/basin. Much of the pollution is local. Right now the ozone and fine particulate levels are getting to the unhealthy levels, mostly from extremely dense transportation sources.
        Then there is the Pacific flow which has upper level pollution that sits on top.
        Down south, the coastal areas of Southern California are dense with fine particulate. Again, mostly from transportation, and with the air flow off the Pacific condensing the dust.
        I’ve been tracking this sort of thing for years, while living So. California, trying to bring attention to its severity for a coastal region. The situation gets worser… all is bonkers.
        David

        Reply
    • The Jet Stream is an utter and complete mess at the moment. More later…

      Update 1: Risk for deluge event in trough region over the US East through eastern Great Lakes to southern Canada. Monitoring now…

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  May 15, 2014

        Let us know if that’ll affect NY & NE. Thanks Robert!

        Reply
        • Well, looks like

        • We’ll looks like a very broad swath of 1-3 + inch rainfall from FL to north of the US Canada border. High flood threat along the Appalachians through northern NY. Rough pattern that may create some unexpected pops.

        • Scratch that. We already have rain totals in some areas at 4.6 inches… All that stuff is heading north. The NOAA model summary is conservative.

        • So, it looks like the heaviest hit will be the mountains of VA. Could be very severe. NOAA has 1-3, I’m thinking 4-8, possibly more.

          Columbia SC has had 5.4 inches. We’ll almost certainly see more further north.

        • Last update, Mark. But my bet is that your area has just fallen under a flood watch.

  2. Colorado Bob

     /  May 15, 2014

    The stalled systems we are seeing here, and in Europe must give Dr. Fran some sort of grim vindication. I find it remarkable , that one can pose hypotheises, and the natural world
    just mirrors what she forecast. Her paper may mark the end of the old jet stream , because we haven’t seen it months , and every month as the seasons change, the loops to the south seem to be getting deeper.

    Reply
    • I have a high in the Bering Sea right now. Below that high is a cut off low. The Bering high pushes the Jet all the way up into the Chukchi. But before it gets there, it makes an S curve through the North Pacific. The trough in the East digs all the way to the Gulf. So ridge to the Chukchi, trough to the Gulf. IN LATE SPRING. Francis vindicated.

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  May 15, 2014

        If Francis is vindicated. Then we are all in deep shit , because that means one of the much talked about “tipping points” is here. And we both know how much that will grind on the other “tipping points” . This whole idea that of a “distant future” is about to get trashed , very badly ,

        I am lucky in this respect , I am an old sick man with no children . Otherwise , I would be alarmed.

        Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  May 15, 2014

        I am lucky in this respect , I am an old sick man with no children .

        And I got to listen to the Beach Boys , when we had no clue this terrible storm would crash over our heads –

        Back when burning carbon , meant copping a “feel” if I was lucky.

        Reply
  3. Colorado Bob

     /  May 15, 2014

    ” I Get Around ”
    Drives every every American male head , when we were infected with it , when Ford made his first Model T.

    The cultural crash between what we dreamed of, and what we have done is one of the great geological high speed wrecks , It does appear in the record.

    Reply
  4. Colorado Bob

     /  May 15, 2014

    when Ford made his first Model T.

    Gasoline was a waste product.

    Reply
  5. Colorado Bob

     /  May 15, 2014

    Dear Robert –
    Read about Steve Bahr at Zoom Works, he changed my life. . Over 40 years ago he said the people who follow us , would curse us for burning this wonderful molecule in low grade heat engines.

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 16, 2014

      Over 40 years ago Steve Bahr was working on solar energy , because he knew that complex carbon atoms and hydrogen atoms we were burning , was a whole new future.

      Because if the carbon atoms burn will never return if we burn them.

      If we make a milk jug , that can be remade.

      I don’t hate oil , what hate is our stupidity of important it is to the future.

      Reply
      • I don’t hate oil either, just the current oil company plan for profiting from burning the stuff and dumping it into the atmosphere.

        In my view, the oil companies, as they are now, need to go. Their plan is to profit from harm and to endlessly deny or delay access to alternative fuels.

        Reply
  6. Colorado Bob

     /  May 16, 2014

    Robert –
    If we make a plastic jug from oil , we have not killed Steve Bahr, if we burn it in a weed whacker , he is dead as a boot.

    Reply
    • Fine. Show me an oil company with a raw materials only/zero fuel plan with a way to crack the molecules that didn’t involve a carbon emission and I’ll show you an oil company that wouldn’t bother me.

      Better yet, show me an oil company with a ten year plan to transition to all zero carbon fuels and shift extraction to raw materials use only.

      No such animal at this time.

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  May 16, 2014

        I;m just explaining what Steve Bahr said over 40 years ago. If we burn them , in our SUV’s , then they are done forever. But, if we make a milk jog. , Then we can take that and make things we have never dreamed of.

        Once we burn it , it’s gone forever.

        Reply
        • I agree with you and Steve. But the oil companies, as they stand, need to radically change or to go away entirely.

      • Colorado Bob

         /  May 16, 2014

        I agree with you and Steve. But the oil companies, as they stand, need to no radically change or to go away entirely.

        That;s not the problem , we have to teach the world that everything they ever knew is about to change.

        Reply
  7. Fire Update:

    Lots and lots of fires popping up now. These are due to arson, so hopefully they’ll get stomped out quick. We’re getting hourly updates listing closures on areas and streets, winds are picking up for the evening. Fire in San Marcos is spreading.

    As an aside, the coverage of this is pathetic and focused on interviewing fire hydrants and fluffing hair. I think the media has devolved to stupid soup, and perhaps there is a deliberate effort now to not report on these increasingly wide spread events ( part of the denial funded effort?).

    Certainly from other countries these events are of zero interest to the public. They are fed Kardashians, Real Housewives Of Random Town, Swamp Chefs of whatever, the world ends at the nations borders.

    Reply
    • Mark from New England

       /  May 16, 2014

      Andy, I think you’re on to something with the ‘stupid soup’ deliberately keeping disturbing climate news from the population. They certainly don’t spare us the gory details of the latest murder du jour.

      Reply
    • Absolutely right about the fracking Kardashians etc. Huge distraction.

      As for arson, I know California has a problem with fire bugs. But how many of the cases are alleged arson rather than confirmed?

      Keeping track of the event as well and there is growing concern of risk on my end. May require a second analysis. That said, we should start to get cooler conditions. Hand hovering over the button right now…

      Reply
  8. Mark from New England

     /  May 16, 2014

    Thanks for the updates. This part of NE looks like it’ll only get 1-2 inches over a few days. I think the Green Mts in VT will likely get more, as they often do.

    Reply
  9. jyyh

     /  May 16, 2014

    The warmed up mediterranean again. In due time the warming reaches also the Black Sea which may ease south Russian droughts.

    Reply
  10. rayduray

     /  May 16, 2014

    Hi Robert,

    Re: Arson vs. Spot Fires

    I read John Maclean’s “Fire and Ashes” http://tinyurl.com/mkqzhha a few years ago. He covers a number of different California wildland fires in the book. Over the decades, quite a number of fires have been caused by arson. One notorious multi-million dollar burn was determined to have been set by a grandmother who was concerned that her fire-fighter grandson wasn’t getting enough work one early season. This is going to be unlikely in 2014. Oh, yeah. she spent quite a bit of time with California Corrections people.

    As to the spot fires in San Diego County this week, it is far more likely for new fires to be started by the nature of the chapparal fuel. It burns hot and fast and it is prone to sending up a lot of embers into the Santa Ana winds or when the brush is dense, the fire will create its own erratic winds.

    Reply
    • Seems to have born out as chaparral fires after investigation. Many media outlets immediately assumed arson, which seems to be the case recently.

      Reply
  11. Robert I wonder if you blogged on the mangled jet stream that “framed” the historic Pakistan flooding on one side and the equally historic Russian heat wave on the other in 2010. (Newbie to you & this site, thank you.)

    Reply
    • My start was in 2012. So I missed the 2010 events, unfortunately.

      I have a suspicion that, with the current emerging El Nino, we have a somewhat similar pattern developing. Record rain events from Serbia and Bosnia to Israel and Jordan to Afghanistan. Very large, muscular heat dome over the Caspian.

      In fact, we have a cut off, upper level disturbance sitting over Iran and Afghanistan now. Give that thing a bit more moisture flow and there could be trouble.

      Stu Ostro was right about the heavyweight highs causing trouble. And they tend to thrive under these high amplitude Jet Stream waves that seem to occur with increasing frequency.

      Reply
      • james cole

         /  May 17, 2014

        A bit more on Serbia’s rain event. It has broken all the records. “At least 20 people were killed, tens of thousands evacuated, over 250,000 households left without power in what has been branded the ‘worst flooding’ on record across the Balkans.

        Officials in Bosnia say 12 people have died and more bodies could emerge as the water recedes from dozens of cities flooded in the past three days. Serbia has seen eight deaths, AP reported.

        “This is the greatest flooding disaster ever. Not just in the past 100 years; this has never happened in Serbia’s history,” Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told a news conference on Thursday.

        “More rain fell in one day than in four months,” he added.”
        These record rain fall stories seem to appear more and more often. I am sure that figures bear out the increase in rain fall due to global warming. More extreme is the key word, everything is getting more extreme.

        Reply
        • Thanks for the update, James.

          As warming continues to intensify and amp up the hydrological cycle we end up with increasingly severe droughts and floods. If we push it too far, the increased rainfall events taper off and you end up with just drought and fire.

  12. Mark from New England

     /  May 16, 2014

    From the Weather Channel: “Fire Tornado rips through San Diego”

    http://www.weather.com/video/fire-tornado-rips-through-san-diego-48557?

    Pretty amazing footage, if a vision of Dante’s Inferno.

    Reply
    • It has been an extraordinary few days for San Diego. The first wave of many, most likely for this year. I am very impressed with California fire response for this event. Some videos show aircraft after aircraft in train to dump water on flames. Military, state and local all coordinated very well and were on top of this thing from jump. Evacuations were very well managed. All the exact opposite of supposed government inefficiency. Many, many lives saved. It could have been far worse.

      I sincerely hope they can keep it up. This year will be very challenging.

      Reply
    • Major flooding due to rainfall up and down the East Coast. A few water rescues of stranded vehicles here in Montgomery County earlier today. But, so far, nothing record shattering, thank goodness.

      Reply
  13. Bosnia and Serbia emergency after ‘worst ever’ floods

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27439139

    Reply
  14. Colorado Bob

     /  May 17, 2014

    Reply
  15. Less than two years ago they were facing severe drought:

    After the harshest winter in decades, the Balkans region in the southeast of Europe is now facing its hottest summer and the worst drought across the area in nearly 40 years, officials say.

    Balkans region hit by worst drought in decades
    By Dusan Stojanovic, Bloomberg Businessweek, 2012-08-23

    The all-too-familiar pattern.

    Reply
  16. I have been doing my own reflections of weather down in New Zealand this morning – http://robinwestenra.blogspot.co.nz/2014/05/personal-reflections.html

    Reply
  17. The Union of Concerned Scientists weighed in regarding historic US sites:
    “Today these sites face a perilous and uncertain future in a world of rising sea levels, more frequent wildfires, increased flooding, and other damaging effects of climate change.”
    I suppose it’s time for Obama to call a golf game, or something.
    http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/impacts/national-landmarks-at-risk-from-climate-change.html

    Reply
  1. Another Week of Climate Disruption News, May 18, 2014 – A Few Things Ill Considered

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