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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Quoting seminolesfan:
It's cool hydro-I mean hydrus; Believe me, I've got no problem with tha mean green!

I was more speaking of the brutal destroyer and JFVmap7.
It is just my harmless opinion, but I do believe Mother Nature has more surprises as far as the tropics are concerned. I hope landfalling storms are weak and not killers.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21853
It's cool hydro-I mean hydrus; Believe me, I've got no problem with tha mean green!

I was more speaking of the brutal destroyer and JFVmap7.
Member Since: June 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2108
Quoting PolishHurrMaster:

Weed-what's that?
Plants that some people smoke when life gets brutal..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21853
Quoting seminolesfan:
You kids are taking this off on a combative tangent that I'm not taking part in.

I really miss the days when this blog was more about discussing ideas than the pissing contest that it has become.

Bitmap, it is my opinion that calling for a CV storm before the wavetrain has even put out ONE wave is not illustrative of you understanding the way things work in the tropics and if you insist on claiming the contrary there is no point in me wasting my time on any discussions.

I'm already regretting resuming posting this season...
Please forgive my good weed post. Polishhurrfan sounds rather impetuous and will learn as he grows up. My weed post was an attempt at humor since the weather around the U.S.is a bit more tranquil then it has been...Here is yet another mass of intense convection moving off of Africa..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21853
Quoting hydrus:
You must have some really good weed.

Weed-what's that?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
You kids are taking this off on a combative tangent that I'm not taking part in.

I really miss the days when this blog was more about discussing ideas than the pissing contest that it has become.

Bitmap, it is my opinion that calling for a CV storm before the wavetrain has even put out ONE wave is not illustrative of you understanding the way things work in the tropics and if you insist on claiming the contrary there is no point in me wasting my time on any discussions.

I'm already regretting resuming posting this season...
Member Since: June 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2108
Quoting PolishHurrMaster:

Absolute agreement.One of my life mottos is:"Life is brutal"-because life really is.If you are weaker or/and less intelligent then others,they will simply destroy yourself(did I destroyed bitmap???).
You must learn new things quickly-in other case you'll be destroyed.Bitmap,i'll give you a hint-let this season to be a learning season for you.Look at WunderBlog and learn.I did the same-and now I don't get destroyed.
Quoting PolishHurrMaster:

Absolute agreement.One of my life mottos is:"Life is brutal"-because life really is.If you are weaker or/and less intelligent then others,they will simply destroy yourself(did I destroyed bitmap???).
You must learn new things quickly-in other case you'll be destroyed.Bitmap,i'll give you a hint-let this season to be a learning season for you.Look at WunderBlog and learn.I did the same-and now I don't get destroyed.
You must have some really good weed.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21853
235. xcool
Continuing a pattern established last December, the ITCZ remains very active about South America and the equatorial Atlantic Ocean. Note the defined convective circulations (arrows) and the linear thunderstorm complex that stretches from the Cape Verde Islands into Brazil. Once the westerlies relax and retreat to higher latitudes, these disturbances will have a clear path over very warm waters into the major islands and (eventually) the United States.
Continue reading on Examiner.com: WEATHERAmerica Newsletter, Friday, May 6, 2011 at 7:00 P.M. CT - Houston Weather | Examiner.com http://www.examiner....t#ixzz1LgzudvUt
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Quoting seminolesfan:
Being young doesn't allow you to come out and just say whatever crazy thing crosses your mind with the expectation that it will not be corrected by someone more knowledgeable. Opinions backed by supporting reasoning will generate learning opportunities; wild speculation not so much.

Absolute agreement.One of my life mottos is:"Life is brutal"-because life really is.If you are weaker or/and less intelligent then others,they will simply destroy yourself(did I destroyed bitmap???).
You must learn new things quickly-in other case you'll be destroyed.Bitmap,i'll give you a hint-let this season to be a learning season for you.Look at WunderBlog and learn.I did the same-and now I don't get destroyed.
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Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21853
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
He didn't say a CV storm in May or June just a tropical wave. Also, not a troll or crazy. He is young and learning.

Hmmmm...I'm 16,observing tropical thing since 2009.And I know that in June CV storms are extremely rare(but possible-Bertha'08 formed in 3rd July,and storms can possibly form near Africa in late June(but only with hugely upward MJO),but in LATE,not EARLY).If he is totally new on blog-I say:I'm very sorry,but you didn't write you're new.If he is little experienced-I say:Storms can't form near Africa in May because of shear,dry air and unfavorable upper-level winds.
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Quoting seminolesfan:
umm...He did say it might be the first CV storm of the year and that is crazy talk at this point. You might want to read a little more carefully if you're gonna try to correct someone else's statement to prevent looking crazy yourself.


Operative MIGHT. I know very well that the Cape Verde season doesn't start until around late July, August- September but it does not mean that there can't be one system that doesn't break the norm. Also by saying that I wasn't implying that the Cape Verde season will start that early(that would be crazy), I was just toying the idea of one of the early formed systems being a Cape Verde storm. However if one were to form that far back it would speak volumes about what this season could be like. It would also be unprecedented. Apologies anyways its the fault of the phrasing; it does read like I was implying Cape Verde storms are going to start rolling out before the official season starts. I don't think it will be a cape verde storm, its just a theory.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Point taken and yes I do need to read more carefully but he is young and still learning. Just finishing HS so he is only about 16 or 17.
Being young doesn't allow you to come out and just say whatever crazy thing crosses your mind with the expectation that it will not be corrected by someone more knowledgeable. Opinions backed by supporting reasoning will generate learning opportunities; wild speculation not so much.
Member Since: June 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2108
Enjoying my mint julep and wondering what it would be like if the same folks who name thoroughbreds named Hurricanes...

Hurricane "Pants on Fire" would get my attention...
Tropical storm "Mucho Macho Man" would bear watching...

CRS
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Quoting seminolesfan:
umm...He did say it might be the first CV storm of the year and that is crazy talk at this point. You might want to read a little more carefully if you're gonna try to correct someone else's statement to prevent looking crazy yourself.
Point taken and yes I do need to read more carefully but he is young and still learning. Just finishing HS so he is only about 16 or 17.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
He didn't say a CV storm in May or June just a tropical wave. Also, not a troll or crazy. He is young and learning.
umm...He did say it might be the first CV storm of the year and that is crazy talk at this point. You might want to read a little more carefully if you're gonna try to correct someone else's statement to prevent looking crazy yourself.
Member Since: June 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2108




Images of tornado damage near Tuscaloosa, Ala., seen on May 4, 2011. (NASA)


NASA Satellite Observes Damage Path of April Tornadoes in Alabama

Recent images of the April 27 storm damage path have been captured by NASA's Terra satellite, part of NASA's Earth Observing Satellite system, or EOS. An instrument aboard Terra, called Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer or ASTER, captured the images show the scars from the outbreak.

ASTER combines infrared, red, and green wavelengths of light to make false-color images that distinguish between water and land. Water is blue. Buildings and paved surfaces are blue-gray. Vegetation is red.

The images to the right are from an observation that occurred on May 4, 2011 at 11:45 A.M. local time (1645 UTC), near Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The physical principle guiding the use of satellite data to detect tornado damage is based on the premise that the strong winds associated with a tornado will change the physical characteristics of the surface in such a way as to alter the visible and infrared energy reflected. These characteristics could be a change in the orientation of surface features, such as the complete destruction of a house in a residential area, the snapping of trees in a forest region, the uprooting of crops in an agriculture area, or minimal damage to grassland in a pasture or field.

Images from NASA satellites will aid in damage assessment, determining the tornado width and path length. Further scientific analysis using satellite imagery is planned.

Terra/ASTER is a joint activity between NASA's Science Mission Directorate Earth Science Division and Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Terra is one of 14 NASA satellites that look at the Earth to study and understand changes in the Earth system and provide societal benefits.

The NASA image created by the Short-term Prediction and Research Transition or SPoRT project at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, using data provided courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center, Japan’s Earth Remote Sensing Data Analysis Center, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, along with the Japan Research Observation System Organization.




Janet Anderson, 256-544-0034
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
Janet.L.Anderson@nasa.gov
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting PolishHurrMaster:

CV storm in May/early June?You're crazy,or troll?
He didn't say a CV storm in May or June just a tropical wave. Also, not a troll or crazy. He is young and learning.
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Live broadcast started 6 hours ago
NASA HD-TV
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
223. Skyepony (Mod)
That Atlas launched..everything looks good.
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Tropical Atlantic - Rainbow Loop

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221. IKE

Quoting PolishHurrMaster:

Any subtropical development for system in the middle?
I don't see anything forecast as of now.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting IKE:


Any subtropical development for system in the middle?
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Texas drought could end soon..More rain for flooded Mississippi Valley region...CMC model..LinkLink
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218. IKE

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Sure this has been posted....but repeat

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Quoting Bitmap7:


GFS still wants something in the leeward islands in the near future.

Also the High pressure appears to be lifting of the Cape Verde islands; our first tropical wave appears to be coming of the ivory coast as well; might be our first Cape Verde storm.

CV storm in May/early June?You're crazy,or troll?
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215. beell
Quoting PcolaDan:
Look what I found :)
(no I10 on there)

Bridge Failure Database


Nothin'!
Thanks.

I did make a quick check of the NTSB Transportation database but it only went back to 1990. Plenty in the aviation DB.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 144 Comments: 16895
Look what I found :)
(no I10 on there)

Bridge Failure Database
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212. beell
Quoting atmoaggie:
? Never heard of this. Nor can I find anything else online about a bridge collapse of any kind in the area in that time period.
(Except for a partial collapse at Manchac pass due to ship pilot error in '74.)

And, as Pat points out, that stretch of I-10 was only opened in 1973...cannot find out in which month it was opened to traffic, though.


Neither me, atmo. Maybe on a DOT site somewhere. Just can't trust those college boys from LSU!
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Quoting beell:
One of the few detailed accounts of the problems with the Old River Control Structure in 1973.

And the possible problems that would result if the River ever left its present course for the shorter and steeper path down the Atchafalaya.

This is a fairly large file-over 200mb but worth the read. Either they never finished scanning it or the file is corrupt. Not all 149 pages are available.

Photobucket


Kazmann, Raphael G. and David B. Johnson. 1980. If the Old River Control Structure Fails? Louisiana Water Resources Research Institute, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, La.
? Never heard of this. Nor can I find anything else online about a bridge collapse of any kind in the area in that time period.
(Except for a partial collapse at Manchac pass due to ship pilot error in '74.)

And, as Pat points out, that stretch of I-10 was only opened in 1973...cannot find out in which month it was opened to traffic, though.
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Quoting eddy12:
Flweatherfreak91 Lake champlain is not located entirely with in the usa part of it is located in quebec
Are you referring to the French speaking part of North Florida?
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
205. Skyepony (Mod)
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203. Skyepony (Mod)
A flash flood swept through villages in the Indonesian province of West Java, killing at least 17 people and damaged dozens of homes, reported on Saturday. Hours of torrential rain caused rivers in the Garur district to overflow their banks and submerge thousands of homes, the Vivanews.com online news portal said. Nine people were killed and thousands of residents were fleeing their homes for safety, other news reports said, adding that the floods were also collapsed many power lines. Floods and landslides are common in Indonesia, which is densely populated and prone to frequent heavy rains. Environmentalists warned that logging and a failure to reforest denuded land in the world's fourth-most populous country are often to blame.
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Quoting bappit:
I was in B.R. during the 1973 flood and don't remember anything about the Whiskey Bay bridge losing any part of its span.


Thats cuz it didnt,,as it never happened...as the I-10 opened in 73' that way.



The Atchafalaya Basin Bridge is actually two parallel bridges in the US state of Louisiana between Baton Rouge and Lafayette, LA which carries Interstate 10 over the Atchafalaya Basin. With a total length of 96,095 feet (29,290 m) or 18.2 miles, it is the tenth longest bridge in the world by total length.

The bridge includes two exits: one for Whiskey Bay (LA 975) and another for Butte La Rose (LA 3177). While the bridges run parallel for most of their length, they merge when crossing the Whiskey Bay Pilot Channel and the Atchafalaya River.

Accidents occur frequently near the two river crossings as both are very narrow and lack shoulders. In 1999, Governor Mike Foster lowered the speed limit on the bridge from 70 MPH to 60 MPH. In 2003, the Louisiana Legislature enacted new traffic regulations for the bridge. The speed limit for 18-wheelers was lowered to 55 MPH, and they must remain in the right lane while crossing the bridge.




Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
I was in B.R. during the 1973 flood and don't remember anything about the Whiskey Bay bridge losing any part of its span.
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199. beell
Quoting bappit:
I had never heard of that either. It would have been huge news.


Can't find a thing. Maybe just a span or part of a span?

Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 144 Comments: 16895
Quoting eddy12:
I believe dr. masters made an error in saying lake champlain is the 6th largest lake in usa I believe it is lake of the woods. Lake champlain size is 490 sq. miles with shore length of 587 miles, lake of the woods size is 1679 sq. miles with shore length of 25,000 miles add in the islands and this number goes to 65,000 miles
That lake is not entirely inside of the USA so he did not include it.
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I had never heard of that either. It would have been huge news.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 6106
196. beell
Quoting aquak9:
thanks, beell. I guess whiskey river bridge is I-10?

downloading it to read right now. that's a frightening excerpt.


Correct. Even though I lived in Morgan City for about 15 years (from 1974)I had never heard of the bridge collapse.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 144 Comments: 16895
beell- got to about page 40 of that, then the computer froze up. Too bad. I'da loved to have read the whole thing.
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"inevitable impact" of the atchafalaya becoming the main waterway.

The pdf covers WHEN, not IF.

Gas pipelines, transportation of goods, electric generating plants, salt-water intrusion into the previous main waterway...
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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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