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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Not new to this site, but I thought this site was about the weather. Why the politics? I like this site, been reading this site since 2007, I think. Oh well.
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Quoting Skyepony:
May get interesting in about a week. Tracking the MJO here..Region 8 is America/Atlantic the farther from the circle the better the chance for something tropical. Click on the pic to go to the site & scroll over all the models. Overall best chance is 1 1/2 weeks from now, then wanes over the following week.

There is some uncertainty to what the NAO will be doing towards the middle to end of the month, but its looking as if, after a slight negative bias for the next week, the predominant trend focuses in a more positive direction. This should coincide with the main MJO pulse arrival into the basin.

There is also some ensemble spread in the long range GFS members in the Caribbean that might indicate something interesting being picked up by some ensemble members. This part is almost like reading tea leaves or some other such mumbo-jumbo.

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i may have too make a new name guys
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
For Florida, last years rainy season seemed non-existent past June.


I was in Florida for three weeks last July, only rain we got the whole time was from Bonnie.
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Wow. The Missouri levee explosion registered as a magnitude 3.1-equivalent earthquake.





The low drifting north from the Gulf Stream off the NE Conus appears to be acquiring some subtropical-to-extratropical characteristics.
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I grew up here, Cyber. When I was little? oh, the afternoon storms we'd have, there was no such thing as drought, or yards dying, or pine trees dropping needles and turning brown.

But in the past 10-15 years, those storms have faded, faded. What we used to get twice a week, now seems like twice a month. If we're lucky.
:(
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25506
For Florida, last years rainy season seemed non-existent past June.
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Florida still has rainy seasons?

Not Northeast Florida, it seems.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25506
436. Skyepony (Mod)
May get interesting in about a week. Tracking the MJO here..Region 8 is America/Atlantic the farther from the circle the better the chance for something tropical. Click on the pic to go to the site & scroll over all the models. Overall best chance is 1 1/2 weeks from now, then wanes over the following week.

Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36087
Quoting caribbeantracker01:
could someone tell levi we need an update


I'm suffering from serious withdrawal, it's been almost two weeks since I got my fix of a tropical tidbit!
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434. Skyepony (Mod)
Today's ASCAT pass of that low NW of Spain..

Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36087
433. Skyepony (Mod)
Baha~ If Aere gets close enough to Japan I expect to see a higher concentrated area of radiation form up within the storm on the ZAMG model animation. We've seen this before when storms get in a smokey atmosphere..so why not radiation?

It's about 4 days out to Japan, models have it between 25-50kts & dying fast at that point. Also the models have been trending east so may just get brushed or missed all together.


Keeper~ I think the TC probibilities is picking up on Low off the east coast there. Ascat got a recent pass..
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36087
Quoting RastaSteve:
Looks like signs of the rainy season starting to kick in next week across FL and the SE US. I would like to see this trend persist a few more runs before 100% committing to this potential. It does look very promising for a lot of rain for FL this time next week and beyond. Accuweather is showing Orlando getting about a 1/2 of rain daily starting next weekend.


Well that is Accuweather, and Accuweather the name, has absolutely nothing to do with their accuracy, lol.

Most meteorologists don't say its starting next week. Its got a little while to go still.
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Quoting weatherbro:
Most mets concur that the FL. rainy season won't get a head start till mid June.


Mid June? I will strongly differ with "most mets"(whoever they are).I don't think its starting next week but mid June would be about 3 weeks late, and considering how progressive things are this year mid June sounds quite wrong to me.
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Quoting Bitmap7:


I guess that would justify their reason. It might possibly be subtropical cyclone though IMO considering its not very deep at this point and it seems to be trending towards cold. But it justifies there position considering the current readings.
I agree with you though. This cyclone won't really have anything over 22 or 23 degree SSTs based on its forecast track, so I believe it will have mostly baroclinic forcing.
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Most mets down here concur that the FL. rainy season won't get a head start till early/mid June.

I can see their reasoning since we'll be in a negative AO negative NAO positive PNA regime with the Bermuda high rather weak and displaced well to the east.

Looks like the westerlies this year will dominate the month of May over the Florida Peninsula(which this time of year means low humidity, warm temps, and little to no rainfall).
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Quoting seminolesfan:

The phase diagram for that cyclone on the gfs run you posted does show a warm core, just not very deep.


I guess that would justify their reason. It might possibly be subtropical cyclone though IMO considering its not very deep at this point and it seems to be trending towards cold. But it justifies there position considering the current readings.
Member Since: May 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 429
Quoting Bitmap7:




I wouldn't call that low a Tropical Cyclone, but they are the mets.

The phase diagram for that cyclone on the gfs run you posted does show a warm core, just not very deep.
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.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
possible incorrect placement of images area should be NW pacific off japan i believe


Agreed.
Member Since: May 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 429
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:




I wouldn't call that low a Tropical Cyclone, but they are the mets.
Member Since: May 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 429
Quoting BahaHurican:
Afternoon all, but especially @ Skye, who is actually talking about wx, and TC tracking at that.... lol

Hope you all are enjoying your Mother's Day...

So Skye, what do u think the impact of a tropical storm following that track will be on the nuclear plant situation?
Sorry, Baha. I know what you mean, it does seem that we have strayed WAY o.t. for the day.

Not too much going on though really, except for a bunch of wait and see.
Things I'm waiting on:
1.The spillway decision
2.The TUTT to move out of the Cent/Wrn Atlantic
3.The ITCZ to start making its way north in the ATL basin
4.The AEJ to break out from the ITCZ over Africa

What cha wanna chat about? You pick.
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Quoting StAugustineFL:


Just read your update after I posted.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

I don't agree with that map. Possible development off the mid-Atlantic and NE coastline?
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possible incorrect placement of images area should be NW pacific off japan i believe
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could someone tell levi we need an update
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Afternoon all, but especially @ Skye, who is actually talking about wx, and TC tracking at that.... lol

Hope you all are enjoying your Mother's Day...

So Skye, what do u think the impact of a tropical storm following that track will be on the nuclear plant situation?
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Happy Mothers Day to all Moms..
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413. Skyepony (Mod)
Models are leaning toward a weak Tropical Storm for Japan.

Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36087
Quoting Neapolitan:

Oh, c'mon; I only talk down to the ones who ask for it, and that's just a very small--and very small-minded--subset of all the mostly wonderful people here. You know: the ones who never seem to contribute much of substance to the conversation, but are always quick to jump in with a snide ad hominem, usually out of a sense of frustrated jealousy. Know what I mean? ;-)
Wow, man. You got a lot of hate in you. I know you were accusing someone else of ad hom, but your post is a perfect example in and of itself.

For reference sake:
Definition of AD HOMINEM
1. appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
2. marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Yes, all the major news outlets spin a bit. But I was only echoing the results of this past winter's University of Maryland study that concluded Fox News viewers were the most misinformed of all cable news viewers. Now, I never said anything about liberal spin versus conservative spin; Fox claims to be "fair and balanced", so if you perceive a bias in any particular direction, perhaps Fox isn't living up to its own motto?
Why do you keep up with the fallacious argument about the validity of Fox news' reporting? I never said anything about that news outlet; you are creating a contrived straw man fallacy that has nothing to do with my tongue-in-cheek comment regarding your biases. Biases which you merely confirm again and again with comments such as these. Seems like a strong case of the pot not liking that the kettle is black too. Just because someone else twists the facts to fit their world view(and it seems as if you don't think they should have the freedom to do this), doesn't mean that you doing the same thing is any better.
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Gas prices could drop 50 cents by summer.


NEW YORK (AP) - Analysts say motorists can expect some relief from sky high gas prices just in time for summer vacation.

The analysts say expect a drop of nearly 50 cents as early as June.

After rocketing up 91 cents since January, the national average last week stopped just shy of $4 a gallon and has retreated to under $3.98. A steady decline is expected to follow. Among the reasons: concern over rising oil supplies and falling demand in the U.S., as well as an increase in gasoline production.

The drop in gasoline prices might help lift consumer spending, which powers about 70 percent of the economy. A 50-cent drop in prices would save U.S. drivers about $189 million a day.

Typically, gas prices peak each spring, then fall into a summertime swoon that can last several weeks.

Fred Rozell, the retail pricing director at the Oil Price Information Service, says this year's decline should be gradual but steady.

Oil analyst Andrew Lipow predicts gas is going to be $3.50 per gallon this summer.

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12z and 00z are now holding on to it better than yesterday. I feel it may be slow to develop though, due to the possibility of short burst of high shear during that period, but still tooooo far to say. It might trek across the Caribbean sea though as the high regains strength above it and the low diminishes.
Member Since: May 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 429
Quoting SeALWx:
I'm no big fan of the Fox spin on news either. Its pretty well known that just about all of the major media news outlets distort the facts of the stories they report to further their political views. The fact that you disagree with the opponents' direction of spin does little to justify manipulations of the more liberal persuasion. Opinion based commentary does have its place in the discussion of current events; however, the distortion of news reports and facts based on these opinions without disclosure of bias is a big problem, no matter which side of the aisle you happen to be sitting.

Yes, all the major news outlets spin a bit. But I was only echoing the results of this past winter's University of Maryland study that concluded Fox News viewers were the most misinformed of all cable news viewers. Now, I never said anything about liberal spin versus conservative spin; Fox claims to be "fair and balanced", so if anyone perceives a bias in any particular direction, perhaps Fox isn't living up to its own motto?
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405. DDR
Quoting plywoodstatenative:
DDR, we are in the nineties now with little or no rain. So anything we get right now we need.

I am talking about the eastern caribbean islands,a lot of rain has fallen here in the past 2 weeks.
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404. DDR
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Quoting RastaSteve:
Looks like signs of the rainy season starting to kick in next week across FL and the SE US. I would like to see this trend persist a few more runs before 100% committing to this potential. It does look very promising for a lot of rain for FL this time next week and beyond. Accuweather is showing Orlando getting about a 1/2 of rain daily starting next weekend.

you'd be hard pressed to trust accuweather though.
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Quoting seminolesfan:
This rebuttal is a thing a beauty.

I've noticed that Neo is a little abrasive and does tend to talk down to people fairly regularly.

Thanks for speaking up and for trying to have an adult conversation instead of bickering.

Oh, c'mon; I only talk down to the ones who ask for it, and that's just a very small--and very small-minded--subset of all the mostly wonderful people here. You know: the ones who never seem to contribute much of substance to the conversation, but are always quick to jump in with a snide ad hominem, usually out of a sense of frustrated jealousy. Know what I mean? ;-)
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It's official - I'm a Yankee (yes Pat I live north of I-12).
It's 70 up here and yet I was sweating after walking my dog. I'm such a northern wimp. hehe
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To anyone who may interest, I have create a Facebook page (in spanish) for people interested to have updated news during the hurricane season. It is good for people who live in Puerto Rico. The page can be found by searching in facebook for: "Huracan-Info-PR"
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Quoting SeALWx:
Thanks Aussie! I didn't think I'd missed an EPac invest, but just wanted to make sure. I knew someone would have that info just as fast as I could find it.

Your Welcome...
TS AERE (BEBENG) MAX WIND SPEED PER AGENCY:

USA (JTWC/1-min avg): 95 km/hr
Japan (JMA/10-min avg): 75 km/hr
Philippines (PAGASA/10-min avg): 85 km/hr
Beijing (NMC/2-min avg): 95 km/hr
Korea (KMA/10-min avg): 90 km/hr
Taiwan (CWB/10-min avg): 85 km/hr
Hong Kong (HKO/10-min avg): 85 km/hr

Tropical Storm AERE (BEBENG) continues to track NNW slowly across the Philippine Sea. The T2K Automated Weather Station (AWS) in Naga City has recorded 389.6 mm of rain during the past 24 hours.

CURRENT STORM INFORMATION

Time/Date: 12:00 AM PhT Mon May 09 2011
Location of Center: 15.5%uFFFD N Lat 123.0%uFFFD E Lon
Distance 1: 125 km (68 nm) SE of Casiguran, Aurora
Distance 2: 210 km (114 nm) NNW of Metro Naga/CWC
Distance 3: 155 km (83 nm) ESE of Baler, Aurora
Distance 4: 210 km (97 nm) North of Metro Naga/CWC
Distance 5: 155 km (83 nm) ENE of Infanta, Quezon
Distance 6: 210 km (113 nm) ESE of Cauayan, Isabela
MaxWinds (1-min avg): 95 kph (50 kts) near the center
Peak Wind Gusts: 120 kph (55 kts)
Present Movement: NW @ 19 kph (10 kts)
Towards: Aurora-Isabela Area
CPA over Aurora-Isabela: 1AM-9AM Monday
24hr Total Rainfall (near center): 400 mm (Very Heavy)
Minimum Central Pressure: 985 millibars (hPa)
Saffir-Simpson Typhoon Scale: TS
Size (in Diameter): 370 km (200 nm) / Average
Max Sea Wave Height (near center): 17 ft (5.1 m)
Possible Storm Surge Height: 0-3 ft [0-0.9 m]

FORECAST OUTLOOK ANALYSIS (up to 48 hours)*

AERE (BEBENG) is expected to move NW to NNW-ward track for the next 24 hours, and shall make landfall along Aurora-Isabela Area early this morning (approx 3-4AM)...and cross Northern Luzon, passing very close to Cauayan & Ilagan City in Isabela between 8-11AM today May 09, and over Tuguegarao City between 10-11AM. TS AERE will exit the rugged terrain of Northern Luzon before sunset today, passing very close to the west of Aparri, Cagayan and shall turn towards the North to NNE while traversing Balintang & Bashi Channels on Tuesday morning, May 10th...about 50 km West of the Batanes Island Group [8AM MAY 09: 17.2N 121.9E @ 95kph...8PM MAY 09: 19.1N 121.2E @ 85kph]...8AM MAY 10: 20.6N 121.4E @ 85kph...8PM MAY 10: 22.3N 122.7E @ 75kph.

Maximum Sustained Winds (1-min. avg) are near 95 km/hr (50 knots) with higher gusts. AERE (BEBENG) is a strong Tropical Storm on the Saffir-Simpson Tropical Cyclone Scale. Tropical Storm Force Winds (62-117 km/hr) extend outward up to 220 kilometers (120 nautical miles) from the center. AERE is an average-sized tropical cyclone with a diameter of 370 kilometers (200 nautical miles).

PAGASA Philippine Storm Warnings Signals

PHILIPPINE STORM WARNING SIGNAL # TWO (2) click to know meaning
In Effect: ISABELA, QUIRINO, AURORA, NUEVA ECIJA, NORTHERN QUEZON, POLILLO ISLAND, NUEVA VISCAYA, & CAMARINES NORTE.

The above areas will experience stormy weather today and tomorrow (with winds not exceeding 100 kph). Coastal waters will be rough to very rough and extremely dangerous to all types of seacrafts.

PHILIPPINE STORM WARNING SIGNAL # ONE (1) click to know meaning
In Effect: METRO MANILA, CATANDUANES, ALBAY, BURIAS ISLAND, CAMARINES SUR, SOUTHERN QUEZON, MARINDUQUE, BATANGAS, LAGUNA, CAVITE, RIZAL, BULACAN, BATAAN, PAMPANGA, TARLAC, ZAMBALES, PANGASINAN, LA UNION, BENGUET, IFUGAO, MT. PROVINCE, ILOCOS SUR, KALINGA, & CAGAYAN.

The above areas will have rains and winds of not more than 60 kph today & tomorrow. Coastal waters will be moderate to rough.

Residents living in low-lying and mountainous areas under Public Storm Warning Signal Number 1 & 2 are alerted against possible flashfloods, mudslides and landslides...while those living in coastal & beach-front areas are advised to seek higher grounds due to possible storm surge (aka. big waves).


Click for larger size.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15749
Low level westerlies still dominate across the N. African continent.
The 5 day loop here is what I looked at. Still waiting for the AEJ.

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DDR, we are in the nineties now with little or no rain. So anything we get right now we need.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

EPAC will be 90E
ATL will be 92L
WPAC will be 95W
Thanks Aussie! I didn't think I'd missed an EPac invest, but just wanted to make sure. I knew someone would have that info just as fast as I could find it.
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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.