Morganza Update

Well, it looks like the folks from Butte Larose lucked out this time.  The news says they are returning home after having evacuated a couple weeks ago ahead of the spillway flooding that was headed their way.

The Army Corps of Engineers is claiming that the ground is so dry that it is  reducing the water levels as it crosses over the parched terra.  They continue to close bays on the spillways, as the Mississippi River is under control and not a threat to Baton Rouge or New Orleans.

The last city set to be flooded by the Morganza spillway waters was Morgan City.  It appears now that they will be totally spared, with their local river, the Atachafalaya (where 1/3 of the Mississippi is diverted under normal circumstances) cresting three feet below what was first expected.  Looks like we will get no water at all, when at first the Army Corps predicted 1-5 feet for us.

The big debate now is not whether the Army Corps has egg on their faces, but just how much do they have and how were they cooked?

Critics argue that the ACoE waited a day or two too late to open the first spillway, the Bonnet Carre, and that is why they had to open so many bays and allow so much water to pour through so quickly.  But in their own defense, the ACoE is saying that their strategy worked as planned in reducing the Miss. River levels, and that’s all that matters.

But I must wonder how the people up in Missouri whose properties were sitting ducks in the path of the hydrologic onslaught when a Miss. River levee was blow out in order to reduce the river levels and take pressure off the levees feel?  Would they like to see the ACoE develop a solution a little more sophisticated?  I’m sure they would.  And so I have a question for the ACoE.  Why do they not have a spillway?

Same goes for the folks of Memphis, TN and Vicksburg, MS whose homes and businesses took on water to the roofs.  Why is there not another solution for these people?

I’m not trying to over simplify a magnanimous job like controlling the Mighty Mississippi; but it is 2011.  Isn’t there something that can be done to prevent future flooding in these areas?

Maybe not.

While I have never drunk a whole glass of Global Warming Kool-Aid, I am swallowing the bitter pill of climate change.  The weather patterns since last fall have been atypical down here, to say the least.  How about where you live?  We had winter temperatures earlier last fall than I ever recall.  We had more days of freezing weather, more 20-something degree days than I remember, and winter lasted longer.

We’ve had cool days in May, and that is unheard of down here.  The March winds have been blowing since March, and the April showers did not do their job precipitating the May flowers.  We have had almost ZERO rain for nearly two months now.  The grass in my yard is dead.  And there are cracks in the ground that could swallow up a snake if it dared to slither longways over it.

But, the drought was the unlikely friend of the Atachafalaya Basin.  Rumor has it you could hear the ground slurping up the water, quenching her thirst with all that record-breaking melted snow barreling down from up north.

And now there are all the tornadoes spinning across the country, causing destruction with no respect for geography or human life.

So, I ask you, oh great minds, what in the world is going on?

Weathering the dry weather,


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  1. BW ~ I’m not smart or informed enough to be an apologist for the Corps, but in this case, I’m still going to take their side. I’ve been following this flooding for what seems like forever (probably seems even more like forever to you!) and the bottom line is that they achieved their goal. There was flooding, yes. There was destruction, yes. But they avoided the kind of cataclysmic events that always were lurking just offstage: failed levees, mechanical malfunction, human miscalculation. With luck, they’ll continue to avoid them until the river(s) recede completely.

    One of the best resources is a blog over at WeatherUnderground that was dedicated solely to the flood. You can find it here. It contains nearly every flood link you could want, not to mention nearly 800 comments filled with calculation, argument, analysis and description – not to mention a lot of flood history. 😉

    Just a couple of other comments. The New Madrid floodway was meant to function like the Morganza. There’s a history and notes on its construction here. Folks who lived there knew what could happen “one day” – when you’ve got a fuseplug levee in your backyard, that’s your first clue. The levee was constructed to be blown. Folks who lived there knew that, even if they didn’t like it.

    As for spillways, the problem on the Upper Mississippi seems to be that you have to “spill” the water somewhere, and there just isn’t anywhere to send it. In Louisiana, the Bonnet Carre spillway sends water to Pontchartrain, but such a solution isn’t available upriver. There are areas that function as large “retention ponds” and floodgates, but much of the trouble in Mississippi was backwater flooding, caused by smaller rivers that couldn’t dump into the Mississippi because it was so high.

    And yep – I’ve heard first-hand reports from the floodway that the ground is, indeed, “slurping up the water”. That’s good, but it would have been better to have a little less snow up north this year, and a little more rain down here!

    We’ve still had no rain. Not a drop. I don’t even know how long it’s been. Forecast for the week? Hot and dry. I’ve almost stopped obsessing over rain. Almost. You know as well as I do that “rain with a name” may be the ultimate solution, and Lord knows we don’t want that. But a nice, gentle, extra-tropical system with about eight inches of rain over a week or so? See me smiling?

  2. As long as the Corps erred on the side of caution I have to agree with shoreacres. It seems like they did a good job under difficult circumstance. I would much rather be complaining about having to needlessly move my belongings than cleaning up after a flood, even a forecast one. As for the weather patterns, I remember the winter of 1984, we had temps in the teens for over a week, and the planet has a long history of climate change, the earth is a living, breathing being that will long outlive man. We’ve also had tornado outbreaks before, even severe outbreaks like the one that destroyed Xenia, Ohio in 1974. Our biggest problem right now is the lack of rain. The same things have happened before, we just weren’t as aware of it.

  3. You got to stop bottling up the river. And you got to have half a brain to build in a flood plain. I need a nap.

  4. Our weather has been treacherous…had sub zero weather all winter, largest snows(23 inches close by; we had 15). Cold, rainy weather unti last week.
    Temperatures warmed to 70’s; 80’s(yeah) this week. all produce is very late this year.
    Stormy weather, thunder, hail, rain for days at a time. until mid week; last week, after Joplin tornado. Sun now shining; today upper 80’s with 95% humidity, straight to summer weather.

  5. I KNOW this isn’t feasible, but wouldn’t it be great for the farmers along the Mississippi, if they could through a bilge into the river and pump some of that water into their fields? The drought is destroying so many crops.
    I would like to see the Corps open a few bays at Morganza and Bonnet Carre sooner if this should happen again.

    1. That would be great! I would like to see them open them earlier again. I fear the delay had something to do with the gov. wielding his authority demanding that he have a five-day notice before first bay was opened. There just was not enough time for all that pomp, right?

  6. My brother spent a few years with Weather Channel founder. Bar stools if you got to ask.

    “takes 10 unusual years to make an average”

  7. Our weather has been a guessing game since last fall too. And the tornados we have had along with some of the thunderstorms are not normal. The wind has been blowing hard and the trees are snapping like twigs. One of those BIG twigs landed on my car Saturday leaving a nice, deep gouge next to the back window. At least the window wasn’t broken!

    We are already running the ac full time and that is something we seldom did until mid June usually. It has been so hot we are having blackouts. And in our area, a blackout leaves you suffocating because you don’t dare open a window if you wish to stay safe.

    I am so glad the flooding isn’t what was expected and I know the folks whose homes and businesses were spared are grateful too. And for those who need rain, I’ll keep you in my prayers.

  8. Since I’ve been out of touch with any news about anything, I’m glad to find out what’s going on about the MS flood here. I’m very glad to hear that it wasn’t what was expected.

  9. Most of the flooding in Mississippi was on the river side of the levee’s. The flooding around Vicksburg and Yazoo city was backwater that could not flow to the Mississippi River. The enviromental agency has held up a program that would help that for about 25 years I don’t know enough about it to explain. The casinos opened today in Greenville and most roads reopened today but a few will reopen later in the week. The Ms river levee’s held tight with only sand boils as a problem.

  10. I saw an article somewhere in the past week about what Judy’s talking about. I’ll try and find it again. It was pretty interesting and understandable. I need to start bookmarking stuff.

    We’re on tap for another week of hotter and drier. Broke or tied heat records all week.

    Mom fell at home and couldn’t get up this past Tuesday – landed in the hospital. Now, we’ve discovered some medical problems, so no idea where things go from here. But, I’m creeping back into my routine. Hope all’s well there!

    1. Well, as you creep back into your routine, I’ll be thinking of you and praying for your mom and you. I know how these thing can sometimes snowball. Just do what you can do, my friend. Thanks for posting the link. I will go take a look at this guy’s story. I just don’t have the time or the energy these days to do much research or writing. The hot summer is upon us with nineties already this week. And no rain in sight . . . .

  11. 98 here and tstorms around. It is hot but its a humid hot you can feel the weight of the air falling in your lungs.

    That falling thing is bad. You got her set up on Life Line?

    1. blu ~ Gave it a try, but not very effective. Forgot where she put the gizmo, determined she didn’t need it, etc. And she really hasn’t needed it. The difference this time was the lack of strength to get back up. There’s an infection that may be connected to her pacemaker, pneumonia, electrolyte imbalance because she’s convinced drinking water is somehow unnecessary for her…..

      We’ve been danged lucky, but sometimes those years start creeping up, and she’s got 93 of them on her tail! Day by day, as they say.

      1. My Dad has always been an outside guy. Now at 87 and a new knee joint he’s in the same condition, I assume. I got him a “Jitterbug”. They can even call and remind him to put the phone in the charger or take it out the charger and put it in his pocket.. The keypad is large and its old style, when you open the phone you get a dial tone. It has GPS so if something were to happen, maybe he falls down in the garden and can’t get up, they can tell me where he is and what is wrong.

        He doesn’t need to remember a number to get someone, all he has to do is dial operator and tell them who he wants to speak to and they have a list of names and numbers assigned to the account. Or it also functions perfectly fine as just a cell phone if he knows a number.

        You might look into it. There is a website for them. Or you can talk to your own cell provider.

        1. Wow! Now that is some handy information, Foamheart. Thanks so much for sharing with us. I had heard of Jitterbug but I had no idea all the great self help things it could do. We would like to let our elders be as independent as long as possible, and to keep their dignity too. This would be helpful in many situations. Thanks for posting.

  12. The levy in Missouri that was blown out is actually part of a spillway in that area.

    Unlike the Morganza spillway, it has no structure or floodgates, so the levy breach was the only option.

    1. Ah, Nick, thanks for the clarification. And as someone else has stated, the folks settling in those areas know they may have to sacrifice flooding for the sake of the saving the cities. It’s a gamble you take hoping that it never happens. It’s the same here in our floodways. However, to clarify storm surge flooding . . . we who live on the bayous settled on high ridges of land that run along the bayou–ridges built up by seasonal flooding of the Miss. River and the connecting bayous. We had healthy marshes between us and the Gulf storm surges to protect us, which are now almost non existent. It’s a little bit different type of flooding, but a house full of water and muck is no fun no matter how it gets there. Thanks for stopping by! BW

  13. 3 500 year floods in 36 years isn’t gambling, it is suicide watch. I hear they got a new plan afoot too.

    Dang near died this am in heck of storm 3 inch rain trees being blown apart by lightening and deep water crossings while evacuating area. Oh and this will head south as well.