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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1397. xcool
AtHomeInTX hello
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What if Beatriz instead of jumping to 45 mph goes higher than that, let's say 60 mph. Adrian did that. From 45 went to 60

Im so sure Beatriz WILL GO HIGHER than 75 mph, maybe up to 100.



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HURRICANE WARNINGS FOR THE FIRST TIME


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Quoting PcolaDan:

I think you're confusing Beatrix with Beatrice.
;)

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Link


That's too complicated, can't understand it, but whatever if its 45 mph its 45 mph then.
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


Where did you get that from?


Link
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


No.

EP, 02, 2011062000, , BEST, 0, 146N, 1017W, 40, 1001, TS, 34, NEQ, 30, 30, 20, 20, 1006, 200, 25, 0, 0, E, 0, , 0, 0, BEATRIZ, M,

40 knots/1001 mb


Where did you get that from?
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


Are you guessing?


No.

EP, 02, 2011062000, , BEST, 0, 146N, 1017W, 40, 1001, TS, 34, NEQ, 30, 30, 20, 20, 1006, 200, 25, 0, 0, E, 0, , 0, 0, BEATRIZ, M,

40 knots/1001 mb
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
This is as of the National Hurricane Center's 5:00 pm PDT advisory. Beatriz is at 45 mph/1001 mb now, but since it is from ATCF, we have to wait for the official NHC advisory.



Are you guessing?
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Horazonal Divergence?

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Quoting blsealevel:


NEXSAT (Gulf of Mexico).

Link


GREAT WEBSITE
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
This is as of the National Hurricane Center's 5:00 pm PDT advisory. Beatriz is at 45 mph/1001 mb now, but since it is from ATCF, we have to wait for the official NHC advisory.



You forgot the previous track :P
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Quoting xcool:
heyyyy


Hey xcool. Another member of the late night crew. :)

And hey Txhurr n Firstcoast.

Now that I said all that. I BBL. :)
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This is as of the National Hurricane Center's 5:00 pm PDT advisory. Beatriz is at 45 mph/1001 mb now, but since it is from ATCF, we have to wait for the official NHC advisory.

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Another Nuke plant with possible flooding warning...

http://www.nppd.com/Newsroom/NewsRelease.asp?News ReleaseID=503

Cooper Nuclear Station On Lowest Warning Level
Flooding precaution at southeast Nebraska plant along river
As the Missouri River rises, the Nebraska Public Power District declared a Notification of Unusual Event Sunday for the Cooper Nuclear Station located three miles southeast of Brownville, Nebraska along the riverfront.
Posted: 3:21 PM Jun 19, 2011
Reporter: WOWT
Email Address: sixonline@wowt.com


It is part of the safety and emergency preparedness plan that the station follows when certain flooding conditions are present.

NPPD says there is no threat to plant employees or the general public. The plant continues to operate safely. The Omaha Public Power District made the same declaration nearly two weeks ago when the Missouri River continued to rise near the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station.


The Missouri River surged to a new record at Brownville Sunday afternoon. The National Weather Service said the river measured at 44.75 feet surpassing a record of 44.3 feet set in 1993. Flood stage is 33 feet. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the river level at Brownville surged two feet from Saturday morning to Sunday morning.

NPPD plans dictate that when the Missouri River%u2019s water level reaches 42.5 feet or greater than 899 feet above sea level, the notification of an unusual event is declared. If the river%u2019s level increases to 900 feet above sea level, plant personnel will barricade internal doorways as another layer of protection for facility equipment. At 902 feet, the plant would be taken offline as a protective safety measure.

A Notification of Unusual Event is the lowest and least serious of four emergency classifications established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for nuclear power plants.

http://www.wowt.com/news/headlines/Declaration_at _Cooper_Nuclear_Station_124151904.html
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:



Where id you get that image from?


NEXSAT (Gulf of Mexico).

Link
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Quoting blsealevel:


It's only make belive!

Link



Where id you get that image from?
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try this again and loop it



Link
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1370. bappit
Looking more hopeful in Houston. Clouds are more mediocris than humilis late this afternoon. (Hooray for mediocrity!) Cloud bases are noticeably lower than in past few weeks. Plus the forecasts this week have some significant rain chances, 50-60% range on a couple days. Of course, even if it rains every single day I think we'd still be in a bad drought. Every bit helps, though.
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


I remember snow! Lol. It even snowed here in 2008. At about 2 in the morning. Which is when mother nature comes to call around here for some reason? Anyway, we all drifted out of our houses, completely unprepared and barefoot, and took pics of it before it melted with the sunrise. Lol. When it snowed in 2009 the charm had worn off and we were just cold. But yeah, it probably doesn't snow a lot in Florida.
Well Maybe it's good to be an odd ball sometimes.I mean to me and from what I've seen I'm the only washingtonian that's currently active here.Awesome!
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Maybe it's just the fact that I'm surrounded around a bunch of Floridians?.And we don't have the same weather.So it could be snowing here and like totally sunny warm and bright(hell it is almost all the time).Or it can even be snowny up here.And as we all know it rarley snows in Florida..


I remember snow! Lol. It even snowed here in 2008. At about 2 in the morning. Which is when mother nature comes to call around here for some reason? Anyway, we all drifted out of our houses, completely unprepared and barefoot, and took pics of it before it melted with the sunrise. Lol. When it snowed in 2009 the charm had worn off and we were just cold. But yeah, it probably doesn't snow a lot in Florida.
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1367. xcool
TxHurricanedude11 hello
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1365. xcool
FirstCoastMan hey ;))
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ummm

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heyy xcool :)
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1362. xcool
heyyyy
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If anyone is interested, here's a blog update on Beatriz. Catch you guys later. I'm gonna eat and relax. Still extremely tired from helping my cousin put up the wall of his swimming pool yesterday.

I'll be back a bit later though. Peace.
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Nothing against DC here. I lived in Arlington for 6 yrs many, many moons ago when Daddy worked at the Pentagon. It's not you believe me. I've had many conversations with myself at 2 in the morning. Lol. Timing's everything.
Maybe it's just the fact that I'm surrounded around a bunch of Floridians?.And we don't have the same weather.So it could be snowing here and like totally sunny warm and bright(hell it is almost all the time).Or it can even be snowny up here.And as we all know it rarley snows in Florida..
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Okay how about everyone share Beatriz.AGAIN SHOW YOURSELFS.I'MNOONE TO BE SCARED OF!.What do you people have against D.C.


Nothing against DC here. I lived in Arlington for 6 yrs many, many moons ago when Daddy worked at the Pentagon. It's not you believe me. I've had many conversations with myself at 2 in the morning. Lol. Timing's everything.
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When a hurricane is making landfall or threatning an area I WON'T be on.No way.
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Strengthening:

EP, 02, 2011062000, , BEST, 0, 146N, 1017W, 40, 1001, TS, 34, NEQ, 30, 30, 20, 20, 1006, 200, 25, 0, 0, E, 0, , 0, 0, BEATRIZ, M,
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1356. aquak9
Poor washingtonian...it's just been a slow day, ok hun? Just wait till there's actually something named. You won't even get a post in sideways. You'll post, hit refresh, and there'll be fifteen posts after yours already.

I've calculated seeing a post every 4 seconds on here.
that's when I DON'T POST.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 177 Comments: 26629

Quoting bohonkweatherman:
Does cloud seeding even work?
Despite what some claim, I highly doubt it. The only time I think it might be possible would be on a mesoscale level, but even then I doubt it. Meteorology is just too complex.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

first I would like Beatriz over us in the NW Carib then it goes to Florida then Texas
If only it were that easy. Does cloud seeding even work?
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Correction: Beatriz seems to be getting her act together.


That is very true. Look at that microwave image.

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Correction: Beatriz seems to be getting her act together.
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Quoting KoritheMan:

Correlation does not imply causation, ma'am. :)

Relax.
Okay then.
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Tropical Storm Beatriz seems to be getting his act together. If I were to guesstimate, this system is at least 45-50 mph at the present time.

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Quoting washingtonian115:
Well it has happened serval times that I have gotten on.Even in active parts of the hurricane season.It's like everyone can be having a conversation and then all of a sudden I come in people start dissapearing.
Correlation does not imply causation, ma'am. :)

Relax.
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THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NORTH PLATTE HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
SOUTHEASTERN HAYES COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST NEBRASKA...

* UNTIL 730 PM CDT

* AT 700 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS
STORM WAS LOCATED 9 MILES EAST OF PALISADE...OR 9 MILES SOUTH OF
HAYES CENTER...AND MOVING EAST AT 20 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
MAINLY RURAL AREAS OF SOUTHEASTERN HAYES COUNTY.

wow to many to list here so i linked it

Link
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Tornado Watch #516:



Tornadoes: Moderate (40%)
EF2+ Tornadoes: Moderate (30%)
Severe Wind: Moderate (30%)
65 kt+ Wind: Moderate (30%)
Severe Hail: High (70%)
2"+ Hail: Moderate (50%)
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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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