Memphis & Flooding
May 7, 2011 by USA Post
Memphis & Flooding, With the excessive rains of April in the snowmelt lower and middle Mississippi River Valley and heavy winter storms, upstream, the mighty Mississippi has risen to record levels, breaking a temporary dam in Memphis on Thursday and completely submerged city airport to city center. On Tuesday, the increased height of the river caused officials to take emergency measures in Cairo, Illinois, where residents had been evacuated due to flooding. The Mississippi is expected to top out 48 feet on Wednesday, the highest level recorded since 1937. Officials in surrounding counties have predicted the flood will affect about 2,832 properties and have told residents to evacuate about 1,000 houses under threat.
Residents in the Memphis area were warned on Saturday that should not be fooled by sunny skies, because the Mississippi River was slowly starting to “wrap your arms” by the city and place to record levels.
“It’s a beautiful day here, and people a false sense of security,” said Steve Shular, public affairs officer, Office of Preparedness Shelby County. “The mighty Mississippi begins to wrap their arms around us here in Memphis.
County officials went from house to house in areas threatened by both the Mississippi floods and the flooding of tributaries. About 3,000 properties are expected to be threatened. Shular said residents are being told that if he ever has flooded before, “it is certain to flood again.”
The National Weather Service said Saturday that the big floods along the river, including in Memphis, Tennessee and Greenville, Mississippi, the worst is yet to come. The river is expected to crest Wednesday in Memphis at 48 feet, just below the record 1937. The weather service also expects the record crests downstream on the Mississippi at Vicksburg and Natchez May 20 May 22.
In Memphis, tourists gathered near the river to take pictures of the flooding on Riverside Drive in the historic Beale Street. Local television showed deer escaping flooding Saturday by running in the city.
The river is cresting now in New Madrid, Missouri, upstream, and has begun to peak in Tiptonville, Tennessee, said Marlene Mickelson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Memphis.
“Unfortunately, it will be a very slow decline,” said Mickelson.
Shular said a major concern is flooding along the tributaries of the Mississippi. These small streams and rivers usually flow into the larger river, but are “hitting a brick wall” and the backup. After the crest of the next week in Memphis, thunderstorms are expected, which could result in flash flooding, Shular said.
Further north on the river in Caruthersville, Missouri, the U.S. Coast Guard said briefly closed commercial boat traffic on Friday as the river rose to near the top of a floodwall. Traffic was later reopened and is not expected to close in any place on the river Saturday, according to Petty Officer Second Class Bill Colclough, spokesman for the Guard.
In Arkansas, a portion of Interstate 40, a major traffic artery national road remained closed due to floodwaters on Saturday.
The Mississippi River basin covering parts of 31 U.S. states extending from Montana in western New York in the east forming a large funnel at its upper end.
A snowy winter led to near-record crests on the upper Mississippi this year, which reached Southern Illinois at about the same time as heavy rains raised the river Ohio.
The resulting flows have threatened to collapse the flood levee intricate, prompting the U.S. government to open a channel of Missouri, for the first time since 1937 to relieve pressure. U.S. officials are expected to enable three floods this year for the first time in history.
The U.S. government made a hole in the dam two miles birds point on Monday, flooding of up to 130,000 hectares of farmland in Missouri to save some towns in Illinois and Kentucky.
Two smaller holes were blown in the dike at the lower end of the channel for water to flow back in slowly Mississippi on Tuesday and Thursday. The Mississippi also has three avenues of relief in Louisiana.
U.S. plans to open the bonnet Carre Spillway 28 miles north of New Orleans on Monday to relieve pressure on the city by diverting part of the flow of Lake Pontchartrain. It could also open the Morganza spillway to the north on Thursday.
Flooding this year is set to eclipse many records of the ridge set mainly in 1927 and 1937. The Great Flood of 1927 increased the Mississippi less than 80 miles wide in parts, caused up to 1,000 deaths, according to some estimates, and led over 600,000 people from their homes.
Since 1927, the levees have been raised and built with different methods, dozens of reservoirs have been added throughout the basin floodways have been added for use in rare cases, to relieve the pressure.
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