Missouri River flood hits unprecedented flow rates

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:18 PM GMT on June 17, 2011

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The most expensive tornado/severe weather disaster in American history is the great May 21 - 26, 2011 storm that spawned the Joplin, Missouri EF-5 tornado. According to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide, insured damages from that storm will amount to $4 - $7 billion, the greatest damages ever for a spring severe weather outbreak. However, the damages from the huge, slow-moving low pressure system that spawned the Joplin tornado have not yet been fully realized. The powerful storm pumped huge quantities of warm, moisture-laden air from the Gulf of Mexico northwestwards into Montana, where the moisture condensed into record-breaking heavy rain and snow. In portions of eastern Montana, the storm brought a year's worth of precipitation in a week, swelling the tributaries of the Missouri River to unprecedented heights. Billings, Montana recorded 9.54" of precipitation in May, its single wettest month on record, and not far from its annual average precipitation of 14.5". A great 100-year flood has arrived along the Missouri River and its tributaries from Montana to Nebraska. Record spring rains, combined with snow melt from record or near-record winter and spring snows, brought the Missouri River at Williston, North Dakota to 30' today (June 17), two feet above the record crest set in 1912. Tributaries to the Missouri, such as the North Platte River in Nebraska, are also flooding at all-time record heights. With warm summer temperatures and 2 - 5" of rainfall expected over much of the area during the coming week, snow melt and rain runoff will swell area rivers even further, creating an even more dangerous flood.

Flooding along the Missouri River has already broken two levees and closed two portions of I-29, a key trucking route that extends from Kansas City through Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota to the Canadian border. A 20-mile stretch between Council Bluffs and the Missouri Valley area is closed, as well as a 22-mile section in southwest Iowa and northwest Missouri, causing significant disruptions to the trucking industry.


Figure 1. Satellite image taken at 5:45pm CDT May 22, 2011, when the Joplin, Missouri tornado was occurring. The counter-clockwise flow of air around the spiraling low pressure system that caused the Joplin tornado drew large quantities of Gulf of Mexico air into Montana, creating record-breaking rains. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.



Figure 2. Levee breach along the Missouri River levee L-575 near Hamburg, Iowa, on June 14, 2011. The town of Hamburg is being protected by a new temporary levee. So far, only farmland has flooded. Image credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Army Corps cranks up water releases on Missouri River dams to double the previous record
Six flood control dams lie on the Missouri River between eastern Montana and Sioux City, Iowa; these dams were built between 1940 and 1964. As water from this spring's record precipitation have flowed into the Missouri River basin, the reservoirs behind these dams have risen to record levels. On May 31, the Army Corps of Engineers was forced to open the the spillway gates on the massive Garrison Dam, 50 miles northwest of Bismark, North Dakota. It was the first time since the dam was built in 1955 that the spillway gates were opened. (Remarkably, during 2007 and early 2008, Lake Sakakawea water levels behind Garrison Dam were the lowest since the dam was built--46 feet below the current level--thanks to a decade-long drought.) On June 3, as the record flood progressed downstream, the spillway gates on the Big Bend Dam opened for the first time since that dam was completed in 1964. This week, the Army Corps of Engineers increased water flowing through all six dams to more than double the previous highs set during the floods of 1975 and 1997. The flow rates are now a massive 150,000 cubic feet per second, 1.5 times greater than the typical flow of Niagara Falls. These extreme flow rates will need to be maintained into at least mid-August, and are expected to severely strain levees on the Missouri River as it flows through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas. According to a press conference put on by NWS and the Army Corps last week, the Missouri River flood control system is based on an 1881 estimate of the maximum amount of water an extreme flood season could generate--40 million acre-feet of water during the spring and summer flood season. However, this year's flood is expected to pump 42 - 43 million acre feet of water into the system, stressing it beyond its designed limits. In May alone, the Missouri River basin just upstream from Sioux City, Iowa, received 10.2 million acre feet of water, more than 25% above the previous May record of 7.2 million acre feet set in 1995. Additional levee failures along the Missouri are likely this summer, particularly if widespread heavy summer rains occur.


Figure 3. The Oahe Reservoir Stilling Basin north of Pierre, S.D., on June 5, 2011. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers increased the water releases from the Oahe Dam into the stilling basin to a record 147,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water release on June 8. The previous record was 59,000 cfs in 1997. Image credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/ Carlos J. Lazo

Four-day period of critical fire conditions expected in the Southwest
Powerful southwest winds of 20 - 30 mph, gusting to 40 mph will continue through Saturday in Eastern Arizona and western New Mexico, making progress containing the region's severe fires difficult. Even worse conditions are begin predicted for Sunday, when NOAA's Storm Prediction Center forecasts forecasts that wind gusts up to 50 mph will occur. With hot conditions and humidity values below 10%, these are likely to be among the worst fire conditions the region has seen this year.

While the exceptional drought gripping Arizona is largely to blame for terrible fire conditions this year, unusually windy and dry weather has also been a significant factor. These windy and dry conditions have been caused, in part, by a stronger-than-average jet stream over the region. According to the National Weather Service in Phoenix, the period April-May 2011 was the 11th windiest and had the 6th lowest average relative humidity value on record in Phoenix. Combined, it was the 3rd windiest-driest April-May on record.

Our weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has an interesting post on The Worst Wild Fires in World History. Arizona's Wallow Fire, at 750 square miles, has a long way to go before matching the largest fire in U.S. history, the great Peshtigo Fire of 1871. That fire burned 5,938 square miles of Wisconsin and Michigan.

Tallahassee hits 105°, their hottest day on record
On Wednesday June 15 at 307 PM EDT, the Tallahassee Regional Airport in Florida recorded a high temperature of 105 degrees. This temperature breaks the previous all time high temperature record for Tallahassee of 104 degrees, set most recently on June 20th 1933. The period of record for Tallahassee dates back to 1892.

The Atlantic is quiet
The Atlantic is quiet, with no tropical cyclones predicted over the next seven days by the reliable computer models. However, the GFS model predicts that moisture will begin increasing early next week in the western Gulf of Mexico, and a tropical disturbance could form next week in the Gulf, bringing much-needed rains to the coast of Texas. Droughts of the magnitude of the current Texas drought are hard to break, though, so I'd like to see more support from the models before believing in this forecast.

Have a great weekend everyone! I'll be back Monday with a new post.

Jeff Masters

ABANDONED For Wetland Project in Flood (BEME)
Another old farmstead,within the wetlands 'project'..near Highway 2 [to Nebraska City,Nebraska]..Water's getting higher. [photo taken Wednesday afternoon]
ABANDONED For Wetland Project in Flood
Won't be Open Much Longer (Nikongranny)
Highway 2 east of Nebraska City will be closing very soon.
Won't be Open Much Longer
Trying to Keep Ahead (Nikongranny)
of the approaching water. Crews working frantically building this earth berm to keep the advancing Missouri River out of Hamburg.
Trying to Keep Ahead

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Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
Quoting Grothar:



Coral Ridge here. Same here. AND HOT!!


Margate here. and all my herbs have died from the heat. i have been watering and they just gave up it seems.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Recon will be going to TD2-E/Beatriz on tuesday afternoon.

WEATHER RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS
CARCAH, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER, MIAMI, FL.
0945 AM EDT SUN 19 JUNE 2011
SUBJECT: TROPICAL CYCLONE PLAN OF THE DAY (TCPOD)
VALID 20/1100Z TO 21/1100Z JUNE 2011
TCPOD NUMBER.....11-019

I. ATLANTIC REQUIREMENTS
1. NEGATIVE RECONNAISSANCE REQUIREMENTS.
2. OUTLOOK FOR SUCCEEDING DAY....NEGATIVE.

II. PACIFIC REQUIREMENTS
1. NEGATIVE RECONNAISSANCE REQUIREMENTS.
2. SUCCEEDING DAY OUTLOOK: POSSIBLE FIX NEAR
18.4N 104.1W AT 21/1200Z IF SYSTEM DEVELOPS.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14252
1043. Skyepony (Mod)
That's a lot of red flag warning..
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1042. Grothar
Quoting Skyepony:


This 10hr old ASCAT looks pretty good. Organized more since.


et tu, Skye? :)
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26120
1041. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Grothar:
Navy now has it as 2E. Could it be?




This 10hr old ASCAT looks pretty good. Organized more since.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1040. Grothar
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
ya you did just not what day it was going to do it



Oh, yes I did. I said Sunday. Go back and look on Fridays and yesterdays entries. Ha ha haha. :P Shows how much you pay attention. I even gave the upper atmosphere conditions as to why it would happen.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26120






Shear seems to be dropping wont take very long for this to get going, Mexico can use some weather also
hopefully this thing can go up the coast alittle
and curve to the North East and give AZ some much needed help.
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
1038. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Grothar:



Alright, alright, What are you the blog monitor? So I missed it. I've been saying it was going to do this for days. :)
ya you did just not what day it was going to do it
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1037. Grothar
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
already label gro check post 1019 and 1028



Alright, alright, What are you the blog monitor? So I missed it. I've been saying it was going to do this for days. :)
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26120
1036. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
T.C.F.W.
02E/TD/B/CX
MARK
13.13N/100.8W
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1033. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Grothar:
Navy now has it as 2E. Could it be?


already label gro check post 1019 and 1028
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1032. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting seasonbust2011:
well we can say now june is a bust i see no tropical activity for the month of june...this is not unusual to happen in this month...we will see what happens in july as for as a bust...
maybe you should flush and look again that flush model must be full and giving you a false feed back of info
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1031. Grothar
Navy now has it as 2E. Could it be?


Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26120
1030. Grothar
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26120
1029. Grothar
Quoting jasonweatherman2010:
look like a tropical d to me!!



I just posted that, Get your own images, Jason!!!!! :)
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26120
1028. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
2011 Storms
All Active Year


Atlantic

East Pacific
02E.TWO

Central Pacific

West Pacific
99W.INVEST
06W.SIX

Indian Ocean
99B.INVEST

Southern Hemisphere
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Upper Divergence




Lower Convergence



Wind Shear



As bad as everyone on the coast needs the rain it's probably a good thing this is setting up over land.
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
The Wallow Fire is up to 511,118 acres, or 799 square miles. One the plus side, the fire is now 44% contained. On the negative, today should present the worst weatehr conditions to-date, with temps in the 90s, humidity in the single digits, and winds gusting to 50mph.

The Horseshoe Two has grown to 210,311 acres (329 square mile), but it's 75% contained, and the dangerous Monument Fire is relatively "small" at just under 21,000 acres, and 27% contained.

All three fires face "extreme growth potential" conditions today.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13526
1025. SLU
Quoting seasonbust2011:
well we can say now june is a bust i see no tropical activity for the month of june...this is not unusual to happen in this month...we will see what happens in july as for as a bust...


Welcome to Wunderblog :)
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1023. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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1022. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good Morning, and Happy Father's Day to all of the Dads, Step Dads, Expectant Dads!
The thunderstorms that came through ECFL yesterday shorted out my aquarium filter.
This is a good reminder to unplug the electronics before going on vacation and unplug the computer and tv when there's a lot of lightening.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11322

Key Biscayne here, What's the old joke....It's so dry here, the fish are knocking on the
door, askin' for a drink of water. It’s so dry, the trees are bribing the dogs. It’s so dry in Texas that the Baptists are starting to baptize by sprinkling,
the Methodists are using wet-wipes,
the Presbyterians are giving out rain-checks,
and the Catholics are praying for the wine to turn back into water.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1019. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
T.C.F.W.
02E/TD/B/CX
MARK
13.13N/100.8W
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1018. Grothar
I know there were some on here who didn't think 92E would turn into much, but it sure looks the the upper level environment fooled some again. Looks pretty healthy right now and might even get better. I will be gone most of the day. Happy Father's Day to all you Father's out there.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26120
1017. Patrap
Watch out for the GREEN BALL Gremlin in the Atlantic later this week.


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
1016. emcf30
Quoting aquak9:
hoping the winds don't switch to the south. About 3 hours of loop here.


There are a total of 271,862 acres that have burnt in that area. Seems like still kicking strong this morning. If it is pumping that much out this morning, its going to be a bad day on the fire lines.

Burnt Area: 19,542 Acres
Location: Ware County, GA (12 MILES W OF WAYCROSS)
Cause: Under Investigation
Incident Team Type: IMT Type 3
Team Leader: KRIS BUTLER
Containment Status: 30% contained)
Burnt Area: 19,128 Acres
Location: Charlton County, GA (12 MILES S OF HOBOKEN GA)
Cause: Under Investigation
Incident Team Type: IMT Type 3
Team Leader: Kris Butler
Containment Status: 50% contained)
Burnt Area: 233,606 Acres (11% increase from yesterday)
Location: Charlton County, GA (Okefenokee NWR, 5 miles NE of Fargo, GA)
Cause: Lightning
Incident Team Type: IMT Type D
Team Leader: Floyd/Crow/Quesinberry
Containment Status: 60% contained)
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1015. Patrap
1012. blsealevel


Warm morning here fer sure,,have a fine Fatha's day too
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
Quoting aquak9:
hoping the winds don't switch to the south. About 3 hours of loop here.



Wow did something blow up?
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
Happy Fathers Day Patrap and the Gang.

Temperature: New Orleans

87.8 °F

Feels Like 101 °F

and it ant even 9:00 am yet!!
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
1011. aquak9
hoping the winds don't switch to the south. About 3 hours of loop here.

Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 165 Comments: 25923
1010. emcf30
Ironicly, this will the same area Reed will be targeting. The same spot as 1 year ago today
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1009. Patrap
auburn and family are nice guest,,they brought Venison,,!!!


Yeah baby!



Happy Fatha's day to all you Dads too.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
1008. aquak9
sigh...

Good morning dayshift. Quick'n'easy version, nouns first:
Ridge, Heat, Heat Indices, Triple Digits.
Then Adjectives: Smokey, Dangerous, Oppresive
A verb or two- Reaching, Drying, Breathing

Mix n match as needed. Feel free to add or amend.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 165 Comments: 25923
1007. emcf30
A severe weather outbreak is likely across portions of the Northern Plains this afternoon afternoon and evening. A longwave trough will rapidly develop across the Western United States as a strong mid level jet streak dives southeastward. As the trough deepens, a surface low will rapidly develop in East Colorado/West Kansas. As the low-level jet greatly increases to 50-60 knots around 00z, along with sufficient shear, it will likely lead to an increased tornado potential late this afternoon and tonight. The Energy Helicity Index (EHI)will be very high. Typically values >1 are sufficient for tornadoes. Values >5 have been associated with significant tornadoes and values > 10 as we know can lead to severe, long track tornadoes as we have seen this year.

It will get very interesting this afternoon and will continue into Monday and Tuesday. The models have been consistent for well over a week on this severe weather outbreak.


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TD 2-E at 8 AM PDT.

BEGIN
NHC_ATCF
invest_RENUMBER_ep922011_ep022011.ren
FSTDA
R
U
040
010
0000
201106191257
NONE
NOTIFY=ATRP
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14252
TD 2 in the EPAC:

EP, 02, 2011061912, , BEST, 0, 134N, 995W, 30, 1006, TD, 34, NEQ, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1009, 200, 60, 0, 0, E, 0, , 0, 0, TWO, M,
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13526
1004. beell
Quoting RTLSNK:
Just what the Mississippi River does not need, more water. :(


Missouri River Valley does not need it either.
QPF 12Z Monday through 12Z Tuesday



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1003. Grothar
Quoting PRZEDCASTER:




Pompano Beach here , yeah you know it's bad when the weeds are dying !



Coral Ridge here. Same here. AND HOT!!
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26120
1001. IKE
The advantage to no rain...I don't have to mow the yard.

Dead grass continues!
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting DeerfieldBeachGuy:
Northeast Broward County here in South Florida. I swear I have never seen it so dry here. Today it literally rained everywhere around us but here. If we don't start getting some rain very soon, things are going to get real bad. I have never seen the vegetation look so dry and dead. I pray something tropical brings us relief in the next couple of weeks!




Pompano Beach here , yeah you know it's bad when the weeds are dying !
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Good morning to all. It looks like we will have TD 2-E later today,unless it falls apart in the next few hours.

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
500 AM PDT SUN JUN 19 2011

FOR THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC...EAST OF 140 DEGREES WEST LONGITUDE..

THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY HAS CONTINUED TO INCREASE OVER THE PAST FEW
HOURS IN ASSOCIATION WITH AN AREA OF LOW PRESSURE LOCATED ABOUT 250
MILES SOUTH OF ACAPULCO MEXICO...AND A TROPICAL DEPRESSION COULD BE
FORMING. IF CURRENT TRENDS CONTINUE...ADVISORIES WILL LIKELY BE
INITIATED ON THIS SYSTEM LATER THIS MORNING. THERE IS A HIGH
CHANCE...90 PERCENT...OF THIS LOW BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE
DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES WEST-NORTHWESTWARD OR
NORTHWESTWARD AT ABOUT 10 MPH. INTERESTS ALONG THE SOUTHWESTERN
COAST OF MEXICO SHOULD MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF THIS SYSTEM AS IT
COULD BRING GUSTY WINDS AND HEAVY RAINS TO THE REGION DURING THE
NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER BRENNAN



I think it may be more than a depression. Even though it appears condtions are not favorable for development, I see a very small window starting tonight and tomorrow. I think this may be a strong tropical storm or even higher.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26120
Partly sunny. Slight chance of showers and thunderstorms in the morning. Chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Highs in the lower 90s. Light winds becoming southwest 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon. Chance of rain 50 percent.Pompano Beach.

Not holding my breath .
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Just what the Mississippi River does not need, more water. :(
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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.