Floods Advance Down the Missouri River

Floods Advance Down the Missouri River
Floods Advance Down the Missouri River

The summer of 2011 brought more than greener vegetation to South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri. It also brought flooding along the Missouri River. Captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, these images show the advance of flood waters on the Missouri River between May 30, 2011 (top), and June 27, 2011 (bottom).

These images have been rotated so that north is on the right. Both images use a combination of visible and infrared light to increase contrast between water and land. Water is navy blue. Land ranges in color from green to brown, depending on land cover. Vegetation greens significantly over the four-week period separating these images. Clouds range from off-white to blue-green.

No significant flooding appears along this stretch of the Missouri on May 30. On June 1, flooding had begun to occur near the North Dakota town of Williston, upstream from Lake Sakakawea.

In the image from June 27, flooding has swelled the river all along the eastern border of Nebraska. Flood waters are most obvious in the south (left).

On June 28, the Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service (AHPS) of the U.S. National Weather Service reported moderate flooding at Sioux City, Iowa, and near Decatur and Omaha, Nebraska. The AHPS reported major flooding at Plattsmouth, Nebraska City, Brownville, and Rulo. In communities downstream, the AHPS also reported major flooding of the Missouri River at St. Joseph and Atchison.

Could flooding along the Missouri River lead to another surge of flooding along the Lower Mississippi? Probably not, says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. On June 21, the Associated Press reported that flood waters from the Missouri River were not expected to cause another surge of flooding, according to an Army Corps spokesperson, but the Missouri floods might slow the receding of floods on the Mississippi.

NASA images courtesy MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Michon Scott.

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