A VERY WET YEAR SO FAR
Yet another strong storm system affected the Missouri Ozarks and southeast Kansas on March 31st, 2008.  A strong cold front interacted with abundant moisture and instability already in place across the region.  This interaction produced widespread severe storms with damaging wind, large hail, and a few tornadoes.  In addition to the severe weather, heavy rain continued to batter the region with more flooding.  In fact, Springfield set another record for monthly precipitation at 9.40 inches of rain for the month of March surpassing the previous record of 9.09 inches set back in 1935.  This marks the second month in a row for record rainfall in Springfield.

The late March heavy rain came after two others in mid March and in February which produced record or near record monthly rainfalls for many locations across the Ozarks.  Several upper level storm systems were able to take advantage of abundant moisture which streamed into the region from the Gulf of Mexico.  The moisture interacted with near stationary or slow moving surface systems which helped to focus heavy rainfall over northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. This produced flash flooding across the region in addition to significant river flooding. 
U.S. map of Rainfall totals for 2008
The region now heads into three of the climatologically wettest months of the year with the ground saturated from the record rains of February and March. This along with the record or near record snow falls across the northern plains this winter has prompted NOAA's Hydrologic Infomation Center to issue a Flood risk assessment.

What happened during March and February?

...RECORD MONTHLY RAINFALL SET AT SPRINGFIELD...
WEST PLAINS AND VICHY/ROLLA FOR THE MONTH OF MARCH...

SEVERAL STORM SYSTEMS IMPACTED SOUTHERN MISSOURI AND EXTREME SOUTHEAST KANSAS DURING THE MONTH OF MARCH. THIS CAME AFTER MANY OF THE SAME LOCATIONS HAD RECORD BREAKING MONTHLY RAINFALL IN FEBRUARY.

RECORDS FOR MONTHLY RAINFALL WERE BROKEN AT THE FOLLOWING
LOCATIONS.

A RECORD MONTHLY RAINFALL OF 14.83 INCHES WAS SET AT WEST PLAINS. THIS BREAKS THE OLD MONTHLY RECORD OF 9.87 SET IN 2002.

A RECORD MONTHLY RAINFALL OF 9.91 INCHES WAS SET AT ROLLA/VICHY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD MONTHLY RECORD OF 7.41 SET IN 1945.

A RECORD MONTHLY RAINFALL OF 9.40 INCHES WAS SET AT SPRINGFIELD. THIS BREAKS THE OLD MONTHLY RECORD OF 9.09 SET IN 1935.

ALSO OF NOTE...7.63 INCHES OF RAINFALL WAS MEASURED AT JOPLIN WHICH RANKS AS THE 3RD WETTEST MARCH ON RECORD. THE WETTEST MARCH OCCURRED IN 1973 WHEN 9.04 INCHES OF RAIN WAS RECORDED.

Percent of normal precipitation for March 2008
...RECORD MONTHLY RAINFALL SET AT SPRINGFIELD...
AND VICHY/ROLLA FOR THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY...

SEVERAL STORM SYSTEMS IMPACTED SOUTHERN MISSOURI AND EXTREME
SOUTHEAST KANSAS DURING THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY.

RECORDS FOR MONTHLY RAINFALL WERE BROKEN AT THE FOLLOWING
LOCATIONS.

A RECORD MONTHLY RAINFALL OF 6.41 INCHES WAS SET AT SPRINGFIELD.
THIS BREAKS THE OLD MONTHLY RECORD OF 5.77 SET IN 2001.

A RECORD MONTHLY RAINFALL OF 4.36 INCHES WAS SET AT VICHY/ROLLA.
THIS BREAKS THE OLD MONTHLY RECORD OF 4.24 SET IN 1957.

ALSO OF NOTE...3.82 INCHES OF RAINFALL WAS MEASURED AT JOPLIN WHICH
RANKED AS THE 9TH WETTEST FEBRUARY ON RECORD. THE WETTEST FEBRUARY
OCCURRED IN 1985 WHEN 7.82 INCHES OF RAIN WAS RECORDED. 4.86 INCHES OF
RAIN WAS ALSO RECORDED AT WEST PLAINS WHICH RANKED AS THE 6TH
WETTEST FEBRUARY ON RECORD. THE WETTEST FEBRUARY ON RECORD FOR
WEST PLAINS OCCURRED IN 1990 WHEN 8.92 INCHES OF RAIN WAS RECORDED.
PERCENT OF NORMAL RAINFALL FOR fEBRUARY 2008

For additional information concerning the heavy rainfall events over the past three months go to our Event Review Page


Overall this years precipitation has been above normal.
Percent of Normal Rainfall for Jan-Mar 2008 Jan-Mar precipitation departure from normal

Information in the Table below relates the current yearly rainfall to the normal rainfall for the period January through March.


Total Rainfall Normal Rainfall Departure From Normal Last Year at this Time
Springfield 19.33" 8.21" + 11.12" 9.16"
Joplin 12.53" 7.71" + 4.81" 8.04"
West Plains 20.66" 10.40" + 10.26" 8.16"
Rolla/Vichy 17.40" 7.13" + 10.27" 7.50"




















What does the Long Range Outlook have in
store for the Ozarks?


La Niña is expected to continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2008.
                             From the Climate Prediction Center.

Atmospheric and oceanic conditions during February 2008 continued to reflect a strong La Niña. Equatorial SSTs were more than 2.0°C below average across large portions of the central and east-central equatorial Pacific (Fig. 1), and the corresponding weekly values of the Niño-4 and Niño-3.4 indices remained between -1.6°C and -2.1°C during the month (Fig. 2). In contrast, SSTs in the far eastern equatorial Pacific were above average during February 2008, in association with a warming trend that began in mid-December. The upper-ocean heat content
(average temperatures in the upper 300m of the oceans between 180° - 100°W) remained below average across the equatorial Pacific during February (Fig. 3), with the largest temperature anomalies averaging -2°C to -6°C at thermocline depth (Fig. 4). Consistent with these oceanic conditions, stronger-than-average low-level easterly winds and upper-level westerly winds persisted across the central equatorial Pacific, convection remained suppressed throughout the central equatorial Pacific, and enhanced convection covered the far western Pacific. Collectively, these oceanic and atmospheric conditions are similar to those accompanying the last strong La Niña episode in 1998-2000.


During a Moderate to Strong La Niña (-1.0 to -1.6) an area of enhance precipitation is noticed along the Ohio River valley over western Kentucky and Tennessee.


Comparing the expected precipitation pattern during a Moderate to Strong La Niña and the Observed rainfall across the U.S. for the January to March period, some similarities are noted. The axis of heavy precipitation looks as if it is shifted about 100-150 miles west of the expected area of impact.


Looking at the expected precipitation map for April through June with an ONI of -1.0 to 1-4, there is a hint that areas along the Missouri, Arkansas border may receive above normal rainfall. The area that may receive significant precipitation based on the information, looks to be centered on Louisiana. Much of this will depend on the strength of
La Niña through the remainder of spring and into summer.



The map below shows the conditional probability that the total precipitation will rank among the highest or lowest one-third of the 45-year climatological record (terciles), given a moderate-to-strong La Niña episode (and also, for the trend-adjusted maps, given the continuation of long-term trends through the valid period). This information is depicted only for those regions where the probabilities for the tercile classes of above, near, and below normal departed sufficiently from a uniform distribution such that the chances of this departure being an accident were less than about 10%.

The map below then indicates that for a
moderate-to-strong La Niña, southern Missouri has a 55-65% chsnce of having a wetter than normal April through June period. There is however a 10% chance as noted by the map that the area could fall in the opposite tercile, or that the period will fall in the drier than normal range.

La NiƱa Seasonal U.S. Probability Map

You can find more in on our website concerning
EL NIÑO/LA NIÑA/MJO

For more information go to the CPC
La Niña Precipitation Composites

For general information concerning
El Niño/La Niña go to CPC's information Page

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