Some people claimed that this winter would be a mild one and they weren't kidding. December has been a warm month, leading to tornados in Texas and excessive rain in Louisiana, Missouri and Southern Illinois, among other locations. There have been more than 20 people killed in the floodwaters across these regions, and floods are only expected to get worse in the month of January. Now, states in the South are bracing themselves for overflow coming from the Mississippi River, Arkansas River, the Red River, the Ohio River, and the Missouri River.
Damage due to flooding
Flood water has become so high on the Mississippi River that the state of Missouri was forced to close interstate highways. Certain areas have seen more than 10 inches above normal flowing of the rivers, as opposed to the normal snow and ice for the month of December. Flood waters were so bad that the National Guard was asked to step in to help out. Flooding has become so excessive on the lower part of the Mississippi River, that it might force the opening of Bonnet Carre Spillway, located in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Comparisons to the 2011 flooding
Flooding occurred in 2011, but Jeff Graschel, who works as a hydrologist at the forecast center, stated that although unusual, this flood's magnitude is a bit less than 2011. In 2011, flood waters caused overflowing rivers to completely consume cities, slowed barge traffic, and threatened local refinery and chemical plant operations. It is interesting to note that the 2011 floods occurred in the month of May, when we are more likely to see flooding.
Current flooding situation
Into the new year, the Missouri River is at a major flood stage and still pouring into the Mississippi. This water will join with that already in the Ohio River and flow toward densely packed industrial river fronts throughout the southern part of the country. Records for this year have already exceeded those from previous years. This flooding has caused an increase in costs for barge delivery. It is estimated that about 60 percent of United States grain exports entering the Gulf of Mexico through New Orleans are delivered through barges on the Mississippi. With the way the forecast looks, New Orleans is not expected to be hit with any flooding until roughly the third week of January. This can have a major effect on many companies with refineries, factories, or shipping sites along the river. Some of these include the Dow Chemical Co., Archer-Daniels Co., and Valero Energy Corp.
The country has been hit with some interesting winter weather and there are still plenty of months ahead. This year's strong El Niño might be to blame for the different weather experienced throughout the country. Meteorologists need to remain mindful and the National Weather Service will continue to keep everyone updated on any flood watches or warnings. What do you think about the winter weather in your area? Has is truly been a mild winter and is it likely to continue? Or do you think the nation is in for some freezing temperatures?