Convective Meteorology (Mesoscale Dynamics)

Flash Flooding Case Study: 31 May 2013 Oklahoma City, OK

Race Clark
OU School of Meteorology / CIMMS

02 May 2014, 3:00 PM

National Weather Center, Room 5600
120 David L. Boren Blvd.
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK

A severe weather outbreak on 31 May 2013 brought heavy rains, large hail, tornadoes, and flash flooding to central Oklahoma. In all, fourteen people lost their lives due to flash flooding, thirteen of these in Oklahoma County. This was the deadliest flash flooding event in the state of Oklahoma since the Tulsa Memorial Day floods of 1984. Most of the flash flooding deaths can be attributed to the multi-hazard nature of the event; people chose to take shelter in storm-water control and routing structures to avoid what was perceived to be an imminent tornado. Reports from local media, social media, and official sources are used to create detailed analyses of where, when, and how fatalities and injuries occurred due to swiftly moving waters. Additionally, a detailed analysis of the nearly $17 million in damage that occurred due to the high waters is presented. Traffic counts from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation indicate that Oklahoma City traffic volumes on 31 May 2013 were extremely heavy compared to historical norms.
A meteorological and hydrological synopsis of the conditions leading up to the flash flooding is provided. High-resolution numerical weather prediction was successful at generally delineating the risk of heavy rainfall and attendant flash flooding. Operational flash flood guidance tools failed to correctly identify the areas of the most significant flooding impacts. However, the National Severe Storms Laboratory's FLASH system provided an accurate picture of where and when the flash flooding was most significant.

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