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Where to Start with Updated Flood Coverage?

May 9, 2011Patrick NunnallyUncategorizedComments Off on Where to Start with Updated Flood Coverage?

Let’s suppose you’ve been under a rock for the past week (or holed up in studio finishing those end-of-semester projects like my students have been!).

“What?”  You say, “the Mississippi is flooding?”  Wasn’t that over weeks ago?
Maybe kinda sorta over up here, but where do you think all that water went?  And what do you think has happened when that flood from the Upper Miss hit an area of the country that has seen torrential rains all spring?
Short answer:  “epic” floods.  Possibly historic record floods.  Possibly catastrophic floods.
We’re covering this unfolding story, which is putting the Big River in the news across the country and around the world, at www.facebook.com/RiverLifeUMN and @RiverLifeUMN on Twitter.
And if you’re not a Facebooker or a tweeter, then here are three “starter articles” for you.  We’ll have a lot more to offer in the days and weeks ahead, but if you want to catch up quickly, here are the “Cliff’s Notes.” (There–I’ve aged myself again–do they even have Cliff’s Notes any more?  Someone write and let me know, ok?)
Anne Jefferson, a hydrologist at UNC-Charlotte writes a blog “Highly Allochthonous” on “News and Commentary from the World of Geology and Earth Science.  And no, I don’t know what “allochthonous” means, although I did have someone tell me once.  Her post from May 8 is perhaps the best succinct series of links and explanations I’ve seen.  She points readers to other top-quality sources, plenty of visual explanations, and offers it all in clear, understandable language.  Great stuff and a wonderful starting point!
Graphic artist Michael Bay has crafted a clearly understandable vision of the Mississippi Delta and its major waterways, based on early project engineering and modelling developed by the Corps of Engineers half a century ago.  He also has excellent links and, perhaps not surprisingly, an eclectic set of comments.
In the coming weeks, we’ll hear a lot about “Old River Control Structure” and how it serves (we hope) to keep the lower Mississippi in its present channel and not being captured by the Atchafalaya, which would have, then, most of the river’s flow bypassing Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
That would be a catastrophic outcome to these floods, and a detailed explanation of how the Old River Control Structure works, how the hydrology in the region has changed over time, and why it’s necessary today can be found on the web site of the America’s Wetland Foundation.  Go here for good visual images and detailed explanation.
Three articles to get you started; more on our Facebook page, and lots more to follow.  By any measure, these are historic floods; stick with us as we try our best to bring you the clearest, most reliable information and analysis.

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