With the large number of heavy rain events leading to major flooding across portions of the US during the spring and summer of 2010 (e.g. Nashville, Tennessee; eastern Texas, western Arkansas, south-central Kansas, and central Oklahoma), NOAA/NWS has been receiving a flood of questions asking whether these events are related to climate change. The NWS is responsible for providing early warning of these events, as well as accurate information with minimal uncertainty on their possible causes. Better attribution of the causes of these extreme precipitation events is needed to help the public respond to and prepare for the associated flooding threats.
This paper is focused on addressing some of the questions people are asking about the Spring 2010 precipitation and flooding events from a climate perspective:
Could we have predicted that this pattern would (or would not) continue through the summer of 2010?
How do the spring 2010 events rank from a historical perspective?
Were there circulation features in common to the 2010 events?
How well were these events predicted?
How do the precipitation events of 2010 compare with those that occurred in 1993?
What is the seasonality and interannual variability of precipitation extremes in the U.S.? How are these events related to the ENSO cycle
How is the frequency and intensity of these events changing?
The CPC Unified Precipitation analysis (1979-present), the NCEP/NCAR 40 year (1957-1996) Reanalysis (1948-present) and the Climate Data Assimilation System (CDAS), which carried the NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis forward in real time, are the principal datasets used in the investigation.