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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Good Morning Everybody :)




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856. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #17
SEVERE TROPICAL STORM SONGDA (T1102)
21:00 PM JST May 22 2011
==================================

SUBJECT: Category Two Typhoon In Sea East Of Philippines

At 12:00 PM UTC, Severe Tropical Storm Songda (985 hPa) located at 10.2N 135.9E has 10 minute sustained winds of 50 knots with gusts of 70 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving northwest at 8 knots.

Gale Force Winds
===============
110 NM from the center

Dvorak Intensity: T3.0

Forecast And Intensity
=======================
24 HRS: 11.2N 133.7E - 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
48 HRS: 12.2N 131.7E - 75 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon)
72 HRS: 13.5N 129.4E - 85 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon)
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855. beell
Moderate risk
Click for full Outlook
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ATTENTION ALL JUDGEMENT and DOOMSDAY BELIEVERS:
Due to technical difficulties,The scheduled END OF WORLD event has been postponed. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. If you have already quit your job, given away your life savings or liquidated all of your assets, Oopps, Our bad! We will attempt another doomsday event in December, 2012. Please stay tuned. Oh, Have a nice day!
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
Quoting Jax82:
i'm still here, but my neighbor disappeared.

Is that a good thing?
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
I'll understand data better when I can has another coffees.

Thank you all for helping me with that.

ok, since I got some smart goodlooking men on here, I have another question. Post 819 says they've upgraded the ECMWF. Now, when they do an upgrade, do they ever go back and plug in old data from previous TS/hurricanes to see if the outcomes are more accurate?

No upgrade is good if it doesn't have accuracy, precision, and reproducibility. Well of course it's gonna be reproducible, it's math. I wanna know if the upgrade(s) they do on models every year have increased accuracy and precision.

Really I'd like to see the coefficiant of variation for these new vs old models, but that'd be like looking for a needle in a haystack for this gnat-brain.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25725
Data is actually the plural form of datum...but nobody uses it...people just combine data with is or are to form the plural. Both are generally accepted.
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Quoting aquak9:
WHEN MORE DATA ARE AVAILABLE

Is "data" singular or plural? Always thought it was to be used as a singular noun (the data IS flawed) - maybe it is like the word "moose" and can exist as either singular or plural. Just some post-rapture grammatical musings.

Good morning, good-afternoon/evening/teatime? to Aussie- sunshine here is tinted orange/brown from the fire by the Fla/Ga line.


Data is a strange word: it's plural, and uses plural modifiers like "many" and "these", but doesn't use numbers (you don't say, "I read three data"). But it's also a mass noun, so it uses plural modifiers like "this" and "little".

There. Confused? ;-)

Those satellite images of the eruption posted by AussieStorm in 841 are fascinating, I think.
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849. Jax82
i'm still here, but my neighbor disappeared.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 1261
Quoting aquak9:
WHEN MORE DATA ARE AVAILABLE

Is "data" singular or plural? Always thought it was to be used as a singular noun (the data IS flawed) - maybe it is like the word "moose" and can exist as either singular or plural. Just some post-rapture grammatical musings.

Good morning, good-afternoon/evening/teatime? to Aussie- sunshine here is tinted orange/brown from the fire by the Fla/Ga line.


"Data" is both s. and p. I believe.
We talk of 'all the different data' (plural), and 'this piece of data' (singular).
It's like Pancakes on Sunday.
You can have one, or the others.

Good Morning...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 23990
I'm curious to see the wind speeds in this beast WHEN MORE DATA ARE AVAILABLE.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

I like that second pic. Gives an idea of how skinny the atmosphere is.
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WHEN MORE DATA ARE AVAILABLE

Is "data" singular or plural? Always thought it was to be used as a singular noun (the data IS flawed) - maybe it is like the word "moose" and can exist as either singular or plural. Just some post-rapture grammatical musings.

Good morning, good-afternoon/evening/teatime? to Aussie- sunshine here is tinted orange/brown from the fire by the Fla/Ga line.

Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25725
Super Storm on Saturn.


Link

As it rapidly expanded, the storm's core developed into a giant, powerful thunderstorm, producing a 3,000-mile-wide (5,000-kilometer-wide) dark vortex possibly similar to Jupiter's Great Red Spot.


The violence of the storm -- the strongest disturbances ever detected in Saturn's stratosphere -- took researchers by surprise. What started as an ordinary disturbance deep in Saturn's atmosphere punched through the planet's serene cloud cover to roil the high layer known as the stratosphere.
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I am still here...thank you Lord! It is a beautiful day to watch my son play baseball.
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T-wave #2.
THE 71W/72W TROPICAL WAVE FROM THE 22/0000 UTC ANALYSIS
WAS NOT INCLUDED IN THE 22/0600 UTC ANALYSIS. WE WILL REPORT
ABOUT THIS WAVE AGAIN IF AND WHEN MORE DATA ARE AVAILABLE
IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO LOCATE IT.
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Quoting Cotillion:
CIMSS have a couple of closer up satellite shots of the Grimsvotn eruption. As I mused yesterday, it has been repeated by volcanologists as the strongest eruption of this particular volcano for over a 100 years. Seems it's now beginning to calm down slowly.

Link




Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
CIMSS have a couple of closer up satellite shots of the Grimsvotn eruption. As I mused yesterday, it has been repeated by volcanologists as the strongest eruption of this particular volcano for over a 100 years. Seems it's now beginning to calm down slowly.

Link
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
New eruption in Iceland.



Beginning as a subglacial eruption, she quickly broke through the ice cover. At 21 pm the eruption plume reached 20,000 feet, before drifting by winds towards E-NE.

No impact is expected for aviation, at least for the first 24 h. According to standard procedure, a no-fly zone was established within a radius of 220 km. around the volcano.

An overview with limited visibility and location of eruptive earthquakes suggest a site located in the SW. the caldera, where ice cover is 50 to 200 meters.

Jökulhlaup (glacial meltdown) is expected in the coming hours, probably by a subglacial channel with output at Skeiðarárjökull.


The last eruption of Grímsvötn of November 2004.

A GPS station showed continued inflation of the volcano, a few cm. per year since the last eruption, volcanologists interpreting this as an inflow of magma in a shallow magma chamber. Other warning signs were increased seismicity in recent months, with a few puffs of tremor, and increased geothermal activity.



Sources:

- Iceland Met Office

- Iceland Review

- Institute of Earth Sciences

Powerful volcano erupts in Iceland

A volcano has begun erupting under Iceland's biggest glacier, but geologists do not think it will cause the same disruption to air traffic as one that exploded in a different area last year.

The Grimsvotn volcano, under the Vatnajokull glacier in south-east Iceland, has thrown a plume of white smoke about 15 kilometres into the air.

Matthew Roberts from Iceland's meteorological office says the eruption is expected to be small and should not cause a disruption of air traffic routes.

"The eruption very quickly melted through several tens of metres of ice and sent at least a large volume of course-grained ash into the atmosphere," he said.

"This plume has risen to a height of approximately 15 kilometres above sea level and it's now drifting slowly to the south-east of the eruption site.

"We expect that this eruption will pose some localised hazard to air traffic in Iceland but we expect that at the moment it shouldn't have any far-reaching effects."

Grimsvotn, one of Iceland's most active volcanoes, last exploded in 2004.

A team of scientists has flown out to the area to gather more information

Last year, ash clouds from another Icelandic volcano led to the closure of a huge swathe of air space across Europe and chaos at airports around the world.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
Quoting alfabob:

Ah well basically I developed a unified field theory (or theory of everything, its a physics thing) and to prove that I have the correct theory without publishing it, I'm writing a thesis on corrections to modern relativity (stuff that Einstein was working on). Still have 3-6 months left though until I'll have something that I can publish.. hopefully
wow that's impressive.

Good luck
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Quoting DDR:
There should be a tropical wave @ 50w,might get added tomorrow.


Yeah it seems the Atlantic is priming itself just fine... Hopefully, now that we've had 2 invests prior to May, the basin isn't setting up for a barn-burning year.

I believe it was TampaSpin, who; early last year (right about this time) was posting a chart (forgive me, I don't remember the exact chart), that showed that last year would indeed be busy (again, the reason and rhyme I remember not), but showed the following season would be all the worse.

Tampa, please forgive me if I've identified the wrong W.U. blogger, but I'm pretty convinced it was you...
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835. DDR
There should be a tropical wave @ 50w,might get added tomorrow.
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834. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #15
TROPICAL STORM SONGDA (T1102)
15:00 PM JST May 22 2011
==================================

SUBJECT: Category One Typhoon Near Caroline Island

At 6:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Songda (994 hPa) located at 9.5N 136.9E has 10 minute sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts of 65 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest slowly.

Gale Force Winds
===============
90 NM from the center

Dvorak Intensity: T3.0

Forecast And Intensity
=======================
24 HRS: 10.4N 134.3E - 55 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
48 HRS: 11.1N 132.9E - 75 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon)
72 HRS: 12.6N 131.1E - 80 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon)
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Quoting alfabob:

Ha I'm sure some of it would make sense if it was explained properly, but thanks. If things go well there should be some new technology to help with climate change, but who knows.


That my good man, would be a very positive outcome! I hope it comes to a conclusion that does indeed help. We can use all the help we can get.. Modified to say, one way or the other. ( in regard to the last sentence...)
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
may/may not just too early to tell but if any it will be long term when its near to the Caribbean but I am more worried about the Wave in the S Carib/N S.A.


Ah yes, I see what you mean. I've had my work schedule turned upside down recently, and I'm still attempting to get back in the loop. Kinda got that jet-lag feeling, if ya know what I mean. ;)

I'm hoping for little or no early development, because I have a hunch that when we get to the middle of the season, we will be in ENSO neutral at best, perhaps lingering La-Nina conditions at worst. I believe in atmospheric lag, that's why I say lingering La-Nina. And we know what the meat of the season(August-September), has brought in years past with those conditions. So I figure the less busy early will at least ease the burden of what may yet come...

Anyway, thanks for the heads up, I'll keep a vigilant eye on both.
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may/may not just too early to tell but if any it will be long term when its near to the Caribbean but I am more worried about the Wave in the S Carib/N S.A.
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Quoting alfabob:

Ah well basically I developed a unified field theory (or theory of everything, its a physics thing) and to prove that I have the correct theory without publishing it, I'm writing a thesis on corrections to modern relativity (stuff that Einstein was working on). Still have 3-6 months left though until I'll have something that I can publish.. hopefully


So in my simple terms, way outta my league! But nonetheless, I wish you nothing but the best of luck and a positive outcome!
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
Tropical wave #2 has now been added by the NHC

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/tafb/ATSA_00Z.gif


You got any thoughts on it, development wise? I live in Indiana, so the question is purely speculative, and not any _casting of any sort. ;)
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Tropical wave #2 has now been added by the NHC

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/tafb/ATSA_00Z.gif
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Quoting alfabob:

I try to, but spending time on here takes away from the research I should be doing; although breaks every once in a while are nice. On another note these SST are pretty amazing.


Indeed they are! If you don't mind me asking; What are you researching?
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Speaking of the rapture, I can attest it has happened, to some extent today. My poor lawnmower, after many years of mowing the same lawn over and over, had one of it's blades fatally strike a root that it has ridden over many times. Now I could blame it on the rider (gulp, me) not getting a good trajectory, but blaming it on the former seems much more likely... :(

There's your sign...
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Quoting alfabob:

Almost the same as pushing climate change mitigation for profit when the concepts currently being pushed don't actually mitigate it (for example silicon solar cells only last for 10-20 years and actually produce heat from visible frequencies due to electron/hole recombination -> lack of efficiency and product life-time).


You should probably post on here more! You seem very knowledgeable on a wide array of topics.

Just my two cents anyway....
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Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:
Good night, everyone. Stay safe and may your weather be whatever you need it to be.


Nice sentiment, but for us here in the central areas of the U.S., I feel the following graph will be quite the opposite of that.

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819. xcool
ECMWF upgrade



Full release:
http://www.ecmwf.int...t/ecmwfnews/276

A new version of the ECMWF forecasting and analysis system, Cycle 37r2, was implemented on 18 May 2011. The new cycle includes both meteorological and technical changes. The main meteorological changes included in this cycle are the use of flow-dependent background errors in the data assimilation, reduced AMSU-A observation errors and improvements to cloud scheme. The changes show clear benefits in terms of objective upper-air scores in the medium range. Temperature and winds are improved throughout the troposphere in the extra-tropics. The improvements to the cloud scheme increase the humidity in the upper troposphere, providing a better fit to observations and improving humidity scores in the extra-tropics in the early forecast range.
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Good night, everyone. Stay safe and may your weather be whatever you need it to be.
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Quoting Tazmanian:




not vary march info out there right now



OK, maybe they made a mistake on sending me back to try to save everyone. Hey, I don't ask questions. I just do as they tell me. LOL
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814. beell
g'nite, yall.
See post 777.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
i said REDDING KS NOT REDDING CA LOL



Yes, I know. I tried to be too quick on a link. Still, isn't a tornado in California kind of interesting?
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Quoting beell:
Reading, KS Tornado/msnbc.com




not vary march info out there right now
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Quoting beell:
Reading, KS Tornado/msnbc.com


Thanks! I could not find anything else on it.
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(HandymanBeell to the rescue)

g'nite, ya'll.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25725
i said REDDING KS NOT REDDING CA LOL
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I couldn't find anything, Taz. I'm sure someone here would have mentioned it.

Glad I could make you smile.

Go in peace, ya'll.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25725

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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.