Sunday, March 13, 2016

Flooding Prespective

Finally we began to see weathercasters making comparisons to past floods after overwhelming us for days with river stages & river crests.  I dare say that most viewers had little clue what the weather folks were talking about except they knew some people were in for high water.   One of the 1st things I did when I arrived back in 1978 was to start a “flood folder” (no computers back then) where I took newspaper accounts of what flooded when certain rivers reached/exceeded flood stage.   What I found was above “flood stage” didn’t mean anybody was receiving water in their homes.   To the contrary, “flood stage” had to be exceeded by 2-3+(or more)  feet before homes were threatened.   There was the Great Jackson, MS. Flood of 1979 that brought a huge amount of water down the Pearl.  Fortunately for SE LA/MS, there wasn’t significant damage here.   4 years later was a different story with the great flood of 1983.  What I learned was the Pearl needed to reach 19.5’+ at Pearl River before major impacts began.   That level has been reached tonight and is expected to approach the 1983 record of 21.05’ Monday PM or night.   That means IF you had water in your home 33 years ago, it will probably happen again.   Back in 1983, I-10 was closed for days as water surged over the interstate.  That should happen again.   I believe when we have “historic” or “never seen before” events, we need to compare them to past history, like we do with Hurricanes.    People don’t understand river levels & flood stages.  They do understand & remember when they last got water in their homes.  My worst flood experience was the May 1995 flood.  Luckily my house in Metairie remained dry.  Katrina drowned one of my cars & put 18” of water in my townhome.  We remember those events like yesterday.  


A quick education about rivers…the smaller the river,  the faster it’ll rise & fall, usually in a matter of hours or a day.  The bigger the river, the longer it takes for the rises & falls, usually in terms of days or weeks versus hours.   That’s why the smaller streams often are the deadly ones as a little brook can turn into a raging torrent with minutes & hours.    If ever camping, be away of the elevation around the camp grounds in case you need to rush to high ground during a flash flood. 

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