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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Viewing: 594 - 544

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594. seminolesfan
3:12 PM GMT on May 09, 2011
NEW BLOG!

Just in case someone is still hanging out here.
Member Since: June 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2108
593. weathermanwannabe
2:02 PM GMT on May 09, 2011
P451:


Certainly a lot of moisture around. EPAC has been very moist it wouldn't surprise me to see a system pop up out there in the coming weeks. A couple of disturbances have already evolved but the conditions just aren't right quite yet. Sure seems like there will be plenty of disturbances developing one after another.


Good Morning Folks.............Agreed; been noticing that very active and moist ITCZ on the E-Pac side. We could end up with an active E-Pac start to the season this year with a classic MJO shirt to the Atlantic side in due time.....Might not be as quiet for the Gulf and Caribbean this year as compared to last year......I got a bad feeling about this Year with all of heat content out there in the Gulf.
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9342
591. CybrTeddy
1:57 PM GMT on May 09, 2011
Morning all! Allergies are killing me today.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24508
589. Gearsts
1:45 PM GMT on May 09, 2011
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1978
588. atmoaggie
1:38 PM GMT on May 09, 2011
Live video of Bonnet Carre spillway opening:




Live TV : Ustream
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
587. Gearsts
1:22 PM GMT on May 09, 2011
Link
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1978
586. Skyepony (Mod)
1:17 PM GMT on May 09, 2011
Quake shifted Japan; towns now flood at high tide
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 196 Comments: 38771
584. Gearsts
1:10 PM GMT on May 09, 2011
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1978
580. emcf30
12:32 PM GMT on May 09, 2011
This goes with the link in 579
May 8th 2011 5:54 PM

Jeff May 8th 2011 5:54 PM

The link below will show an enhanced Google Map I made of the Lower Mississippi and Atchafalaya river area. The control structures are shown as are the main levees along the Atchafalaya floodway. Anyone is welcome to use this map link and pass it along.

The ā€œiā€ symbol links to a background article from americaswetlandresources.com.

To see the detailed topographic maps click Hybrid ==> MyTopo. Then zoom in for more topographic detail.

To turn the symbol labels on/off click Menu ==> Labels On/Off.

http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?q=https ://sites.google.com/site/gmap4files/p/news/mississ ippi_course_change.txt&ll=30.417887,-91.201416&t=h &z=9&label=on

Joseph Elfelt
Gmap4 author
Redmond, WA
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1952
579. emcf30
12:26 PM GMT on May 09, 2011
I have seen alot of talk on various sites and blogs about the Mississippi River changing course in La. What are the possibilities of this happening? Enclosed is a link of a clickable map that demonstrates where it could possibility go from one point of view.
Link
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1952
578. splash3392
12:24 PM GMT on May 09, 2011
P451

I rafted the Colorado 4 times since 1989 and it is some of my most memorable vacations. All the side canyons, Elves Chasm, Deer Park, are just awesome. I have been on the south rim twice and from the rim it can look very much the same, but down in the canyon its really awesome!
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 645
576. StAugustineFL
12:12 PM GMT on May 09, 2011
I'm liking this forecast although the rain chances are only 20-30% each day.


Member Since: March 8, 2011 Posts: 1 Comments: 816
574. Bitmap7
11:49 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Member Since: May 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 429
573. emcf30
11:40 AM GMT on May 09, 2011


BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
FLASH FLOOD WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HONOLULU HI
1226 AM HST MON MAY 9 2011

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN HONOLULU HAS EXTENDED THE

* FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR...
THE ISLAND OF KAUAI IN KAUAI COUNTY

* UNTIL 330 AM HST

* AT 1220 AM HST...RADAR SHOWED HEAVY RAIN CONTINUING TO MOVE SLOWLY
TO THE NORTH ACROSS KAUAI. FLOODING THEREFORE REMAINS POSSIBLE FOR
THE ENTIRE ISLAND.

* THE HANALEI RIVER GAUGE CONTINUES TO REPORT A VERY HIGH WATER
LEVEL. THE BRIDGE CROSSING THE HANALEI RIVER WILL THEREFORE REMAIN
CLOSED.

* OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO
HAENA...WAINIHA...NA PALI STATE PARK...MOLOAA...KALALAU VALLEY...
WAILUA...PRINCEVILLE...KOKEE STATE PARK...KILAUEA...KAPAA...HANALEI
AND ANAHOLA.
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1952
572. severstorm
11:02 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Quoting BahaHurican:
Morning all. Signs of the relentless summer warmup - yesterday, it was 66 degrees at 5 am; this a.m., only 72.

I'm going to have a coffee. Hope you get to enjoy at least one before you plunge, ease or stride into your day!

;o)

Morning Baha, Ah yes coffee, the only way to start your day. I had 57 this morning and fog
Member Since: November 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 959
571. BahaHurican
9:15 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Morning all. Signs of the relentless summer warmup - yesterday, it was 66 degrees at 5 am; this a.m., only 72.

I'm going to have a coffee. Hope you get to enjoy at least one before you plunge, ease or stride into your day!

;o)
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22595
570. aspectre
8:48 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
An 1100year history Of El Nino
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
568. aspectre
5:49 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Anybody know of an equivalent to ftp://ftp.tpc.ncep.noaa.gov/atcf/tcweb/ for the WesternPacific?
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
567. BahaHurican
5:00 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
If I ever get to go to Australia, I'd have to find a way to spend about 8 weeks.... I have friends on both coasts, plus I'd want to spend a couple week in New Zealand... I doubt I'd be able to afford such a trip more than once in my lifetime, so I'd have to get in everything....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22595
566. BahaHurican
4:58 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Quoting AussieStorm:
We have this here in Australia.



I started to ask where in Oz these are... then I read the quote lines.... lol

Some great stuff there, Aussie... makes me want to put some $$ together to visit Oz next winter [your time] ....

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22595
565. caneswatch
4:45 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Quoting AussieStorm:

Fancy a game of Marbles




Devils Marbles


They have something like that in Pittsfield, MA called the Balanced Rock. It's pretty neat to see.


Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
564. EYEStoSEA
4:32 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Quoting AussieStorm:

From Sydney to Los Angeles then Los Angeles to Sydney

AU$3417

I'm off to work. If you want to know any other places to go Down Under. WU-mail me or just let me know here.



Thanks for the pics.....dont work too hard :)
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
562. AussieStorm
4:28 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Quoting eddy12:
I would fly to lax from wherever i am

From Sydney to Los Angeles then Los Angeles to Sydney

AU$3417

I'm off to work. If you want to know any other places to go Down Under. WU-mail me or just let me know here.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
560. AussieStorm
4:25 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Quoting eddy12:
Aussie what;s ayers rock like

Never been there myself, plan to go one day.

Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
557. AussieStorm
4:21 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Quoting eddy12:
checking on qantas web sight seems like maybe about 5000 dollars for 14 days

Where u flying from?
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
555. AussieStorm
4:17 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

Summer


Winter
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
553. AussieStorm
4:12 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
The Olgas


Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
552. EYEStoSEA
4:12 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Quoting AussieStorm:

Fancy a game of Marbles




Just fascinating....that just looks so impossible for those big rocks to be so balanced....
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
551. AussieStorm
4:08 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Quoting eddy12:
when does Qantas have another big sale

You need to wait till your dollar gets stronger than ours, or you'll lose your money in exchange
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
550. AussieStorm
4:07 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


WOW.....that is so awesome. I have never even been out of the States....Guess I may get to travel some in the future. I just travel visually online, for now......

Fancy a game of Marbles




Devils Marbles
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
548. AussieStorm
4:04 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Quoting eddy12:
the wave photo is awesome where is it located

Wave Rock

Also close by is Hippo's Yawn.

Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
547. EYEStoSEA
4:04 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Quoting AussieStorm:

No fishing here, just a big rock wave.


WOW.....that is so awesome. I have never even been out of the States....Guess I may get to travel some in the future. I just travel visually online, for now......
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
546. caneswatch
4:04 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Quoting AussieStorm:

Plenty of BIG fish here. Barramundi.

They can be caught in here.


Oh wow, I definitely need to get to Australia in my lifetime.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
545. AussieStorm
4:01 AM GMT on May 09, 2011
Quoting eddy12:
Aussie would love to see your country and also do some offshore fishing

Plenty of BIG fish here. Barramundi.

They can be caught in here.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962

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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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