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

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

Share this Blog
3
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 544 - 494

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12Blog Index

Quoting eddy12:
Aussie would love to see your country and also do some offshore fishing

No fishing here, just a big rock wave.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
We have this here in Australia.



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Lots of rain here in Costa Rica due to the Low.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Flood Warning, Areal Flood WarningStatement as of 9:12 PM CDT on May 08, 2011
The Flood Warning continues for the Mississippi River at Memphis
* until further notice.
* At 8 PM Sunday the stage was 47.7 feet.
* Major flooding is occurring and major flooding is forecast.
* Maximum forecast stage of 48.0 feet Tuesday May 10.* Flood stage is 34.0 feet.
* The river is above flood stage and will continue rising to near 48.0 feet by Tuesday may 10. Then... the river will begin falling very slowly.
* At 46.0 feet... the south end of Tom Lee Park begins to flood. Riverside Drive at Beale street is beginning to flood.
* At 47.0 feet... north evacuation Road from harbortown is under water.
Dwellings on the north end of the Memphis Harbor are beginning to flood.
* At 48.0 feet... Riverside Drive in Memphis and Tom Lee Park are flooded.

floods-along-the-mississippi-river-lead-to-renewe d-calls-for-a-change-in-strategy
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
My Momma just moved from Albuquerque to P'cola. I visited over Thanksgiving and man is it some kind of flat and sandy. We went down to Carlsbad, through the alien capital of the world Roswell. There ain't much in that state. Perhaps like 5 real cities.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Interesting history tidbit about Coronado's mischief on the Plains.

Coronado's expedition remains a paradox of history and an object lesson in not capitalizing on a discovery. On the one hand, they carried out an amazing exploration of central North America several generations before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock! Undeniably, they displayed great courage and stamina. But because they had the idea that "wealth" must be gold and jewels, and because their economic system required that they get rich quick instead of creating self-sustaining agricultural settlements, they did not recognize value in the fertile valleys and mineral-rich hills through which they passed. It was only because of their own world view that they were forced to return home as failures.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 6025
I have some great pics I took in ND a couple years back.... all peaceful farms and dirt roads and growing things.... absolutely nothing to suggest that a passing storm might have a tornado attached.... lol
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22101
Quoting eddy12:
driving across the plains is boring thank god for xm radio lol
it is a lot easier by train.... [Amtrak - leave the driving to us lol]

Quoting bappit:
The New Mexico-Texas border doesn't offer much contrast I think. I looked for a picture and found this from near Floydada, Texas which is NE of Lubbock. Nice article about Coronado.



Farm land near Floydada, Texas, gives an idea of the frighteningly flat plains where expedition members were lost due to lack of landmarks to navigate by.

I think the land closer to New Mexico is similar except that the grass (?) might be shorter.
I think techically the Llano Estacado continues into NM, so definitely the eastern portion of the state would have similar qualities. After that, as you go west, there are some... well, sufficiently distinctive features... lol... Jornado del Muerto, lava flows, big red mesas... stuff like that. And the mountains.... But CO, WY, MT, they're all like that... the eastern or southeastern are really part of the plains. Makes for some more variety.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22101
There's been a fair amount of snow in the NW Wyoming area also... wondering how much of that is going to make its way into the Missouri River system and thence to the Mississippi... It doesnt' look like any serious melting has started there yet....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22101
The New Mexico-Texas border doesn't offer much contrast I think. I looked for a picture and found this from near Floydada, Texas which is NE of Lubbock. Nice article about Coronado.



Farm land near Floydada, Texas, gives an idea of the frighteningly flat plains where expedition members were lost due to lack of landmarks to navigate by.

I think the land closer to New Mexico is similar except that the grass (?) might be shorter.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 6025
SALT LAKE CITY – The winter and early spring have been extreme across the West, with record snowpacks bringing joy to skiers and urban water managers but severe flood risks to northern Utah, Wyoming and Montana.
And despite all the wet weather in the Rockies and Sierra Nevada, parts of eastern Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona are in severe drought and gearing up for what is forecast as a bad fire season. In New Mexico, some 400 fires, driven by relentless winds, have already raced across 315,000 acres.
Credit — or blame — for the extreme weather goes mostly to a strong La Nina, which is associated with cooler than normal water temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean and an atmospheric flow that's causing drier than normal conditions in the Southwest and wetter than normal in the Northwest..
"This winter has been fairly unusual," said Laura Edwards, a research climatologist at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nev., in what can only be considered an understatement.
Randy Julander, supervisor for the Utah Snow Survey, described more colorfully the disparity between the snow buried, flood endangered parts of the West and those that are parched and burning: "They're wishing they could get a little of what we have. (The wet weather) just continues to get worse. At this point, all you can do is open the chute, let her buck and hope your butt stays glued to the saddle."
Julander was referring to the coming melt with snowpacks at 200 percent of normal or higher throughout northern Utah. One lower-elevation area in the mountains 50 miles east of Salt Lake City is at 750 percent of normal — with another big storm headed to the region early this week.
"The sandbagging is in place. They've cleared the channels. Everybody is just sitting around chewing on their nails," Julander said.
In Colorado, the city of Denver and Loveland Ski Area are separated by a mere 75 miles. Yet, the city, east of the Rockies on the high plains, has had only 21.8 inches of snow this season, the second-lowest in history with records dating back to 1882. Loveland, at the top of the Continental Divide, entered the weekend within four inches of breaking its season snowfall record of 572 inches (some 49 feet, set in 1995-1996).

More at:Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting eddy12:
that would be cool also i know up by sedona is neat and there is a canyon area in utah that i found way cooler than the grand canyon can't remember the name though
There's a lot of great stuff to look at in Eastern Utah.... along the Green River, especially where it comes out of Colorado and down where it joins the Colorado River, and off into the mountains there... For somebody like me, from the flat islands of the Bahamas, the Great Plains and intermountain region is pretty exciting to look at [even the "boring" parts... lol].
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22101
South Dakota is the one Great Plains state that I have not been to or through in the last 10 or so years. My first experience with the "endless expanse" was in Texas. Some of my most memorable impressions were of the acres, no, MILES of farmland under various crops, often stretching to the horizon [or the nearest line of hills]. This is my residing recollection of the Medina Valley west of San Antonio... green, gold, growing things stretched out for miles.... and in the distance, three trees and some farm buildings.... it's a pattern I've seen in Iowa, North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri - different river....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22101
Quoting beell:


I hear ya, Dan. It's always easier to find something outta nothing when you stop the car or get to where you're going. Driving from Beaumont to El Paso can get a little tedious also. "Are we still in Texas?"

Best place in the world for a tornado!



Never made it all the way across the state. Always took a left at San Antonio. But one son moved to Phoenix. He called from west Texas - "My God, won't this state EVER end?" LOL

On that note, early day tomorrow. Nite all.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting eddy12:
pcola the color of the rocks is amazing i thought
Drove down through a loop and was amazed by the colors. Hope to make it to the Painted Desert in Arizona some day.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting aquak9:
I would find miles and miles of corn, absolutely beautiful. Or a field of sunflowers.


It is beautiful. Have seen sunflower fields AND the "Amber Waves of Grain" from a helicopter in North Dakota. Was awesome! The corn fields can actually be kind of eerie when they are on both sides of the road and stand 8'high. Like driving through a chute.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting eddy12:
pcoladan have you ever been to the badlands?


Yes, got a son in Rapid City.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
514. beell
Quoting PcolaDan:


Headed there this summer. Actually the Badlands National Park is pretty cool too. My earlier comment was actually tongue-in-cheek. The reality is, if you drive through any of these Plains states (okay, maybe not Kansas, or Nebraska, or...) they each have spots of natural beauty. Most are not exactly "just down the road" though. ;>)


I hear ya, Dan. It's always easier to find something outta nothing when you stop the car or get to where you're going. Driving from Beaumont to El Paso can get a little tedious also. "Are we still in Texas?"

Best place in the world for a tornado!

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I don't think I'd call it nothing, so much as.... understated... lol

But then, I've spent time in FL... lol
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22101
I would find miles and miles of corn, absolutely beautiful. Or a field of sunflowers.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 165 Comments: 25927
In fact, Dan, u could prolly get a good ways into Alberta before the terrain would change much... though I think it gets boggy near the Saskatchewan River...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22101
Autumn snow on the cards


A cold front surging over eastern Australia mid-week looks set to yield a flurry of Autumn snow.

This cold front will be unusually intense for Autumn, with very cold air extending from Tasmania up to the tablelands of NSW.

While fairly common for Tasmania and the Victorian Alps, snowfall this early in May is quite unusual for the NSW ranges.

As the coldest air pushes over NSW late Wednesday and Thursday temperatures will plummet, leading to freezing temperatures. Since precipitation is forecast during this period elevated locations may see a light dusting of snowfall as far north as the Central Tablelands.

Alpine regions will see more widespread snow, with southern Victorian ski-fields likely to witness the heaviest snowfalls.

- Weatherzone
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting beell:


Black Hills, SD

SD is also home to Harney Peak. Highest point in the US east of the Rockies @ 7,244'

The Black Hills are also home to Mt Rushmore.

Maybe a lot of nothing-but there is some lovely country on the western end of the state.


Headed there this summer. Actually the Badlands National Park is pretty cool too. My earlier comment was actually tongue-in-cheek. The reality is, if you drive through any of these Plains states (okay, maybe not Kansas, or Nebraska, or...) they each have spots of natural beauty. Most are not exactly "just down the road" though. ;>)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Getting cold here in Old Sydney town.

Maximum Daily Temps Mon:63°F Tues:63°F Wed:61°F Thurs:61°F Fri:64°F Sat:64°F Sun:66°F

Minimum Daily Temps: Mon:46°F Tues:45°F Wed:41°F Thurs:43°F Fri:43°F Sat:41°F Sun:41°F
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AussieStorm:

Never make fun of a man unless you have walked a mile in his shoes......That way if he gets upset with you, you are a mile away and you have his shoes.


LOL - that was good.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TexasGulf:
Southeast Texas needs RAIN. Its getting to the point where I may have to organize a neighborhood Rain Dance soon.

We've tried everything from washing the cars, watering the lawn, holding outdoor weddings... basically everything we can think of, but still it hasn't rained.


I'll be down in Bo'mont and H-town next week. I referred to my trip as "Heading to where The Streets Have No Rain" on Facebook, but no one got it. :(
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PcolaDan:


Get on Hwy 83 at Canadian border, go south until you get to the Mexico border (I have been across both), look 200 miles east then west. Scenery doesn't change much. ;)
Just looked at US 83 on the map.... it's just about the only highway that u could get away with saying that.... from border to border, even the river crossings would be pretty monotonous... lol
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22101
502. beell


Black Hills, SD

SD is home to Harney Peak. Highest point in the US east of the Rockies @ 7,244'

The Black Hills are also home to Mt Rushmore.

Maybe a lot of nothing-but there is some lovely country on the western end of the state.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
Lordy,...

Mom was right.

Never make fun of a man unless you have walked a mile in his shoes......That way if he gets upset with you, you are a mile away and you have his shoes.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Southeast Texas needs RAIN. Its getting to the point where I may have to organize a neighborhood Rain Dance soon.

We've tried everything from washing the cars, watering the lawn, holding outdoor weddings... basically everything we can think of, but still it hasn't rained.
Member Since: April 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 354
Lordy,...

Mom was right.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128284
Quoting eddy12:
south dakota is 400 miles of nothing and i mean nothing


Get on Hwy 83 at Canadian border, go south until you get to the Mexico border, about 1700 miles (I have been across both), look 200 miles east then west. Scenery doesn't change much. ;)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I think I can delete this one... ;-/
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22101
i may go back too my other name in about a week i want too see how thing go this week 1st
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 544 - 494

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12Blog Index

Top of Page

About

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

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy
74 °F
Partly Cloudy