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Synoptic and Climate Attributions of the December 2015 Extreme Flooding in Missouri, USA

Department of Plants, Soils and Climate, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA
Utah Climate Center, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA
Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences and & Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2018, 10(4), 350;
Received: 21 January 2018 / Revised: 16 March 2018 / Accepted: 19 March 2018 / Published: 21 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrology)
PDF [5452 KB, uploaded 3 May 2018]


Three days of extreme rainfall in late December 2015 in the middle of the Mississippi River led to severe flooding in Missouri. The meteorological context of this event was analyzed through synoptic diagnosis into the atmospheric circulation that contributed to the precipitation event’s severity. The midlatitude synoptic waves that induced the extreme precipitation and ensuing flooding were traced to the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), which amplified the trans-Pacific Rossby wave train likely associated with the strong El Niño of December 2015. Though the near-historical El Niño contributed to a quasi-stationary trough over the western U.S. that induced the high precipitation event, an interference between the MJO and El Niño teleconnections resulted in a relatively weak atmospheric signature of the El Niño in comparison to that of the MJO. The influence of anthropogenic climate change on the relationship between ENSO and precipitation across several central U.S. states was also investigated using 17 CMIP5 models from the historical single-forcing experiments. A regime change in ENSO-related precipitation anomalies appears to have occurred, from being negatively correlated before 1950 to positive and significantly correlated after 1970, suggesting a likely effect of anthropogenic warming on the December 2015 extreme precipitation event. View Full-Text
Keywords: MJO; ENSO; flooding; greenhouse gases MJO; ENSO; flooding; greenhouse gases

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Fosu, B.; Wang, S.; Pegion, K. Synoptic and Climate Attributions of the December 2015 Extreme Flooding in Missouri, USA. Water 2018, 10, 350.

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