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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1297. aquak9
here's the link- just had to tweak the code a little

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1296. Grothar
Quoting DeerfieldBeachGuy:
And yet another day goes by when it rains everywhere but here. Deerfield Beach did not get in on any of the thunderstorm action today. So disappointing!

Storms look to be consolidating out in the Everglades now and it looks the coast is clearing out.

The drought continues...



11 raindrops in Coral Ridge
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25295
Quoting KoritheMan:


Copy/pasting the link doesn't seem to work. It just brings me to the home page.


There's a space between the two 11's in 2011, backspace it and you'll be fine.
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1294. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services And Administration
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #13
TROPICAL DEPRESSION EGAY
5:00 AM PhST June 20 2011
=======================================

Tropical Depresssion "EGAY" has moved Westward and is now moving away from the country.

At 4:00 AM PhST, Tropical Depression Egay located at 19.7N 120.8E or 160 km northwest of Aparri, Cagayan has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots. The depression is reported as moving west northwest at 10 knots.

Signal Warnings
=================

Signal Warning #1
-------------

Luzon Region
-----------
1. Northern Cagayan
2. Calayan
3. Babuyan Group of Is.
4. Batanes Group of Is.
5. Apayao
6. Ilocos Norte

Additional Information
======================

Public Storm Warning Signals elsewhere are now lowered.

Residents in low lying and mountainous areas under signal # 1 are alerted against possible flash floods and landslides.

TD "EGAY" is expected to enhance the southwest monsoon and will bring rains over the western section of Luzon and of Visayas.

Gale Warning is issued over the western seaboards of Luzon and Visayas and the eastern seaboard of Luzon.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 11 AM today and the hourly updates.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


I picked B and B.


I meant A and B, oops
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1292. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #19
DEPRESSION BOB02-2011
23:30 PM IST June 19 2011
===================================

SUBJECT: Depression Over Jharkhand And Adjoining Areas Of Chhattisgarh.

At 18:00 PM UTC, Depression BOB02-2011 over Jharkhand moved westwards and lay centred at 2330 hours IST of yesterday, 19 June 2011 over Jharkhand and adjoining areas of Chhattisgarh near 23.5N 84.5E, or about 130 km east-north east of Ambikapur.

The system would move west-northwestwards and weaken gradually.
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Quoting PlazaRed:
Evening Everybody,
Heres an interesting article from Al Jazzera, that Nea might like to read and anybody else who followed the problem in the Japan nuclear disaster, they have some interesting new facts and info on the non future of the problem that will get worse.
I cant link it to you but copy and paste it if you can get this where ever you might be!

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/201 1/06/201161664828302638.html

I find this all very disturbing.


Copy/pasting the link doesn't seem to work. It just brings me to the home page.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


I agree with you on both

A and A


I picked B and B.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31417
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1270.

Just flag and ignore people, flag & ignore.
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I added a part for Beatriz in my poll.




A and B
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
I'm actually wishing for a tropical storm in the Gulf, one that provides loads of much needed rain for Texas and I'm really hoping the GFS pans out. Texas is like hell on Earth right now from what I'm hearing. When its done, maybe a weak Bret can hit Florida too, we need rain too though we're starting to get ours, particularly inland ;)
I have lived here most of my life except for 4 years in Louisiana and I am getting up there in age I have never witnessed weather like this. Where I am is in New housing area that backs up to Farms, so the trees are small and the spaces are wide open. The winds can get 30 to 40 mph quite often, humidity is high early in the morning but by early afternoon down pretty low, the temps are ranging from upper 70s to mid 80's for lows and 100 to near 110 for highs. If you get under a big tree and dont go in sun on windy day you will be ok but the heat is brutal and I have lived in Texas since the 50's. We have had some years when it never reached 100. I just past 20 days of over 100 this year and Summer starts Tuesday. For a long time clouds are rare and when we get a quarter of an inch it seems like so much more. For the past week my average high has been 105. I am not seeing too many people outside. The all time record for number of 100 degree days here is 69, but that year it was from July to Sept. We had several days in the past months where we had a decent chance of rain but very little showed up on the radars and very few lucky people received rain.
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1348
1280. aquak9
rain deficit- means how far away we are from expected, or average, right?

I'd like to know where these so-called "averages" come from, because we've been in the deficit for so long, it seems like it should be the new "normal".

Discounting Faye, which would be outlying data (exceeding 3SD), Florida's been under a deficit like for at least a decade it seems. But really, it's become normal.
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1279. hotrods
Hi everyone, NWS in Melbourne says 40% chance of rain here on the space coast, not a drop today, geeze! we get a better chance at 20%
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Here's a video that was just sent to me of the fire just north of Huntsville, TX.
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I added a part for Beatriz in my poll.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31417
1275. j2008
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Tropical Weather Poll - Atlantic basin

Question: When will the first tropical storm of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season develop?

A. June 20 - July 1
B. July 2 - July 14
C. July 15 - July 27
D. July 28 - August 11
E. Sometime afterwards

My pick is in bold.

Sometime from A-B I'm thinking June 28 - July 10.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Evening Everybody,
Heres an interesting article from Al Jazzera, that Nea might like to read and anybody else who followed the problem in the Japan nuclear disaster, they have some interesting new facts and info on the non future of the problem that will get worse.
I cant link it to you but copy and paste it if you can get this where ever you might be!

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/201 1/06/201161664828302638.html

I find this all very disturbing.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Tropical Weather Poll - Atlantic basin

Question: When will the first tropical storm of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season develop?

A. June 20 - July 1
B. July 2 - July 14
C. July 15 - July 27
D. July 28 - August 11
E. Sometime afterwards

My pick is in bold.


I will go with A, but barely
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
I'm actually wishing for a tropical storm in the Gulf, one that provides loads of much needed rain for Texas and I'm really hoping the GFS pans out. Texas is like hell on Earth right now from what I'm hearing. When its done, maybe a weak Bret can hit Florida too, we need rain too though we're starting to get ours, particularly inland ;)


Hope Texas gets theirs soon. They need it more than FL. From the Jax NWS:

.LONG TERM...THURSDAY THROUGH SUNDAY...
ON THURSDAY THE RIDGE IS PUSHED SOUTH AS AN UPPER TROUGH AMPLIFIES
OVER THE EASTERN U.S. A DEEP AND MOIST SW FLOW SHOULD BRING DECENT
CHANCES OF MUCH NEEDED RAIN THURSDAY THRU SATURDAY. GFS MODEL
CONTINUES TO SHOW ABUNDANT MOISTURE WITH PWATS EXCEEDING 2 INCHES
DURING THE PERIOD. MAX TEMPS WILL DROP A NOTCH INTO LOW/MID 90S.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Tropical Weather Poll - Atlantic basin

Question: When will the first tropical storm of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season develop?

A. June 20 - July 1
B. July 2 - July 14
C. July 15 - July 27
D. July 28 - August 11
E. Sometime afterwards

------------------------------------------------- ----

Tropical Weather Poll - Pacific basin

Question: What will Beatriz peak as?

A. Tropical Storm (40-70 mph)
B. Category 1 hurricane (75-90 mph)
C. Category 2 hurricane (95-110 mph)
D. Category 3 hurricane (115-130 mph)
E. Higher than 130 mph (Category 4/5)

My picks are in bold.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31417
1267. beell
I don't think you could line up 3-4" of rain (5 day QPF-12Z Sunday through 12Z Friday) to all fall in the immediate vicinity of the Missouri River any better than this. In any case, most of what falls seems certain to fall within the drainage basin.

click graphics to open in new window


Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 141 Comments: 16200
I'm actually wishing for a tropical storm in the Gulf, one that provides loads of much needed rain for Texas and I'm really hoping the GFS pans out. Texas is like hell on Earth right now from what I'm hearing. When its done, maybe a weak Bret can hit Florida too, we need rain too though we're starting to get ours, particularly inland ;)
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the most up to date east texasfire reports are KTRE, The Lufkin Daily News, and The Wunderblog radar report. wundeground to the rescue again!
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Please pray for rain in east texas. Having gone through Katrina, Rita, and Ike I never thought I would want a hurricane but our forestry people have exhausted all resources and are waiting for help from other states. The national Forest is burning on both sides of us, and homes are being evacuated as we speak. Thousands of acres.it is scary...
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Quoting txag91met:
Huge fire NW of my house ( I live NW side of Houston, TX).


I have another angle of probably the same fire, but I can't upload it from my iPad at the moment. It's just slightly west of north from me and I thought it was a storm at first.

Scary, since my project for the day has been to mow or cut down all potentially flammable vegetation. I'm just glad this one is downwind.
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be nice if they had some kind of contest every week for predictions for the following week post on a board with a timeline this week has possibilities. when we get into late july the board will light up
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That would be nice if a small system formed in the GOM, in the what next 4 or 5 days or so, they need the rain badly so does poor florida dam wish i could have sent the 5 inches or rain wev'e recieved here over the past few days.So NOAA has predicted that Beatriz will max out a weak cat 1 storm, that is what they predicted with the first storm Adrian, whoops.I'm not saying Beatriz will follow suit the conditions aren't quite the same for that to take place. However, that is 1 area Noaa needs to improve on when these storms go into a rapid intensifacation mode, send up the aircraft they need to stay there send a refueling plane there, cause alot can happen in 6 hours lol.I couldn't imagine living say on the gulf coast and seeing or hearing of a tropical storm is in the GOM and wake up the next morning to find a cat 4 storm on your doorstep that would make a landfall in 3 hours or so to a major populated area, how the heck would get that many people out of harms way in a short time frame like that.Your welcome to send your feedback i know its a worse case scenario but it can happen given the right environmental conditions.
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Quoting LloydBentsen:
Where would one find the most up-to-date info on wild fires in TX?

http://www.inciweb.org/state/45/
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=
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
45% on day 2 could potentially mean that tomorrow will get upgraded to a High risk for severe weather...I would, it appears there is going to be a major severe weather/tornado outbreak.

We're not supposed to get much severe weather from that storm here in Fargo, but we are supposed to get LOTS of rain. 100% chance of rain on Wed.
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45% on day 2 could potentially mean that tomorrow will get upgraded to a High risk for severe weather...I would, it appears there is going to be a major severe weather/tornado outbreak.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31417
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


I wish that is how it occurs, but even if we do get something to begin to develop in the BOC, it will be monsoonal in nature, meaning it will not develop as fast as you advertise above. Alex of last year was monsoonal, and took 8 days.


Some of the energy is already there, plus I would think this type of development is not as monsoonal as Alex was last year

a TD in the BOC is 10 days is possible.
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:
Here is my Timeline for the next 10 days.
Day 1: TS BEATRIZ Heads toward Mexico(Becomes 65 Mph Storm during the time)

Day 2: TS BEATRIZ Becomes a Hurricane(Peaks at 80 Mph) and begins to weaken that night while brushing the mexican coast.
The Tropical wave that is over the Yucatan is now sitting in the Bay of Campeche.

Day 3: TS BEATRIZ is pushed westward leaving a piece behind, as it heads out to sea and dissipates. The Tropical Wave begins to pull the stray piece in.

Day 4: TD BEATRIZ is dead. Another tropical wave(currently in the Central Caribbean) comes into the low in the Bay of Campeche. MJO comes into the region.

Day 5: The low is noticed by the NHC, and is given a 10% Chance for formation(As wind shear drops)

Day 6: The Low is given a 20% throughout the day and in the last TWO of the day its given a 30% Chance.

Day 7: The low is tagged as Invest 95L, and stays at 30% all day.

Day 8: 95L moves slight North and becomes slightly better defined and by the end of the day 95L is marked at 50%.

Day 9: 95L starts to organize, stays at 50% until the end of the day, when its marked at 60%.

Day 10: 95L begins to go through Cyclonegenesis, and is marked at 80%, and at the 11 PM Advisory it forms into Tropical Depression One in the Southwestern Gulf.


I wish that is how it occurs, but even if we do get something to begin to develop in the BOC, it will be monsoonal in nature, meaning it will not develop as fast as you advertise above. Alex of last year was monsoonal, and took 8 days.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31417
And yet another day goes by when it rains everywhere but here. Deerfield Beach did not get in on any of the thunderstorm action today. So disappointing!

Storms look to be consolidating out in the Everglades now and it looks the coast is clearing out.

The drought continues...
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:
Here is my Timeline for the next 10 days.
Day 1: TS BEATRIZ Heads toward Mexico(Becomes 65 Mph Storm during the time)

Day 2: TS BEATRIZ Becomes a Hurricane(Peaks at 80 Mph) and begins to weaken that night while brushing the mexican coast.
The Tropical wave that is over the Yucatan is now sitting in the Bay of Campeche.

Day 3: TS BEATRIZ is pushed westward leaving a piece behind, as it heads out to sea and dissipates. The Tropical Wave begins to pull the stray piece in.

Day 4: TD BEATRIZ is dead. Another tropical wave(currently in the Central Caribbean) comes into the low in the Bay of Campeche. MJO comes into the region.

Day 5: The low is noticed by the NHC, and is given a 10% Chance for formation(As wind shear drops)

Day 6: The Low is given a 20% throughout the day and in the last TWO of the day its given a 30% Chance.

Day 7: The low is tagged as Invest 95L, and stays at 30% all day.

Day 8: 95L moves slight North and becomes slightly better defined and by the end of the day 95L is marked at 50%.

Day 9: 95L starts to organize, stays at 50% until the end of the day, when its marked at 60%.

Day 10: 95L begins to go through Cyclonegenesis, and is marked at 80%, and at the 11 PM Advisory it forms into Tropical Depression One in the Southwestern Gulf.
I'll be anxiously awaiting your followup.
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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.