Hothouse Rains for Florida — 40 Year Old Record Smashed by 8 Inch Downpour in Daytona Beach

Increasingly, due to global atmospheric heating, this is the kind of event we’ve seen —

An atmosphere hotter than at any time in at least the past 120,000 years develops a powerful thermal lift. The dense clouds build higher and higher, drawing in moisture from a hydrological cycle that has been intensified by at least 6 percent due to a 0.8 C global heating since the 1880s. Eventually, the heavy moisture loading within the cloud comes crashing downward in a collapsing inundation, resulting in record rainfall.

Almost daily, now, we see new record rainfall events due to this set of hothouse warming heightened atmospheric dynamics. Just one of the increasingly severe weather impacts predicted by climate scientists. And for a broad region of Eastern and Central Florida sitting under a pattern of rainfall that has now persisted for 8 days, yesterday witnessed just such a major inundation.

Heavy Storms Close in On Central Florida

(Powerful storms close in on Central and Eastern Florida yesterday afternoon just prior to another record rainfall event. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

Towering storms swept in, puffed up by the hotter than normal waters of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico spreading dense, white cloud tops up toward the stratosphere. By late evening, Central and Eastern Florida were hemmed in by the towering cloud deck.

The heavy rains began last night around midnight and continued on until around 7 AM this morning. Dousing sheets of rain swept through Volusia County cities focusing in on Orlando, Port Orange, New Smyrna Beach and Daytona. For Daytona, the previous rainfall record for the day, set in the 1970s at 4.22 inches was shattered as 7.98 inches of rain fell over a seven hour period.

The massive downpour left ten homes flooded and entire neighborhoods shut down as city residents pushed water-logged vehicles to higher ground or gingerly waded through knee to waist deep waters. Nearby Port Orange found itself in a similar situation after a 7 inch deluge flooded numerous roads and neighborhoods even as it completely buried a section of railroad track in flood waters. The flooding storms also uprooted trees and knocked down power lines in the affected region.

As of about 1 PM this afternoon more storms were riding in off the Atlantic Ocean heightening the risk of continued flooding for the already storm-plagued region. River levels were rapidly rising and a flood warning was issued for the larger St. John’s River.

Water vapor florida

(Southeast Water Vapor Imagery. Image source: NOAA.)

As of 4 PM Eastern Time, water vapor imagery and radar showed strong thunderstorm cells just to the southeast of Volusia county and traveling toward the northwest — threatening a second inundation for an already flooded region.


Heavy Rains Flood Parts of Central Florida



Top Climate Scientists Explain How Global Warming Wrecks the Jet Stream and Amps Up the Hydrological Cycle to Spur Dangerous Weather

Global Warming to Drive Increase in Severe Thunderstorm Risk

(Hat Tip to Colorado Bob)

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  1. I can only imagine. We got ten inches of rain here in Carlsbad NM over several days just this past week, and that caused people a fair amount of trouble as it was. On the bright side, I look forward to seeing how much of the rest of the SW is now entirely out of drought as a result. This was from that hurricane by Baja.

    • Colorado Bob

       /  September 25, 2014

      On Sunday night the Pecos River at Carlsbad rose 30 feet .

      • Significant train of moisture running into northwest as well.

        Bob — do you keep a record of recent studies RE Arctic methane? I’m compiling notes. Growing a bit concerned by what appears to be vehement crisis denial coming from a few reticent scientists. Working on a broad study of the science now and any resources would be helpful.


      • Colorado Bob

         /  September 25, 2014

        Sorry no, but I’m in your camp on the issue. What worries me is the warm water at depth flowing past Svalbard and along the Siberia coast. I think the Oden expedition mentioned this recently.
        I’ll do some snooping for you .
        There is a permafrost guy who’s worked at Churchill for over 20 years , he has bore holes around the area. The permafrost at 15 meters around Churchill is just .5 F degrees beblow freezing.

        We are just one hot summer away from seeing every icy thing up north melt and flow into the ocean. And when that happens the seas off Siberia will be boiling in a muddy mess.

        Which will make the ocean even darker.

        Then Jason Box can report on the “Dark Ocean” project because of the discharge of mud into the sea. Like we saw last summer in the Tartar Strait. Every river that discharges into the Arctic Ocean is changing from a clear snow melt into a permafrost melt. All this brown water is another feed back loop. Because it is warming as flows into the sea. And all of that warms the largest shallow continental shelf in the world.

        • Thanks Bob. Great points. Although it would seem to me that mud is somewhat lighter in color (higher albedo) than dark blue ocean.

          I think the Arctic is still very complex. But we do have a lot of disturbing amplifying feedbacks coming into play.

          The good news is that Arctic sea ice volume appears to have shifted back to a more linear tracking which, if that trend continues might give us another decade or so.

          The Antarctic set a record high this summer which is making me think more that the freshwater outflow from glacial collapse ongoing over the Antarctic continent together with the fresh water wedge down welling effect is having a rather strong transient negative feedback effect there.

          With precipitation increasing over the Arctic continents and fresh water outflow from both the rivers and from Ice Sheet melt increasing, I think we may well observe a similar negative feedback response in the Arctic. That said, the Arctic geography is radically different and there appear to be far more avenues for the extra global heating to attack the ice. The push-pull on this system is likely to get rather vicious, especially when you consider the rate of increase in the human heat forcing.

      • mikkel

         /  September 25, 2014

        Robert, one thing I’ve noticed — particularly in cases like Gavin Schmidt — is that they become so wedded to defending the model to counter against denial that they cling to the model as the purpose for their work. Throw in the fact that the models are “understandable” in a way that low level probabilities aren’t, and it’s a dangerous brew.

        A few times I’ve really pushed some associated scientists about the limits of the models from a risk perspective (i.e. that they don’t adequately capture existential threats) and after knocking down dozens of objections got them to admit that they must cling to the models because they are all that are provable from an evidentiary perspective. Things like methane release and SLR are not, particularly at the current rate of warming.

        The inability to apply frequentist logic here is why I think science as an institution is incapable of adequately addressing climate change. That said, I’ve become convinced that increasing doomsday messaging won’t lead to changes any more quickly, and the scientific community is right that the models alone show destruction of our current way of life if we don’t change, so I’m not sure it matters.

        • The rate of methane release from environmental sources is a strong indicator for climate sensitivity to human forcing. It matters in the sense that it helps determine the level of urgency for action. It’s one of the reasons I don’t believe we can wait until mid century for concerted action and that such widespread action needs to start now. It was also one of the reasons Hansen recommended an atmospheric CO2 level of 350 or lower as the ‘safe’ range.

          In essence there’s enough methane out there to at least double the potential human heat forcing over time.

          Understanding the rate of potential release is therefore key to understanding how the Earth system responds and is a critical element of the science. For in this the CO2 and human ghg forcing and the environmental ghg release volume and rate are linked.

          If I were working with modelers I would ask them to look at volcanoes. To create a test case in which we assumed zero knowledge about how volcanoes worked and then modeled only based on pre-eruption observation. After working with that artificial system, I would take lessons learned and aim it at the global methane store.

          The reason is that the methane store, like volcanoes, is almost certainly a system that is governed by stasis, minor response to large forcing, and finally radical change once tipping points are reached. If we’re only looking at the physical elements we can prove now, then we’re not looking at the whole system. Also, we need much better base observation. We need strong empirical data on Arctic methane and carbon emissions flux and it would be best if we could take that data back to mid 20th Century and go forward to now.

          The notion of defending the status quo modeling based on such incomplete data and such a broad variety of assumptions is really a bad idea overall. I saw the recent post by Archer over at Real Climate in which he attempts to quantify the amount of methane coming out of the Arctic blow holes. Already I see broad assumptions based on defense of status quo thinking. For example, Archer takes each emission case as a single burst. But, more likely, the burst is large initially, but continues over a long period of time as the buster pocket is exhausted. As such, the burster emission would likely come in the form of an initial peak and then a long trailing tail. Just based on this observation of a likely physical mechanism, we can surmise that Archer is possibly assuming underestimation of methane volumes forthcoming.

          In addition, if the methane bursts are signs of larger destabilization of broader structures beneath, then they would represent initial source release events possibly leading to larger events and not final source events.

          There is just so much that we do not know. And the reactive/defensive mindset that I’m watching play out doesn’t help in expanding understanding when that’s exactly what we need.

          Finally, there appears to be some kind of political/messaging/strategy consideration involved. If that’s the case, then it’s clouding the active scientific process of discovery.

          So yes, it’s true that in the broader scheme, the primary driver of the whole problem is human carbon emission and Schmidt, Archer and everyone over at Real Climate are dead right about that being the chief issue we face. But my view is that the level of urgency should be very high given uncertainty over Earth Systems responses and we should most certainly not assume that we have X amount of time while understanding of Y (rate of Earth System response) is still developing. Nor should we assume that we know why when there is a constant flow of new information and when our overall understanding of carbon response in the Arctic and Earth System is generally so poor.

          To this point, I’ve been encouraged by messaging coming from Ruppel and some researchers over at Wood’s Hole. So there does appear to be some effort to fill in a broad middle ground between Archer/Schmidt and Wadhams/Shakova. In my view, this is helpful to the scientific discourse.

      • mikkel

         /  September 25, 2014

        Using volcanoes as an analogy is a good idea, but unfortunately shows how problematic making predictions is. Even with a myriad of sensors, eruptions can only be predicted with any accuracy a few weeks in advance. The same goes for earthquakes (if even that).

        As the one paper I have linked to in the past on the compost bomb hypothesis points out, the releases are probably unpredictable because all local chambers can be quiescent even as the total area is close to eruption.

        I don’t think anyone is going to be convinced based on data, and it’ll just come down to which “camp” is more influential. The people making the actual observations seem to be most widely concerned, so eventually they should prevail.

        • In the if – then analysis.

          If we can’t accurately model/predict a volcanic eruption, then why are we using models to determine rate of a methane release that is driven by similar catastrophic factors?

          We need to look at risk outside of the models in this case and rely more on observation.

      • mikkel

         /  September 26, 2014

        Yes, and specifically the paleoclimate stuff you’re so good at digging up. That suggests without a doubt that the risk is major even with only a few more decades of BAU.

    • On the bright side, I look forward to seeing how much of the rest of the SW is now entirely out of drought as a result.

      I thought that these isolated, fast rainfall events don’t really help with drought – the ground is denuded and not very capable of retaining water for several reasons, and the rain mostly floods away.

      • Colorado Bob

         /  September 25, 2014

        Except these events are embedded in a pattern shift , it has been raining a lot across West Texas back into Arizona.

      • Ten inches of rain fairly evenly spread over five days in a dryish (but not entirely dry) area will soak in all right. The flooding was around the Pecos mostly, and in other low draining areas. This is really different from getting seven or more inches in a day.

        Last September the atmospheric river that trashed Boulder, CO and vicinity left eleven inches in thirty six hours just southwest of Carlsbad. But even that got the region downgraded out of drought.

        Slower and more even is better, yes. But this has been a boon. Texas, New Mexico and Arizona have all been getting gradually downgraded out of drought for some time now, at least partially. Even Nevada and California have been getting some rain.

        I measured ten inches where I am (otherwise data is reliant on recording stations) Vegetation in town has gone absolutely crazy. Tropical rain forest on steroids.

      • Colorado Bob

         /  September 25, 2014

        Good to see you , I was wondering about you when I saw the numbers , it rained 19 inches just southeast of you. across the Texas Border.

        • Hi CB and thanks. Where did the Pecos rise 30 feet? That would have gone waaaay inland here.

          “The Dark Canyon Draw in Carlsbad crested at 21.62 feet early Monday morning, just shy of its record crest of 22 feet set on August 23, 1966. The Pecos River, just east of the city crested just over 4.5 feet above flood stage, its highest stage since April 2004. Stages in both locations had plunged quickly following the early-morning flood wave.” – Weather Channel.

          Last September DCD crested at seventeen or eighteen feet, so it must have been a close thing with route 285.

  2. Jay M

     /  September 25, 2014

    It will be interesting to see how things develop going forward. What do sewer design engineers expect? Max 1/2″ per hour, or 4 hour max? That’s 2 inches. How many inches per hour and then with storm surges and tidal motion, I need some smelling salts. Otherwise I am down with the people walking through significant levels of water where they are trying to live. Living areas flooded suck. Mud gets into everything.

    • Colorado Bob

       /  September 25, 2014

      Jay M

      There is a great video from St Louis a couple of year ago when they got an 8 ” rain .
      The manhole covers explode from Interstate 40 . And a geyser of water 20 feet high just explodes .

      Moral of the story, if your in one of these events, stay home, and collect the things you love.

      • CB:

        “The manhole covers explode from Interstate 40 . And a geyser of water 20 feet high just explodes.”

        I remember seeing that happen in West Los Angeles once 25-30 years ago. I was on a bicycle at the top of the hill.

    • Jay M

       /  September 25, 2014

      Looking into capacity a bit you find that much of the US urban infrastructure is built as a combined sewage rain runoff system so high level rain events tend to release untreated sewage.

  3. Colorado Bob

     /  September 25, 2014

    / September 25, 2014

    Pecos River floods fed by Dark Canyon Draw

    The Pecos River rose to 30 feet Sunday night, National Weather Service officials said, flooding Callaway Drive and forcing an evacuation residents of the area.

    • CB: oh, I see. Rose *to* thirty feet. It’s dammed here. South of the lower Tansill dam it’s more like a creek much of the time. Yeah, I gathered that they ran into trouble at the north end.

      These aren’t good times to be living by the river, in any case. I’m about a mile away from the Pecos and Dark Canyon both, and just on the very edge of the flood plain uphill from both, so it’ll have to try harder to mess me up seriously. If either of those flows reached me, Carlsbad would be like E. New Orleans after Katrina.

      Also, though it doesn’t appear to have been raining tons in Roswell proper, it has been raining a lot over the last few months near Roswell, so that must have affected this.

  4. Colorado Bob

     /  September 25, 2014

    Dr. Rood has posted a rather good summary of this week –

    Just What Is the New York Climate Summit?

  5. Apneaman

     /  September 25, 2014

    RELEASE: CAP Brief Calls on U.S. Leadership of Arctic Council to Make Methane Reduction a Priority

    September 24, 2014

  6. Colorado Bob

     /  September 25, 2014

    28. DonnieBwkGA
    3:44 AM GMT on September 25, 2014

    Climate summit from the past…

    You got to see this cartoon

  7. Colorado Bob

     /  September 25, 2014

    Colorado’s Front Range fire severity not much different than past

    In addition, a warming Colorado climate — 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1977 — has become a wild card regarding future Front Range fires, according to the team. While fires are dependent on ignition sources and can be dramatically influenced by high winds, the team expects to see a substantial increase in Front Range fire activity in the low and mid-elevations in the coming years as temperatures continue to warm, a result of rising greenhouses gases in Earth’s atmosphere.


  8. Spike

     /  September 25, 2014

    More evidence of a disturbed hydrological cycle as parts of northern and central China suffer severe drought:

    China’s climate also is warming, particular the populous northeast where rain levels have fallen, said a 2011 study by Chinese, French and British researchers. Meanwhile, the country’s south has seen its rainfall concentrated in shorter bursts, which has made it harder to predict water supplies.

    As a result, per capita water availability in the megacities of Beijing and Shanghai as well as their surrounding provinces equals that of dry Middle Eastern countries such as Israel and Jordan, said Feng Hu, a water analyst with the Hong Kong-based research group China Water Risk. By comparison, the average U.S. household has access to nearly five times more available water than Chinese households do.

    “If we continue with our business-as-usual model, the demand will exceed supply by 2030,” Feng said in a lecture in Beijing last month. “The water crisis is a real risk.”

  9. We will have to eat nuts instead of grains. Nut forests would protect the soil from erosion.

  10. An article in Aus regarding Dr Jason Box’s investigation of methane releases (such as the notorious “Siberian holes”). The text is old news to you folks (great primer for those that don’t follow this), but the I thought the graphs were quite interesting.

  11. Kevin Jones

     /  September 25, 2014

    “….so now we don’t believe that we’re good enough to be saved.” Naomi nails it,Colorado Bob


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