Close Window

**Please Note: All Guided Trips and river activities with Quapaw Canoe Company have been cancelled (or postponed) for the month of May 2011 due to the record high waters of the Mississippi River. If I haven’t already talked with you, please contact John Ruskey 662-902-7841 to reschedule your adventure. Daytrips for tours of the effects of high water might be made available in select locations**

Y’all, its happening, "Project Flood," the highest water in the Lower Mississippi Valley since the record-breaking high water of 1937 is coming downstream towards us. According to this morning's forecast the flood of 2011 will be only half a foot lower than the 1937 record, which is a sobering statement. 10,000 workers have been sent home on indefinite leave from the Tunica Casinos. No one really knows what will happen although we do trust that the levees have been maintained and are stronger than they were 70 years ago. See below for a comparison of the record high water levels throughout the last century of record keeping.

Last weekend I ran my last guided overnight trip on the river for this flood, with a family of three, I am still trying to find the best way to share photos and description via the web, it used to be so simple and now its not…

Last night they exploded the Missouri Bootheel levee to relieve pressure on Cairo Illinois and Hickman, Kentucky, river water now flowing down the Birds Point New Madrid Floodway which hasn’t been opened since 1937. We saw premonitions of this when the Black River levee broke at Poplar Bluff, and then the Coldwater levee broke at Crenshaw & Sledge at the end of April. Will these smaller breaks will save us from larger ones? They are preparing to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway to save New Orleans. The water has come up so fast and now suddenly there is an historic high looming on the horizon. The flood of 1927 was the result of eight months of sustained high waters, but the flood of 2011 has reared & appeared in the space of a month. What’s the difference? With the loss of wetlands and river floodplains there is less space for the water to flow in the greater Mississippi Valley.

Flood of 2011 -- River Stages & Comparisons

The Mississippi River is forecast to reach 48 feet on the Memphis gauge by May 10, 2011. That would be higher than the crest during the Great Flood of 1927 which reached 45.8 feet at Memphis. Only the 1937 Flood would be higher -- 48.7 feet. Future rainfall might elevate that crest.

Record Highs in Memphis:

48.7 feet on Feb. 10, 1937

45.8 feet on April 23, 1927

40.76 feet on March 14, 1997

40.5 feet on May 5, 1973, and Feb. 22, 1950

Bird’s Point/New Madrid Floodway:

Monday May 2nd: Army Corps of Engineers set off explosives at 10 p.m. along the first of several sections of the earthen barrier, sending 550,000 cubic feet of water a second across the 130,000 acres of farmland known as the spillway.

Levee Breaks on tributary Rivers:

April 25 -- Black River levee busts at Poplar Bluff

April 27 -- Coldwater River levee broke this afternoon at Sledge and at Crenshaw.....evacuating both towns

Assorted News Stories:

Daily Journal:

Tunica's 9 casinos shut down as the Mississippi River rises

Times Picayune

Bonnet Carre Spillway likely to open as levee inspections intensify along Mississippi River

Wall Street Journal:

Battling Nature on the River

Heartland News:

First portion of levee breached at Birds Point

New York Times:

Plan to Breach Levee in Missouri Advances

Bob Gosford’s Crikey’s Blog:

You call that a flood? THIS is a flood – the Mississippi River in May…

San Jose Mercury News:

The Deep South braces for rising Mississippi River

Journey on Earth

Meanwhile, what’s happening with the Deepwater Horizon Cleanup? Go watch this excellent documentary by an emerging National Geographic Film-maker for the inside scoop:

What's happening in St. Louis?

Be sure to visit Big Muddy Mike Clark's Wikipedia Updates from the Circumnavigation of the City of St. Louis -- Counter-clockwise in the rising rivers --