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: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53772
Quoting alfabob:
Yea there should be some rain from it regardless if it develops or not; but monsoon winds are still aiding in development and it is headed into the loop current. Dry air to the north is also being contained by the upper level trough and is being pushed into the EPAC; ULAC trying to form around center of vorticity. EPAC circulation stayed much more broad than NHC was expecting, and is the reason why the Caribbean will continue to improve.


the system is moving NW not north.
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7677
Quoting Grothar:


Pat, think we will get a little of this;





Interesting...fer sure.

Caribbean - Rainbow Loop
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Quoting alfabob:
Caribbean is really getting its act together, all it needs are some south bound winds and it will have a closed LLC. Outflow is also extending to the NW which is going to help reduce shear. Where is the NHC on this? not even a % when conditions continue to improve.


there is absolutely no vorticity at the surface over the NW Caribbean based on the latest cimss map and shear is only marginally favorable for development

I swear some continue to forget that something deserves a mention in the TWO ONLY when development is possible over the next 48 hours.

Due to marginal conditions and proximity to land, that is highly unlikely. However, this could develop in the BOC if given the time.
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7677
Quoting RitaEvac:
Basically a Sauna
It got that humid here in Fargo for one day last summer and I thought I was going to die, and it was "only" 85F out.
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This doesn't have to develop. Some of the heaviest rains are in depressions and tropical storms not hurricanes. If this keeps moving North, at least Florida may get a little relief. Now, hope something hits Texas soon.


Link
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Quoting CosmicEvents:
There are some here who would say it's not.


That one at least deserves a :).
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robust tropical wave east of barbados is moving west at 15-20 mph. latest sat pics show some cyclonoic turning in the lower cloud field. although shear has dropped somewhat, there nare no indication of any development. that having been said the wave will brind thunder showers abd gusty winds to barbados and the windwars islands late this evening ento sunday.
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Quoting Patrap:


Pat, think we will get a little of this;


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Basically a Sauna
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Port of Houston, Houston, Texas (PWS)
Scattered Clouds
100.3 °F
Scattered Clouds
Humidity: 47%
Dew Point: 77 °F
Wind: 12.0 mph from the SW
Wind Gust: 13.0 mph
Pressure: 29.85 in (Falling)
Heat Index: 116 °F
That Dew Point is YUCK!
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GOD I hope that disturbance dumps some rain on us next week, we are slowly being erased here in TX, like candle wax melting away into thin air
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I don't see much hope for development for the Caribbean Blob, I see a lot of shearing on the northern end of it.
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reading wind and direaction for those like me that are learning the basic's I have to keep it simple to keep up most of the time.



Link
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
Gusty winds and dry ground fuel will set stage for dangerous fire
weather conditions yet again today.
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Port of Houston, Houston, Texas (PWS)
Scattered Clouds
100.3 °F
Scattered Clouds
Humidity: 47%
Dew Point: 77 °F
Wind: 12.0 mph from the SW
Wind Gust: 13.0 mph
Pressure: 29.85 in (Falling)
Heat Index: 116 °F
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Record high temperature and record high minimum set at Houston
intercontinental...

A record high temperature of 100 degrees was set at Houston
intercontinental yesterday. This ties the old record of 100 set in
1902.

A new record high minimum temperature of 82 was set yesterday Friday
the 17th. This beat this old record of 80 degrees set in 1975
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626. beell
Quoting Skyepony:


That's what I was talking about yesterday. The Nuclear Power Plant on the Missouri River has a good chance to get slammed. That should also help pull up the moisture in the Caribbean.


I had mentioned it here as well, Skye. As a multi-day event for the plains, the mid-west, and the Ohio Valley. It does look like a slow-moving system.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 142 Comments: 16588
624. Skyepony (Mod)
Here's another good pic from NikonGranny..called questionable building site.

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It's an absolutely glorious day in Fargo: Sunny, 78F, and a dew point of 53F. There's a pleasant light breeze from the west in the wake of an occluded front that gave us some rain yesterday.

I wish I could sent some of our rain down to you folks in TX and FL. It would be nice of that Caribbean blobbage reached you guys! :-(

I liked that home video of that microburst in Norman, OK. It reminds me of our Memorial Day storm, which gave us 90MPH winds, though I don't know if that was from a microburst or a derecho, the speed the storm went through here suggests derecho, though.

Back during the "Right Turn" Derecho in June of 1995 I remember my mom getting me up in the middle of the night (I was 9 at the time) because she was worried that the 100MPH straight-line west winds were going to cause the ash trees on the west side of the yard to fall on my bedroom. The trees are still there, though one of the ash trees lost a big branch.
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Quoting Tygor:


LOL it's rained for two hours here since January 6th.
That's what I'm talking about. People are griping about lawns and stuff while the critters are truly suffering and dying.
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Quoting Skyepony:
FL East Coast Seabreeze just fired up. I've got light rain & thunder.


here is the pop up storms

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53772
619. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting beell:
Moderate Risk Tomorrow

click for discussion and graphics
1730Z Day 2


That's what I was talking about yesterday. The Nuclear Power Plant on the Missouri River has a good chance to get slammed. That should also help pull up the moisture in the Caribbean.
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TPPN10 PGTW 181814

A. TROPICAL STORM 06W (SIX)

B. 18/1732Z

C. 15.2N

D. 124.7E

E. FIVE/MTSAT

F. T2.0/2.0/S0.0/24HRS STT: D0.5/06HRS

G. IR/EIR

H. REMARKS: 38A/PBO SBC/ANMTN. CONVECTIVE WRAP OF .25 ON LOG10
SPIRAL YIELDS DT OF 1.5. PT AND MET INDICATE 2.0. FT BASED ON
MET AND PT.

I. ADDITIONAL POSITIONS: NONE


HOUGH
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53772
616. Tygor
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:


Somehow this affected me more than anything else. You got to feel for the critters and the folks that care for them.


LOL it's rained for two hours here since January 6th.
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615. Skyepony (Mod)
FL East Coast Seabreeze just fired up. I've got light rain & thunder.
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Quoting Patrap:
06W



WDPN31 PGTW 181500
MSGID/GENADMIN/NAVMARFCSTCEN PEARL HARBOR HI/JTWC//
SUBJ/PROGNOSTIC REASONING FOR TROPICAL STORM 06W WARNING NR 08//
RMKS/
1. FOR METEOROLOGISTS.
2. 12 HOUR SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS.
A. REMARKS: TROPICAL STORM 06W, LOCATED 230 NM EAST OF MANILA,
PHILIPPINES, HAS TRACKED NORTHWESTWARD AT 10 KNOTS DURING THE PAST
SIX HOURS. ANIMATED INFRARED IMAGERY SHOWS TS 06W IS STILL
STRUGGLING AGAINST THE COMBINED EFFECTS OF VERTICAL WIND SHEAR (VWS)
AND SUPPRESSED POLEWARD OUTFLOW. ANIMATED WATER VAPOR IMAGERY
REVEALS AN EXTENSIVE TROPICAL UPPER TROPOSPHERIC TROUGH (TUTT) ALONG
THE 20TH LATITUDE, WHICH IS PRODUCING SUBSIDENCE TO THE NORTH OF THE
STORM. AN 180929Z 37 GHZ SSMIS IMAGE SHOWS THE MAJORITY OF LOW LEVEL
BANDING IS OVER THE WESTERN SEMICIRCLE OF THE STORM, WHICH SUGGESTS
THAT VWS IS HIGHER THAN ANTICIPATED BY GUIDANCE. RECENT INFRARED
ANIMATION DOES SHOW SOME COOLING CLOUD TOPS AND A BURST OF
CONVECTION NEAR THE LOW LEVEL CIRCULATION CENTER (LLCC). THE CURRENT
INTENSITY ANALYSIS IS BASED ON AN AVERAGE OF DVORAK ESTIMATES FROM
PGTW, KNES, AND RJTD, AND IS SUPPORTED BY SHIP AND LAND REPORTS
PROXIMAL TO THE SYSTEM. TS 06W IS STEERING ALONG THE SOUTHWESTERN
PERIPHERY OF THE SUBTROPICAL RIDGE TOWARDS AN AREA OF DECREASING VWS
AND FAVORABLY DIFFLUENT FLOW ALOFT.
3. FORECAST REASONING.
A. THERE IS A SLIGHT REDUCTION IN THE INTENSITY FORECAST DUE TO
THE SLOWER THAN EXPECTED RATE OF DEVELOPMENT, BUT OTHERWISE THERE
ARE NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO THE FORECAST PHILOSOPHY.
B. NORTHWESTWARD MOVEMENT ALONG THE SOUTHWESTERN PERIPHERY OF THE
SUBTROPICAL RIDGE WILL CONTINUE FOR THE NEXT 48 HOURS. TS 06W WILL
CONTINUE A SLOW YET STEADY INTENSIFICATION TREND DUE TO THE 30-31
DEGREE WATERS, FAVORABLE EQUATORWARD OUTFLOW, AND DECREASING
VERTICAL WIND SHEAR ALONG ITS TRACK. IN THE NEAR TERM, TS 06W WILL
ALSO GET A BOOST TO POLEWARD OUTFLOW AS IT APPROACHES THE TUTT, BUT
AS THE SYSTEM MOVES INTO THE LUZON STRAIT THE SUBSIDENCE ASSOCIATED
WITH THE TUTT WILL SUPPRESS OUTFLOW AND BEGIN TO WEAKEN THE SYSTEM.
THIS WEAKENING PROCESS IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN BY TAU 48 AND WILL
COINCIDE WITH FALLING OCEAN HEAT CONTENT VALUES. MODEL GUIDANCE IS
SPLIT, WITH NOGAPS/GFDN/WBAR TRACKING THE SYSTEM INTO EXTREME
NORTHEASTERN LUZON, AND ECMWF, EGRR, AND JGSM MOVING THE SYSTEM
TOWARDS SOUTHERN TAIWAN. BASED ON THE INTENSITY OF THE ANTICYCLONE
PLANTED OVER EASTERN CHINA, THE MID-RANGE FORECAST STAYS RIGHT OF
CONSENSUS, FAVORING ECMWF AND JGSM OVER NOGAPS/GFDN AND WBAR.
C. IN THE EXTENDED RANGE, LOWER OCEAN HEAT CONTENT, RESTRICTED
OUTFLOW ALOFT, AND INCREASING VERTICAL WIND SHEAR FROM THE NORTHEAST
WILL WEAKEN THE CYCLONE. TS 06W WILL BEGIN WEAKENING OVER WATER
NORTH OF 20 DEGREES NORTH LATITUDE. THE PRIMARY STEERING MECHANISM
THROUGH THE LONG RANGES WILL BE THE SOUTHWESTERN PERIPHERY OF THE
SUBTROPICAL RIDGE. THE EXTENDED FORECAST HEDGES CONSENSUS TOWARDS
ECMWF AND JGSM.//
NNNN

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53772
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
they got grapic up but no T.C.F.A as of yet
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53772
06W

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611. beell
Quoting PaulMSN:
@beell: a link to what? The 1881 business is from the article text itself. That meteorology was in its infancy in 1881, compared to nowadays or even the 1950s, seems blindingly obvious. After all, Cleveland Abbe, AKA Old Probabilities, had only issued his first forecast in 1869, just 12 years before.


Thanks, PaulMSN.

I missed reading that from DR M's blog post yesterday!

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.

Still not too bad a guess from 1881.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 142 Comments: 16588
610. ackee
THE Tropical wave near the windard is under low shear it will be intresting to see if it will continue to bulid more convention around it. If this trend continue when it reaches the westrn carrb it will be intresting to see what happens.
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609. wpb
ft.l almost 20" below normal rainfall for year
lake O below ten feet almost 3.60 feet below normal.

whats the outlook for precip in s fla
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608. beell
Moderate Risk Tomorrow

click for discussion and graphics
1730Z Day 2
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 142 Comments: 16588
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I live on the westbank and would like to know if there is any chance of us getting like a depression or TS out of any of this that is going to be going into the GOM
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Quoting donna1960ruled:


Florida was not meant to be inhabited by humans.
There are some here who would say it's not.
Member Since: August 3, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 5577
POSS TCFA
XX/INV/92E
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53772
xx/xx/wav
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53772
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Thank you.


Actually what your seeing is just a tropical wave interacting with a upper level trough in the eastern GOM.

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xx/xx/wav


Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53772
Quoting cchsweatherman:


When you look at all the drought data and rainfall data over the past few years, you will see more rainfall across Western Florida than Eastern Florida. Pinellas county has no drought at this time.


agreed
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7677
Quoting clwstmchasr:


"western areas of Florida for rainfall." It has rained 1 day here in Pinellas county in the last 8 weeks.


maybe in your area, but Pinellas has had more rainfall lately then just about any county in the state

It rained the other night; also it has rained on average 1 day every week for the last 2 months.

maybe where you are in the county, you are just not seeing it.
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7677
Quoting clwstmchasr:


"western areas of Florida for rainfall." It has rained 1 day here in Pinellas county in the last 8 weeks.


When you look at all the drought data and rainfall data over the past few years, you will see more rainfall across Western Florida than Eastern Florida. Pinellas county has no drought at this time.
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Quoting donna1960ruled:


Florida was not meant to be inhabited by humans.

Are there 'humans' there?

sorry, could,nt resist. hehehehe.
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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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