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: 207 - 157

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

WTPN51 PGTW 201500
WARNING ATCP MIL 04W NWP 110520131125
2011052012 04W FOUR 002 01 280 06 SATL 060
T000 085N 1410E 035
T012 088N 1401E 045 R034 035 NE QD 030 SE QD 030 SW QD 035 NW QD
T024 091N 1389E 050 R050 020 NE QD 020 SE QD 020 SW QD 020 NW QD R034 065 NE QD 055 SE QD 060 SW QD 065 NW QD
T036 096N 1378E 055 R050 025 NE QD 025 SE QD 025 SW QD 025 NW QD R034 075 NE QD 070 SE QD 070 SW QD 080 NW QD
T048 102N 1369E 060 R050 030 NE QD 030 SE QD 030 SW QD 030 NW QD R034 090 NE QD 080 SE QD 080 SW QD 090 NW QD
T072 118N 1355E 075 R064 025 NE QD 025 SE QD 025 SW QD 025 NW QD R050 050 NE QD 045 SE QD 045 SW QD 050 NW QD R034 115 NE QD 105 SE QD 100 SW QD 110 NW QD
T096 130N 1338E 085
T120 141N 1315E 090
AMP
SUBJ: TROPICAL STORM 04W (FOUR) WARNING NR 002
1. TROPICAL STORM 04W (FOUR) WARNING NR 002
UPGRADED FROM TROPICAL DEPRESSION 04W
01 ACTIVE TROPICAL CYCLONE IN NORTHWESTPAC
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS BASED ON ONE-MINUTE AVERAGE
WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
---
WARNING POSITION:
201200Z --- NEAR 8.5N 141.0E
MOVEMENT PAST SIX HOURS - 280 DEGREES AT 06 KTS
POSITION ACCURATE TO WITHIN 060 NM
POSITION BASED ON CENTER LOCATED BY SATELLITE
PRESENT WIND DISTRIBUTION:
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS - 035 KT, GUSTS 045 KT
WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
REPEAT POSIT: 8.5N 141.0E
---
FORECASTS:
12 HRS, VALID AT:
210000Z --- 8.8N 140.1E
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS - 045 KT, GUSTS 055 KT
WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
RADIUS OF 034 KT WINDS - 035 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
030 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
030 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
035 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
VECTOR TO 24 HR POSIT: 285 DEG/ 06 KTS
---
24 HRS, VALID AT:
211200Z --- 9.1N 138.9E
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS - 050 KT, GUSTS 065 KT
WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
RADIUS OF 050 KT WINDS - 020 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
020 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
020 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
020 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
RADIUS OF 034 KT WINDS - 065 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
055 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
060 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
065 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
VECTOR TO 36 HR POSIT: 295 DEG/ 06 KTS
---
36 HRS, VALID AT:
220000Z --- 9.6N 137.8E
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS - 055 KT, GUSTS 070 KT
WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
RADIUS OF 050 KT WINDS - 025 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
025 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
025 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
025 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
RADIUS OF 034 KT WINDS - 075 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
070 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
070 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
080 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
VECTOR TO 48 HR POSIT: 305 DEG/ 05 KTS
---
EXTENDED OUTLOOK:
48 HRS, VALID AT:
221200Z --- 10.2N 136.9E
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS - 060 KT, GUSTS 075 KT
WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
RADIUS OF 050 KT WINDS - 030 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
030 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
030 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
030 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
RADIUS OF 034 KT WINDS - 090 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
080 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
080 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
090 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
VECTOR TO 72 HR POSIT: 320 DEG/ 05 KTS
---
72 HRS, VALID AT:
231200Z --- 11.8N 135.5E
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS - 075 KT, GUSTS 090 KT
WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
RADIUS OF 064 KT WINDS - 025 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
025 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
025 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
025 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
RADIUS OF 050 KT WINDS - 050 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
045 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
045 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
050 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
RADIUS OF 034 KT WINDS - 115 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
105 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
100 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
110 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
VECTOR TO 96 HR POSIT: 305 DEG/ 05 KTS
---
LONG RANGE OUTLOOK:
NOTE...ERRORS FOR TRACK HAVE AVERAGED NEAR 250 NM
ON DAY 4 AND 350 NM ON DAY 5... AND FOR INTENSITY
NEAR 20 KT EACH DAY.
---
96 HRS, VALID AT:
241200Z --- 13.0N 133.8E
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS - 085 KT, GUSTS 105 KT
WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
VECTOR TO 120 HR POSIT: 295 DEG/ 06 KTS
---
120 HRS, VALID AT:
251200Z --- 14.1N 131.5E
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS - 090 KT, GUSTS 110 KT
WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
---
REMARKS:
201500Z POSITION NEAR 8.6N 140.8E.
MAXIMUM SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT AT 201200Z IS 12 FEET.
AT 052012 TROPICAL STORM CENTER LOCATED 182 NM ESE OF YAP.
NEXT WARNINGS AT 202100Z, 210300Z, 210900Z AND 211500Z.
//
0411051706 71N1471E 15
0411051712 71N1465E 15
0411051718 72N1457E 15
0411051800 76N1448E 15
0411051806 78N1441E 15
0411051812 78N1436E 15
0411051818 79N1432E 15
0411051900 79N1429E 15
0411051906 79N1427E 15
0411051912 79N1425E 15
0411051918 80N1423E 15
0411052000 81N1421E 20
0411052006 84N1416E 30
0411052012 85N1410E 35
NNNN

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TexasGulf:
When the "rapture" does happen, it might not be 100% destruction. Instead, there might just be a partial collapse of humanity.

I'll be watching an Australian webcam tomorrow morning (6:00pm their time). Is there anything specific I can watch for that would indicate if Australia was completely destroyed vs. just partial destruction? I'm not sure I'd recognize a complete breakdown of Aussie society on camera... unless there is some clue that would make it obvious. Any input?


Look for 1970's recording star Blondie to take the stage and sing her blockbuster song Rapture from 1980. That should do it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting HurricaneDean07:

So NOAA has released their prediction. 12-18, 6-10, and 3-6.
So I guess I'll revise my predictions...
16 to 17 Named Storms, 9 to 10 Hurricanes, and 5 to 6 Major Hurricanes. On the high side, but for a reason.

using iPhone, sorry for misspelling( on the high side)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
When the "rapture" does happen, it might not be 100% destruction. Instead, there might just be a partial collapse of humanity.

I'll be watching an Australian webcam tomorrow morning (6:00pm their time). Is there anything specific I can watch for that would indicate if Australia was completely destroyed vs. just partial destruction? I'm not sure I'd recognize a complete breakdown of Aussie society on camera... unless there is some clue that would make it obvious. Any input?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
So NOAA has released their prediction. 12-18, 6-10, and 3-6.
So I guess I'll revise my predictions...
16 to 17 Named Storms, 9 to 10 Hurricanes, and 5 to 6 Major Hurricanes. On the huh side, but for a reason.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FtMyersgal:
#167 Eyes

Sort of like an episode of Twilight Zone? LOL


Yes, exactly....lol....loved that show :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NRAamy:
199. FtMyersgal 3:36 PM EDT on May 20, 2011
Welcome back NRAamy! You were missed


I don't know if I would be that generous....maybe by a few....


Well, by me :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
199. FtMyersgal 3:36 PM EDT on May 20, 2011
Welcome back NRAamy! You were missed


I don't know if I would be that generous....maybe by a few....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Welcome back NRAamy! You were missed
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NRAamy:
Hippo set out for parts unknown, and is replaced by a Hello Kitty Mini-Cooper


I need a scorecard to keep track of the players...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Rapture. Some believe, some not.
Many points of view. This is one of them...

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9882
Hippo set out for parts unknown, and is replaced by a Hello Kitty Smart Car
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
#167 Eyes

Sort of like an episode of Twilight Zone? LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
GFS shows the Caribbean very wet by the end of the month and into the first couple of days of June...I believe that is when development will be most likely.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Dazee69:

Just think of all the fun,wild times uve had ... we will need 2 find an excuse 2 do all that again

True!
But in 7000 years I'm going to feel a little jaded, you know?
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24927
Good to see that the flooding has passed, and is, in some cases in Louisiana, doing some good.

Also had the chance to meet Dr. Masters today. He's a very nice fellow (I also expect that he expects this post :P)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NRAamy:
Hi funky monkey.

:)
no hippo?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NRAamy:
Hi funky monkey.

:)


Hey, there...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pottery:

A little bit of semantics here, but...
How can the Sun 'advance' from 6:00pm?
Surely it will be in 'retreat' from Noon?

Dont tell me that the entire Event is hinged upon this?
In which case, someone got it all wrong, and we have to wait another 7000 years.
I really think that we need to Sue someone for the Dissapointment / Anxiety / Cost of Farewell Drinks and the like, if this does not come to pass.

Just think of all the fun,wild times uve had ... we will need 2 find an excuse 2 do all that again
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


By the way, pot. WU mail me on Sunday. I'll need somebody to talk to and I am sure you will still be around.

No probs.
In fact, my research has shown that the Entire Event will only happen in the Developed World.
It has to do with the square root of the length of the keel on Noah's boat and the size of the slippers that Moses was wearing at the time.
So down here in de turd Worl' everything will be fine.
In fact, we are all looking forward to a Respite from Neo-Colonial Domination. Whatever that means. But I understand we have a problem with that.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24927
Hi funky monkey.

:)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:
They now have it as a Tropical Storm. What is the name?




Name will be Songda.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I bet unemployment claims jump next week, lol.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


By the way, pot. WU mail me on Sunday. I'll need somebody to talk to and I am sure you will still be around.


Dude, I'll be up late watching the Blondie show the night before. It's gonna be a late night. I hear she's playing her 1970's mega-hit Rapture...

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pottery:

I had no idea it was that long ago...
Sort of assumed that Fla got hit "often", without stopping to think how big Florida actually is.
(Yeah, I know! But it's bigger that Trinidad LOLOL)


By the way, pot. WU mail me on Sunday. I'll need somebody to talk to and I am sure you will still be around.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Geez, nothing is sacred anymore.
LOL, throw in a "help yourself" and what else is there? Might as well get Raptured at that point!

=)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Also watching this interestinf thing near Hawai'i



Will it develop?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KeysieLife:

Grothar, we all know by 6pm you're past dinner and well into your nap...who you trying to kid?


Geez, nothing is sacred anymore.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


The Treasure of the Sierra Madre! You'll have to help yourself with the first thing. LOL


"help yourself" bahahahhaha rofl
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 2351
Quoting hcubed:


Can't remember if I am or not.

They say the memory is the second thing to go.


The Treasure of the Sierra Madre! You'll have to help yourself with the first thing. LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TampaTom:


Oh, Florida is big.. .the Tampa Bay area isn't quite as large.

I thought for sure the jig was up in 2004 with Charley...

Well, Good Luck with the misses this year again.
( I was going to mention a certain plastic bathroom decorative item. But I wont bother. I'm sure you have had one since 2004 anyway...)
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24927
Quoting CanesfanatUT:


After it pumps the ridge - that right turn ain't happenin'.


You're all on a roll today.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Being part-Italian myself, I can tell you that is considered a venial sin. Put it on early and cook for at least 8 hours. You should know better.


You're right... I don't want to take any chances on the big day...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pottery:

I had no idea it was that long ago...
Sort of assumed that Fla got hit "often", without stopping to think how big Florida actually is.
(Yeah, I know! But it's bigger that Trinidad LOLOL)


Oh, Florida is big.. .the Tampa Bay area isn't quite as large.

I thought for sure the jig was up in 2004 with Charley...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TampaTom:


Ya know, I was planning on making a pot of Grandma's Sunday gravy for a big Italian meal, but the recipe calls for several hours of simmering to bring out the delicious flavors.

Should I take a chance on offending my long-passed grandmother by using jarred sauce to speed up getting dinner on the table?

Decisions... Decisions


Being part-Italian myself, I can tell you that is considered a venial sin. Put it on early and cook for at least 8 hours. You should know better.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TampaTom:


1921, my good man. October 25, to be exact.

That's the big theme this year - the 90th anniversary.

Factiod - Pinellas County had 12,000 residents in 1921... now it has 905,000.

Ya think that could be a problem if a hurricane comes?

I had no idea it was that long ago...
Sort of assumed that Fla got hit "often", without stopping to think how big Florida actually is.
(Yeah, I know! But it's bigger that Trinidad LOLOL)
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24927

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Why do these things always happen at dinner time?

Grothar, we all know by 6pm you're past dinner and well into your nap...who you trying to kid?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:
If there is any truth to this Rapture thing, any chance it will hit South Florida?


After it pumps the ridge - that right turn ain't happenin'.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FtMyersgal:
Guys, has anyone else noticed that even with multiple comments made today your total comments numbers are changing?

Ops meant to say comment numbers are not changing


Hmmm, just did a quick check, the comment counter must be on the blink....yesterday, also.....OR are we all already GONE and in a suspended time warp before the event scheduled for tomorrow...:P
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
They now have it as a Tropical Storm. What is the name?


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Hey big T. This aside, it looks like we may be in for an interesting season. When is the last time Tampa got hit (with a hurricane, that is)


1921, my good man. October 25, to be exact.

That's the big theme this year - the 90th anniversary.

Factiod - Pinellas County had 12,000 residents in 1921... now it has 905,000.

Ya think that could be a problem if a hurricane comes?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:
If there is any truth to this Rapture thing, any chance it will hit South Florida?


Florida is supposed to be earthquake proof so maybe not. We'll be left to deal with the sun and water.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9882
Quoting Grothar:


I hope you're kidding.


Can't remember if I am or not.

They say the memory is the second thing to go.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Why do these things always happen at dinner time?


Ya know, I was planning on making a pot of Grandma's Sunday gravy for a big Italian meal, but the recipe calls for several hours of simmering to bring out the delicious flavors.

Should I take a chance on offending my long-passed grandmother by using jarred sauce to speed up getting dinner on the table?

Decisions... Decisions
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TampaTom:


Joe B. has it as a category 5 headed right for New York City now...

JFV has raised his shower curtain in a vain attempt to block the full effect of the rapture.


Hey big T. This aside, it looks like we may be in for an interesting season. When is the last time Tampa got hit (with a hurricane, that is)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Youv'e got to be old to remember that! LOL


Dammit that means I am old.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hcubed:


Remember what?


I hope you're kidding.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 207 - 157

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.

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Lake Effort Snow Shower Over Windsor, Ontario
Sunset on Dunham Lake
Pictured Rocks Sunset
Sunset on Lake Huron