92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012
Flooded in Drought? An Examination of the Frequency of Drought Conditions in the Southern United States in Relation to High Flow Conditions on the Mississippi River At Memphis, TN
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
Royce L. Fontenot, NOAA/NWS, Slidell, LA

Poster PDF (3.6 MB)

The climatology of drought conditions in the Southern U.S. in relation to high streamflow events along the Mississippi River at Memphis, TN will be presented. At the same time record streamflow was observed in 2011 at Memphis, TN, much of the Southern U.S., especially Texas and the north central Gulf Coast, were in severe to extreme drought. Mean monthly streamflow data for Memphis (1934-2010) has been compared to the monthly Palmer Hydrologic Drought Indices and three-month Standardized Precipitation Indices for the coastal climate divisions in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

The recent extreme drought conditions in the Southern U.S. are relatively rare in years with high streamflow at Memphis, TN. In general, for mean monthly streamflow values of one million cfs or greater at Memphis, about 20% of the monthly Palmer Drought indices were -1.25 or less along the north central Gulf Coast. A similar relationship occurred with the Standardized Precipitation Index.

Across all geographic areas, the strongest relationships between streamflows above one million cfs at Memphis and drought were found during the month of February for the Palmer Index, with values of correlation -0.385 to -0.964, indicating that dry conditions in the study area were found with conjunction with high Memphis flow. A similar correlation was noted with seasonal averages for January-March. The Standardized Precipitation Index was also strong negatively correlated in February. A cursory examination of statewide Palmer Drought Indices for Alabama and Georgia also indicated a strong negative correlation in February.

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