March Heatwave — Among Most Extreme in US History — Fuels Potential for Catastrophic Flooding

This afternoon the National Weather Service issued a catastrophic flood warning for the areas of Eastern Oklahoma, Western Arkansas, Western Louisiana, and Southwest Missouri. The NWS predicted that widespread and potentially catastrophic areal and river flooding were possible in the region today. An enormous, slow-moving low pressure system is colliding with the moistest air mass ever recorded for the central US during March.

The NWS in Minneapolis Minnesota measured the highest levels of moisture ever recorded so early in the year flowing northwards into Minnesota along the cold front yesterday. A large trough of low pressure is now lifting this massive volume of moisture aloft and is expected to dump from 4-8 inches of rain with isolated amounts measuring as high as 15 inches in the warning areas.


Fueling this storm is an extreme record heat-wave that has pumped massive volumes of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico over the central US. This heat wave was spurred by a Pacific La Nina weather pattern combined with abnormal heat and moisture fueled by global climate change.

All throughout the Midwest, records have been shattered with many cities showing the warmest March in history. In Illinois, republican climate change deniers vying for primary voters were greeted with seven days straight of 80 degree weather.

Obama, in a recent chat with Oprah today said “It’s warm every place. It gets you a little nervous about what’s happening to global temperatures. But when it’s 75 degrees in Chicago in the beginning of March it gets you thinking…”

Oprah replied: “Something’s wrong.”Image

The March heat wave is producing a huge swatch of extreme temperatures with North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio all seeing temperatures 20-25 degrees or more above average for this time of year.

From Weather Channel meteorologist Stu Ostro: “This remarkable warmth is associated with a bulging ridge of high pressure aloft that is exceptionally strong and long-lasting for March. While natural factors are contributing to this warm spell, given the nature of it and its context with other extreme weather events and patterns in recent years there is a high probability that global warming is having an influence upon its extremity.”

UPDATE: Storm system sparks flash flooding, severe storms, tornadoes across the warning region (more information available at

UPDATE: According to reports from The Weather Channel, and the National Weather Service, storms last night dumped up to 12 inches of rain over the warning area, with one area reporting 15 inches. The storm is currently advancing, creating the threat of up to 5 inches of rain in eastern Louisiana and western Mississippi today.

UPDATE: The current heat wave has resulted in over 3,000 record high temperatures over the US.

UPDATE: Weather Channel’s Stu Ostro says extreme weather linked to climate change.



NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center:

The Weather Channel:

Think Progress:


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