For much more on every aspect of life along the Mississippi River, visit ... The Mississippi River Home Page. Scroll down to see the REAL TIME FLOOD WATCH MAP.

Update: 5/3/11 - Missouri Levee blown to relieve Cairo, Illinois, levees.
The Corps of Engineers has established a number of flood "relief valves" all along the Lower Mississippi River. These are basically secondary impoundment areas. When the river is threatening a town, the levee can be deliberately destroyed to allow the river to flood a controlled agricultural area. At one time the towns were economically more valuable than the agricultural land. That balance has changed to some extent and the concept is now being debated.

Officials in Louisiana and Mississippi are warning that the river could bring a surge of water unseen since the Great

 Mississippi Flood of 1927.


George Sills, a former Army Corps engineer and levee expert in Vicksburg, Mississippi, said the volume of water


 moving down the river would test the levee system south of Memphis into Louisiana.


"It's been a long time since we've seen a major flood down the Mississippi River," Sills said. "This is the highest river in

 Vicksburg, Mississippi, since 1927. There will be water coming by here that most people have never seen in their



Read more about the Missouri levee break:

2/2011 Mississippi River Real Time Flood Watch ... Moderate to severe flooding is always a possibility in years when the snowpack is heavy.

Below is a USGS map that provides REAL TIME info on which Rivers in the US are cresting. The map is accurate every day and is always posted on our RAMBLIN' ON Blog. Black Triangles indicate flood stage. Looking to compare stats with the Flood of 1993? CLICK HERE.



Black Triangles on map indicate rivers at flood stage at any given time.


Read on for:

Spring Floods in '08
Stats from August '07
The Great Flood of 1993
Remembering Valmeyer, Illinois
Disaster in the Bluffs

6/29/08... Click to see our Blog for Mississippi River crests from Burlington to St. Louis as Missouri rains cause the Mississippi to swell.

Photo by Alan Stankevitz, La Crescent, MN. ROOT RIVER in FLOOD

Persistent heavy rains are wreaking havoc along rivers in the Midwest. August 07 was considered a 1000 year flood. The damage in early the weekend of June 7th (2008) is even greater! Rains of 7-9 inches from the Iowa border to Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, have resulted in "floods of record" through south western Wisconsin, northeastern Iowa and southeastern Minnesota.

ON JUNE 12, Grant County received an additional 4" of rain... and the Grant River rose another 8 feet in two hours!  The Army Corps of Engineers has alerted commercial barges that they expect to close a 256 mile section of the river, from Fulton, Illinois to Clarksville, Missouri to boat traffic beginning as early as THURSDAY as flooded tributaries continue to pour waters into the Mississippi. The closure could last two weeks... if the rain ends!

Photo by Alan Stankevitz, La Crescent, MN. ROOT RIVER IN SUNRISE.


Above and left are two photos of the Root River in Minnesota... this one taken about June 1, '08 and the one above take about June 8, '08.

Photos courtesy of Alan Stankevitz, La Crescent, Minnesota

Below, a new USGS real time map of cresting rivers... and Frequent Updates on the Mississippi River Blog.

Spring Floods in 2008 fairly typical when rain and snowmelt are heavy in the north.

What was different about flooding in Spring of '08 and the floods of June-August 1993? DURATION is the key. The flooding we see occurring on the Lower River in '08 is typical of life on the river... the river comes up and the river goes down. If it rains in the north, when the snow melts, the south feels the effects as the Missouri, the Upper Mississippi, and the Ohio converge. The difference is that in 1993, it rained for 58 days straight throughout the Midwest. The river... simply... never... went... down!

Official Flood Stats from August 2007 Rains in Minn/Wis

Monday, April 7th, 2008

I recently ran across a number of stats presented by area scientists regarding the massive rains along the Upper Mississippi River last August. These rains produced unprecedented landslides in bluff country that resulted in seven deaths and several homes on both sides of the river sliding down onto the roads.

For more detailed stories, stats, photos, and reports from the August 07 flooding and landslides, see 


15.1 inches of rain fell in Hokah, Minn., over a 24 hour period on August 19. The previous high was 10.84 inches set in 1972.

The Root River crested at 18 feet in Houston, Minn.  When compared with previous flooding events, the August ‘07 floods had up to 5 times more rainfall.

Scientists report that the flood was so rare, the probability of its existence was once in 500 years, perhaps even once in 1,000 years. The storm’s wrath was comparable to a Category 5 hurricane.

Interestingly enough, the invertebrate count in large streams fell from about 4,000 per square meter to just 1000 after the flood. A specific amphipod, a staple of trout diets, dropped from about 250 per square meter to less than 10.

23.6 inches fell during the month of August, 9.5 inches shy of the average ANNUAL precipitation.

For more on the dangers posed by landslides on the 600 ft high bluffs along the Minnesota and Wisconsin border see our feature from Fountain City, Wis., When Bluffs Throw Boulders.  On April 5, 1901 a single boulder fell from the bluff face to smash a home and kill its occupant. Some 85 years later it happened again… in the same spot. This time, the Rock was left in place and is open to the public for viewing at the Rock in the House attraction on Hwy 35.


Statistics, Stories, and Chronology from the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1993
    © 1996 Heritage Press/Great River Publishing. All rights reserved

Click here, "disasters" for more stories related to disasters related to Mississippi River natural history

1993 Mississippi Flood CHRONOLOGY

 March 10

The National Weather Service predicts below normal precipitation for the summer: “but above average rainfall could mean flooding, given soil saturation, spring snow depths, and normal spring rains.”

 June 10

The first 8” rainstorms begin in Dakotas, Wisconsin and Minnesota

 June 20

The first dam bursts, submerging 100 homes to their rooftops on the Black River in Western Wisconsin. The upper 200 miles of the Mississippi River are closed to river traffic. Locks and Dams are not operating.

 July 5

The bridge at Keokuk closes.

 July 10

The bridge closes at Fort Madison, Iowa, which has experienced rain for 54 of 58 days.  830 miles of Mississippi River are closed to boat traffic between Cairo, Illinois and St. Paul, Minnesota. Over 100 rivers feeding into the Mississippi River flood by July 14.  Unprecedented high-water on the Missouri River, Des Moines River, Illinois, Iowa, Skunk, Rock and Raccoon rivers (all tributaries of the Mississippi River) promote the massive flooding of the Mississippi River.

 July 16

The last Quincy, Illinois, bridge is closed, leaving no bridge between Alton, Illinois and Burlington, Iowa. The Mississippi River is flooded to seven miles inland.

 July 24

The Mississippi River at Quincy crests at a record 32 feet.

 August 2

The Mississippi River crests at 49.7 feet in St. Louis, Missouri. Eleven times the volume of Niagara Falls is flowing under Eads Bridge; enough to fill Busch stadium every 65 seconds.

 August 24

The Mississippi River locks reopen to commercial river traffic.

 August 30

The Des Moines River floods again, after another 10 inches of rain falls.  The Mississippi River stays open.


Sandbags and Stuff
(Statistics collected from various regional newspaper sources.)

  • Estimated that two truckloads of sand (a little less than fifty tons) will fill 4000 sandbags.
  • More than 26.5 million sandbags were used in towns along the Mississippi River during the Flood of 1993
  • Approximately 927 million pounds of sand was used to fill those sandbags
  • Homeowners had to fill their own sandbags
  • In all, 150 primary and secondary levees failed during the summer.
  • 12 billion dollars in damages
  • 48 deaths
  • nine states involved
  • 1 inch of water on an acre of land equals 27,143 gallons.

     What Happened to cause so much rain in 1993?

     Rain, too much rain, was the root of the problems. By July 15th, every area had a least twice its normal rainfall, some had six times as much. A high pressure system in the Southeast forced Gulf air to move north, hitting cool Northwest air. It stalled right there, continuing to produce massive rainfalls. It was the wettest June and July since 1895.  There were twelve major storms with rainfalls of 6 to 12 inches, 16,000 square miles of farmland were under water. Seventeen million acres were inundated during the flood.


Flood Projections for 1996: April 2, 1996

The National Weather Service issued a revised report on the potential for spring flooding on the Mississippi River. The report is considered to be a “worst case scenario” and projects that if normal precipitation falls and average temperatures prevail in the coming weeks, the Mississippi River could crest in La Crosse, Wisconsin at 15.5 feet…. 3.5 feet above the Mississippi River’s flood stage. If little precipitation falls in coming weeks, the crest could be lower, at 13 feet.  Heavy snow that fell over most of Minnesota and Wisconsin last week motivated the revised report. In addition, cold temperatures have delayed the snow melt, increasing the chances for a rapid melt in the north during April.


INSIGHT FEATURE: Remembering Valmeyer, Illinois and the 1993 Mississippi River Flood.

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