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

Share this Blog
8
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 457 - 407

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26Blog Index

"Same time tomorrow..."
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
455. 2COOL
I want to know where I can get those little divers for coffee cup!!!?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Happy Judgment Day! I hope everyone is wearing clean underwear!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Bitmap7:


Cartoon of the day.

Good One!
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23990
451. Jax82
Quoting AussieStorm:

It's 10:45pm here, i still have my feet on solid ground, no quakes, no fire and brimstone, nothing at all.


I think rapture is on Eastern Standard Time. I'd still stay cautious.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 1261
450. Jax82
Quoting aquak9:
Well looky here. It's saturday, sun's a'shining, bird's a'twitting, all calm n peaceful...



sticky and muggy too.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 1261
feeew!!!**wipes sweat from brow***,thanks aussie!!!,i thought you were a gonner!!!guess i shouldnt have blew my life savings over the last week??
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Cartoon of the day.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AussieStorm:

It's 10:45pm here, i still have my feet on solid ground, no quakes, no fire and brimstone, nothing at all.


On the east coast US we still have 9 hours to go, so thanks for the heads up lol.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Well Aussie, I gotta admit, that's some good news. I really didn't wanna get raptured, captured or traptured. Like many of us, I think we just wanna go on living and eating and enjoying life as best we can, heathens or sheathens we be.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25725
Quoting pottery:

I does not happen until 6:00 pm your time, I understand.
It all has to do with the Time/Space continuum, you know.
6:00pm in New Zealand is past already, and they have Gone. But WE will not know that until 6:00 pm OUR time.
Hang in there.

It's 10:45pm here, i still have my feet on solid ground, no quakes, no fire and brimstone, nothing at all.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
59*F in Macon, Georgia this morning, Sun is shining, birds are singing, and my new patio deck looks wonderful in the back yard.
I must admit my Anti-virus software gave me quite a scare this morning:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Wait a minute...all the NewZealanders have already gone? How come they got to go first? They gonna get first dibs on decorating up there, too?
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25725
Quoting TampaTom:
How is RaptureWatch 2011 progressing? Have the earthquakes started? Fire and brimstone? Blondie sightings yet?

I does not happen until 6:00 pm your time, I understand.
It all has to do with the Time/Space continuum, you know.
6:00pm in New Zealand is past already, and they have Gone. But WE will not know that until 6:00 pm OUR time.
Hang in there.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23990
P451- I am enjoying my new jewels and furs, thanks for loaning me the card.

tampaTom- Nothing here. BUT I don't see Ike's daily QPF posting either, yet. AND- worrisome as it is- my outdoor, solid white has lost her collar. Maybe the little angel is rapturable, after all.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25725
How is RaptureWatch 2011 progressing? Have the earthquakes started? Fire and brimstone? Blondie sightings yet?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good Morning.
A lovely one here, with everything looking quite Normal.
Anyone heard from Mr. Campings?
This entire Busted Episode just proves that there is not one single True Believer on the Planet.

Oh well...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23990
Well looky here. It's saturday, sun's a'shining, bird's a'twitting, all calm n peaceful...

Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25725
Good morning,I am alive!! It appears that PR will start to dry out slowly as the trough moves away,but still lingering moisture will cause scattered showers.

Look at how has been the rainfall totals in the past two days on this graphic.

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
432. JLPR2
Quoting Gearsts:
That will miss PR for most part.LOL


Didn't miss it, it dissipated, whew. :D
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JLPR2:
I don't care about the spin, it's going away, what worries me is that shield of rain moving in on the island, the arrows says I'm screwed.
Here comes more rain. :\
That will miss PR for most part.LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
430. JLPR2
I don't care about the spin, it's going away, what worries me is that shield of rain moving in on the island, the arrows says I'm screwed.
Here comes more rain. :\
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Quoting Gearsts:
Thats what i was saying in a post and hour ago.Theres some rotation north of PR, is been getting stronger since earlier today when it past over PR.
I believe this large fetch of moisture is what the global models have been latching onto for the last couple days with regards to the initiation of a baroclinic gale center in the central Atlantic in about 72 hours.

It appears that the cold front currently moving through the southern plains will ultimately cut off an upper level cold low offshore New England, which will then dive southward along the eastern periphery of the western Atlantic subtropical ridge.

When the two systems meet, it is entirely possible said upper low will manage to get itself stacked vertically underneath the developing surface low, creating a favorable environment for development characterized by light vertical shear and warm waters.

I'd put the prospects of a subtropical storm forming at less than 10%, but it is still something to watch, at any rate.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
428. JRRP

500mb vorticity
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Rapture isn't until 6pm at your specified local time guys, come on we are still 2 and a half until the huge earthquake in christchurch.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AussieStorm:


Click for loop.
??
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Gearsts:
Thats what i was saying in a post and hour ago.Theres some rotation north of PR, is been getting stronger since earlier today when it past over PR.


Click Image for loop.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
Thats what i was saying in a post and hour ago.Theres some rotation north of PR, is been getting stronger since earlier today when it past over PR.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
423. Relix
That north image could work as a strong tropical storm. it's even banding! And circulating! Better than some storms from before! Hah =P
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
422. JLPR2
Quoting Relix:
http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=JUA&pr oduc t=NCR&overlay=11101111&loop=yes

Link fix!


Noticed that but I was wondering if my eyesight was failing me. LOL XD
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
G'nite Everybody!
Happy Rapture. Whoa! I see I bright light...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Diving in soon.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
418. Relix
http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=JUA&product= NCR&overlay=11101111&loop=yes

This radar shows some superficial circulation north of PR. Interesting!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting HurricaneDean07:
Anybody here? uh oh, I'm the only one left!!!!!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I'm here.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
Just Kidding!!!! May fools 12:02 here, bum bum bum
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Anybody here? uh oh, I'm the only one left!!!!!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2 minutes for central time people. Rapture almost upon us...
*Jaws Music Plays*
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
13 minutes till "rapture" here, had a very severe tstorm, but it passed after 30 minutes. Aussie how in the heck is paris Hilton there? U won't be seeing Lindsay lohan there though. Lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
412. Skyepony (Mod)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
411. Skyepony (Mod)
Earthquakes been kinda slow for start of rapture..

Aussie~ something to help you shake the harps.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting aquak9:
Hi Aussie! you're still here? so am I....what does that mean.

I think we all oughtta eat like fat little piggies on monday.

I'm up here, so strange to see Paris Hilton up here though.
This harp music is giving me a headache.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
Hi Aussie! you're still here? so am I....what does that mean.

I think we all oughtta eat like fat little piggies on monday.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25725
Hey all, I just saw Paris Hilton, wth she doing up here, musta made a sizable donation.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932

Viewing: 457 - 407

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.