Summer Midwest flooding could rival 1993 as most expensive in history

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:52 PM GMT on July 07, 2011

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Heavy rains this summer could trigger floods that would rival America's most expensive flood disaster of all-time, said NOAA in a press release yesterday. The most expensive flood in America occurred in 1993, when torrential summer rains caused a $25 billion flood along the Missouri River and surrounding regions of the Upper Midwest. Record 100-year flooding has already occurred along many stretches of the Missouri, Souris, James, North Platte, and other rivers in the Upper Midwest over the past month. With rivers running high and soils completely saturated this summer, just a small amount of rain could trigger more flooding, including areas that have already seen major to record flooding. "The sponge is fully saturated--there is nowhere for any additional water to go," said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of NOAA's National Weather Service. "While unusual for this time of year, all signs point to the flood threat continuing through summer."

Throughout the rest of the summer, the highest flood risk areas include:

- North Central U.S. including Souris River (North Dakota) and Red River of the North (border of North Dakota and Minnesota), Minnesota River (Minnesota), Upper Mississippi River (Minnesota and Iowa), and Des Moines River (Iowa)
- Lower Missouri River from Gavin’s Point (Nebraska and South Dakota border) downstream along the border of Nebraska and Iowa, continuing through the borders of Kansas and Missouri then through Missouri to the Mississippi River
- Tributaries to the Lower Missouri including the James and Big Sioux Rivers in North Dakota
- Lower Ohio River Valley including the White, Wabash and lower Ohio River
- East of Rockies: North Platte River in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska and Yellowstone River in Wyoming and Montana
- West of Rockies: Utah and Colorado

The latest 3-month precipitation forecast from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (Figure 1) show an above average chance of heavy rains over much of the Upper Midwest this summer.


Figure 1. Precipitation forecast for July-August-September as issued by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. Above average chances of heavy precipitation (green colors) are expected over much of the Upper Midwest.

June 2011 was highest single month of runoff in Missouri River Basin since 1898
The Army Corps of Engineers announced this week that runoff into the Missouri River Basin above Souix City, Iowa during June was the highest single runoff month since records began in 1898. June 2011 runoff into the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City was 13.8 million acre feet (maf.) The previous record was 13.2 maf in April of 1952; May of this year now holds the record for 3rd greatest runoff, 10.5 maf. The May and June combined runoff totaled 24.3 maf, just short of the normal total annual runoff for the entire basin which is 24.8 maf. Four federal levees and 11 non-federal levees have breached or overtopped across Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri so far this year along the Missouri River.


Figure 2. Flood heights were rising rapidly on the Yellowstone River the night of the pipeline disaster on July 1, 2011. A few hours after the disaster, the river crested just below moderate flood stage of 14' in Billings, about twenty miles downstream from where the pipeline broke in Laurel, Montana. This was the 3rd highest flood on record at this location, with records extending back to 1904. Image credit: NWS.

Oil spill in Yellowstone River likely influenced by flooding
An Exxon Mobil oil pipeline under the Yellowstone River burst on Friday night, spilling at least 42,000 gallons of oil into the river. The prevailing theory among officials and the company is that the raging Yellowstone eroded the riverbed and exposed the line to damaging rocks or debris. The river was rising rapidly the night of the break, and crested at 13.95', the third highest flood in recorded history. Records extend back to 1904 at the site. Crude has been reported as far as 240 miles downstream, although most appears to be concentrated in the first 25 miles. The Yellowstone is a tributary of the Missouri River.


Figure 3. Morning satellite image of 96L and the tropical wave approaching South America.

Invest 96L in the Atlantic little threat
An area of disturbed weather in the Gulf of Mexico centered just west of the Florida Keys has been labeled Invest 96L by NHC this morning. The disturbance is under high wind shear, about 20 - 25 knots, and the latest SHIPS model forecast predicts the shear will be 15 - 25 knots over the next two days as 96L moves slowly northwards towards the Florida Panhandle. The high shear should keep any development slow. Water vapor satellite images show that 96L is located on the east side of an upper-level low pressure system centered a few hundred miles south of New Orleans. This upper level low is pumping dry, stable air into the west side of 96L, which will retard development. There is no sign of a surface circulation in 96L, and none of the reliable computer models is developing it. NHC is giving 96L a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Saturday.

The other area of note is a tropical wave about 600 miles east of the southernmost Lesser Antilles Islands. This wave is under 10 - 20 knots of wind shear, and may show some modest development before moving ashore over the northern coast of South America on Saturday. NHC is giving this disturbance a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Saturday. The disturbance is too close to the Equator to leverage Earth's spin much, which will slow any possible development.

Jeff Masters

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1235. HurricaneHunterJoe
4:41 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5234
1234. HurricaneHunterJoe
4:23 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Quoting cloudburst2011:
welcome to the saharan dust and the cooler ssts also....the waves coming off of africa are going to have a hard time developing for 3 reasons...
1 where they come off the coast is very important 8 degrees will the ssts are warmer but it indicates a true west motion and moves into central america...

2 the ssts are cooler then normal and the ssps are higher then normal

3 finally the saharan dust is the killer of all these waves to much dry air...

until this changes the cape verdes season will not be very active this year which indicates a very low number of hurricanes...


Why are you always so negative??
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5234
1233. TampaSpin
3:46 PM GMT on July 08, 2011



Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
1232. Neapolitan
3:45 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
NEW BLOG ENTRY
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13568
1231. jeffs713
3:43 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Absolutely beautiful. Sad to see the end of an era, especially one that has been so dear to me since I was very young. Godspeed, Atlantis.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5886
1230. SLU
3:41 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 5262
1229. TampaSpin
3:37 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
1228. Bayside
3:36 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
what a beautiful liftoff! End of an era :(
Member Since: September 4, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 68
1226. caneswatch
3:34 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
And there it goes. Glad it got to liftoff today.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
1225. wunderkidcayman
3:29 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
lift off
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12164
1223. Tazmanian
3:29 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
the clock stop at -30 sac
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244
1222. FLWeatherFreak91
3:28 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Member Since: December 1, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 3627
1220. rxse7en
3:25 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Hi all! Back for another season. Have a safe summer.
Member Since: August 21, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 530
1218. TampaSpin
3:21 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Quoting jasonweatherman2010:
that water temp is 83F is not cool at all


Sorry to disagree with you but, if these graphics are correct..its barely in the margin of sustaining anything.



Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
1217. geepy86
3:19 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Quoting FLdewey:
Nice clearing in Melbourne now... just saw an F-15 fly overhead with afterburners.

Someone in a Cessna is about to get a surprise. :-|


Yep lot a noise over that way right now.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1703
1214. TampaSpin
3:17 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Space Shuttle is a go..........NICE....but sure wish i could have seen it here in Tampa!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
1211. Tazmanian
3:12 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Whoa...Calvin up to 70 mph/997 mb. Predicted to become the seasons third hurricane...peak at 80 mph.

...CALVIN NEARING HURRICANE INTENSITY...



any mode runs showing this its in the E PAC be hid are TS


Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244
1210. TampaSpin
3:12 PM GMT on July 08, 2011


Could be the first CV storm coming.......waters are still a little cool.....but it sure is strong!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
1209. TampaSpin
3:07 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
1208. TampaSpin
3:05 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
WOW, it has been pouring rain here in Tampa, but yet the skies are not too bad for Atlantis Space Shuttle!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
1207. TropicalAnalystwx13
3:03 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Whoa...Calvin up to 70 mph/997 mb. Predicted to become the seasons third hurricane...peak at 80 mph.

...CALVIN NEARING HURRICANE INTENSITY...
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32286
1206. Melagoo
2:59 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 19 Comments: 1578
1204. Grothar
2:57 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Quoting KeysieLife:
See, and you wonder why people date you with the dinosaurs...good to see yo back around Gro! =)


Thanks. I am still away, though. I can't come on much. I miss you guys.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26527
1203. WeatherfanPR
2:57 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
that Tropical Wave near the Cape Verde Islands looks nasty
Member Since: August 23, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1590
1202. FtMyersgal
2:57 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Quoting Buhdog:
Anyone think ex96l makes a comeback? I love a good surprise once in awhile! Feeling ripped off in Cape Coral..only 1/2 of rain so far.

This radar makes it look like a closed low is coming ashore just north of Tampa (I know its not)
Link

Yeah, we didn't get near the rain I thougt we would here in Ft Myers. Rain totals in my area showed .93 through last night. Had some decent downpours early this morning but probably less that 1/2 inch
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1219
1201. BahaHurican
2:56 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Quoting aquak9:
Jacksonville- here
Dayshift- waiting
Nightshift- check
Donuts- gone
Coffee- check
Overcast- check
96L- iffy
Rain for Ne Fla- iffy
Launch- iffy
Lot's of "iffy" stuff on that list.... lol

I actually am pulling more for the rain than the launch.... :o)

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22322
1200. WeatherfanPR
2:55 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Heavy rainfall  in Carrollwood,Tampa. The lakes are now full !!!!!
Member Since: August 23, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1590
1199. TampaTom
2:54 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Looks like things are still a 'go' at the KSC...

The St. Pete Times is streaming the video live.

http://www.sptimes.com

Where were you when the Columbia launched on the first mission back in April '81?

I was in my sixth-grade class at Walter T. Bergen Middle School in Bloomingdale, NJ. They wheeled in the TV and brought three classes together to watch the launch. Hard to believe that was 30 years ago...
Member Since: June 20, 2005 Posts: 22 Comments: 1054
1198. KeysieLife
2:53 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Quoting Grothar:


I do too, but I am sure it is for another reason. LOL Unusual to see a strong wave like that emerge so early in the season. Last one I can remember was back in 1947.

See, and you wonder why people date you with the dinosaurs...good to see yo back around Gro! =)
Member Since: September 10, 2010 Posts: 3 Comments: 409
1197. TropicalAnalystwx13
2:40 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Tropical Storm Bertha off the Cape Verde Islands. It had a lot of SAL to deal with, as shown by the funny looking clouds in this image.


Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32286
1196. TropicalAnalystwx13
2:37 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Levi, what you talked about in the end of your blog is very interesting...Your right, it will be interesting to see if that contributes to the total number of named storms in the Atlantic.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32286
1195. beell
2:37 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Without the ULL there would have been no 96L.


Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 143 Comments: 16734
1194. Grothar
2:37 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Quoting Levi32:


You're saying July 4th, 2008 doesn't count?



Big Bertha??
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26527
1192. ProgressivePulse
2:32 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Quoting Levi32:
Good morning.

Blog update:

Tropical Tidbit for Friday, July 8th, with Video



Boy was I wrong last night, good call as always Levi and others that insisted on the demise of 96L.

That wave coming off Africa looks like the real deal. May have decent conditions coming up as well with the upper pattern sort of flattening out a bit over the US, not sure about the C-Atl however. A large plume of dust is out ahead of the wave but seems to be far enough along to not be much of an issue for it. Upper pattern would seem to support low tracks through the Caribbean however, much too far out to guess at this point.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5450
1190. caneswatch
2:29 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Quoting Levi32:


You're saying July 4th, 2008 doesn't count?



He's trying to joke with you LOL
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
1189. southernbell72
2:29 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
How do you get a picture in your block by your name , cant figure it out.
Member Since: July 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 72
1187. southernbell72
2:27 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
well it is just my opinion , but think we might have some worries with that wave, its nice and round and spinny looking .lol. sorry , live on the westbank of orleans and anything that comes out with a little bit of prettyness to it , scares the crap out of me
Member Since: July 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 72
1186. Ameister12
2:27 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 5026
1185. Levi32
2:23 PM GMT on July 08, 2011
Quoting Grothar:


I do too, but I am sure it is for another reason. LOL Unusual to see a strong wave like that emerge so early in the season. Last one I can remember was back in 1947.



You're saying July 4th, 2008 doesn't count?

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661

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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.