Monday, June 13, 2011

Missouri River: A Two-Lane Freeway!

Update: 6:50 p.m. PDST. June 13th. News Flash: Levee Breached near Hamburg, Iowa. Click on photo to see raw video of breech.

Within a short time, these helicopter shots show how wide the breach had become.

I have been diligently seeking information pertaining to the surge of water coursing its way down the Missouri River. The leading edge expected to arrive in Saint Louis in approximately two weeks.

The question being, "Given the volume of water moving down the Missouri River, will the Lower Mississippi River be subjected to a second wave of flooding?"

My mining efforts paid off; finding this statement from the National Weather Service:

We have been getting many questions lately about the significant flooding on the Missouri River and whether or not we will see similar impacts here. The short answer is no, the Missouri River alone cannot really cause that much of an impact on the lower Mississippi.

A good analogy is that the lower Mississippi River has the capacity of a 10-lane freeway:

  • The Missouri River is a 2-lane freeway
  • The Ohio River is a 6-lane freeway
  • The Upper Mississippi River is a 2-lane freeway

Furthermore, I just received this news release from the US Army Corps of Engineers, which seems to support the "Freeway Theorem:"

Missouri River flooding impacts on Mississippi River

VICKSBURG, Miss., June 10, 2011 - The latest 28-day forecast from the National Weather Service indicates that Missouri River flooding will not cause additional flooding on the Lower Mississippi River, and will not cause floodwaters to enter the Birds-Point New Madrid Floodway without another significant rain event.

Missouri River flows where the river enters the Upper Mississippi will be approximately 200,000 to 225,000 cubic feet per second for the next 25 days with no additional rains. With the declining flows on the Ohio and Upper Mississippi River, and a 10-13 day travel time from Gavins Point to Cairo, they project river levels at Cairo will continue to fall.

The NWS [National Weather Service] also estimated that to turn Cairo back above flood stage would require a widespread area of 5 to 7 inch rains over the lower Missouri, middle Mississippi, and or middle/lower Ohio.

We will continue to monitor the conditions this month and through the rest of the year and advise the public if the situation changes

You did catch that proviso - "without another significant rain event." And didn't it seem to you as though there was excessive traffic on that "10-lane freeway" not so long ago?

So cautious good news.

I say "cautious" because one never can tell what "ace" Mother Nature" has hidden up her sleeve!

See Also:
Missouri River: The Second Coming?

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