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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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.

"This is the first time I've known of cleanup being done before a disaster," Staves said. "It's much easier" than having to try to clean it up afterward, which presents dangers for people returning to their homes, wildlife and to disaster responders.

The goal of the flight in the C-144 aircraft, said Coast Guard LCDR Kelly Dietrich, was "to get an idea of where the water is in relation to facilities" that could cause pollution if flooded. "We want to assure that we're on top of and ahead of any problems."

Coast Guard, EPA search for pollution
Link


Hooray! Notice they said the 'already polluted' waters. At least it won't get worse, at least not without us putting up a fight.
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SST's are really warming rapidly
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Quoting PcolaDan:
Have my Bembel and proper glasses but, alas, no Apfelwein. :( Hopefully next summer. And brats, and schnitzel, and German beer and knudel, and......... :)


Very welcome, Dan! And I'll be here because - obviously, just left behind. 6.02pm. Bells are ringing from nearby church.
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
Yep, I'm with you there. How come when they ask you to send money to God it's always their address. Now I understand that the Great Spirit is every where, so I wouldn't expect all the same addresses when it comes to the work to be done but no one seems to give an address outside their home area code?
god gets his chance to take the money after collection they all go out back of the church they take all the money and toss it into the air whatever god wants he takes whatever falls to the ground they get

i have been reading stories of this
one that stands out the most is the 60 year old staten island man that spent his entire life savings of 140,000 on subway ads in new york city sad how these people have been lead astray very sad

and the only thing thats been fulfilled is the taking of people to the cleaners
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Quoting Barkeep1967:
"you can present them overwhelmingly convincing evidence from thousands of peer reviewed scientists that the globe is rapidly warming-"



Really ? Please enlighten me with this overwhelming evidence.

Yes it is warm but your screaming about how rapid and world ending it is makes you and your kind no better then the doomsayers crying about today.
Hey, if u genuinely want to be enlightened, there are hundreds of websites, blogs, peer-review journals, etc where you can get information.

If u are just baiting the poster, please stop. We'd like the blog to remain AGW-Bickering free during the 2011 season.
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Quoting barbamz:


Oh yeah, Dan, our lovely sour "apple wine". Should have a last glass of it right now, because only 10 min left til rapture time in Germany ... See you (maybe)
Have my Bembel and proper glasses but, alas, no Apfelwein. :( Hopefully next summer. And brats, and schnitzel, and German beer and knudel, and......... :)
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Quoting PcolaDan:


Prost



Oh yeah, Dan, our lovely sour "apple wine". Should have a last glass of it right now, because only 10 min left til rapture time in Germany ... See you (maybe)
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BTW, we had the most WONDERFUL rain on Thursday morning... at least it was wonderful until I had to go drive in it... lol

Today there is no sign that rain fell here any time in the last 3 months.... except that the grass is greener....

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Quoting Ivanhater:
06z GFS



Thanks for posting the pic; I couldn't figure out how to get that one up lol. Lets see how good the GFS does with long range this year. It was pretty good last year.
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Morning all. [Afternoon to u, Aussie. lol]

Quoting AussieStorm:
Diving in soon.
I would have been happier with this picture if they had been diving into a cup of China Black.... lol

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06z GFS

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"you can present them overwhelmingly convincing evidence from thousands of peer reviewed scientists that the globe is rapidly warming-"



Really ? Please enlighten me with this overwhelming evidence.

Yes it is warm but your screaming about how rapid and world ending it is makes you and your kind no better then the doomsayers crying about today.
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Quoting barbamz:
Of course, I'm already in stand-by-modus! But for now we're desparately waiting for rain in our region at Rhine River. Maybe tomorrow severe thunderstorms, but this is the day of our big open air festival in the marketplace.


Prost

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479 BtnTx "I wonder when the Rapture would occur for those in the International Space Station?"

Floating into the heavens is pretty much a continuous state...
...and always has been, what with zero-gee and all.
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Quoting BtnTx:
I wonder when the rapture would occur for those in the International Space Station? What time zone are they in?


Really good question... I just looked it up and they officially use UTC. I had never even thought of what time is it on the space station.
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478 clwstmchasr "A little while ago one of my kids broke a glass. I jumped out of my skin for about 2 seconds."

Oh sure, blame the kid when it's obvious the glass began rising in Rapture...
...was Judged, then took the Fall.
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479. BtnTx
I wonder when the rapture would occur for those in the International Space Station? What time zone are they in?
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451 Jax82 "I think rapture is on Eastern Standard Time. I'd still stay cautious."

PacificStandardTime, Camping is based in Oakland. Which makes sense:
Japan is the Land of the Rising Sun... so California is the Land of the Setting Sun.

468 melwerle "It's supposed to be 6pm in all the various time zones..."

'd be a pretty stupid way to run a Judgement ifn folks were allowed to suddenly become Believers, become Saved after nearly 24hours of witnessing Rapture.
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Those of you hoping for some early action GFS is forming a big low starting next week monday north of the panama isthmus,east of the Yucatan, same spot as Paloma (not this monday but the other). We will see how that goes.
Link
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Quoting barbamz:


Watch us (and our mischief with the thunderstorms?) here tomorrow. Stages are already built up...
webcam Mainz marketplace with cathedral


I understand Germany has had its warmest April in over 200 years and that the wheat crop is devasted. I did not realize how bad the drought was until I was there a few weeks ago.


Link
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Tried to go to Family Radio's website to see if they had posted any comment on the fact that there has been no rapture started in the different time zones as of yet. "Server could not be found" - perhaps it should have said "Camping could not be found"
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 1837
Quoting pottery:
So what about the Rev. Camping?
Does he get charged for Fraud, Mischief, and the like?
I heard that there were people who actually sold stuff, gave it away, and are now sitting around confounded by the fact that they are still to be Taken Up.

I dont see the difference between that and what Bernie Maddoff did, frankly.

I couldn't agree with you more!!! "Like" x1000
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 1837
Quoting Jax82:


I think rapture is on Eastern Standard Time. I'd still stay cautious.


It's supposed to be 6pm in all the various time zones...
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 1837
Quoting barbamz:


Watch us (and our mischief with the thunderstorms?) here tomorrow. Stages are already built up...
webcam Mainz marketplace with cathedral


Ah, brings back some memories. I shall be watching.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

It's 10:45pm here, i still have my feet on solid ground, no quakes, no fire and brimstone, nothing at all.
Yea you're there but what about everyone else? From what I understand about The Great Downunder there ain't going to be so many folks missing as to cause a lot of notice.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
Quoting Grothar:


Perfect timing! LOL We are still in a very bad drought. No rain at all for months. Very unusual.


Watch us (and our mischief with the thunderstorms?) here tomorrow. Stages are already built up...
webcam Mainz marketplace with cathedral
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
Yep, I'm with you there. How come when they ask you to send money to God it's always their address. Now I understand that the Great Spirit is every where, so I wouldn't expect all the same addresses when it comes to the work to be done but no one seems to give an address outside their home area code?

Good point.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24019
Quoting pottery:
So what about the Rev. Camping?
Does he get charged for Fraud, Mischief, and the like?
I heard that there were people who actually sold stuff, gave it away, and are now sitting around confounded by the fact that they are still to be Taken Up.

I dont see the difference between that and what Bernie Maddoff did, frankly.
Yep, I'm with you there. How come when they ask you to send money to God it's always their address. Now I understand that the Great Spirit is every where, so I wouldn't expect all the same addresses when it comes to the work to be done but no one seems to give an address outside their home area code?
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
Quoting barbamz:
Of course, I'm already in stand-by-modus! But for now we're desparately waiting for rain in our region at Rhine River. Maybe tomorrow severe thunderstorms, but this is the day of our big open air festival in the marketplace.


Perfect timing! LOL We are still in a very bad drought. No rain at all for months. Very unusual.
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Of course, I'm already in stand-by-modus! But for now we're desparately waiting for rain in our region at Rhine River. Maybe tomorrow severe thunderstorms, but this is the day of our big open air festival in the marketplace.
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Quoting barbamz:


Hi Grothar! That fits. Should be the No 1 post in every new WU-Blog, lol.


Afternoon barb! Glad to see you back. Did you see the latest predictions for our hurricane season? It appears to be a very busy season.
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So what about the Rev. Camping?
Does he get charged for Fraud, Mischief, and the like?
I heard that there were people who actually sold stuff, gave it away, and are now sitting around confounded by the fact that they are still to be Taken Up.

I dont see the difference between that and what Bernie Maddoff did, frankly.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24019
Quoting Grothar:
I'm so happy you are all here, I thought I would post this video for you all.







Hi Grothar! That fits. Should be the No 1 post in every new WU-Blog, lol.
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"Same time tomorrow..."
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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.