Record floods on Mississippi River, Lake Champlain; 3rd EF-5 tornado verified

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:40 PM GMT on May 06, 2011

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The Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois continues to fall today, with a level of 59.3', 2.5' below the all-time peak of 61.8' set on Monday night. On Monday night, the Army Corps of Engineers was forced to intentionally destroy a levee at Birds Point on the west bank of the Mississippi, just downstream from Cairo, Illinois, in order to relieve pressure on the levees in Cairo and save that city from a billion-dollar levee breach. The destruction of the Birds Point levee also helped slow the rise of the Mississippi River just south of its confluence with the Ohio River, but the river is still rising slowly, and has now set all-time records at New Madrid, Missouri, Tiptonville, Tennessee, and Caruthersville, Missouri--a 70-mile stretch of river downstream from Cairo. Currently, the Mississippi is expected to reach its 2nd highest level on record at Memphis on May 10, cresting at 48.0'. The all-time record at Memphis occurred during the great flood of 1937, when the river hit 48.7'. Downstream from Memphis, flood waters pouring in from the Arkansas River, Yazoo River, and other tributaries are expected to swell the Mississippi high enough to beat the all-time record at Vicksburg, Mississippi by 1.3' on May 20, and smash the all-time record at Natchez, Mississippi by six feet on May 22, and by 3.2 feet at Red River Landing on May 23. Red River Landing is the site of the Old River Control Structure, the Army Corps' massive engineering structure that keeps the Mississippi River from carving a new path to the Gulf of Mexico. I'll have a detailed post talking about the Old River Control Structure next week. Its failure would be a serious blow to the U.S. economy, and the great Mississippi flood of 2011 will give the Old River Control Structure its most severe test ever. Also of concern is the forecast for the Mississippi to crest at 19.5 feet in New Orleans on May 24. The levees in New Orleans protect the city for a flood of 20.0 feet--that is not much breathing room. Fortunately, only 0.5 - 1.5 inches of rain are expected over the Missouri/Illinois region over the next five days, which should not raise flood heights significantly.

Good links to follow the flood:
Summary forecast of all crests on Lower Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.
Wundermap for Cairo, IL with USGS River overlay turned on.
National Weather Service "May 2011 Mississippi River Flood" web page


Figure 1. Flooding of the farmland along the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway due to the intentional destruction of a levee along the west bank of the Mississippi River in Southeast Missouri is obvious in this pair of before and after photos. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

Lake Champlain hits highest level since 1869; record flooding in Canada
The Governor of Vermont declared a state of emergency yesterday in Vermont due to flooding along Lake Champlain. Heavy rains over the past ten days, combined with snow melt have combined to push the lake ot three feet above flood stage, and the lake has now broken its previous record high, set in 1869. The flooding has caused numerous road closures but no evacuations in the U.S. The story is different in Quebec, Canada, where flood waters from Lake Champlain coursing down the Richelieu River have created a 150-year flood, forcing the evacuation of 1,000 people and the flooding of 3,000 homes and businesses in the Richelieu Valley, just south of Montreal. The lake level is expected to crest Saturday morning, then slowly fall. Lake Champlain is 120 miles long with nearly 600 miles of shoreline, making it the sixth largest natural lake in the U.S., trailing only the Great Lakes in size.


Figure 2. Five to eight inches of precipitation has fallen over much of the Lake Champlain watershed over the past two weeks. Image credit: NOAA/AHPS.

A third tornado from the April 27 Super Outbreak rated an EF-5
Yesterday, the Jackson, Mississippi office of the NWS upgraded the violent tornado that hit Neshoba, Kemper, Winston, and Noxubee Counties in the northeast part of the state to EF-5 status, with top winds of 205 mph. This tornado continued into Alabama and had a total path length of 92.3 miles. Three people died in the tornado, which was so powerful that it dug out the ground to a depth of two feet over an area 25 - 50 yards wide and several hundred yards long. This is the third tornado rated EF-5 from the April 27 outbreak; tornadoes that hit Smithville, MS and Hackleburg, AL also received EF-5 ratings.


Figure 3. EF-5 damage from the April 27, 2011 Neshoba tornado in Mississippi. The tornado was so powerful that it dug out the ground to a depth of two feet over an area 25 - 50 yards wide and several hundred yards long. Image credit: NWS.

Rare EF-2 tornado hits New Zealand
A tornado ripped through New Zealand's largest city, Auckland, on Tuesday, killing one person at a shopping mall and injuring at least fourteen others. The damage was rated EF-2, making the tornado one of the strongest in New Zealand's history. Below is some footage of the twister, showing why it is dangerous to be in a car during a tornado. (Note also the clockwise rotation of the tornado--this is the Southern Hemisphere, where storms rotate clockwise.)


Figure 4. Footage of the May 3, 2011 New Zealand tornado that passed through the Auckland suburb of Albany.

I'll have a new post Monday.

Jeff Masters

Flood 2011 Metropolis, IL (MikeShivers)
Market St looking south towards casino. Contrary to what the media makes you think, blowing the levee greatly helped in keeping the waters lower here. It wasn't just about Cairo, it helped a lot of communities. Flood stage is about 39 ft here, currently it is at about 61.5 feet it could have been closer to 65.
Flood 2011 Metropolis, IL
Flood 2011 Metropolis, IL (MikeShivers)
view from atop the casino barge looking north up Ferry St
Flood 2011 Metropolis, IL
Champlain in his Lake (Pedaltwister)
Isle La Motte, VT. St. Anne's Shrine Hey Hetzenwaelder these are more pictures of Lake Champlain at flood stage.
Champlain in his Lake

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Can someone please tell me how to change my avatar. Thanks
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Quoting KoritheMan:

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, as Sagan said. :)
Cayman's version of JFV has no evidence just wishes.
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Thanks, Pat.

Things are looking pretty soggy down in the bayou (and points north) lately. You hanging in there?
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welcome back seminolesfan
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Long time no see, WUBAs!
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Hi Kori,why not ? :)
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, as Sagan said. :)
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


I didn't quite understand the end. He said the warm PDO of 2005 "added heat to the atmosphere" and explained the horseshoe patterns of cold/warm water in the Pacific. However, what do they actually do? How does a warm PDO adding heat to the atmosphere affect tropical cyclones in the Atlantic?


him alone knows however i think it may have something to do with warm core or some effect to aid in tropical development
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Quoting caribbeantracker01:
Link

JOE BASTARDI EXPLANATION ON AN EARLY SEASON DEVELOPMENT


I didn't quite understand the end. He said the warm PDO of 2005 "added heat to the atmosphere" and explained the horseshoe patterns of cold/warm water in the Pacific. However, what do they actually do? How does a warm PDO adding heat to the atmosphere affect tropical cyclones in the Atlantic?
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Quoting caribbeantracker01:
Link

JOE BASTARDI EXPLANATION ON AN EARLY SEASON DEVELOPMENT

Levi already posted that.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5557
Quoting KoritheMan:

Why?
Hi Kori,why not ? :)
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A dynamically-based method for forecasting tropical cyclogenesis
location in the Atlantic sector using global model products
Zhuo Wang,1 Michael T. Montgomery,1 and Timothy J. Dunkerton1,2




[1] A real-time forecast method is developed for prediction
of the tropical cyclogenesis location over the Atlantic using
global model operational products. The method is based on
the marsupial theory for tropical cyclogenesis proposed in a
recent observational study. A moisture front is usually found
ahead of the precursor wave trough, which separates the
relatively dry air outside of the wave pouch (a region of
closed circulation) from the relatively moist air inside the
wave pouch. The propagation speed of the pouch can be
determined by tracking the propagation of this moisture
front, and the intersection of the critical surface and the
trough axis pinpoints the predicted genesis location.


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Hello HGW...

Looks like Bebeng is likely to bring some drenching rains and not much else to the Philippines... what are forecasts suggesting about the longterm?
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20684
Quoting TexasGulf:
...but I'm not sure if an earthquake in the PR trench would seriously impact the Bahamas.

Define "seriously". If an earthquake off of PR has caused a past tidal wave up to 6 meters on the West and Northern coast of PR less than 100-years ago... there is no reason to assume it couldn't happen again. At that point, you'll have to assume it could produce a 2-3 meter high tsunami in the Bahamas too.

If I were laying on the beach in the Bahamas, downing my 4th beer and nursing a bad sunburn... and a tsunami warning made ME spill the beer and have to run inland... that would register as "serious" on MY meter.
Hey, TG... I'd be surprised if such an earthquake would generate even 2-3 ft waves in most of the Bahamas. As said elsewhere, the orientation of the Puerto Rico trench would likely minimise the effect. Meanwhile, something travelling from across the basin, say from the Azores, could be quite devastating....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20684
Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical Astrological Service and Administration
Tropical Cyclone bulletin #2
TROPICAL DEPRESSION BEBENG
5:00 AM PhST May 7 2011
====================================

Tropical Depression "BEBENG" has maintained its strength while it continues to move west northwestward.

At 4:00 AM PhST, Tropical Depression Bebeng located at 12.1°N 127.2°E or 190 km east northeast of Borongan, Eastern Samar has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots. The depression is reported as moving west northwest at 7 knots.

Storm Signal #1
==============

Luzon Region
------------
1.Camarines Sur
2.Camarines Norte
3.Albay
4.Catanduanes
5.Sorsogon
6.Masbate
7.Ticao
8.Burias Islands

Visayas Region
------------
1.Leyte
2.Samar Provinces
3.Biliran Island

Additional Information
========================
Residents living in low lying and mountainous areas under signal #1 are alerted against possible flash floods and landslides.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 11 AM today.
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Quoting KoritheMan:

We have not.
thanks.

With the mjo in the opposite side of the earth (relative to Africa) I don't think we'll be seeing our first wave for another week or possibly even later.

Of course, i may be way off
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With just a few short weeks remaining until Hurricane Season 2011, I thought I would write an ode and share it with everyone.

Here's hoping you have a safe and interesting season ahead! :)

Bad Winds Ballad

I cry out loud
over sorrows I've caused
And the damage I’ve done
It would ease my mind
Someone sharing the load
But I won't breathe a word

We're two of a kind
Blue skies and I
We need a chance to talk things over
Two of a kind
Blue skies and I
We'll find a way to work it out

I can hear the cry
Of the leaf on a tree
As it falls to the ground
I can hear the call
of a voice in distress
And there's no one around

We're two of a kind
Blue skies and I
We need a chance to talk things over
Two of a kind
Blue skies and I
We'll find a way to work it out
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...but I'm not sure if an earthquake in the PR trench would seriously impact the Bahamas.

Define "seriously". If an earthquake off of PR has caused a past tidal wave up to 6 meters on the West and Northern coast of PR less than 100-years ago... there is no reason to assume it couldn't happen again. At that point, you'll have to assume it could produce a 2-3 meter high tsunami in the Bahamas too.

If I were laying on the beach in the Bahamas, downing my 4th beer and nursing a bad sunburn... and a tsunami warning made ME spill the beer and have to run inland... that would register as "serious" on MY meter.
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Quoting TomTaylor:
Does anyone know if we've had our first wave come off Africa yet?
We have not.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
I got a feeling that we will have the first storm on my door step soon
Why?
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Quoting Patrap:
WAVETRAK
So I'm guessing that's a no?
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WAVETRAK
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Quoting Jax82:
Large wildfire still a blazin SW of Folkston, GA. Rain didnt help much.



it's in the okeefenokee swamp, they're just gonna let it go for now.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25474
Does anyone know if we've had our first wave come off Africa yet?
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Quoting Levi32:
And look where the three major global models have the MJO within 2 weeks. Phases 7 and 8 could support early-season mischief in the Caribbean.





interesting to note how the models all appear to agree the MJO will be strongest over the 8th octant which corresponds to the Atlantic...

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Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Disturbance Summary
TROPICAL DEPRESSION XX
3:00 AM JST May 7 2011
==========================================

SUBJECT: Tropical Depression In Sea East Of The Philippines

At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Depression (1004 hPa) located at 12.0N 128.4E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The depression is reported as moving west northwest slowly.
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Quoting PolishHurrMaster:

It's not Alex,it's TD2!
Ohhhh yeah, you're right. Didn't notice the July date on the bottom.
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Link

JOE BASTARDI EXPLANATION ON AN EARLY SEASON DEVELOPMENT
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Large wildfire still a blazin SW of Folkston, GA. Rain didnt help much.

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Flare up inn the Caribbean nothing much to speak off however indicating factor????????? is'nt it


and the general moisture level have increased!!
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The Bonnet Carre Spillway Story

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***Flood Warning ***

Statement as of 1:03 PM CDT on May 06, 2011

The Flood Warning continues for
the Mississippi River at New Orleans.
* From late Tuesday night may 10th until further notice.
* At 12:00 PM Friday the stage was 15.2 feet.
* Moderate flooding is forecast.
* The flood stage is 17.0 feet.
* Forecast... the river is expected to rise above flood stage by early
Wednesday morning may 11th and continue to rise to a crest near 19.5
feet by Tuesday morning may 24th.
* Impact... at 17.0 feet... the river will rise on the levee making navigation
and docking difficult. The city is protected by levees to a height of 20 feet.
* Forecast assumes operation of bonnet carre... but not Morganza.
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Southwest Florida is getting a good soaking now too. We need it...
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*gasp*

A little bit of rain in a little bit of TX. (Hey, it's better than it has been over there lately.)

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Morganza Spillway flooding certain

BATON ROUGE – Land and structures in the Morganza Spillway will flood, even if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not open the gates, Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain and Gov. Bobby Jindal said today.

“It is inevitable that Morganza will flood and the system will top, regardless of whether they open the system,” Strain said at a press conference at the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security.

Link
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Remeber that TWO like it was yesterday. Watching Alex develop was definitely interesting...

It's not Alex,it's TD2!
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Hello everyone,

Dr Jeff, thank you for the latest info on the flooding and the tornado ratings.

Aqua, I'm with you 6" is not much breathing room for New Orleans.. that is playing to too close for comfort in my opionion.

Skye, that "surfing" buoy is cool.. we will see what a hurricane does to it.


And everyone out there, Good afternoon to ya!
It is drought and heat in some places and flooding and cold in others...
wish Mother Nature would just play it a little more fair in distributing her resources.

Enjoyed reading your input.

It is Friday so for most of you; almost weekend time!!!

Hope you are all going to be good to your Mothers this weekend!
Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there!

Gams
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OK, wow, they are sandbagging the levees in downtown Baton Rouge. Forecast crest there is 47.5' and the levee height varies between 47' and 53', North and South of BTR.

Link
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I got a feeling that we will have the first storm on my door step soon
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Quoting lordhuracan01:
waiting for some rain!!! jun-jul


like this
Remeber that TWO like it was yesterday. Watching Alex develop was definitely interesting...
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Quoting emcf30:


New video of the Smithville Tornado taken by workers at the Wilkens Locks and Dam

Pretty amazing. But also sad; based on what I can tell from Google Earth, the tornado ripped through Smithville only a few seconds before the one voice says, "Man, you oughta see this debris up in the air!"

(For orientation purposes, that control tower window faces exactly due northeast, and the center of Smithville lies about 1.5 miles east-northeast of that tower. The tornado first touched down roughly 3/4 of a mile south-southeast of the tower.)
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Posted at 02:04 PM ET, 05/06/2011
Memphis faces massive Mississippi river flooding

...flood waters pouring in from the Arkansas River, Yazoo River, and other tributaries are expected to swell the Mississippi high enough to beat the all-time record at Vicksburg, Mississippi by 1.3’ on May 20, and smash the all-time record at Natchez, Mississippi by six feet on May 22, and by 3.2 feet at Red River Landing on May 23. Red River Landing is the site of the Old River Control Structure, the Army Corps’ massive engineering structure that keeps the Mississippi River from carving a new path to the Gulf of Mexico. ... Its failure would be a serious blow to the U.S. economy, and the great Mississippi flood of 2011 will give the Old River Control Structure its most severe test ever. Also of concern is the forecast for the Mississippi to crest at 19.5 feet in New Orleans on May 24. The levees in New Orleans protect the city for a flood of 20.0 feet--that is not much breathing room.

Article Link
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Atlas Scrubbed
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Looks like they scrubbed the Atlas launch...
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Is that "before" picture of the mississippi misdated, or is it from last year?
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46. Skyepony (Mod)
Looks like they are trying to launch between clouds at 6:45pm gmt. With final weather officer call at 60secs before launch.
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Looks like once the cumulonimbus flag is lifted we might get lift-off!
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44. Skyepony (Mod)
I've been watching the buoys, no sign of a tsunami.

Launch control thinks the cumulus cloud may clear by 6:45pm GMT.
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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.