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: 307 - 257

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



Oh, Rapture! Pranks are in the works
By Alan Boyle
If you see scenes like this in your neighborhood, DON'T PANIC! Cast-off clothes are not a sign that the elect have been taken up in Saturday's scheduled Rapture. It's more likely to be a prank suggested by Jonathan Elliot, a self-described "architect of the liberal conspiracy" from New Zealand. Other pranksters have suggested filling blow-up dolls with helium and sending them heavenward ... or calling your boss at 5:58 p.m. local time and leaving a message about how much you love your job, then ending the call in midsentence. If you do such things, let folks know by sending Twitter updates with the #raptureprank or #rapturebomb hashtag. We'll see who has the last laugh this weekend.
http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/05/20/6 685223-oh-rapture-pranks-are-in-the-works

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
>
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
tomorrow the world end
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting twincomanche:


Or thinking the world is going to end tamale.

You mean, it's NOT ??
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Looks like NE Texas is getting some rain at last?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:



...and this...is your brain on drugs...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
296. Skyepony (Mod)
Navy classified 98W a depression earlier today. It's weakened since.

DATE/TIME LAT LON CLASSIFICATION STORM
20/2101 UTC 9.2N 139.0E T1.5/2.0 04W
20/1432 UTC 8.7N 139.3E T2.0/2.0 04W
20/0832 UTC 8.7N 140.7E T2.0/2.0 04W
20/0232 UTC 8.9N 140.7E T1.5/1.5 98W
19/2101 UTC 9.7N 140.7E T1.5/1.5 98W
19/1432 UTC 8.7N 142.2E T1.0/1.0 98W
19/0832 UTC 9.1N 141.6E TOO WEAK 98W
19/0232 UTC 8.5N 142.2E T1.0/1.0 98W
18/2101 UTC 8.5N 143.1E T1.0/1.0 98W
18/1501 UTC 7.7N 142.7E T1.0/1.0 98W
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
295. Skyepony (Mod)
Overall the Climate Change news is worse doom than usual..

One thing I hadn't realized is that town that burnt down in Canada the other day is pretty close to the oil sands excavation area. There's speculation about changing the scape of such a huge area affecting the weather in the area around.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
TS 04W still struggling more than the JTWC seems to think.



Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
293. Skyepony (Mod)
Mississippi Flooding Is Part of 'Global Weirding'

SustainableBusiness.com News

Extreme weather events, such as the heavy rains that recently flooded the Mississippi River and the tornadoes that ripped through an unprecendented 300 mile swath in Alabama, are extremely likely to occur more frequently in the future.

This is prompting local governments to prepare for the impact of climate change, according to scientists and adaptation experts participating in a telephone press conference held yesterday by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

"Climate change is about more than warming. What we're really seeing is global ‘weirding,'" said climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, associate professor at Texas Tech University. "It is altering the character and conditions of the places we know and love. For many places around the world, what we are likely to see could be feast or famine - more frequency of weather at the extremes, from intense storms to prolonged droughts.

"We can't attribute any one event to climate change," she added, "but we do know that every event that happens is already superimposed on very different background conditions than we had 50 years ago."

States, municipalities and businesses - especially the insurance industry - are keenly aware of the trend toward more frequent extreme weather events.

In a recent interview with Wall Street analysts, Allstate CEO Thomas Wilson said: "There is a lot more severe weather. We are running our homeowners business as if this is a permanent change as opposed to an anomaly." more here
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Next name on the list is Songda
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting presslord:

About 3 hours and 28 mins for me, apparently.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sunlinepr:
Something I can tell you, that will be a reality this Saturday;
Something you can be sure after tomorow,
one week from now.
One month from now..... :

You will need these coupons, in order to move around....

In order to go and get food for your family....

Most of us will need these coupons....


Kind of like during WWII, when everyone chipped in to beat Hitler...the Soviets did most of the work, though, and were outproducing us in aircraft, tanks and other weapons by the fall of the Third Reich. The Pacific war was more of a sideshow, an anticlimax...Japan never had a chance to beat us...even before we developed the Bomb.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Looks wet in PR. You guys stay dry and try to push it our way.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26529
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Hopefully this potential major typhoon misses land and doesn't cause any earthquakes.

Strange how during much of the winter, the Mississippi River flow rate was much below normal and in fact near-record lows, while now just recently it set a new all-time record high. Simply proves that floods and droughts are rapidly following one another around the world given the ENSO oscillations intensifying them, and often in the same places.
uh oh, looks like we got a potential Cat.3
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting alfabob (277):

High pressure trying to build in the Atlantic while more high pressure in the Arctic is forcing cool air towards north America. Then there is the sub-tropical jet stream coming from south America, which is also aiding in the block. The cyclones are boxed in and don't have anywhere to go; and with the possibility of the one off of the East coast intensifying, these may become strong, slow moving extra-tropical systems (possibly going sub-tropical from the SST anomalies around 30-40N).


Thanks for that detailed reply! The polar shot was also super. Sounds like maybe all these blocked patterns aren't so odd as they seem.

Much appreciated....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


TSR made a WPAC forecast a few days ago.

Link

Thanks. Looks like they're calling for an average year.

Although I'm curious how this forecast will turn out, last year they were calling for a slightly below average year and it ended up being near record low activity.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TomTaylor:
Does anybody know if there are any seasonal forecasts for the West Pacific?


You can check this webpage however the only one posted for this year so far is the ECMWF and it is password protected. Others from IRI and City University of Hong Kong should show up later. You may want to try and find IRI and CUHK websites, they may have already done a forecast, WMO is slow to update their webpages.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TomTaylor:
Does anybody know if there are any seasonal forecasts for the West Pacific?


TSR made a WPAC forecast a few days ago.

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Does anybody know if there are any seasonal forecasts for the West Pacific?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
Miss. River closed at Baton Rouge


Coast Guard Petty Officer Bill Colclough (COLE-clock) says no injuries or pollution were reported after the barges broke loose from the tug Crimson Jim about 2 p.m.

The bridge was reopened about 2:30 p.m.


Better get em up out of the water though or going to have a bunch of tipsy fish. That's a heck of a bunch of mash. Bet some of the boys back on the bayou could put it to good use while they wait for the river to go down enough to go back to crawfishing.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
Link More rain coming!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NJ2S:


Whats up with all the rain in and around Puerto Rico...i will be there for two weeks starting next Wednesday can i expect a total wash out??


It is supposed to get very wet in the Caribbean by the end of May and early June, so, its likely.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
New Orleans

Named Storm: 76.1%
Hurricane: 50.5%
Intense hurricane: 27.2%

Houston

Named Storm: 62.9%
Hurricane: 44.7%
Intense hurricane: 20.9%



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
273. NJ2S
Quoting JRRP:


Whats up with all the rain in and around Puerto Rico...i will be there for two weeks starting next Wednesday can i expect a total wash out??
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Pretty cool...Go here.

Click on the link that reads "Interactive Landfall Probability Display"

Do what it asks....this is what I got:

Prob. of 1 or more named storms making landfall in your region: 60.6%

Prob. of i or more hurricanes making landfall in your region: 45.4%

Prob. of 1 or more intense hurricanes making landfall in your region: 15.5%

I live in SE NC, a place expected to get hit this season, so it makes sense. This is based off the climatological average of land falling systems during the past 100-200 years.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Rain all day long in Puerto Rico, and plenty of more is on the way for the island.
Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
May 20, 2011
Miss. River closed at Baton Rouge
Coast Guard closes Mississippi River for five miles after four grain barges broke loose from 20-barge tow




(AP)

BATON ROUGE, La. - The Coast Guard closed the Mississippi River for five miles at Baton Rouge after four grain barges broke loose from a 20-barge tow and three of them sank near the U.S. 190 bridge. The bridge was closed briefly for inspection.

Senior Chief Michael Berry says the fourth barge was taking on water but was corralled at the bank.



He did not know whether high water contributed to the accident Friday. He says the river was closed for the investigation. He did not know when it might reopen.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Bill Colclough (COLE-clock) says no injuries or pollution were reported after the barges broke loose from the tug Crimson Jim about 2 p.m.

The bridge was reopened about 2:30 p.m.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting alfabob:
This area has been looking like it wants to form a TD for a couple of days now; finally almost has a complete anti-cyclone around the central area (near 100W,10N). Needs to start wrapping the winds around a little more though before it has a chance.



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
264. Skyepony (Mod)
Some grain barges broke loose near Baton Rouge closing the MS shipping traffic.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I was watching TWC last night and noticed how pretty much all the really big highs and lows, from the Eastern Pacific to the Central Atlantic, were almost spinning in place. Granted, at the moment we've got one low and front slowly working across the U.S., but it seems everything's moving at a snail's pace, if at all.

This is abnormally slow, isn't it? I've seen plenty of blocking highs set up and just shove one low-pressure system after another over and off the top of it, but this seemed rather more unusual.

Then I look at the satellite shots over the Caribbean, and the wind shear shoving all that moisture north-northeastward.

Any comments?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
Have you done an error squared analysis? That might help.


Least means regression might help too! Those forecasts this time of year are rather tricky you know.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
RE: Rapture.

I think it is May 21st already in areas east of the US. Any word? Was just wondering since I pay many of my month end bills at this time. Don't want to make a costly mistake. Anyone hear anything at all? A email from loved one abroad perhapes? If you have info, please keep this board updated. Thanks and good luck.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Hopefully this potential major typhoon misses land and doesn't cause any earthquakes.

Strange how during much of the winter, the Mississippi River flow rate was much below normal and in fact near-record lows, while now just recently it set a new all-time record high. Simply proves that floods and droughts are rapidly following one another around the world given the ENSO oscillations intensifying them, and often in the same places.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting jrweatherman:
Help me!


Sorry, looks like you've been helped enough...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Help me!


Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 307 - 257

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.