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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Apparently, computer models are now wanting to develop yet another strong ridge of high pressure over Florida, this time completely suppressing rainfall and bringing more extra heat...

Seriously, Florida is in serious trouble...


Something is wrong in the atmosphere, things are not working the way they should, at all. People who have lived here all their life have said the last couple years have them worried that the future of Florida is in trouble, it just isn't raining nearly as much as it used to... The weather is more like that of subtropical deserts. Well, not that dry, but relatively speaking, in comparison to normal Florida.
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12 GFS has little shear in the Bay of Campeche for next weekend.

Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14311
IT AINT WEATHER TILL WE HAVE A CONE AND A WESTWARD TRACK...

sarcasm provided by General Mills


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128636
Geez, I'm posting all this good weather stuff and you all are talking about food. Come on, get serious, we have two systems out there to watch. Drop your meatloaf and berries and let's get on this weather. Idle banter drives me crazy.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26460
3 crow recipes

From Debbie, courtesy of her Mom's WW II cookbook
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128636
Quoting CosmicEvents:
I see with the lack of tropical activity we're talking about all kinds of stuff. Working on an official WU meal perhaps:
.
Plethora loaf --maincourse
Brownies--------dessert
Blueberry sorbet perhaps......
.
.
We need appetizers and side dishes....something with crow would work.


Now Cosmic, we have 2 big juicy blobs we are intently watching out there....just look at the Grothar's radar .....yum, yumm :P
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I see with the lack of tropical activity we're talking about all kinds of stuff. Working on an official WU meal perhaps:
.
Plethora loaf --maincourse
Brownies--------dessert
Blueberry sorbet perhaps......
.
.
We need appetizers and side dishes....something with crow would work.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PrivateIdaho:
My buddy brewed some huckleberry beer a few years ago. That was dang good stuff!


LOL...maybe some huckleberry wine....lol...
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


You're right PI, wild huckleberries the very best....more taste....but scarce here this year
My buddy brewed some huckleberry beer a few years ago. That was dang good stuff!
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Not often one can watch two systems at once. Looks like 92E is beginning to get it together. The Caribbean blob is getting interesting. Even though I predicted this days ago. :):):):)

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26460
Quoting PrivateIdaho:
blueberries....phffft.....Huckleberries!!


You're right PI, wild huckleberries the very best....more taste....but scarce here this year
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Quoting aquak9:
Blueberries strung from the Christmas tree, blueberry wind chimes, blueberry earrings...
oh yeah.


Hot blueberry cobbler with a flakey lattice top, piled high with vanilla ice cream....gonna make one tomorrow for my hubby and sons for Father's Day....ya'll come, ya here...:P
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Quoting aquak9:
Blueberries strung from the Christmas tree, blueberry wind chimes, blueberry earrings...
oh yeah.
blueberries....phffft.....Huckleberries!!
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Blueberries strung from the Christmas tree, blueberry wind chimes, blueberry earrings...
oh yeah.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 166 Comments: 26045
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Quoting aquak9:
"plethora loaf" heh heh heh

Hey gro et al...just got back form picking 17 lbs of blueberries.

What was I thinking....

Blueberry jam, jelly,k muffins, pancakes, and frozen for what ever else you think of!
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Just want to follow up with this reassuring news about the nuclear plant situation in Nebraska.

Link

Note in the article that the utility held a press conference on Friday in response to community demands for information.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11347
can you say "muffapalooza"?

ok, better go before I get banned

laterz
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 166 Comments: 26045
Quoting aquak9:
"plethora loaf" heh heh heh

Hey gro et al...just got back form picking 17 lbs of blueberries.

What was I thinking....


......about muffins?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26460
"plethora loaf" heh heh heh

Hey gro et al...just got back form picking 17 lbs of blueberries.

What was I thinking....
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 166 Comments: 26045
surface pressures also remain high in the area.
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Upper level winds still remain quite hotile in the gulf so development into a tropical cyclone appears unlikely in my view.Hopefully some much needed moisture for central/northern Gulf.
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Quoting heavyweatherwatcher:
I knew you would remember Grothar... The special effects were, well, "special", but back in those days, and at that age, they were magical...

My other fave was "Our Gang". My fave there was "A Lad an' a Lamp"

("I wish Cotton was a monkey! I wish Cotton was a monkey!)



Hey, heavy. Keep this up and you will be getting all the "old" jokes. I miss those shows. We should WU mail and talk them over.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26460
Quoting IKE:

A  glimmer of hope for the western Caribbean blob.

I've got 91.9 outside my window, with a nice 10-15 mph breeze down at my dock.


It may take its time, but I think some moisture should be moving in Gulf soon. As for FL. I still don't see anything yet.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26460
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Bueller?


Sorry, no one is home right now. Just please leave your message and we will get back to you as soon as we can. Bye now.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26460
Bueller?
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Here is the Belize radar that shows plenty of rain approaching the Yucatan.

Link
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14311
Quoting pottery:
Anyone needing Rain, this Morning ???

You are welcome to come and get some of this...
CrashBooooms in the sky with LightEffects.
Coming straight down like a waterfall.
Not a breeze to move it along either.

(this is a limited offer.... while stocks last)


No thanks, you know how the records keep falling here.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14311
518. IKE

Quoting Grothar:


Here IKE, something for you to look at


Link
A  glimmer of hope for the western Caribbean blob.

I've got 91.9 outside my window, with a nice 10-15 mph breeze down at my dock.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
The Wallow Fire is now up to 500,409 acres, or 782 square miles. That's about 7% larger than the Rodeo-Chediski fire, and still growing. The good news is that the blaze is 38% contained. The bad news is that red flag conditions are expected both today and tomorrow; growth potential for this weekend is rated "extreme".
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13549
I knew you would remember Grothar... The special effects were, well, "special", but back in those days, and at that age, they were magical...

My other fave was "Our Gang". My fave there was "A Lad an' a Lamp"

("I wish Cotton was a monkey! I wish Cotton was a monkey!)

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pottery:
Anyone needing Rain, this Morning ???

You are welcome to come and get some of this...
CrashBooooms in the sky with LightEffects.
Coming straight down like a waterfall.
Not a breeze to move it along either.

(this is a limited offer.... while stocks last)
Yes, yes, yes! Dry as the proverbial bone here. Theoretically we can get some rain Tues-Thurs, but when they offer 1/4" to 4", I'm betting we get 1/4". If any.
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Quoting pottery:
Anyone needing Rain, this Morning ???

You are welcome to come and get some of this...
CrashBooooms in the sky with LightEffects.
Coming straight down like a waterfall.
Not a breeze to move it along either.

(this is a limited offer.... while stocks last)


I'll take it!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pottery:
Anyone needing Rain, this Morning ???

You are welcome to come and get some of this...
CrashBooooms in the sky with LightEffects.
Coming straight down like a waterfall.
Not a breeze to move it along either.

(this is a limited offer.... while stocks last)

Had 15in here this week. don't need anymore
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting heavyweatherwatcher:
Link

This is great clip of Andy, Midnight, Squeeky, Froggy and Harry...

Enjoy or ignore...



Enjoyed. I watched that all the time. Thanks for the memories. It was a little bizarre.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26460
Anyone needing Rain, this Morning ???

You are welcome to come and get some of this...
CrashBooooms in the sky with LightEffects.
Coming straight down like a waterfall.
Not a breeze to move it along either.

(this is a limited offer.... while stocks last)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AussieStorm:

It will be more dangerous to China than Philippines


I'd be more concerned about the added effects to inland flooding.
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Quoting blsealevel:


Yea, I think thats why they put it in the green alert level.
Intreasting site updates like every 60 sec.

Link

It will be more dangerous to China than Philippines
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According to NWS, Central Texas now has a 1 day chance of rain next week before High Pressure rebuilds? DISCUSSION...
RECORD HEAT AND ELEVATED TO NEAR CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS
WILL CONTINUE THROUGH THE WEEKEND. MORNING LOWS AND AFTERNOON HEAT
INDICES CONTINUE TO SHOW NEAR HEAT ADVY LEVELS...BUT THE MAJORITY
OF MIN TEMPS ARE EXPECTED TO HAVE 3-6 HOURS OF SUB 80 DEGREE MIN
TEMPS. THUS WILL CONTINUE AN SPS TO COVER THE HOT WEATHER AND TO
MENTION THE POTENTIAL FOR FIRE SPREAD.

THE MID-WEEK RAIN POTENTIAL STILL LOOKS ON TRACK WITH PREVIOUS
MODEL CYCLES...BUT THE TRENDS FOR THE EXTENDED ARE BACKING AWAY
FROM A MULTIPLE DAY RAIN PATTERN. THE BEST PERIOD APPEARS TO BE
WEDNESDAY MORNING THROUGH WED EVENING AS THE UPPER TROUGH BASE
DRAGS ACROSS TX. MODEL TRENDS ARE SHIFTING TO A DRIER AND MORE
STABLE ENVIRONMENT ALOFT LATE IN THE WEEK...WITH THE ECMWF SHOWING
THE MOST CHANGE SINCE THE PAST RUNS. PWAT VALUES ARE LIKELY TO
REMAIN NEAR 1.5 INCHES IN THE WAKE OF THE UPPER TROUGH
PASSAGE...BUT THE RIDGE BUILDING IN FROM THE WEST MAKES IT LOOK
LESS LIKELY THAT SIGNIFICANT RAIN CHANCES WILL CONTINUE OVER
CENTRAL AND WESTERN COUNTIES PAST WEDNESDAY. WILL CONTINUE SLIGHT
CHC POPS AS SOME TROPICAL ENERGY FROM THE PACIFIC COULD ALTER
THESE LATE WEEK PROJECTIONS
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Link

This is great clip of Andy, Midnight, Squeeky, Froggy and Harry...

Enjoy or ignore...
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Quoting AussieStorm:

The area where it will make landfall is sparely populated.


Yea, I think thats why they put it in the green alert level.
Intreasting site updates like every 60 sec.

Link
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
Quoting IKE:
That wave in the NW Caribbean is rather moisture filled. Wouldn't be shocked if the NHC mentions it in their next TWO.


Here IKE, something for you to look at


Link
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26460
504. IKE
That wave in the NW Caribbean is rather moisture filled. Wouldn't be shocked if the NHC mentions it in their next TWO.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858

Complete Update

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI





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Link


:-)
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Quoting blsealevel:

Alert level: green for Philippines,China

This tropical cyclone can have a low humanitarian impact based on the storm strength and the affected population in the past and forecasted path.

Current storm status

Analysis based on advisory number 7 for SIX-11, published on 6/18/2011 06:00 UTC
•The storm is: active
•Current country: Not near land
•Current position: 125.5, 14.5
•Alert level at current position: green
•Basin: NWPacific
•Current strength: Tropical Storm
•Current maximum sustained wind speed: 17 m/s, 34 kt






The area where it will make landfall is sparely populated.
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500. IKE
SYNOPSIS FOR THE GULF OF MEXICO
430 AM CDT SAT JUN 18 2011

.SYNOPSIS...HIGH PRES RIDGE WILL REMAIN ACROSS THE NORTHERN GULF
THROUGH MON THEN LIFT N OF THE AREA TUE. A TROPICAL WAVE WILL
MOVE INTO THE SOUTH-CENTRAL GULF LATE TONIGHT THEN MOVE SLOWLY
INTO THE WESTERN GULF SUN THROUGH MON.

................................................. .................................................. ................

Bastardi tweeted......from 18 hours ago...

Joe Bastardi


Texas... some rain and cooler weather should get down there next week!!!
western gulf may light up with disturbed weather too.

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Midnight was the very best!!!!  "Niiiice"...
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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.