Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Science


Flash flooding kills more people in the United States than any other severe weather phenomenon. One of the most vulnerable areas for flooding is the southern Appalachians. These mountains lie in a geographical location that places them near the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, two major moisture source regions. This ample supply of moisture, mid-latitude circulation patterns, and orographic lifting leads to annual precipitation totals in the southern Appalachians that are comparable to locations along the Gulf coast. The present study investigates eight non-tropical flash flood events. Four of the events occurred in the cool season and four occurred in the warm season. Several meteorological parameters were analyzed using NARR data and synoptic soundings for the pre-storm and storm environments of eight flash flood events. The results show significant differences in the role of moisture advection and wind profiles between the cool and warm season events. In addition, the cool season events were rather widespread in aerial coverage, while the warm season events were typically quite isolated in nature. For example, a large mid-latitude cyclone resulted in up to four inches of rain on large portions of the southern Appalachians on January 26, 1996. On the other hand, during the afternoon of June 22, 2001, slow-moving thunderstorms produced as much as four inches of rain on Skyland, North Carolina. This research shows the role of synoptic and mesoscale settings and their forcings on the evolution of these extreme hydrometeorological events.


Geography | Hydrology