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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1005. emcf30
Quoting Neapolitan:

At least--though some of the cars and trees look like possible EF-5, no?


Very min EF4 from some of the steams I am seeing . St Johns Hospital area torn up bad.
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yes it is Mike Bettes.
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1003. Grothar
Quoting AllyBama:
Link

link to the TWC live streaming video from Joplin, MO


The images on that video are awful. Do you know if that is Mike Bettes from the Weather Channel. He just yelled at the crew for wantig to go to a commercial.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25442
Quoting Neapolitan:

At least--though some of the cars and trees look like possible EF-5, no?


Unfortunately that may be the case. A fairly populated area. Not good.
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Quoting WibWid:


Commas and other various punctuation marks are your friend. They are also necessary if one is to understand exactly what you're talking about.

Also, though here and hear may sound alike, they are actually two separate words. This is known as a homophone.

Thanks.
Welcome to the blog but you stepped in dog doo. Obviously not a "long time lurker" or a less desirable character. Give you the benefit of the doubt for now.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
Quoting StAugustineFL:


TWC on location in Joplin. Looks like the damage is at least EF4

At least--though some of the cars and trees look like possible EF-5, no?
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Quoting AllyBama:
Link

link to the TWC live streaming video from Joplin, MO


Thanks for the link, Ally. Couldn't find it.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25442
The MODIS satellite picture taken around 5 o'clock this morning (Iceland time) shows the plume; at sunrise the plume casts a dark shadow to the west:

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Massive damage in North Minneapolis. Damage path about 3 miles long and 300 Yards wide. Absolutely insane!!
Significant damage reported in Joplin MO - Hospital took a direct hit. Major structural damage reported.
At least 1 fatality, 22 injured
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Link

link to the TWC live streaming video from Joplin, MO
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BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHICAGO/ROMEOVILLE IL
637 PM CDT SUN MAY 22 2011

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CHICAGO HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
BOONE COUNTY...
NORTHWESTERN DE KALB COUNTY...
OGLE COUNTY...
WINNEBAGO COUNTY...

* UNTIL 715 PM CDT

* AT 634 PM...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE SQUALL LINE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING RAIN-WRAPPED
TORNADOES IN ADDITION TO WIDESPREAD STRAIGHT LINE WIND DAMAGE.
THESE DANGEROUS STORMS WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM
RIDOTT TO GERMAN VALLEY TO 5 MILES WEST OF BYRON TO MOUNT MORRIS...
AND MOVING EAST AT 60 MPH.

* THESE STORMS WILL BE NEAR...
WINNEBAGO...STILLMAN VALLEY AND ROCKFORD AIRPORT AROUND 645 PM.
ROCKFORD AROUND 650 PM.
ROCKTON...MACHESNEY PARK...LOVES PARK AND CHERRY VALLEY AROUND 655
PM.
ROSCOE...SOUTH BELOIT AND BELVIDERE AROUND 700 PM.
POPLAR GROVE AND KIRKLAND AROUND 705 PM.

OTHER LOCATIONS IMPACTED BY THESE TORNADIC THUNDERSTORMS INCLUDE NEW
MILLFORD AND DAVIS JUNCTION.

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Quoting Grothar:
Taz, we understand every word you say. Just keep keep posting


I love you Grother...hehehe
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Taz, we understand every word you say. Just keep keep posting
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25442
Quoting Ameister12:
I missed a lot when I was away. Large tornado outbreak and strong tropical storm in the Pacific.

Joplin, MO has been destroyed by a tornado. Damage looks similar to that of the Tuscaloosa tornado.


TWC on location in Joplin. Looks like the damage is at least EF4
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Here you go Taz
Reading, KS

A tornado swept through a small eastern Kansas town, killing one person and destroying at least 20 homes, as severe thunderstorms pelted the region with hail that some residents described as the size of baseballs, authorities said Sunday.

Kansas Division of Emergency Management spokeswoman Sharon Watson identified the victim as Don Chesmore, 53, of Reading. He was in a mobile home that flipped over Saturday night. He was taken to a hospital in Emporia, where he was pronounced dead.

Five others were injured but none of those injuries were considered life-threatening, Watson said. She did not have details on their injuries or know whether they all were hospitalized.

About 200 homes were damaged in and around the town of about 250 people,

Link
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The Weather Channel has Live Coverage in Joplin, MO right now. Just a horrible sight.
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Wow. songda.
Momma kicked my A in the garden today.
i am done.
dry as a bone here in fla and we aren't the only ones suffering from drought.
goodnight.
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Joplin local storm report........


05/22/2011 0602 PM

2 miles E of Joplin, Jasper County.

Tornado, reported by public.


Between mile marker 10 and 12. Trees stiped of bark. Over
20 semitrucks and cars flipped off I-44. All Interstate
signs gone and damage.





05/22/2011 0546 PM

2 miles se of Joplin, Jasper County.

Tornado, reported by public.


22nd and blackcat Rd neighbohood massive damage being
reported to houses and trees with people trapped in
debris.





05/22/2011 0546 PM

1 miles S of Joplin, Jasper County.

Tornado, reported by public.


Multivortex tornado reported near 13th and Rangeline Rd.
Reports of damage to numerous trees and houses.
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I missed a lot when I was away. Large tornado outbreak and strong tropical storm in the Pacific.

Joplin, MO has been destroyed by a tornado. Damage looks similar to that of the Tuscaloosa tornado.
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Quoting WibWid:


Commas and other various punctuation marks are your friend. They are also necessary if one is to understand exactly what you're talking about.

Also, though here and hear may sound alike, they are actually two separate words. This is known as a homophone.

Thanks.


Think you need to learn some things about people before you say something, especially on your first post.
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Quoting WibWid:


Commas and other various punctuation marks are your friend. They are also necessary if one is to understand exactly what you're talking about.

Also, though here and hear may sound alike, they are actually two separate words. This is known as a homophone.

Thanks.


leave Taz alone pls..tks!
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Significant damage in the Joplin, MO area.
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Is that a pinhole eye? Too small to even see?

;)

Quoting CybrTeddy:
Wow, Songda.
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yep stormpetrol by the way any rain up your end just cloudy up mine
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
susieq110 where is this buoy located


14.923 N 74.918 W (14°55'23" N 74°55'4" W

google Buoy 42058
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A rough evening in East Central Missouri



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Quoting susieq110:
Buoy 42058 1009.47mb Reports pressure falling rapidly

Glad that buoy is up and running again.
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susieq110 where is this buoy located
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So ya...the recent GFS 18z package just came up and seems to be pointing at our first named storm coming up Northwards beginning in the Caribbean, tracking over Cuba and racing through The Bahamas.
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I'm baaaaacccccckkkkk.

What a rough week.
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Quoting Ivanhater:
18z GFS continues development for the opening of the 2011 ATL hurricane season





If this does pan out, not only can we be seeing our first named storms...but S FL may be feeling some of the effects as well--according to the latter picture.
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Buoy 42058 1009.47mb Reports pressure falling rapidly
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18z GFS continues development for the opening of the 2011 ATL hurricane season



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hey all was up I am still saying that we may see development during mid-late week this week in the Westerm Caribbean the ULL is forecasted to move off W and weaken and the UL Ridge to take hold of most of the Caribbean within the next 48-72 hours and we got a lot of rain and moist air to work with
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The Caribbean is getting some moisture, and there's more over Mexico heading for the Gulf.

Link
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A massive system.
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Send that ULL over the Yucatan channel towards TX so it can screw up this cap and kick its a$$
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Anyone notice the large blob well off Mexico in EPAC? Anyone thinks this thing has a shot at development anytime in the future?
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Wow, Songda.
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Canadian ensembles show a lot of precip falling in the Caribbean during the first days of June.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26564
961. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical Astrological Service and Administration
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #1
TROPICAL STORM CHEDENG (SONGDA)
5:00 AM PhST May 23 2011
====================================

The Tropical Storm east of Northern Mindanao has entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility and was named "CHEDENG".

At 4:00 AM PhST, Tropical Storm Chedeng (SONGDA) located at 10.5°N 134.7°E or 880 kms east of Guiuan, Eastern Samar has 10 minute sustained winds of 50 knots with gusts up to 65 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving northeast at 6 knots.

Additional Information
======================
This weather disturbance is expected not to directly affect any part of the country within the next 24 hrs.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 11 AM today.
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Quoting kmanislander:


Too much shear in the central Caribbean for anything to organize right now. The diffluence that was plaguing PR has shifted to the West as the ULL retrogrades in that direction. You can see the ULL in
this water vapour loop now centered over the Yucatan channel and pulling a fetch of moisture up from the Pacific into the NW Caribbean.

Still no rain here though.


The clouds sames to be teasing us too, we need rain badly though, have a feeling we'll get some before long:), so hot and muggy too :(
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Video of ash
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I spy some rotation by Appleton, no warning yet through.
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Ash starting to fall in Reykjavik



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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.

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