Mississippi River flood of 2011 sets all-time flow record, but has crested

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:43 PM GMT on May 20, 2011

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The great Mississippi River flood of 2011 crested yesterday and today, and the volume of water being pushed toward the Gulf of Mexico is the largest ever recorded on the Mississippi, said Bob Anderson, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers for the Mississippi Valley Division. "It's never been this high; it's never had this much water," he said. "There's just a tremendous amount of strain on these levees." The Mississippi crested yesterday at Vicksburg, Mississippi, reaching 57.06'. This exceeded the previous all-time record of 56.2', set during the great flood of 1927. The river crested at Natchez, Mississippi early this morning, and is now falling. The flood height at Natchez was also the greatest on record--61.91', nearly three feet higher than the previous record height of 58', set in 1937. The opening of the Morganza Spillway on Saturday helped to reduce the flood heights from Vicksburg to New Orleans by 1 - 3 feet, greatly reducing the pressure on the levees and on the critical Old River Control Structure (which, as I discussed last Friday, is America's Achilles' heel, and must be protected.) According the National Weather Service, the Mississippi River is no longer rising anywhere along its length, and the great flood of 2011 has likely seen its peak. Rainfall over the next five days will not be enough to raise the Mississippi River water levels above the crests recorded yesterday and today. While it is great news that the flood has peaked, and the Old River Control Structure and all of the mainline levees on the Mississippi River have held, the fight is not over yet. Water levels will stay high for many weeks, and these structures will take a sustained pounding that could still cause failures. If another incredible heavy rain event like we experienced in mid-April occurs in June, the levee system and Old River Control Structure will threatened. Let's hope we don't have an early season Gulf of Mexico tropical storm that makes landfall over Louisiana. The latest 2-week forecast from the GFS model is not hinting at anything like this, fortunately. It's a good thing (for the sake of the levees) that Louisiana experienced severe drought over the winter and spring--had the water levels been high throughout winter and spring, like occurred in the run-up to the great 1927 flood, the levees would have been soggy and much more vulnerable to failure once the big flood crest hit.


Figure 1. The flow of the Mississippi River past the Old River Control Structure near Simmesport, Louisiana reached its all-time highest volume on record Thursday, when the flow rate hit 2.3 million cubic feet per second (cfs). The flow of Niagara Falls at normal water levels is 100,000 cfs, so the Mississippi's flow was 23 times that of Niagara Falls. Image credit: Army Corps of Engineers.

Recommended reading
My post on the Old River Control Structure, America's Achilles' heel: the Mississippi River Old River Control Structure, is well worth reading, if you haven't done so. I plan on making a follow-up post next week discussing the economic cost of the failure of this critical flood-control structure.

Our weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has made a very interesting post on the greatest floods to affect each continent.


Figure 2. Track forecast for Tropical Storm Four.

First typhoon of 2011 coming?
In the Northwest Pacific, Tropical Storm Four has formed, and appears poised to become the first typhoon of 2011 by early next week. The storm is expected to head west-northwest or northwest towards the Philippines. While the GFS model predicts Tropical Storm Four will miss the Philippines and recurve northwards towards Japan late next week, it is too early to be confident of this forecast.

Have a great weekend everyone, and I'll be back Monday with a new post.

Jeff Masters

In Bound (minou)
Chances of over-topping Baton Rouge or Port Allen levees are slim to none. Problems with this volume continuing for 2 weeks or longer is the question of whether the levees will stand the test of pressure. Thank goodness we've been in a drought or else the levees would be mushy inside and out! The Hwy. 190 Bridge in the distance was closed the day before this photo due to a run-away barge that struck the base.
In Bound
High Water at Baton Rouge (cmrbg06)
High Water at Baton Rouge
High Water at Baton Rouge

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DomPerignon?

TampaTom and P'colaDan?

I can meet yall in Lake City, give me a coupla hours
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25504
Quoting HurricaneDevo:
So there was just a 6.1 earthquake in new Zealand, is this the beginning of the end?


Not exactly the optimal place to start the beginning of the end.

Depth 19.8 km (12.3 miles)

103 km (64 miles) NE of L'Esperance Rock, Kermadec Islands
169 km (105 miles) S of Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands
942 km (585 miles) NE of Auckland, New Zealand
1108 km (688 miles) SSW of NUKU`ALOFA, Tonga
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting srada:
Harold Camping..MIA/em>
\

Somewhere in the woods drinking KoolAid with the guy from NY
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
So there was just a 6.1 earthquake in new Zealand, is this the beginning of the end?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
653. srada
Harold Camping..MIA
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sunlinepr:

Or maybe, we will have a new homeless in the NY area

LOL
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
651. PcolaDan
11:31 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting TampaTom:
Man, if this is what brimstone is supposed to be like, I'm totally disappointed...

Now, what am I gonna do with this case of Dom Perignon I bought on the credit card? Crap...


Spread the wealth, man, spread the wealth.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
650. aquak9
11:30 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
yeah, grothar. Like days. We were worried, but now we're just still mad.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25504
649. TampaTom
11:30 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Man, if this is what brimstone is supposed to be like, I'm totally disappointed...

Now, what am I gonna do with this case of Dom Perignon I bought on the credit card? Crap...
Member Since: June 20, 2005 Posts: 22 Comments: 1050
648. sunlinepr
11:30 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting emcf30:


Boy he is going to have to rob the donation trays for years to get that back

Or maybe, we will have a new homeless in the NY area
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9648
647. emcf30
11:28 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting sunlinepr:


But he doesn't has to worry. The church will return all that money back to him.... checkit out, that will be tomorow...


Boy he is going to have to rob the donation trays for years to get that back
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
646. Grothar
11:25 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting PcolaDan:


LOL true, hydrus had a problem with that. I'm always here (so it seems), just hiding in the background as usual (at least until some whimsical, witty or snide remark is deemed necessary). :)
And today been following the Eruptions blog.

p.s. At least I don't go MIA for days at a time like SOME people in here. ;>)



WEEEEEEELL! LOL
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 63 Comments: 23707
645. sunlinepr
11:25 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting emcf30:
This is a true sucker

New York Man Spends Life Savings Ahead of May 21 Doomsday

Updated: Thursday, 19 May 2011, 9:50 AM CDT
Published : Friday, 13 May 2011, 7:42 AM CDT

(The New York Post) - A New York man spent his entire $140,000 life savings advertising his prediction that the world will end May 21, the New York Post reported Friday.

Robert Fitzpatrick, a 60-year-old Staten Island resident, said he spent at least that sum on 1,000 subway-car placards and ads on bus kiosks and subway cars.

They say, "Global Earthquake: The Greatest Ever! Judgment Day May 21, 2011."

Link


But he doesn't has to worry. The church will return all that money back to him.... checkit out, that will be tomorow...
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9648
644. sunlinepr
11:22 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting JLPR2:


After seeing that picture I believe we should cut down a little on the lights. LOL

Well they are expecting to install super solution of all times for PR's energy problem.... "El super tubo Verde"...
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9648
643. emcf30
11:21 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
This is a true sucker

New York Man Spends Life Savings Ahead of May 21 Doomsday

Updated: Thursday, 19 May 2011, 9:50 AM CDT
Published : Friday, 13 May 2011, 7:42 AM CDT

(The New York Post) - A New York man spent his entire $140,000 life savings advertising his prediction that the world will end May 21, the New York Post reported Friday.

Robert Fitzpatrick, a 60-year-old Staten Island resident, said he spent at least that sum on 1,000 subway-car placards and ads on bus kiosks and subway cars.

They say, "Global Earthquake: The Greatest Ever! Judgment Day May 21, 2011."

Link
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
642. CyclonicVoyage
11:18 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting sunlinepr:


Moving up into the breeding grounds, bout that time...
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
641. JLPR2
11:16 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting sunlinepr:
After a break...Next rain episode for PR... On the way....





After seeing that picture I believe we should cut down a little on the lights. LOL
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8459
640. sunlinepr
11:16 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Definitely, It is Feeling Stronger Every Day...

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9648
639. HurricaneDean07
11:16 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
This new potential system that has been made by the hurricane models has Basic support from all of the models(GFS, NOGAPS, EMCWF, CMC)
Member Since: October 3, 2010 Posts: 40 Comments: 4129
638. sunlinepr
11:14 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting HurricaneDean07:
You know that this low that is sitting over you right now is going to be picked up by the next trough, and surprisingly some models believe that there will be a trough split which possibly could create Arlene in the open Sub Tropics of the Atlantic. Suppose to happen In about 3 to 5 days... I'll Be Waiting...

That's what they are showing although there is plenty of error. Yesterday they were showing some development through the Mona Channel, today they are showing development further West...
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9648
637. PcolaDan
11:12 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting Grothar:


What about hydrus? He posted red X's for the first 3 months he was on. LOL Still with us, huh Dan?


LOL true, hydrus had a problem with that. I'm always here (so it seems), just hiding in the background as usual (at least until some whimsical, witty or snide remark is deemed necessary). :)
And today been following the Eruptions blog.

p.s. At least I don't go MIA for days at a time like SOME people in here. ;>)
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
636. Gearsts
11:11 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1017
635. CyclonicVoyage
11:09 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
"MYTH BUSTED"

Moron. Sad that people actually fell for that. Lock em up, throw away the key.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
634. sunlinepr
11:09 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Severe Weather Alerts

Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Butler County in NE until 6:30pm CDT. #newx 3 minutes ago
Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Atchison County in MO until 6:30pm CDT. #mowx 4 minutes ago
Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Burnet and Llano County in TX until 6:45pm CDT. #txwx 7 minutes ago
Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Emmet County in IA until 6:45pm CDT. #iawx 8 minutes ago
Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Atchison County in KS until 6:30pm CDT. #kswx 10 minutes ago
Tornado Warning for Osborne and Smith County in KS until 6:30pm CDT. #kswx 12 minutes ago
Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Colfax, Platte, and Stanton County in NE until 6:45pm CDT. #newx 13 minutes ago
Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Brown and Nemaha County in KS until 6:45pm CDT. #kswx 14 minutes ago
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9648
633. Bitmap7
11:04 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
inhales deeply* Well well well...If it isn't 5 mins after six.
Member Since: May 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 429
632. midnite02
11:01 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Well, it's 6 here and my wife is still here. I,m going to be in in the dog house now.
Member Since: September 12, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 17
631. Grothar
10:58 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting PcolaDan:


Hey Gro! Nobody does purtier red X's better than aqua. :)


What about hydrus? He posted red X's for the first 3 months he was on. LOL Still with us, huh Dan?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 63 Comments: 23707
630. HurricaneDean07
10:52 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting sunlinepr:
After a break...Next rain episode for PR... On the way....



You know that this low that is sitting over you right now is going to be picked up by the next trough, and surprisingly some models believe that there will be a trough split which possibly could create Arlene in the open Sub Tropics of the Atlantic. Suppose to happen In about 3 to 5 days... I'll Be Waiting...
Member Since: October 3, 2010 Posts: 40 Comments: 4129
629. HurricaneDean07
10:48 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting sunlinepr:
Looks like Tropical Wave #3 has came off Africa...
Member Since: October 3, 2010 Posts: 40 Comments: 4129
628. seflagamma
10:46 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting beell:
not super, aqua...handy.

If the ladies don't find you handsome they should at least find you handy.
~ Red Green


beell, that is so right, a "handyman" is always nice to have around!
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 294 Comments: 40839
627. stormwatcherCI
10:46 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting Bitmap7:
The heavens have opened up and is letting down rivers of
living water as I type. Finally some rain after months of drought.
PLEASE send some to East End. I am begging.
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8242
626. PcolaDan
10:45 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Radar view of the ash cloud at first explosion.


View from the air.Link

Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
625. beell
10:43 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
not super, aqua...handy.

If the ladies don't find you handsome they should at least find you handy.
~ Red Green
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 137 Comments: 15303
624. seflagamma
10:38 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
I'm still at work also.. my freedom comes in about 20 minutes....

Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 294 Comments: 40839
623. aquak9
10:37 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
(rolls eyes, mutters under breathe)

Thank you, SuperBeell.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25504
622. PcolaDan
10:37 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting Grothar:


It's a very nice red X.


Hey Gro! Nobody does purtier red X's better than aqua. :)
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
621. AstroHurricane001
10:37 PM GMT on May 21, 2011


Rapture?

Jeremiah 23:16
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2834
620. pottery
10:35 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting beell:


If I right-click the lovely red x and copy the properties and paste it into the browser address bar it works just fine.

Magnitude 6.1 - KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND

Well, Kudos to Rev. Camping.
He got the area right.
Best earthquake forecast in all time!
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23080
619. aquak9
10:35 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
oh I see how it is. Everyone sees a red x on MY post. (and I can not modify the post, either)

But SuperBeell turns it into a linkable buffet.

StAug- I am stuck at work- that's kinda like being condemned...
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25504
617. cycleranger
10:31 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting PcolaDan:


It's a very interesting angle to look at such a common phenomenon. Almost feels like cheating in a way. Just like looking at hurricanes; a false sense of safety. Until it's right on your doorstep of course.

Looking forward to spending the coming Season with this community. Followed this community for some time & ready for the winds & waves of storm & blog both!

Have a good evening everyone!
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 116
616. sunlinepr
10:31 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
After a break...Next rain episode for PR... On the way....



Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9648
615. beell
10:28 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting aquak9:
I'm here too, Gams.

can someone plrase tell me if my post 595 worked? I'm at work and all I can see is a red x


If I right-click the lovely red x and copy the properties and paste it into the browser address bar it works just fine.

Magnitude 6.1 - KERMADEC ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 137 Comments: 15303
614. HarryMc
10:28 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting seflagamma:


Aqua, nope, you got the red x.


Hi everyone that has "checked in " so I guess we have to go back to work next week?

What nutjobs are out there in our world today!



Geeesh. Even worse than going to work Monday, we have to pay the bills too. Bummer.
Member Since: March 30, 2010 Posts: 4 Comments: 337
613. seflagamma
10:26 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting aquak9:
(hops in the roller-coaster seat next to Keeper)



Aqua, nope, you got the red x.


Hi everyone that has "checked in " so I guess we have to go back to work next week?

What nutjobs are out there in our world today!

Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 294 Comments: 40839
612. sunlinepr
10:25 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9648
611. atmoaggie
10:25 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting Chicklit:
Whoo hoo!!!

BATON ROUGE %u2014 The Coast Guard and state and federal environmental protection agencies are taking steps to prevent further pollution of the Atchafalaya Basin as already tainted Mississippi River water from other states rushes through the nation's largest river swamp.

Officials with the Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, the National Weather Service and the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness surveyed the Basin by air Friday from the Morganza Spillway to Morgan City looking for possible problem areas.

"I've never been in a response when we had a chance to get ahead of the disaster," said Jim Staves of EPA's Region VI office in Dallas.

EPA and the state DEQ have been collecting from houses and camps in the Basin containers of paint, bleach, pesticides, oil, antifreeze and other pollutants that would be spread by the floodwaters. Crews were in St. Martin Parish Friday collecting household wastes.[snip]

Even better than that other article's description of what they are doing to prevent nasty chemicals from getting into the flood waters.
(*grin* Told you they are trying to do the right thing with this. That environmentalist article seems to not have much real info...)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
610. StAugustineFL
10:21 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting aquak9:
I'm here too, Gams.

can someone plrase tell me if my post 595 worked? I'm at work and all I can see is a red x


Can't see it here Aqua. Then again, I'm condemned so you may want to ask someone else.
Member Since: March 8, 2011 Posts: 1 Comments: 728
609. Grothar
10:20 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Expected to be a Category 4 (Pacific)

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 63 Comments: 23707
608. HarryMc
10:19 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting seflagamma:
Hi Everyone,

Are all the folks still present and accounted for???
It is 6:10pm in my time zone and I'm still here!!!!!


Hope you are all having a great weekend, sure a lot of us could use a little rain...but rain will come soon.

Enjoy!
Gams


All accounted for here.
Member Since: March 30, 2010 Posts: 4 Comments: 337
607. Grothar
10:18 PM GMT on May 21, 2011
Quoting aquak9:
I'm here too, Gams.

can someone plrase tell me if my post 595 worked? I'm at work and all I can see is a red x


It's a very nice red X.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 63 Comments: 23707

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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.

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