Courtesy Azure BevingtonYou might have heard about the terrible flooding that is occurring all along the Mighty Mississippi. As I write this I am sitting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana hoping the levees will hold. Normally the river in Baton Rouge is far below the tops of the levees. Flood stage, which is the water level at which the river would begin to flood surrounding areas without the levees acting as barriers, is 35 ft. Right now the water level is 42.8 ft and has risen 8 ft in just the last week. It is projected to crest at 47.5 ft and remain at that level for 8 to 10 days; this is higher than the previous record set in May 1927 of 47.28 ft. The tops of the levees that protect Baton Rouge are between 47 and 50 ft, they are currently sandbagging in areas less than 48 ft. Besides the possibility of overtopping there are also other problems that we need to look out for. When the river level remains high for an extended period of time the water can seep in and begin to saturate the soil, this can possibly weaken the levee structure. There is also the possibility of water going under the levee; this can result in sand boils, where the water bubbles up through the soil. It is very unlikely that this will happen, as the levees are strong and well constructed, but we need to be on the lookout for any problems.
Here in Baton Rouge we are much better off than many who live in communities within the Atchafalaya Basin, where the expected opening of the Morganza spillway could cause flooding of over 3 million acres (Click here to see a map of projected flooding in the basin) Many of these folks have already begun to sandbag their homes and to prepare to leave the area. The Morganza spillway is a large controlled gated structure that will divert water from the Mississippi River into the Atchafalaya Basin. The Atchafalaya Basin is a low lying cypress swamp that normally receives 30% of the flow of the Mississippi River through the Old River Control structure through the Atchafalaya River that winds its way through the swamp. This flood is projected to be larger than the 1973 flood and possibly even larger than the 1927 flood that devastated communities along the river, and brought about the passage of Flood Control Act of 1928. The magnitude of this year’s flood has already resulted in the opening of the Bonnet Carré spillway which diverts water into Lake Pontchartrain, this reduces the water levels as the River flows past New Orleans.
Stay tuned for updates on the flooding in Louisiana.
Have any of you been affected by the flood waters?
Sometime tonight the US Army Corps of Engineers will blow up a levee at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.
All that rain that fell in April has both rivers swollen WAY past flood stage. (Water levels outside Cairo, Illinois, were at 61.4' this afternoon; "flood stage" begins at 40'.)
Major General Michael Walsh, head of the Mississippi River Commission,
"...ordered the intentional breach to alleviate pressure in the river system and to protect Cairo, even though it may lead to the flooding of 130,000 acres of mostly farmland in Missouri."
Disaster junkies, prepare to be disappointed.
The National Weather Service says that the Mississippi River at downtown St. Paul has crested, again, at 18.71'. (Previous crest was on 3/30 at 19.1'.)
Forecasters say that the river will remain at this level for a few days before falling at the end of the week. And they caution that the model only includes precipitation anticipated in the next 24 hours. A lot of rain in the next few days could cause the river to rise. Again.
Alright, it's absolutely beautiful outside today. So what's up with this predicted flooding?
Remember all that rain the week of September 20th? (We got 2-4" here in the Twin Cities, but areas to the southwest of us got as much as 10".)
Courtesy National Weather Service
It all had to go somewhere, and that somewhere was the Minnesota River. Why does that affect us here in St. Paul? Take a look at another map:
Courtesy NASA (Landsat)
Remember: rivers don't necessarily flow south. The reddish line is the Minnesota River. The blue is the Mississippi. And that little blip just north of where the two rivers come together is downtown St. Paul. (The yellow elipse is the area of highest rainfall.)
All that rain is flowing right past us. And it should be impressive. The river's at 15.4' this morning (moderate flood stage), and predicted to crest at 18' (major flood stage) on Saturday morning. But the recent spate of lovely weather means that the flooding should pass quickly--today's prediction has the water level back under 17" by Monday morning.
St. Paul police have closed all the river roads and parks, and are discouraging people from walking down by the river. But you can get a stellar view of everything from outside the Museum on Kellogg Plaza, or inside the museum from the Mississippi River Gallery on level 5.
It's been a crazy couple of days of rain.
Courtesy National Weather Service
Forecasters say it's mostly over, although we can expect some rainfall through Saturday. But rain upstream swells the rivers downstream, and flood watches and warnings are in effect for much of Minnesota. Here in downtown St. Paul, the river is expected to rise about ten feet over the next week.
"1128 am CDT Fri Sep 24 2010
The Flood Warning continues for the Mississippi River at St Paul.
- At 10:15 am Friday the stage was 6.8 feet.
- Moderate flooding is forecast.
- Flood stage is 14.0 feet.
- Forecast... rise above flood stage by early Wednesday morning and continue to rise to near 16.4 feet by early Friday morning.
- Impact... at 18.0 feet... Warner Road may become impassable due to high water.
- Impact... at 17.5 feet... Harriet Island begins to become submerged.
- Impact... at 17.0 feet... secondary flood walls are deployed at St Paul Airport.
- Impact... at 14.0 feet... portions of the Lilydale park area begin to experience flooding.
- Flood history... this crest compares to a previous crest of 18.4 feet on Mar 24 2010."
Still with me? Then check out Buzz coverage of the March 2010 flood along the Mississippi.
Courtesy Nadir B
United Nation claims more than four million Pakistanis have been made homeless by nearly 3 weeks of flooding.
The number of Pakistani flood victims in need of urgent humanitarian relief has risen from six million to eight million, the U.N. said."
Outbreaks of cholera are common in large floods. Getting safe drinking water to many millions of people is urgent.
"We could have up to 140,000 cases of cholera," Sabatinelli (WHO) said. "We are preparing ourselves for that."
The after effects of this Pakistan flooding are worse than the 2004 Tsunami or the earthquakes in China and Haiti. Rebuilding roads, bridges, and buildings, and providing food, water and shelter to the many millions of flood victims is going to take billions of dollars.
Globally, at least 14 different countries have reported all-time record high temperatures this year. AOL News
"President Dmitry Medvedev called the fires "a natural disaster" Discovery News
Hundreds of thousands of firefighters, including army troops battled forest fires raging across central Russia in a heat wave that has killed more than 30 people.
Over a thousan people have died or are missing in central and southern China in the country's worst floods in more than a decade. The huge Three Gorges Dam, designed to withstand a 10,000 year flood, was within 20m of overflowing.
Over a million people are effected by the flooding in Pakistan. In Swat alone, the floods have destroyed more than 14,600 houses and 22 schools.
Mississippi River peaks Wed. March 24, 2010 at Harriet Island Saint Paul, MN.
I just saw a video of how and why giant tubes of water are better than sand bagging to protect homes against flooding (click link to see video).
Courtesy Sharon Stiteler
I took this photo of Harriet Island in St. Paul on Monday, March 15, 2010 in anticipation of the rising waters of the Mississippi River. The flood forecast seems to change daily, if not hourly. As of Sunday morning, March 21, 2010 NOAA had the river at 16.3 feet, well above the 14 foot flood stage. You will notice in the above photo that the stairs to the river are still visible.
Courtesy Sharon Stiteler
This morning, they were covered. This park visitor perched at the top to capture a photo of the rising water. The current is very fast and there's still quite a bit of debris flowing along.
Courtesy Sharon Stiteler
Barges have been placed in front of the Padleford boats to protect them from debris. Here's a video of the current and some of the debris that has been blocked from banging the boats.
It will be interesting to watch the water this week. If you are in St Paul to watch the flood, stop in to the Mississippi River Visitor Center in the lobby of the Science Museum and chat with a Ranger about it.