Watching the Mississippi River flood is… I can’t even say, really. It’s terrible and yet, once you know history is being made, that the water is going to be higher than ’37, higher even than infamous ’27, it’s hard not to get almost… I don’t know. Is there a word that means “giddy with horror?”
They’re going to blow the levee on the Missouri side of the river in order to attempt to save Cairo. They said on NPR this evening that the levee is already showing signs of sand boils, places on the “dry” side where the water has seeped up under the levee and is causing the soil to get all quick-sandy. Blowing the levee will probably not alleviate suffering very far south because of how high the Ohio is.
We have to watch for a few things along with the flooding–whether levees hold, whether river walls hold, whether the river gets a mind to jump its bed (that would have long-term bizarre consequences), and, then the part that is even more interesting in a morbid way, is whether the Old River Control Structure can hold.
Anyway, here’s a map showing the maximum flow the Corps believes the flood control system can hold. And here’s a site I found that tells you what the flow in the river at Memphis is right now. Past 2,410,000 at Memphis, I believe the Corps just throws up their hands and starts praying. Memphis is at 1,720,000 right now. That number is predicted to rise.