Midwest rains swell Mississippi River
Esquire•Another area of the American midwest is submerged in perhaps unprecedented flooding, this time along the Missisippi River. Parts of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas were issued further flood watches this week, according to USA Today, as areas already battered by storms and rain faced another onslaught that threatened to reengage the river floodwaters that had started to recede. The conditions have hit hard in small towns like Davenport, Iowa, which saw the nearby Mississippi crest to a record-high of more than 22 feet last week. In Missouri, close to a dozen levees have been breached or are threatened. It’s the culmination of Midwest flooding that, according to the Washington Post, has already caused $12 billion in damage this year. Here are some of the most striking photos for a glimpse of what it’s like on the ground.It’s the latest incident of severe flooding in the American Midwest this year.
In Arkansas, authorities said about 150 people were displaced Wednesday after the storm hit apartment buildings and ripped off a roof in Pine Bluff, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Little Rock.
Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant said four people were hurt, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. „One of those is probably going to be pretty severe,” he said.
The weather service confirmed Thursday that the damage was caused by a small tornado that touched down for less than a minute Wednesday night. Meteorologist Thomas Jones said two apartment complexes were damaged.
Jones said the twister was about 100 yards (91 meters) wide and traveled for only about a quarter of a mile, but still managed to damage the brick facing and roof of the apartments. He said at least two walls caved in.
Resident Carla Jackson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that she heard a loud boom and that the storm moved in quickly.
„First there were real high winds and then a loud boom, and next thing you know the lights started blinking. We heard the transformer blow, then another transformer blow, and then it just went black,” she said.
In Kansas, flooding waterways forced evacuations and school closures Wednesday. Problems continued Thursday, when a 19-year-old had to be rescued from her car’s roof near Emporia. And the Kansas Turnpike remained closed near the Oklahoma border.
The weather service predicted the Missouri River would crest Thursday in St. Joseph, Missouri, at a level that causes parkland and a residential area to flood.
In northwestern Missouri’s Holt County, emergency management director Tom Bullock said a few people who had moved back home after March’s flooding busted levees were forced out again late Wednesday by rising water. His own home is now unreachable.
„The water won’t go away,” he said.
Wind-driven water caused more flooding in southeastern Michigan along western Lake Erie following recent rainfall that contributed to high water levels in the Great Lakes. Firefighters in Monroe County’s Berlin Township used a boat to reach those stranded at homes by high water near Lake Erie. In nearby Frenchtown Township, pumps were used to clear roadways.
More severe weather is possible through the weekend.
The National Weather Service predicted the Missouri River would crest Thursday in St. Joseph, Missouri, at a level that would cause parkland and a residential area to flood.
The weather service said the thunderstorms will spread across the Great Lakes region, Ohio and Tennessee Valleys and into the Lower Mississippi Valley and Southern Plains.
The prospects of heavy rain could cause flash flooding, but the highest risk for excessive rainfall will be in portions of southeastern Texas and Louisiana, according to the weather service.
In Arkansas, about 150 people in Pine Bluff were forced to take shelter at the convention center and other sites after the twister Wednesday night ripped the roof off an apartment complex about 40 miles southeast of Little Rock.
At least four people were injured, according to authorities.
“One of those is probably going to be pretty severe,” Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant said. “Three others walked out of the scene, and we may have had one who was having chest pains.”
Resident Carla Jackson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette she heard a loud boom and the storm moved in quickly.
“First there were real high winds and then a loud boom, and next thing you know, the lights started blinking. We heard the transformer blow, then another transformer blow, and then it just went black,” she said.
The NWS surveyed the damage Thursday and declared that a tornado had indeed touched down, although it was on the ground for only a quarter of a mile.
In Texas, the body of a man was recovered in Lady Bird Lake in Austin on Wednesday after the victim was swept away in rising waters, KXAN reported. Police were alerted after the body was spotted floating downstream under the South First Street Bridge.
At least four tornadoes were reported Wednesday, two in Brazos County, Texas, and two in Louisiana, according to the Storm Prediction Center.
A possible tornado destroyed a trailer home in Ruston, Louisiana, where two people were killed at the site of last month’s deadly tornado.
Across the Midwest, flooding has caused billions of dollars of damage to farmland, homes and businesses. Some rivers have been above flood stage for more than six weeks.
In Kansas, flooding waterways forced evacuations and school closures Wednesday. The Kansas Turnpike remained closed near the Oklahoma border.
In northwest Missouri’s Holt County, Emergency Management Director Tom Bullock said a few people who moved back home after March’s flooding were forced out again late Wednesday by rising water. His own home is unreachable.
“The water won’t go away,” he said.
Wind-driven water caused more flooding in southeastern Michigan along western Lake Erie after rainfall that contributed to high water levels in the Great Lakes.
Firefighters in Monroe County’s Berlin Township used a boat to reach those stranded at homes by high water near Lake Erie. In nearby Frenchtown Township, pumps were used to clear roadways.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: ‘The water won’t go away’: Severe weather slams Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Rain swamping the nation’s midsection forced people from their homes in Kansas, stranded dozens of Texas children at school overnight and strained levees along the surging Mississippi River in Illinois, Missouri and elsewhere Wednesday prompting yet more flash flood concerns.
The flooding began in earnest in March, causing billions of dollars of damage to farmland, homes and businesses across the Midwest. Rivers in many communities have been above flood stage for more than six weeks following waves of heavy rain.
Some parts of Kansas received up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) from Tuesday through Wednesday morning, said Kelly Butler, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Wichita. She described that as a „ridiculous amount of water” on top of grounds that already were saturated by days of rains. Several Kansas districts canceled classes, and numerous water rescues were reported.
Emergency management officials began evacuating people from their homes near the Kansas college town of Manhattan around 5 a.m. Wednesday as Wildcat Creek overflowed its banks. The Cottonwood River spilled over in Marion County, prompting more evacuations and the surging Slate Creek also forced people from their homes in Wellington and closed a stretch of the Kansas Turnpike near the Oklahoma border.
„It seemed like our poor fire department folks were going out constantly overnight, whether it was sandbagging, barricading streets or assisting citizens,” said Keri Korthals, the emergency management director in Butler County, where crews rescued around a dozen people from vehicles stuck in rising water from the Walnut and Whitewater rivers.
Flash flood watches also are in effect in Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, as well as flood warnings along the Mississippi River.
A severe thunderstorm caused flash floods in the Houston area Tuesday, leading to abandoned vehicles and drenched homes. About 60 students had to spend the night at an elementary school after flooded roads prevented buses from leaving and parents from picking them up.
The rainfall didn’t compare to the deluge Houston experienced during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, but flooding is an experience one expert said was becoming the new normal.
„We’re going to have to learn to live with flooding in Houston and we haven’t quite accepted that reality yet,” said Jim Blackburn, co-director of the Severe Storm Prediction, Education, and Evacuation from Disasters Center at Rice University in Houston.
The national Storm Prediction Center said rain remained in the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday in the Central Plains and Mississippi Valley, which could cause more problems because the soil is so saturated.
While the river was slowly going down from St. Louis and to the north, it continued rising in southern Missouri and southern Illinois. The Mississippi was nearing an expected 44-foot (13.5-meter) crest in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, 12 feet (3.5 meters) above technical flood stage. A concrete floodwall there protects the historic downtown, but low-lying areas of Cape Girardeau and neighboring communities were underwater.
The Illinois River remained nearly 10 feet (3 meters) above flood stage at Peoria, Illinois, where sandbags were helping to fortify downtown. One major concern in Peoria and other Illinois River towns was that the water level is expected to remain extraordinarily high into next week.
Other parts of the country also were dealing with flooding.
Buildings and roads were flooded along the St. Clair River in Algonac, Michigan. The river links Lake Huron and Lake St. Clair, and flooding is possible along those lakes as well as the Detroit River and western Lake Erie.
Among several high water rescues reported in Oklahoma, a school bus became stranded as it carried students to school Wednesday morning near El Reno, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Oklahoma City. Firefighters said the bus driver was trying to avoid high water on the road and got stuck on a verge while attempting to turn around. Students were picked up by another vehicle and taken to school.
Meanwhile, a stretch of Interstate 29 in northwestern Missouri opened Wednesday for the first time since floodwaters shut it down in March . Many other roads and highways in northwestern Missouri and southwestern Iowa remain closed due to damage from late March and early April flooding on the Missouri River.
Salter reported from St. Louis.
Associated Press reporter Juan Lozano in Houston contributed to this report
In 1969, a giant earthquake off the coast of Portugal kicked up a tsunami that killed over a dozen people. Some 200 years prior, an even larger earthquake hit the same area, killing around 100,000 people and destroying the city of Lisbon.
Two earthquakes in the same spot over a couple hundred years is not cause for alarm. But what puzzled seismologists about these tremors was that they began in relatively flat beds of the ocean — away from any faults or cracks in the Earth’s crust where tectonic plates slip past each other, releasing energy and causing earthquakes.
So what’s causing the rumbles under a seemingly quiet area? [In Photos: Ocean Hidden Beneath Earth’s Crust]
One idea is that a tectonic plate is peeling into two layers — the top peeling off the bottom layer — a phenomenon that has never been observed before, a group of scientists reported in April at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly held in Vienna. This peeling may be creating a new subduction zone, or an area in which one tectonic plate is rammed beneath another, according to their abstract.
The peeling is likely driven by a water-absorbing layer in the middle of the tectonic plate, according to National Geographic. This layer might have undergone a geological process called serpentinization, in which water that seeps in through cracks causes a layer to transform into soft green minerals. Now, this transformed layer might be causing enough weakness in the plate for the bottom layer to peel away from the top layer. That peeling could lead to deep fractures that trigger a tiny subduction zone, National Geographic reported.
This group isn’t the first to propose this idea, but it’s the first to provide some data on it. They tested their hypothesis with two-dimensional models, and their preliminary results showed that this type of activity is indeed possible — but is still yet to be proven.