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Lingering Floods along the Mississippi River
This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated. At the time of publication, it represented the best available science. However, more recent observations and studies may have rendered some content obsolete.
As attention focused on the Mississippi River’s water levels around New Orleans, water levels remained high to the north. Water lingered in the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway weeks after the breach of a levee, and the Mississippi River remained high in places along the Arkansas-Tennessee border.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired the top image on May 20, 2011, and the bottom image on April 14, 2011. Both images use a combination of visible and infrared light to increase contrast between water and land. Water ranges in color from electric blue to navy. Vegetation is green. Bare ground is brown. Clouds are pale blue-green.
The image from April shows the Mississippi River before the levee breach that spared Cairo, Illinois, but flooded a portion of Missouri. The May 20 image shows water lingering in that floodway, as well as visibly higher water in the Mississippi River, from Illinois southward.
Although water levels were dropping slowly, floods were receding along the Mississippi River in late May 2011. On May 23, 2011, the Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service (AHPS) of the U.S. National Weather Service reported that the Ohio River was at minor flood stage in Cairo, Illinois. The AHPS reported that the Mississippi River was at minor flood stage in New Madrid, Missouri; at major flood stage in Osceola, Arkansas; and at minor flood stage in Memphis, Tennessee. Water levels were projected to decline at all locations over the next few days.