There is much speculation as to the cause of flooding. This idea of rainfall is merely a suggested explanation – but it helps to keep an open mind.
From Earth Observatory:
The same floods that prompted authorities to breach a levee near Cairo, Illinois, has started forcing residents from their homes farther south along the Mississippi River. On May 6, 2011, the Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service (AHPS) reported that the Mississippi’s water level had reached 46.68 feet (14.23 meters) at Osceola, Arkansas, and 46.14 feet (14.06 meters) at Memphis, Tennessee. At both locations, the Mississippi is in major flood stage and expected to continue rising.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired the top image on May 5, 2011, and the bottom image exactly one year earlier. Both images use a combination of infrared and visible light to increase the contrast between water and land. Water varies in color from electric blue to navy. Clouds (visible in the 2011 image) are pale blue-green. Vegetation is green, and soil is brown.
Compared to more typical conditions in 2010, the Mississippi River is substantially swollen in 2011, from north of Cairo to south of Memphis. In the west, the Black River is also swollen, and large areas of standing water appear between the Black and Mississippi Rivers.
From EI: But the distribution of rain leaves much of the country in drought. Note the irony of the flood waters passing through the drought zone, without much benefit to farmers. Rivers in the dry region are literally flowing backwards:
Update 2: From NWS – 30 day accumulated rainfall:
This is the option utilized by the Army Corps for relief inundation of alternate farms and homes in the floodways west of the Mississippi:
The Mark Twain Version:
“One who knows the Mississippi will promptly aver—not aloud but to himself—that ten thousand River Commissions, with the mines of the world at their back, cannot tame that lawless stream, cannot curb it or confine it, cannot say to it, ‘Go here,’ or ‘Go there,’ and make it obey; cannot save a shore which it |has sentenced; cannot bar its path with an obstruction which it will not tear down, dance over, and laugh at. But a discreet man will not put these things into spoken words; for the West Point engineers have not their superiors anywhere; they know all that can be known of their abstruse science; and so, since they conceive that they can fetter and handcuff that river and boss him, it is but wisdom for the unscientific man to keep still, lie low, and wait till they do it. Captain Eads, with his jetties, has done a work at the mouth of the Mississippi which seemed clearly impossible; so we do not feel full confidence now to prophesy against like impossibilities. Otherwise one would pipe out and say the Commission might as well bully the comets in their courses and undertake to make them behave, as try to bully the Mississippi into right and reasonable conduct.”
The Army Corps of Engineers Version now in use (25% utilization of Morganza Floodway):
from: NY Times Editorial
A New Flood, Some Old Truths
Published: May 27, 2011
So-called 100-year floods seemed to be hitting the Mississippi with scary regularity — a $16 billion flood in 1993, a bad one in 2001, another in 2008, and now this one. Climate change, which some suspect of causing torrential downpours, may be part of the problem, though the connection is unclear. What is clear is that we should learn from our mistakes, let nature help out where it can, and not build or farm in places where it makes no sense to do so. As the saying goes: Nobody ever beats the river.
EI Comment: Mark Twain knew it and said it better.
Why the 1927 Flood is a picture of what’s to come:
Here is the official Army Corps photo-stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/37671998@N05/sets/72157626528621473/show/
And here is the official mapping series: http://lmvmapping.erdc.usace.army.mil/index.htm