Missouri River flood hits unprecedented flow rates

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

Share this Blog
8
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 497 - 447

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31Blog Index

wow!!
Member Since: April 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2278

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





Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1918
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
494. SLU
Nice flare up in the Western Caribbean today but whatever low level vorticity that exists is inland over Central America and its close proximity to invest 92E will make it hard for much organisation to occur in the short term.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
not both. one or the other. this time of the yr if i was a gambler even though the nw carib looks most interesting i'd take epac
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4862
Quoting SQUAWK:


Does the term "plunk your magic twanger, Froggy" mean anything to you?


Yes, I never missed a Saturday when I was kid. My favorite old time actor and sidekick, Andy Devine. I still say, hi, kids, hiya, to some people who remember it it.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26814
Good morning my WU friends,

Happy Saturday to you all!

So we are all hot and humid and many still way too dry.

Busy at work today but will try to lurk as much as I can..

enjoy your Saturday!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good morning all

We had some nice rain here last night and more seems to be on the way today. The "blob" approaching the gulf of Honduras has that precursor look that we often see before a system tries to organize but for now nothing appears to be imminent. Surface pressures in the NW Caribbean are high, shear is in the 30 knot range and the feature is likely to go ashore later today or tomorrow.

Any chance for development may not come until the BOC unless the blob stalls or the tropical wave leaves a stationary low behind. The models do not call for that scenario at this time.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting aspectre:
Very healthy for a blob. Anyone see it getting Invested soon? ie before Monday?


Hey aspecte. I wouldn't worry yet. I look healthy for a blob, too. Just thought you all might like to see a close-up of it. I think it does have possibilities. Doing a little analysis now. Will let you know.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26814
487. Skyepony (Mod)
That blob is going for the highest heat potential area in the West Atlantic. I'll give it 20% chance of becoming a depression eventually.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Nice image of 92E and the Caribbean blob. Sometimes these systems can interact with each other. You know, inflow and outflow boundaries. Wind shear and other lots of other stuff. Maybe they may have a chance to do something in the next few days.


Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26814
visiable looks interesting small compact tw at 51w 11n
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4862
the area of disturbed weather in the western caribbean ,has increase in convection. there seems to be some cyclonic turning in the mid levels.it is quite possible that a low pressure is trying to form between off the coast of nicaragua and jamaica
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Very healthy for a blob. Anyone see it getting Invested soon? ie before Monday?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Caribbean blob looks a little healthier.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26814
Went back and looked at some of the posts from last night. Great images from Rookie and druseljic. Thanks.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26814
Good Morning!

Just want to say thanks for all the rain dances and rain prayers, etc.... They finally paid off and we received 2" of rain, first rain sense mid March last night. I tried leaving my fan running outside, leaving the car windows down, etc... nothing worked. Too bad weather control is just not realistic. Now if we could just get some rain over to Texas! I have not been posting for almost a year, looks to be relatively troll free this year so I'll give it a whirl.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
tropical wave at 50W headind towaeds an area of low wind shear. this should help it to strenghen further before getting to the windward islands
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Invest 92 in the EPAC is s-l-o-w-l-y dropping pressure:

EP, 92, 2011061812, , BEST, 0, 128N, 950W, 25, 1006, DB, 34, NEQ, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1009, 200, 80, 0, 0, E, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, S,
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DDR:
Copious amount of rain in Trinidad this morning,possible flooding in some areas

Hi DDR,
It was thundering and flashing here last night.
But so far, not a lot of rain.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
And ya left out the 3tonne hammer that Japan is planning to once again drop on its liquid-sodium plutonium-breeder reactor.
Ifn ya can't break it the first time, try try again.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting aquak9:
Plethora- including but not limited too: bake, broil, steam, dehydrate, sizzle, braised, and blackened.


So, that is what they call Mrs. Grothar's meatloaf.
Plethora loaf. Thanks, aqua.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26814
Quoting Neapolitan:
Good Blazing Saturday, fellow WU-ians. In addition to the ongoing and relentless heat and drought, a quick update on a few other things that have been discussed here recently:

--The much-vaunted water filtration plan at Fukushima had to be stopped just a few hours into the planned months-long program when it was discovered that caesium levels were far higher than anyone expexted. Caesium-absorbing cartridges that were expected to last several weeks reached their limit in under five hours.

--The Joplin tornado has claimed a 154th victim. Meanwhile, the health officials have confirmed 12 cases of the deadly fungus zygomycosis. And, sadly, several first responders have been fired for looting in the aftermath of the storm.

--The Wallow Fire expanded beyond 500,000 acres yesterday (exact acreage will be available later). meanwhile, the Monument Fire nearly doubled in size, and the Horseshoe Two Fire has grown to 206,000 acres.

--The NRC swears the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant is safe, despite anything we're heard or read or seen. (And why wouldn't we believe everything they say?)

Enjoy your weekend... ;-)


You forgot the Eritrea-Ethiopia Volcano and the Chile Volcano.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15961
Quoting Neapolitan:
Good Blazing Saturday, fellow WU-ians. In addition to the ongoing and relentless heat and drought, a quick update on a few other things that have been discussed here recently:

--The much-vaunted water filtration plan at Fukushima had to be stopped just a few hours into the planned months-long program when it was discovered that caesium levels were far higher than anyone expexted. Caesium-absorbing cartridges that were expected to last several weeks reached their limit in under five hours.

--The Joplin tornado has claimed a 154th victim. Meanwhile, the health officials have confirmed 12 cases of the deadly fungus zygomycosis. And, sadly, several first responders have been fired for looting in the aftermath of the storm.

--The Wallow Fire expanded beyond 500,000 acres yesterday (exact acreage will be available later). meanwhile, the Monument Fire nearly doubled in size, and the Horseshoe Two Fire has grown to 206,000 acres.

--The NRC swears the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant is safe, despite anything we're heard or read or seen. (And why wouldn't we believe everything they say?)

Enjoy your weekend... ;-)



well, well...Aren't you just a little ray of sunshine?!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good Blazing Saturday, fellow WU-ians. In addition to the ongoing and relentless heat and drought, a quick update on a few other things that have been discussed here recently:

--The much-vaunted water filtration plan at Fukushima had to be stopped just a few hours into the planned months-long program when it was discovered that caesium levels were far higher than anyone expexted. Caesium-absorbing cartridges that were expected to last several weeks reached their limit in under five hours.

--The Joplin tornado has claimed a 154th victim. Meanwhile, the health officials have confirmed 12 cases of the deadly fungus zygomycosis. And, sadly, several first responders have been fired for looting in the aftermath of the storm.

--The Wallow Fire expanded beyond 500,000 acres yesterday (exact acreage will be available later). meanwhile, the Monument Fire nearly doubled in size, and the Horseshoe Two Fire has grown to 206,000 acres.

--The NRC swears the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant is safe, despite anything we're heard or read or seen. (And why wouldn't we believe everything they say?)

Enjoy your weekend... ;-)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
470. DDR
Trinidad & Tobago met office
Radar__Link

During the last three hours, cloudy conditions
increased over both Trinidad and Tobago resulting
in periods of moderate to heavy showers and rain
along with scattered moderate to heavy
thunder-showers particularly in Trinidad. These
conditions are due to the ITCZ interacting with a
tropical wave approaching the twin island
republic.


The above conditions are forecasted to continue
over the next 4 to 6 hours with rainfall
accumulations likely to yield amounts in excess
of 25 millimeters. Street and flash flooding
along with gusty winds in excess of 40 km/h are
expected to continue accompanying heavy showers
and thundershowers. Rivers of moderate carrying
capacities may also become inundated.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
pleth·o·ra   
[pleth-er-uh] Show IPA
–noun
1.
overabundance; excess: a plethora of advice and a paucity of assistance.
2.
Pathology Archaic . a morbid condition due to excess of red corpuscles in the blood or increase in the quantity of blood.

I think the second definition is more appropriate for Texas.

Good morning y,all.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
468. DDR
Copious amount of rain in Trinidad this morning,possible flooding in some areas
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 AM EDT SAT JUN 18 2011

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

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

$$
FORECASTER CANGIALOSI
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Plethora- including but not limited too: bake, broil, steam, dehydrate, sizzle, braised, and blackened.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 171 Comments: 26250
Word for the day....Plethora

HPC Short Range Forecast Discussion

Excerpt:

ELSEWHERE...SUMMER IS MAKING ITS PRESENCE KNOWN OVER THE DEEP
SOUTH AND INTO THE SOUTHERN PLAINS WITH WELL ABOVE NORMAL
TEMPERATURES LASTING FOR AT LEAST THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS. HIGH
TEMPERATURES IN THE 100 TO 110 DEGREE RANGE CAN BE EXPECTED FOR
MUCH OF TEXAS...WITH SLIGHTLY COOLER BUT MORE HUMID CONDITIONS
NEAR THE GULF COAST. SCATTERED THUNDERSTORMS ARE LIKELY EACH
AFTERNOON OVER PARTS OF FLORIDA AND THE DEEP SOUTH IN THE PRESENCE
OF GULF SEA BREEZES AND A PLETHORA OF HUMIDITY.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
good morning dayshift- I see AtHome has eaten all the donuts again :)

Isn't Ike so sweet? after dealing with triple digits last week, he's decided to SHARE...with ME- I'm gonna be under a ridge like a pressure cooker.

Local NWS calling for century mark for a few days (why don't they just call it BROIL and quit trying to make it sound so fancy?)

And it's not even summer yet

maybe if I brew my coffee with some chiplotle, it won't seem so bad
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 171 Comments: 26250
are you a believer? epac has the spin but the nw carib. looks suspect. both are not going to pop.
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4862
The UKMET seems to bring us some rain too. :)

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


That is NICE! Just don't watch this one, if you have epilepsy or just woke up!

Link


That was beautiful! Thanks for sharing it. :) And I love NIN. The perfect touch.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Meanwhile, back at the OT Fukushima ranch ... the situation is not improving. Looks to me like there is going to be a lot of *highly* radioactive water dumped into the sea.

The groundwater is contaminated, and radioactive sewage sludge has been found in 16 of 46 prefectures in Japan. Hot spots are still being found well outside of the 30km exclusion zone. Whales are starting to turn up radioactive as strontium and other nasty things get concentrated up the food chain.

WTO


(from the Wall Street Journal)

Tepco Suspends Water Treatment Operation
BY DAISUKE WAKABAYASHI

TOKYO—Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, said it halted the use of a new system for decontaminating highly radioactive water after levels of radiation in one part of the system rose faster than expected.

The suspension came only five hours after Tepco started operation of the system, which aims to reduce the vast amounts of irradiated water at the facility. ...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
456. DDR
Looks like flood to me
areas in south and south eastern Trinidad maybe under water by sunrise
Radar...Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting aspectre:
"And they called me mad. Me? Mad? BWA-HAHA-HAHA-HAHAHAHA... Let them try to stop me now!"


I hadn't heard about this one. When it rains it pours, except in Texas lately!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Torgen:


THAT is just freaking mind-blowing. Thanks for sharing that, because I'd never have seen it! I stopped going to APOD for some reason.


Druseljic posted the link that it is on. Click on the "Discover the cosmos!" link on that page and there is a long list of images to look at.

Here you go:

Link

I am out for the night. See if you can wake up Grothar. Stay safe, everyone. May your weather be whatever you need it to be. I know, it's a nice thought and it hasn't worked for me either.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
"And they called me mad. Me? Mad? BWA-HAHA-HAHA-HAHAHAHA... Let them try to stop me now!"
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


That is NICE! Just don't watch this one, if you have epilepsy or just woke up!

Link


THAT is just freaking mind-blowing. Thanks for sharing that, because I'd never have seen it! I stopped going to APOD for some reason.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
during the day tomorrow it moves further west into southern BOC we wait till then anyway night all catch ya in am during daylight iam off to sleep land


Good night, Keep. Rest well. I hope it does pop again further west and sticks.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:
Nice loop, Keeper. I noticed that nice flair up on the NW end of the Yucatan and when it felt the heat from Texas it evaporated! Go figure.
during the day tomorrow it moves further west into southern BOC we wait till then anyway night all catch ya in am during daylight iam off to sleep land
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54800
Quoting druseljic:
Wow, an incredible photo of lightning, an eclipse, and the planet of the goats...


That is NICE! Just don't watch this one, if you have epilepsy or just woke up!

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting druseljic:
Wow, an incredible photo of lightning, an eclipse, and the planet of the goats...


Fantastic!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 497 - 447

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31Blog Index

Top of Page

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.

Local Weather

Overcast
54 °F
Overcast