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: 1197 - 1147

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

Winds have shifted here and are now blowing out of the SW. I hope that some of those boomers start drifting our way now.

It's so disappointing to see it raining out west and all we get is the blown off cloud tops from the thunderstorms.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It looks like you guys are finally gonna share some of the heat... So Cal starts hitting 90's finally this week.

I wish I was back on the beach in Hollywood, FL like I was in October!

Oh well, I only have to work 4 hours on this Father's Day.

I hope all of you fathers and grandfathers are doing well.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1195. aquak9
Quoting CosmicEvents:
Yep, it's like somebody put Sprühkondom over Ft. Lauderdale.


Longhen-stretchen SprühKondom- it covers the whole state.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25506
Quoting kosbo77:


We feel your pain here in southern MS.


yep went there the other day and it looked just as bad
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1193. kosbo77
Quoting weatherh98:


se la has had two inches of rain since feb. the grass is brown an there are no swamps its so bad.


We feel your pain here in southern MS.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
i cant remember what rain looks like
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Things are getting interesting. Watch the 25 parallel!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting PRZEDCASTER:


Yup , another SPRITZEL SPRAY here also !!!!!!!!!!!
Yep, it's like somebody put Sprühkondom over Ft. Lauderdale.
Member Since: August 3, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 5458
1189. aquak9
Gro- I'm like, "ok...where in this world could DeerfieldBeachGuy be from?"

The I had this vision of you on a scooter, now that was scary, some of'm can go fast.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25506
Quoting FloorManBroward:




I understand we are all in desperate need for rain but it seems the local rain in Broward Couunty likes to die before it gets here.
Althoughit is raining nicely now.


se la has had two inches of rain since feb. the grass is brown an there are no swamps its so bad.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:



Aye, Captain Kirk. I'll tell Scotty right away.


Grothar I thought you were from the past not from the future
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Quoting weatherh98:


its the entire southeast!!!!!!!!!!



I understand we are all in desperate need for rain but it seems the local rain in Broward Couunty likes to die before it gets here.
Althoughit is raining nicely now.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1185. Grothar
Quoting FloorManBroward:
Will somebody please remove the deflector shields from Fort Lauderdale.Rain seems to die right before it gets here



Aye, Captain Kirk. I'll tell Scotty right away.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CosmicEvents:
Well, that felt good, but again it didn't last long enough. Me and Mother Nature are gonna' have to go see a counselor.


Yup , another SPRITZEL SPRAY here also !!!!!!!!!!!
Quoting FloorManBroward:
Will somebody please remove the deflector shields from Fort Lauderdale.Rain seems to die right before it gets here


its the entire southeast!!!!!!!!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I keppforegetting their's a storm in the pacific...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
So, we got Beatriz. Two storms within the first month, but the East Pacific always seems to like to come out of the blocks strong. Of course, last year, by the end of the month was Darby (incl. Celia's Cat 5 cameo). Only 3 more EPac names came (though there was Omeka in the CPac). This basin'll be interesting over the next few years to see how much of an impact the negative PDO has considering last time it occurred records were patchy.

Any worries we had over drought should be gone, or at the very least, well on its way. Westerlies have made their presence failed and it feels cooler than April. Not sure how it's been for France and Germany, though.

And while not a golf fan, hoping McIlroy brings it home especially after visiting Haiti and his unfortunate final round malfunction at the last big tournament.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Pressure dropping nicely:

EP, 02, 2011061918, , BEST, 0, 141N, 1007W, 35, 1004, TS, 34, NEQ, 30, 30, 0, 15, 1009, 215, 30, 0, 0, E, 0, , 0, 0, BEATRIZ, M,
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1178. srada
Hope this hasnt been posted already..

ATLANTIC OCEAN...
AN UPPER LEVEL TROUGH HAS PUSHED OFF THE SE UNITED STATES COAST
AND INTO THE FAR SW N ATLC REGION EXTENDING FROM JUST E OF THE
COASTAL CAROLINAS TO THE FLORIDA COAST NEAR DAYTONA BEACH. THIS
FEATURE IS SUPPORTING NEW CONVECTIVE DEVELOPMENT E OF FLORIDA
AND N OF THE BAHAMAS. RECENT WINDSAT AND ASCAT PASSES SHOWED SW
10-15 KT WINDS OVER THE FAR NW PORTION. A WEAK UPPER LEVEL
ANTICYCLONE IS OVER THE SW N ATLC NEAR 25N71W SUPPORTING A
SURFACE HIGH CENTERED NEAR 27N73W WITH A RIDGE AXIS REACHING
FROM THE HIGH TO THE COAST OF FLORIDA NEAR WEST PALM BEACH.
BROAD UPPER TROUGHING COVERS THE REMAINDER OF THE W AND CENTRAL
ATLC N OF 20N BETWEEN 40W AND THE UPPER ANTICYCLONE. THIS
FEATURE IS SUPPORTING A COLD FRONT AT THE SURFACE...WHICH
REACHES FROM 31N50W TO 27N58W CONTINUING AS A STATIONARY FRONT
FROM THERE TO 26N70W. SCATTERED SHOWERS AND ISOLATED TSTMS ARE
OCCURRING WITHIN 60-120 NM E-SE OF THE COLD FRONT. THE
STATIONARY FRONT PORTION WILL DISSIPATE DURING THE NEXT 24 HOURS
WHILE THE COLD FRONT CONTINUES OFF TO THE NE-E
Member Since: August 17, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 772
Will somebody please remove the deflector shields from Fort Lauderdale.Rain seems to die right before it gets here
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
that "little spin" looks too far north for june
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Just joshing on the Deerfield Beach thing, but good to know the rest. Congrats, keep it up.


Hahaha... good one man! I am a little slow today :D

But thank you for the kudos! I am trying my best to better myself. FAU has a really good graduate business program and I am looking forward to the challenge.

That BBQ sounds really good Grothar pass a plate up this way!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1172. srada
GFS


CMC


Nogaps


HWRF
Member Since: August 17, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 772
Quoting DDR:
Good afternoon
7.4 inches of rain since June 1st, Trinidad
Don't say that around Floridians.They'll hunt ya down.Lol.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1170. DDR
Good afternoon
7.4 inches of rain since June 1st, Trinidad
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
To bad for poor Florida.However my area has been getting rain that it needs and even more is in the forecast.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1168. srada
Quoting jasonweatherman2010:
here is a little spin.


Models are still set on this developing but at different locations eithier VA or NC..depends on where the low sets up..I still say we will see Arlene off the east coast before the gulf gets a name storm..
Member Since: August 17, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 772
1167. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


''..Stay on target, stay on target..''
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting jasonweatherman2010:
here is a little spin.
Interesting.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1164. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
T.C.F.W.
02E/TS/B/CX
MARK
13.93N/101.19W
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Well, that felt good, but again it didn't last long enough. Me and Mother Nature are gonna' have to go see a counselor.
Member Since: August 3, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 5458
Quoting PRZEDCASTER:



WOW, look at that , it's moving this way , could it, would it , can it really be ???? I see this so often where it just peters out when it gets close to here :(


Trends show the storms not only maintaining, but building as the afternoon goes on. Storms generally are moving slowly eastward.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting cchsweatherman:
Very unstable atmosphere established over Southeast Florida this afternoon. Have CAPE values widespread at at least 4000 J/kg and some over 5000 J/kg as well as impressive lift indexes at -10. Both these indicators would suggest a good chance for thunderstorms to turn severe over Southeast Florida through the afternoon and evening hours. Biggest threats in storms would be hurricane force wind gusts and hail, and given the undefined steering pattern across the area, heavy rainfall.



WOW, look at that , it's moving this way , could it, would it , can it really be ???? I see this so often where it just peters out when it gets close to here :(
Quoting aquak9:
goosegirl- yeah they are scary, and that stinger on the end will leave ya hurtin' for days.


I was never so unlucky to get that close, but I'll really keep my distance now! Have you ever seen a hickory horned devil? That's one apparently harmless, but out of a nightmare anyway.

http://hilarynelson.com/Hobbies/Bugs/HickoryHorne dDevilCaterpillar

Sorry, not so good at embedding links. But copy the link and look, if you wish.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1154. 7544
Quoting cchsweatherman:
Very unstable atmosphere established over Southeast Florida this afternoon. Have CAPE values widespread at at least 4000 J/kg and some over 5000 J/kg as well as impressive lift indexes at -10. Both these indicators would suggest a good chance for thunderstorms to turn severe over Southeast Florida through the afternoon and evening hours. Biggest threats in storms would be hurricane force wind gusts and hail, and given the undefined steering pattern across the area, heavy rainfall.


right on target good call cchs this just in

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MIAMI HAS ISSUED A * SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR... EAST CENTRAL BROWARD COUNTY IN SOUTH FLORIDA. * UNTIL 330 PM EDT * AT 237 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS HAVE DETECTED A LINE OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING QUARTER SIZE HAIL...AND DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH. THESE STORMS WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM CORAL SPRINGS TO 3 MILES WEST OF SAWGRASS MILLS MALL...AND MOVING EAST AT 5 MPH. * THE LINE OF STORMS WILL AFFECT... CORAL SPRINGS... PARKLAND... TAMARAC... SUNRISE... MARGATE... NORTH LAUDERDALE... AND SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES.
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6618
Quoting jasonweatherman2010:
maybe 90F water temp soon.
A tropical cyclone will have a feild day with those tempetures....of course if upper level conditions preveil.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting caneswatch:


Just got about a half-hour worth of torrential rain here in Central PBC, and a bit of thunder as well.

That calls for watching the US Open and watching Rory McIlory seal the deal.


It appears to be blowing through Coral Springs, FL right about now. Just a bit of lightning so far. But - we really need the rain here!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Mmmm I wonder what July has in store for us?.2005 and 2008 which were both neutral years like this one had active July's.Lets see what happens this year.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Doing anything with your Father today?


I did. I gave him a Jimi Hendrix Experience CD and a Blu-Ray movie and I took him to Duffy's for lunch, and they gave all of the dad's a Duffy's glass.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1148. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Woah on a sst chart I was looking at on another website it had a water tempeture reading of 88 degress in the gulf.Does anybody have a TCHP chart?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 1197 - 1147

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 JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.