A Firehose from the Gulf

Yesterday, as a potent storm system approached from the west, a massive plume of Gulf moisture was pumped northward.  Interacting with a stationary front that stretched from northeast Texas to the mid Ohio Valley, the warm, humid air unleashed heavy rain, especially from southwest Missouri to southern Illinois; here in Columbia, Missouri, we received nearly five inches of rain, an impressive amount but only half that which fell in parts of southern Missouri and southwest Illinois.

Flash flood warnings were common throughout the southeastern half of Missouri and much of the State remains under a flood watch today as intermittent rain and thunderstorms continue to move across the region.  Fortunately, the center of the storm's circulation has moved eastward (currently near Wichita, Kansas) and the firehose of Gulf moisture is now directed through the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys.  Unfortunately, the leading edge of the system has been igniting severe thunderstorms (some of which were tornadic in eastern Texas); today, that risk has shifted to the Gulf Coast States.

Such extensive flooding is most often produced by potent but slow-moving storm systems; in this scenario, heavy rain continues to fall over the same swath of landscape, saturating the soil and then spilling into the streams and rivers.  Though a massive amount of moisture is taken up by leafing trees and growing plants during the spring season, that process cannot keep up with the sudden deluge.  Hopefully, sunshine and drier air will settle in before the next spring storm system arrives from the Great Plains.