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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Quoting NRAamy:
All this is to say: please be prepared and help your community be prepared.

My "community" thinks I'm a nutjob for "prepping".... if I can't convince my friends and neighbors to prepare, what makes you think I'm gonna waste my time and energy on the masses?

forget it.... waste of time...


That's why we professional prep people love you, Amy.
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146. Skyepony (Mod)
~
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LOL. This was just posted on the WFTV Live Blog reference to the Cassey Anthony Trial. Someone is using WU Data. There are over 60,000 people worldwide on the blogs now.

Comment From 3 of Texas
This is the weather history for June 17, 2008 in Orlando if anyone is interested: http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KORL/2 008/6/17/DailyHistory.html?req_city=Orlando&req_st ate=FL&req_statename=Florida
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1937
144. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Torgen:


I'd rather go without rain than see Blinky the 3-Eyed Fish swimming in the Mississippi!


Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


Well, people have been asking, "what else could possibly happen?!?". Now we know???

Thanks, Skye.


The only hope is the models will be as wrong as they have been the last few weeks...or doom..lol.
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143. Skyepony (Mod)
ASCAT Caught the wanna be blob in the SW Caribbean.
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seriuosly, that's a cool hawk!

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Quoting PcolaDan:


I don't know anything about your name ;)
but I love the avatar picture. I almost got a good picture of a hawk in my back yard, but I was busy diving for cover as he was busy diving over the top of my head going after a squirrel on the fence behind me. ;)


Yeah, looked out the window of my home office, and there he was on top of the bird feeder. Haven't seen him in a long time, hope he's ok. It's been fun watching him grow up. He first showed up last year.
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Quoting Torgen:


Used it here from force of habit, I guess. I "invented" this name to sound Scandinavian in the Everquest beta 15 or so years ago. So many people "know" me by this name now, that it would be hard to ditch.


I don't know anything about your name ;)
but I love the avatar picture. I almost got a good picture of a hawk in my back yard, but I was busy diving for cover as he was busy diving over the top of my head going after a squirrel on the fence behind me. ;)
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting Skyepony:
Some models are hinting at a storm spinning up & pounding the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant/Missouri River situation while drawing some moisture up from the Caribbean for the drought stricken.


I'd rather go without rain than see Blinky the 3-Eyed Fish swimming in the Mississippi!
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Quoting Skyepony:
Some models are hinting at a storm spinning up & pounding the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant/Missouri River situation while drawing some moisture up from the Caribbean for the drought stricken.


Well, people have been asking, "what else could possibly happen?!?". Now we know???

Thanks, Skye.
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Quoting Grothar:


I remember that. The also gave weather reports in those days, before becoming an entertainment channel. You have an odd name like mine.


Used it here from force of habit, I guess. I "invented" this name to sound Scandinavian in the Everquest beta 15 or so years ago. So many people "know" me by this name now, that it would be hard to ditch.
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135. Skyepony (Mod)
The dam pics are amazing & the 50 mph, extreme fire weather sounds frightening. That's the sort of thing we've seen when towns have been lost.
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133. Skyepony (Mod)
Some models are hinting at a storm spinning up & pounding the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant/Missouri River situation while drawing some moisture up from the Caribbean for the drought stricken.
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Good flare-up in the Southern Caribbean

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Hear that... problem is you have to deal with them

no, I won't... trust me, when I said I was a "prepper", I meant it....
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Quoting NRAamy:


My "community" thinks I'm a nutjob for "prepping".... if I can't convince my friends and neighbors to prepare, what makes you think I'm gonna waste my time and energy on the masses?

forget it.... waste of time...

Hear that... problem is you have to deal with them -unless you have a helicopter in your backyard or live on the outskirts of town and can beat them to the interstate... If your living in the middle of a large urban area you're done for and that's not even if a disaster strikes.. that can happen if the electricity doesn't come on for a couple of days in a row!

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Quoting Torgen:


In the early 90s, we kept the Weather Channel on all the time for jazz music. :)


I remember that. The also gave weather reports in those days, before becoming an entertainment channel. You have an odd name like mine.
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All this is to say: please be prepared and help your community be prepared.

My "community" thinks I'm a nutjob for "prepping".... if I can't convince my friends and neighbors to prepare, what makes you think I'm gonna waste my time and energy on the masses?

forget it.... waste of time...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
126. 7544
hi all southern caribean looking interesting around 76 west
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Quoting bohonkweatherman:
Watching the Radars today, storms are moving into, developing all over Florida. Good for them. In Texas there isn't even any fair weather clouds. In the shade the Heat is not that bad because the humidity is low and winds are blowing 20 to 30 mph but temps are around 105 or so. I will continue to pray for rain for all those that need it and I will pray for those who are flooded. Happy Friday to all.
Sprinkles here in Cape Coral Florida with sun out.
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Watching the Radars today, storms are moving into, developing all over Florida. Good for them. In Texas there isn't even any fair weather clouds. In the shade the Heat is not that bad because the humidity is low and winds are blowing 20 to 30 mph but temps are around 105 or so. I will continue to pray for rain for all those that need it and I will pray for those who are flooded. Happy Friday to all.
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1348
Just a thought upon reading about the Missouri flooding..
All we can do as mankind is analyze recorded data and hypothesize making our best guess about future events. I live in CA and we know that at some point a very large earthquake will wreak havoc on millions -possibly tens of millions of people. If there is a tsunami all those low lying coastal communities will be wiped out much like the tragedy in Japan this year.
We know in part about what natural disasters have happened on this planet we have contingency plans, flood control channels, basements, weather alert radios etc.. where I'm I headed with this? Mankind with all its technology is still so limited in forecasting and dealing with disasters.. The POTUS gets on TV and makes a heartfelt speech and then in a few weeks or days the problem is forgotten. That's all well and fine with most people who are not affected but at some point we are going to be the ones affected.
All this is to say: please be prepared and help your community be prepared. We've seen how quickly weather can turn bad and the zero warning of major  earthquakes. We've seen the 'effectiveness' of FEMA and the UN...
and one last point.. now is the time to get yourself right with God... yeah I said it... you don't need church -good ones are tough to find these days, just dust off the Good Book and tell Him you want to get reacquainted. He knows the future, we can only guess...
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http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/06/16/ 2011-14666/vulnerability-and-threat-information-fo r-facilities-storing-spent-nuclear-fuel-and-high-l evel

Link

Nuke plant in danger of washing away. This comes out today.

the only relevance I can see is the blog slowed down and this strikes me as ironic. your mileage will vary in regards to irony.
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92 is beginning to look a little more centered.

http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/htdocs_dyn_pregen_sat/ PUBLIC/tc_pages/thumbs/medium/tc11/EPAC/92E.INVEST /ir/geo/1km/20110617.1815.goes13.x.ir1km.92EINVEST .25kts-1008mb-125N-933W.100pc.jpg
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Quoting Grothar:



1983.


In the early 90s, we kept the Weather Channel on all the time for jazz music. :)
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Grothar, that's BC, right?
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Quoting troy1993:
Oh all right guys this is poll: What do you guys think was the best Weather Channel Storm Alert music?
A. 2004
B. 2005
C. 2006-2007
D. 2008



1983.
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Quoting lhwhelk:

This is the first mention I have seen of the "Monument Fire" in southern AZ at the Coronodo National Monument. It doesn't make this blog or the national news. I have a friend in Sierra Vista (which may or may not be evacuated) who reports that at least 40 homes have been destroyed. This is not as large as the Wallow or Horseshoe fires, but is pretty devastating. It is believed to be human-caused, possibly by immigrants starting fires for cooking. This fire also extends into Mexico.

The Monument Fire was mentioned here earlier today; I guess many might have missed it.

So far as the cause, I've noticed that virtually every fire burning in the Southwest U.S. is at one time or another blamed on "immigrants". And that makes the headlines, of course. But when an investigation finds the cause to be something else--an unemployed firefighter seeking work, an off-road vehicle, a carelessly-tossed cigarette, a signal fire by a lost hiker--retractions are seldom made. I'm not saying fugitives from the law are incapable of starting a fire, but most are probably aware that of all the ways one can evade detection, starting a 700-square-mile blaze is not one of them. ;-)
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Quoting Squid28:
Ok, first post of the probably 25 that I will make all season long....

Lets see here....

Live on the upper Texas coast: Check

Lost our house in Ike: Check

Guts like to twsit up in a ball at thought of another storm: Check

Owe a second mortgage to SBA: Check

Always have to restrain self from yelling when someone "wants" a storm: Check

Under voluntary water rationing: Check

Praying for moisture from any source; including a minor cain: Check

Anyone ever notice how the GFS always dangles a carrot six days plus out at the "promise" of rain?

At this point the local meteorologists will grasp at any straw (model) showing rain no matter how far out, un-proven or un-reliable as the model may be. Note: not directed at the GFS, just a general observation



Navy?
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Quoting jasonweatherman2010:
wow circalation a 4!!


wow! ...getting pretty bad when you gotta quote yourself...lol... now let me add this name as well...
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112. beell
Quoting Squid28:


Their is a project under construction right now to tie Lake Houston via a transfer canal to the Trinity river called the Luce Bayou Interbasin. This should be a major bonus for Houston, in the years to come as it relates to water availability.

Luce Bayou


Thanks for the link. Had not heard of this project. Up to 400 million gallons of water per day. I think they are still waiting on the EIS with a first draft due in December of this year.

Thanks again!

Link
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Quoting RTLSNK:
Green, yellow, and red. Happy times are here again.


Hope that can come farther east. That's exactly what we need to solve this problem:




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110. beell
Quoting CybrTeddy:
12z GFS run for a BOC system was the strongest yet, 1000 mb.



It is showing a surface low. Above that, there has been some consistency at showing a long stretched out inverted trough from the BOC to the upper TX coast-without much consolidation.

If part of this modeled system is indeed comprised of a larger monsoonal circulation it may take some doing to pull together into a storm. Also part of this circulation could be over land.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Its being shown particularly fierce on the GFS with a 1000 mb low, with some support from the NOGAPS.


I just checked that and you are right GFS is showing something.... I will welcome any rain from what ever it is....

Taco :o)
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3261
Quoting TxHurricanedude11:
wow 6-8 inches from now - 228 hrs out...

Now that is just a beautiful sight!
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Quoting emcf30:
703,770 acres from 3 fires currently burning in Az. That's incredible. Next few days are going to be rough on the fire lines with the current weather conditions and forecast.

Burnt Area: 18,580 Acres (100% increase from yesterday)
Incident Team Type: IMT Type 1
Team Leader: Greg Poncin, IC
Containment Status: 15% contained)

This is the first mention I have seen of the "Monument Fire" in southern AZ at the Coronodo National Monument. It doesn't make this blog or the national news. I have a friend in Sierra Vista (which may or may not be evacuated) who reports that at least 40 homes have been destroyed. This is not as large as the Wallow or Horseshoe fires, but is pretty devastating. It is believed to be human-caused, possibly by immigrants starting fires for cooking. This fire also extends into Mexico.
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000
ABNT20 KNHC 171744
TWOAT

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 PM EDT FRI JUN 17 2011

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

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

$$
FORECASTER BRENNAN
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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
The chaff is back off the coast of west fl.


Why not do it over there in Texas and Arizona!
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Quoting taco2me61:
Hi everyone,

Just checking in to see whats going own....

TWC has been talking about something Tropical in the GOM late next week as well as the Locale TV Weather wantabees :o).... So i thought I would look for my self.... But I am wondering what you all think????

Taco :o)


Its being shown particularly fierce on the GFS with a 1000 mb low, with some support from the NOGAPS.
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Green, yellow, and red. Happy times are here again.
Member Since: September 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 21292
Hi everyone,

Just checking in to see whats going own....

TWC has been talking about something Tropical in the GOM late next week as well as the Locale TV Weather wantabees :o).... So i thought I would look for my self.... But I am wondering what you all think????

Taco :o)
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3261
Melting snow triggers flooding in Yosemite

Thursday, June 16, 2011



YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (KABC) -- The melting snowpack is causing flooding problems in Yosemite National Park.


High water has forced the park to shut down 40 campsites at the Lower and North Pines campgrounds. Twenty cabins at Housekeeping Camp are also flooded.


Park rangers hope to have the campgrounds open by the weekend. They blame the massive amount of snow that fell this year.

However, all that water means the falls are flowing beautifully right now.

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12z GFS run for a BOC system was the strongest yet, 1000 mb.
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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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