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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Heavy Water.
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(deletes the term "heavy water" from main file)

Sooooo...we just call it MissWater?
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25743
Quoting aquak9:
good editorial there, atmo. Didn't realize some work on other levees had to be suspended due to this. Looks like they expect heavy water to remain till at least start of Season™.

Yesterday, ACE asked permission for Morganza to be open. Timeline was, 48 hours till they give'm an answer. But now, it looks like they're gonna wait to see what effects Bonne Carret's gonna have?

Morganza's gotta be opened by Thursday night, if not sooner.
Good lord, you can't say "heavy water" around here, any more!
(See Japan's nuclear issues.)
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
good editorial there, atmo. Didn't realize some work on other levees had to be suspended due to this. Looks like they expect heavy water to remain till at least start of Season™.

Yesterday, ACE asked permission for Morganza to be open. Timeline was, 48 hours till they give'm an answer. But now, it looks like they're gonna wait to see what effects Bonne Carret's gonna have?

Morganza's gotta be opened by Thursday night, if not sooner.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25743
aquak9:
atmoaggie:

Yo! wat sup
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Quoting aquak9:
Yo atmo
'Sup
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A NOLA POV editorial about the MS river and USACE's plans: http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2011/05/ge tting_ready_for_a_rising_mis.html
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Yo atmo
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25743
*crickets*
Well, happy mutha's day, you muthas.
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Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical Astrological Service and Administration
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #8
TROPICAL STORM BEBENG (AERE)
5:00 PM PhST May 8 2011
====================================

Tropical Storm "BEBENG" continues to move towards Quezon-Aurora area.

At 4:00 PM PhST, Tropical Storm Bebeng (AERE) located at 14.8%uFFFDN 123.1%uFFFDE or 70 km north of Daet, Camarines Norte has 10 minute sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts up to 55 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving northwest at 7 knots.

Storm Signal #2
===============

Luzon Region
----------
1.Isabela
2.Quirino
3.Aurora
4.Nueva Ecija
5.Northern Quezon
6.Polillo Island
7.Nueva Viscaya
8.Camarines Norte

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

Luzon Region
------------
1.Catanduanes
2.Albay
3.Burias Island
4.Camarines Sur
5.Southern Quezon
6.Marinduque
7.Batangas
8.Laguna
9.Cavite
10.Rizal
11.Bulacan
(House and family/relatives live here)

12.Bataan
13.Pampanga(Been there)
14.Tarlac(Been there)
15.Zambales
16.Pangasinan(Beautiful)
17.La Union
(almost killed by sleepy driver in San Fernando)

18.Benguet
19.Ifugao
20.Mt. Province
21.Ilocos Sur(beautiful)
22.Kalinga
23.Cagayan
24.Metro Manila

Additional Information
======================
Public Storm Warning Signals elsewhere are now lowered.

Tropical Storm Bebeng is expected to enhance the southwest monsoon and bring rains over the rest of Southern Luzon and of Visayas. Residents in low lying areas and near mountain slopes under signal #2 and #1 are advised to take all the necessary precautions against possible flashfloods and landslides. Likewise, those living in coastal areas are alerted against big waves or storm surges generated by this tropical cyclone.

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 PM today.


I find it strange Ilocos Norte is not listed, TROPICAL STORM BEBENG (AERE)is meant to exit the Philippines here.



Moving into warmer water and into a better environment.
Windshear

Shear Tendency


SST
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
333. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical Astrological Service and Administration
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #8
TROPICAL STORM BEBENG (AERE)
5:00 PM PhST May 8 2011
====================================

Tropical Storm "BEBENG" continues to move towards Quezon-Aurora area.

At 4:00 PM PhST, Tropical Storm Bebeng (AERE) located at 14.8°N 123.1°E or 70 km north of Daet, Camarines Norte has 10 minute sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts up to 55 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving northwest at 7 knots.

Storm Signal #2
===============

Luzon Region
----------
1.Isabela
2.Quirino
3.Aurora
4.Nueva Ecija
5.Northern Quezon
6.Polillo Island
7.Nueva Viscaya
8.Camarines Norte

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

Luzon Region
------------
1.Catanduanes
2.Albay
3.Burias Island
4.Camarines Sur
5.Southern Quezon
6.Marinduque
7.Batangas
8.Laguna
9.Cavite
10.Rizal
11.Bulacan
12.Bataan
13.Pampanga
14.Tarlac
15.Zambales
16.Pangasinan
17.La Union
18.Benguet
19.Ifugao
20.Mt. Province
21.Ilocos Sur
22.Kalinga
23.Cagayan
24.Metro Manila

Additional Information
======================
Public Storm Warning Signals elsewhere are now lowered.

Tropical Storm Bebeng is expected to enhance the southwest monsoon and bring rains over the rest of Southern Luzon and of Visayas. Residents in low lying areas and near mountain slopes under signal #2 and #1 are advised to take all the necessary precautions against possible flashfloods and landslides. Likewise, those living in coastal areas are alerted against big waves or storm surges generated by this tropical cyclone.

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 PM today.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
332. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #11
TROPICAL STORM AERE (T1101)
15:00 PM JST May 8 2011
==========================================

SUBJECT: Category One Typhoon Overland Philippines

At 6:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Aere (994 hPa) located at 14.9N 123.4E has 10 minute sustained winds of 40 knots with gusts of 60 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving northwest at 9 knots

Dvorak Intensity: T2.5

Gale Force Winds
=================
100 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
====================
24 HRS: 17.9N 121.3E - 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm)
48 HRS: 21.4N 120.3E - 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm)
72 HRS: 23.0N 122.2E - 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
331. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical Astrological Service and Administration
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #7
TROPICAL STORM BEBENG (AERE)
11:00 AM PhST May 8 2011
====================================

Tropical Storm "BEBENG" has made landfall over Northern Catanduanes and is now heading towards Quezon-Aurora area.

At 10:00 AM PhST, Tropical Storm Bebeng (AERE) located at 14.3°N 123.6°E or 70 km east northeast of Daet, Camarines Norte has 10 minute sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts up to 55 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest at 8 knots.

Storm Signal #2
===============

Luzon Region
----------
1.Catanduanes
2.Camarines Norte
3.Camarines Sur
4.Northern Quezon
5.Polillo island
6.Aurora
7.Nueva Ecija
8.Nueva Viscaya
9.Isabela

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

Luzon Region
------------
1.Sorosogon
2.Albay
3.Southern Quezon
4.Laguna
5.Rizal
6.Bulacan
7.Pampanga
8.Tarlac
9.Pangasinan
10.La Union
11.Mt Province
12.Kalinga
13.Ifugao
14.Southern Cagayan

Visayas Region
------------
1.Northern Samar

Additional Information
======================

Public Storm Warning Signals elsewhere are now lowered.

Tropical Storm Bebeng is expected to enhance the southwest monsoon and bring monsoon rains over the rest of Southern Luzon and of Visayas.

Residents in low lying areas and near mountain slopes under signal #2 and #1 are advised to take all the necessary precautions against possible flashfloods and landslides. Likewise, those living in coastal areas are alerted against big waves or storm surges generated by this tropical cyclone.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 5 PM today.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Here's an interesting video of the Cullman tornado. It's from a cell phone, so it's not the best quality, but it more than makes up for that by being just a few blocks away--and the sound when the funnel is at its closest (around 2:30) is pretty amazing.

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329. beell
.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 141 Comments: 16245


The Mississippi's on the left side of the dams, Atchafalaya on the right.


Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Projections show Morganza Floodway opening would threaten more than a dozen communities
The likely, though not yet announced, opening of the Morganza Floodway to lower Mississippi River levels along Baton Rouge and New Orleans will produce widespread flooding that prompted the Army Corps of Engineers on Friday night to warn residents of Pointe Coupee, St Landry, St Martin, Iberia, Iberville, St Mary, and Terrebonne parishes to contact public officials about evacuation plans.
That announcement came in a news release accompanying a map showing estimates of inundation caused by a 50 percent opening of the Morganza Floodway that indicated that more than a dozen Louisiana communities will be threatened with floodwaters, including Houma, Plaquemine, St. Francisville, Morgan City, Berwick, Raceland and Mathews. The map is the result of computer modeling conducted during the past few days by the corps in support of its plans to open the spillway.
Link
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
326. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #9
TROPICAL STORM AERE (T1101)
9:00 AM JST May 8 2011
==========================================

SUBJECT: Category One Typhoon Overland Philippines

At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Aere (990 hPa) located at 13.4N 124.2E has 10 minute sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts of 65 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest slowly.

Dvorak Intensity: OVERLAND

Gale Force Winds
=================
120 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
====================
24 HRS: 16.4N 121.8E - 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
48 HRS: 19.7N 120.0E - 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm)
72 HRS: 22.4N 121.7E - 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm)
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325. beell
Most of the Atchafalaya Basin, including the Morganza Floodway is uninhabited. All the communities are on the safe side of the protection levees or are surrounded by ring levees.

There will still be impacts to more than just a few folks outside the levees. As long as they hold.

Most of the impacts will be just below Morgan City as the huge volume of water attempts to make its way to the GOM and begins to back up and head east along the Intercoastal Canal towards Donner, Gibson, Chacahoula, and all the communities along Bayou Black-leading to Houma. Also around the east end protection of Morgan City towards Amelia and communities outside the Basin but subject to the end-a-around backwater flooding N of Morgan City.

Course that's based on everything working like it should.

Ok, I've exceeded my post limit. See ya'll later.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 141 Comments: 16245
beell- I've googled that industrial park enough, I could probably walk around it blindfolded. Hopefully it will stay within manageable levels.

So much at stake...
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25743
323. beell
Quoting aquak9:


and when they open Morganza? there's be trees and bushes and homes and all sorts of stuff to change the bottom and sides.

Up Yazoo river, offa the main branch, is a big industrial barge place, with many fuel holding tanks.


Ooh! I saw that too and checked it out. Go to bf's blog and look at the Yazoo Inundation map again (post 142). Right above the "V" in Vicksburg at bottom center of the map. The little sliver of high land (yellow-brown in color) is the same location. Hopefully it will stay high and dry.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 141 Comments: 16245
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Hi emc.....looks better than anything they've shown in a long time...here's hoping, anyway

I heard that, lets ask for a double or triple shot. Like to see more colors over Florida also
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
321. beell
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
Not to mention bends, bottom composition, obstructions . . . A river is constantly changing.


One way or another!

Kinda just picked a place at random on the Mississppi. This is between Greenville, MS and Helena, AR.

Highlighted the levees in red. Set way back from the main channel. When the river is high, the river leaves its low-water course and spreads out, and drops sediment. Repeat this process over and over again, up and down the river every high water year and sooner or later there is a measurable reduction in capacity. Not a huge factor but one that is considered by hydrologists.

Photobucket

There is always some talk every year about the carrying capacity of the Atchafalaya Basin. Huge amounts of sediment are dropped every year in these normally slow-moving waters. As the river bed moves "up" so do the flood crests.
Same process on the Mississippi to a certain degree.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 141 Comments: 16245
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
Not to mention bends, bottom composition, obstructions . . . A river is constantly changing.


and when they open Morganza? there's be trees and bushes and homes and all sorts of stuff to change the bottom and sides.

Up Yazoo river, offa the main branch, is a big industrial barge place, with many fuel holding tanks.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25743
Quoting emcf30:


Its not much but maybe little rain for most of TX


Hi emc.....looks better than anything they've shown in a long time...here's hoping, anyway
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Quoting bappit:

The article you link to says:

a response is expected from the Mississippi River Commission within the next 48 hours, on whether or not to open the Morganza Spillway.
Yes. Yes, it does.

USACE requests, MRC decides.

USACE has requested.
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Its not much but maybe little rain for most of TX
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
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Quoting beell:


Except away from the main channel. Velocity is not constant across the channel.

Fastest in the middle, slower at the edges.
Not to mention bends, bottom composition, obstructions . . . A river is constantly changing.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Quoting Tazmanian:
it get change right back


Taz, Maybe try to change the password again....and dont forget to click on the "Save password settings" tab at the bottom.....maybe that will work, hope so :)
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Clapton & Dire Straits: I think I love you too much.
Link
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311. beell
Quoting bappit:

The increased velocity of the river during a flood scours the bottom. Depth increases.


Except away from the main channel. Velocity is not constant across the channel.

Fastest in the middle, slower at the edges.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 141 Comments: 16245
Quoting BahaHurican:
Anyway, my final floodrelated comment for the night is, I sure hope the Morganza works the way it should; if that Old River structure gives way, that's the end of it, more or less, for the old Mississippi riverbed and some challenging new times down towards Morgan City....
Yeah you're right. This is a very serious situation upcoming. If things go bad, it will be REAL bad.
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Woah. I know that wasn't on purpose, taz. Still having problems with your account?
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Anyway, my final floodrelated comment for the night is, I sure hope the Morganza works the way it should; if that Old River structure gives way, that's the end of it, more or less, for the old Mississippi riverbed and some challenging new times down towards Morgan City....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21516
it get change right back
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114753
Did u change ur password, Taz?
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21516
Quoting Tazmanian:
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114753
Quoting Tazmanian:
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114753
Quoting Tazmanian:
node
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114753
301. Tazmanian
1:13 AM GMT on May 08, 2011
.
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114753
300. hydrus
1:11 AM GMT on May 08, 2011
Quoting StAugustineFL:


15" from Faye in my neck of the woods. 5" would be nice right about now. Texas can have/use the 15" amounts.
15 inches is a lot of rain. I saw 15.50 inches in 8 and half hours in June 1995...Almost killed me.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20514
299. bappit
1:08 AM GMT on May 08, 2011
Quoting beell:
I'd be more concerned about sediment building up in the slower moving portions of the river and reducing it's capacity.

The increased velocity of the river during a flood scours the bottom. Depth increases.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5958
298. BahaHurican
12:53 AM GMT on May 08, 2011
Interesting discussion on weather and geologic impacts on the Mississippi Basin.

Link

It's a bit oversimplified because the writers want to make their point, but it does highlight some of the concerns this major flood is creating in LA....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21516
297. beell
12:52 AM GMT on May 08, 2011
Quoting CothranRoss:
Question: I've heard that many records have been or are about to be broken on the Mississippi concerning river height. Wouldn't the levees on the Mississippi make the river height a little larger in some spots, especially where they've built new levees? i hear about something like this on the Red River with new levees for Morehead.


River gauges use the base of the riverbed as guage zero. Elevation above that point is what is reported.

Adding height to a levee should not change that. Only if the levees were moved inward-reducing the width of the channel and forcing the level "up".

I'd be more concerned about sediment building up in the slower moving portions of the river and reducing it's capacity. But I 'spose they got folks working on that.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 141 Comments: 16245
296. Skyepony (Mod)
12:51 AM GMT on May 08, 2011
03W is AERE now.
03W AERE
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37385
295. Skyepony (Mod)
12:46 AM GMT on May 08, 2011
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37385
294. BahaHurican
12:42 AM GMT on May 08, 2011
Quoting aquak9:
isn't bonne carre only approved for fifty percent open?
That map that someone posted showed Bonne Carre at a proposed 100% and Morganza at 50%.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21516

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

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