Unprecented floods on the Mississippi, in Colombia, and Canada

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:58 PM GMT on May 16, 2011

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The great Mississippi River flood of 2011 continues to make history, with Saturday's opening of the flood gates of the Morganza Spillway marking just the second time that flood control structure has been used since its construction in 1956. With the Morganza, Bonnet Carre', and Birds Point-New Madrid Spillways all open, the Army Corps of Engineers has now opened all of its major spillways simultaneously for the first time ever. The Mississippi is rising at Vicksburg, Mississippi, where the water has now reached 56.5', exceeding the previous all-time record of 56.2', set during the great flood of 1927. Natchez, Mississippi, is also at its greatest flood height on record, with the water at 60.6'. The previous record high was 58', set in 1937. However, the opening of the Morganza spillway has reduced the predicted heights of the great flood of 2011 from Natchez to New Orleans by 1 to 1.5'. This will serve to greatly reduce the pressure on the levees and on the Old River Control Structure, which as I discussed in my previous post, is America's Achilles' heel, and must be protected. According the National Weather Service, flood heights along the Lower Mississippi from Natchez to New Orleans will peak this week, and slowly fall next week. Rainfall over the next five days is expected to be minimal over the Lower Mississippi watershed. The next chance for significant rain over the region will come Sunday, May 22.


Figure 1. Saturday's opening of the first gate on the Morganza Spillway, as seen on the live feed from USTREAM.

Devastating flooding continues in Colombia
Devastating flooding has hit South America in Colombia, where exceptionally heavy spring rains have killed at least 425 people so far this year, with 482 others missing. Damages are in the billions, and there are 3 million disaster victims. "Some parts of the country have been set back 15 to 20 years", said Plan’s Country Director in Colombia, Gabriela Bucher. "Over the past 10 months we have registered five or six times more rainfall than usual," said the director of Colombia's weather service, Ricardo Lozano. Up to 800 mm (about 32 inches) of rain has fallen along the Pacific coast of Colombia over the past two weeks (Figure 3). The severe spring flooding follows on the heels of the heaviest fall rains in Colombia's History. Weather records go back 42 year in Colombia. Colombia's president Juan Manuel Santos said, "the tragedy the country is going through has no precedents in our history." The 2010 floods killed 571 people--the second deadliest year for floods in Colombian history, next to 1987. The floods did over $1 billion in damage, and affected 2.8 million people. In many places, the flood waters from this great disaster never fully receded, and are now rising again due to this latest round of intense flooding. More rain is in the forecast--the latest forecast from the GFS model calls for an additional 5 - 10 inches (200 - 400 mm) across much of western and northern Colombia in the coming week.


Figure 2. Satellite-observed rainfall over Colombia during the past two weeks shows a region of up to 800 mm (about 32 inches) has fallen near the Pacific coast. Image credit: Navy Research Lab, Monterey.

Colombia's rainy season usually has two peaks: one the fall in October, then then another in the spring in April - May. The heavy rains are due to the presence of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, the area encircling the earth near the Equator where winds originating in the northern and southern hemispheres come together. When these great wind belts come together (or "converge", thus the name "Convergence Zone"), the converging air is forced upwards, since it has nowhere else to go. The rising air fuels strong thunderstorm updrafts, creating a band of very heavy storms capable of causing heavy flooding rains. In La Niña years, when a large region of colder than average water is off the Pacific coast of Colombia, rainfall tends to increase over Colombia. La Niña was moderate to strong during the fall 2010 rains and floods in Colombia, and was largely to blame for Colombia's deadly rainy season. However, in recent months, La Niña has waned. April sea surface temperatures off the Pacific coast of Colombia (0° - 10°N, 85° - 75°W), warmed to the 13th highest temperatures in the past 100 years, 0.68°C above average. Thus, this month's flooding in Colombia may not be due to La Niña.

See also my December 2010 post, Heaviest rains in Colombia's history trigger deadly landslide; 145 dead or missing


Figure 3. Dramatic video of flooding in Colombia over the weekend. Flood waters swept away cars and buses in a busy street in the city of Barranquilla, and passengers climbed on the roofs of their vehicles in order to escape the flood waters. Video credit: BBC.

300-year flood in Canada; wildfires destroy large portions of Slave Lake, Alberta
In Manitoba, Canada, heavy spring snow melt in combination with heavy rains have combined to create record flooding on the Assiniboine River. Authorities intentionally breached a levee over the weekend to save hundreds of homes, but inundated huge areas of farmland as a result. The flood is being called a 300-year flood, and damages are already in excess of $1 billion. In Alberta, Canada, reverse extreme is causing havoc: severe drought and strong spring winds have made ideal conditions for wildfires, which swept into the community of Slave Lake (population 6,700) yesterday. The fires destroyed hundreds of buildings, burning down the town hall and at least 30% of the town, according to preliminary media reports.


Figure 4. Video of the May 15, 2011 Slave Lake fire.

First tropical wave of the year over the Atlantic
The first tropical wave of 2011 is now over the tropical Atlantic near 6°N 46°W, according to the latest Atlantic Tropical Weather Discussion. The wave will bring heavy rain to the northeast coast of South America over the next two days, but is too far south to be a threat to develop into a tropical depression. The Atlantic hurricane season is just two weeks away, and the Eastern Pacific hurricane season began yesterday. So far, the models are not predicting any tropical storm development in the East Pacific or Atlantic over the next six days.

Jeff Masters

The Great Flood of 2011 (jperilloux)
KCS train crossing the trestle through the Bonnet Carre Spillway at Norco, LA. Flood water diverted from Miss. River
The Great Flood of 2011

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Quoting MechEngMet:


Sadly no. That was a 15th wedding anniversary, back in November '02. Chartered a 40 ft Benetau from Moorings, and sailed for 8 days. Highlights: The Baths, Bitter End YC, Beam Reaching to Anegada, too many to list...

We want to go back, perhaps retire there. Land is still cheap but supplies, well, I'm sure you know...

Best option, if finances allow, is to have a place there so you can visit for long periods when you want to.
And rent it out when you are not there.
Those small Islands are very, um, SMALL. In every sense.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25632
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:


By Gorah! I may have found it!

Funky Fish Nautical Shower Curtain


Is that being marketed as a portable CAT-5 storm deflector, Fukushima nuclear fallout bunker, and EF 6+ shelter?

No? Someone's missing out on a golden opportunity.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I LOVE that showercurtain!!!...I have a fish shower curtain now but my fish are bigger!..lol
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Quoting pottery:

And shirts to go with it, too.
AHH, Life is so sweet!

You still in VI's ?


Sadly no. That was a 15th wedding anniversary, back in November '02. Chartered a 40 ft Benetau from Moorings, and sailed for 8 days. Highlights: The Baths, Bitter End YC, Beam Reaching to Anegada, too many to list...

We want to go back, perhaps retire there. Land is still cheap but supplies, well, I'm sure you know...
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..it blinds,it blinds,..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I see...
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Quoting aquak9:
OMG, pottery!!! they make towels of that pattern too??


By Gorah! I may have found it!

Funky Fish Nautical Shower Curtain
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Quoting MechEngMet:


Be careful shouting that while hoisting a few CRS. Doing so within 100 ft of a parochial high-school just might get you arrested.

hahahahahah
very good!
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25632
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


...um
By Jove, I think I've got it,

CHEERLEADERS

yup, I'll swig 'n say it with conviction...

and see what improvement in my INsight that brings!

CRS


Be careful shouting that while hoisting a few CRS. Doing so within 100 ft of a parochial high-school just might get you arrested.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


...um
By Jove, I think I've got it,

CHEERLEADERS

yup, I'll swig 'n say it with conviction...

and see what improvement in my INsight that brings!

CRS

BRILLIANT!!
But be very careful. Cheerleaders come in bundles.
Or so I am led to believe.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25632
Quoting MechEngMet:
Evening all. That gator towel is the funniest thing I've seen in three weeks. To think someone actually manufactures a bath set of curtain and towel... UGH!!!

Pot, thanks for pointing that out! I'd sent you a fifth of that eye potion if I could. Keep up the good humor.

Buying new shutters for the house this season. I don't know if that's a good omen or not. Usually if I prepare for something, it never happens. Call it Murphys Law for disastrous probabilities if you will, or whatever. (Buy insurance and you'll never need it...)

Based on the new shutters (and nothing else) I say I'm safe for at lest three seasons.

And shirts to go with it, too.
AHH, Life is so sweet!

You still in VI's ?
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25632
Quoting pottery:

Ah. But you need to know the Secret Words to mumble along with the sipping.
I'll give you a hint. It starts with 'chee' and ends with 'rs'.
You'll never figure it out.


...um
By Jove, I think I've got it,

CHEERLEADERS

yup, I'll swig 'n say it with conviction...

and see what improvement in my INsight that brings!

CRS
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
cold air aloft is causing some instability showers to begin developing here on the West Coast of FLorida. This is the first time I can remember getting convection and being able to call it "light convection". Here convection almost always means torrential rain. But when you have a dew point of 59, a temp of 68, and and only a 1.1 PWAT, I guess you can't expect much more! lol

I'm surprised any convection is developing in such a poor environment. Normally you won't see a cloud in the sky here in these conditions. But we actually have shallow, but billowing convection as the sun sets, although ragged in appearance, unlike our normal moist, tropical convection.


Then again, sometimes severe thunderstorms have developed in the northern plains with even less moisture and even cooler temps then this. Its all about the steep lapse rates and upper disturbances, and convergence. The atmosphere can squeeze out a lot more moisture then you think, even "dry air" like we have, given the right atmospheric situations.
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Evening all. That gator towel is the funniest thing I've seen in three weeks. To think someone actually manufactures a bath set of curtain and towel... UGH!!!

Pot, thanks for pointing that out! I'd sent you a fifth of that eye potion if I could. Keep up the good humor.

Buying new shutters for the house this season. I don't know if that's a good omen or not. Usually if I prepare for something, it never happens. Call it Murphys Law for disastrous probabilities if you will, or whatever. (Buy insurance and you'll never need it...)

Based on the new shutters (and nothing else) I say I'm safe for at lest three seasons.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hydrus:
Its also funny that merlot and burgundy are my favorites..My Great Grandfather was from France not far from the Burgundy Region....

A man of Good Taste, obviously.
:):))
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25632
Quoting aquak9:
And may I be the first to say, this is LastInnocentMoon.

It is the last full moon before Season™. A very important moon, I send it to all of you with love and blessings.

May the LastInnocentMoon smile upon all of you.


Thank you Aqua..and may it smile upon you too.
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Quoting pottery:

Greetings Hydrus.
A nice shower here earlier dropped nearly 1/2" on my plants (that I had watered this morning!). Never fails. But at least it topped up the tanks to back where they were....
Just enjoying a glass of Chilean Merlot, from Santa Rita. Funny that you mentioned that...
Salud!
Its also funny that merlot and burgundy are my favorites..My Great Grandfather was from France not far from the Burgundy Region....
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 24738
Quoting hydrus:
Its all those powerful anti-oxidants in the delicious South American wine that keeps those eyes as sharp as a hawks...Good evening Pott..:)

Greetings Hydrus.
A nice shower here earlier dropped nearly 1/2" on my plants (that I had watered this morning!). Never fails. But at least it topped up the tanks to back where they were....
Just enjoying a glass of Chilean Merlot, from Santa Rita. Funny that you mentioned that...
Salud!
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25632
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


Vury sharp eyes, has dat Pottery fella!

I think it has to do with some Elixier he keeps in a jug
(I have been told)
Its all those powerful anti-oxidants in the delicious South American wine that keeps those eyes as sharp as a hawks...Good evening Pott..:)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 24738
Quoting StAugustineFL:


Waiting patiently. Can we fast forward 2-3 weeks?



I wish! The Florida wet season is the highlight of my life, and hurricane season, minus the death and destruction part!
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


Vury sharp eyes, has dat Pottery fella!

I think it has to do with some Elixier he keeps in a jug
(I have been told)

Ah. But you need to know the Secret Words to mumble along with the sipping.
I'll give you a hint. It starts with 'chee' and ends with 'rs'.
You'll never figure it out.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25632
Quoting RTLSNK:


Yes, you don't suppose, no, it couldn't be his. :)

Well, if it's his, good riddance to him.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25632
Quoting TomTaylor:
Satellite view of Endeavor space shuttle launch



Sorry if its already been posted.
Very cool pic Tom.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 24738
Quoting aquak9:
OMG, pottery!!! they make towels of that pattern too??

Apparently. I never knew that until Snake posted that pic.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25632
Quoting pottery:

You do realise that that Gator has THE Towel, right??


Vury sharp eyes, has dat Pottery fella!

I think it has to do with some Elixier he keeps in a jug
(I have been told)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pottery:

You do realise that that Gator has THE Towel, right??


Yes, you don't suppose, no, it couldn't be his. :)
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Quoting aquak9:
And may I be the first to say, this is LastInnocentMoon.

It is the last full moon before Season™. A very important moon, I send it to all of you with love and blessings.

May the LastInnocentMoon smile upon all of you.

Thanks.
And I hope that you see the next one, and all of them after that too.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25632
Quoting USAprimeCreditPeggy:
What?! What shower curtain? Where?!



under your youe Bed
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5094 Comments: 116067
OMG, pottery!!! they make towels of that pattern too??
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 192 Comments: 27671
And may I be the first to say, this is LastInnocentMoon.

It is the last full moon before Season™. A very important moon, I send it to all of you with love and blessings.

May the LastInnocentMoon smile upon all of you.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 192 Comments: 27671
Quoting aquak9:
Our moon, Jacksonville, Florida.

since CRS sent it, I felt I had to share.


Lovely.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25632
Quoting RTLSNK:


OK, here it is, but you have to get it out of the truck first. :)

You do realise that that Gator has THE Towel, right??
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25632
hahahaha pottery!! :)
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 192 Comments: 27671
323. txjac
Beautiful Moon ...we'll be seeing it soon! Last night it was simply awesome ..clear skies and the most stars that I have seen from Houston in a long, long time

Thanks for sharing
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Quoting hydrus:
Pacific low in 96 hours GFS...

That image reminds me of how lucky (relatively speaking) Haiti was last year. From storms and rainfall, anyway.
I hope their luck can run true this year again...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25632
Quoting aspectre:
I want an alligator sandwich. And make it snappy.


OK, here it is, but you have to get it out of the truck first. :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Our moon, Jacksonville, Florida.

since CRS sent it, I felt I had to share.

Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 192 Comments: 27671
Quoting aquak9:
hold on CRS- I have a pic of your moon coming- give me a coupla minutes

Careful, it's a Family Blog, you know....
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25632
hold on CRS- I have a pic of your moon coming- give me a coupla minutes
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 192 Comments: 27671
Pacific low in 96 hours GFS...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 24738
316. j2008
Quoting cyclonekid:


Yea I noticed that about the same time. Persistence is the key to the NHC using their yellow crayon. Give it about a day or two to get organized, we might see the crayon pop out then.

I'm hopeing that at the 10 update that they bring the crayon out and put a 30% or so.
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Quoting Patrap:
Big un,..

Aligator killed on Jefferson Parish Levee
Sure hope most of the gators get up on some levees where there AREN'T pple with guns.... lol or even pple at all, for the pple's sake....

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Satellite view of Endeavor space shuttle launch



Sorry if its already been posted.
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I want an alligator sandwich. And make it snappy.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
Heads up, friends to the West,
a BEAUTIFUL
(almost full)
MOON is
coming to
your
SKY!
O

I'm a couple of miles to your east, (LOL), and it's high up here already.
With some very pretty cloud too.
Real nice.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25632
CRS- yes it was so pretty last night, clear sky, illuminating the windows long after dark, a peaceful glowing blue.

No carp discussion needed- I KNOW gator can be eaten!
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 192 Comments: 27671
Quoting Patrap:
Big un,..

Aligator killed on Jefferson Parish Levee

You could get a lot of belts, shoes and purses from that one...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25632
Heads up, friends to the West,
a BEAUTIFUL
(almost full)
MOON is
coming to
your
SKY!
O
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
East bank residents are urged to stay away from Mississippi River levee
Published: Monday, May 16, 2011, 5:36 PM




David Grunfeld, The Times-Picayune

For the sake of increased safety and more efficient inspection and flood- fighting activities, members of the public are asked to stay off the East Jefferson levees while the Mississippi River is at its peak.
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The white painted roofs of the lifting crane structures show up very well on the spillway in the satellite photo.

Tnx Aqua, I enjoy poking around finding things and the sharing what I find.

CRS
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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