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Al Agnew

Some amazing preliminary observations of the flood records

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It makes the news now a days too because back in the day they saw the river come up and said, "Dang, I'm not going to build my house there because it floods when it rains a bunch."  Now builders say, "Oh yeah, you'll be fine building a house here.  The river hasn't EVER come up this far in a long time for 100 years or 500 years or so.  No need to worry, give me your money and I'll build you a house. *wink wink*."

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Saw this in today's paper.

The National Weather Service expects the White River to crest at 36.5 feet in Des Arc on Wednesday. Flood stage there is 24 feet.

If the river reaches the expected height, it will be the third-highest recorded in its history, only bested by the 39.4-foot mark set on May 7, 2011, and the 37.3-foot reading measured on Feb. 2, 1949.

Once the White River crests in Des Arc, it will remain at that level for several days before beginning a very slow decline, said meteorologist Dennis Cavanaugh of the National Weather Service in North Little Rock.

Because the Mississippi River is rising, he said, drainage from the Arkansas River into the Mississippi River will be slow. The White River runs into the Arkansas River.

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12 hours ago, MickinMO said:

You can't trust the data because "scientists" have been cooking the books for decades to fit their narrative. Weather feels more extreme because we can see it now. Even 15 years ago West Plains' flooding would not have made the national news. Same goes for tornados and hurricanes. There is more attention and emotion because of the instant effect of social media. I do think the midwest is getting more moisture. Record PWAT values that are more tropical. Mankind is not near as powerful as we want to believe. The sun is what dictates our planet's well being. 

"scientist" cooking the books for decades to fit their agenda. 

Seriously? Do you actually believe that statement? At what benefit? Did they all the scientists in the world get together 20 or 30 years ago, and hold a pow wow? Producing a plan, better yet a vast conspiracy to lie to the world. Why? At what gain?

I guess people can believe that the earth is flat, that's your right.

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16 hours ago, Al Agnew said:

A few points...first, about climate change.  I don't see how anybody can argue that the planet has been warming for the last century or so and is still warming, at rates that are much higher than what we've come to accept as normal.  It isn't just global average temperatures or ocean temperature data that is telling us this, it's a lot of other stuff that is the result of warming, like disappearing glaciers, melting sea ice, thawing permafrost, changing plant growth zones, more frost-free days, etc.  All point to a warming climate.  The debate should be how much of it is human-caused and how much we can or should try to do about alleviating it.  But at the very least, we should be planning how to deal with the effects of it, and one effect COULD be larger and more frequent floods.  

As for the cause that seems to make the most sense to everybody, rampant development, we need to step back a bit and think about it when it comes to streams like those in the Ozarks.  With few exceptions, much of the upper watersheds of these streams is in relatively UN-developed country, nothing but forests, small farms, and small towns.  The percentage of asphalt and rooftops in the total land area of regions like this is still very small, though it has certainly increased in the last 100 years.  We look at a shopping center in Sullivan and see all those parking lots and think that they have to be producing a huge amount of runoff, but a lot of the flood water that went past Meramec State Park came from the upper watershed where there just aren't many parking lots.  And there have been times in the past, especially in the period from 1900 to 1950, when the Ozark watersheds were probably in worse shape than they are now, with a lot more row crops and plowed fields, and denuded forests.  Yep, fewer rooftops and asphalt, but probably a larger percentage of land area was capable of producing faster runoff than healthy forests and fields do.

There have been massive rain events here in the past.  The question is, are they more frequent now than then?  The answer appears to be yes.  Of course, we could go into a drought starting tomorrow that would be like the Dust Bowl years, but we can only look at present trends and the best climate science we have, and make assumptions.  If we assume that this is the new normal, we can begin to plan for it.

Yep, you can only blame so much of it on development. That may be relevant in parts of the Meramec watershed, for sure, but I'm pretty certain that's  not a primary cause of these "super-floods" on the Jacks Fork and the Current. Or the North Fork/Eleven Point/Black.

Heck, back in the "day" landowners were on the regular burning half the watershed each spring. They were clearing land at a much higher rate than now for beyond marginal ag-land. That situation has mostly improved in the region, although of course there is some work to do. But it's not why we're all of a sudden having huge floods seemingly every year.

The truth is we know why these kinds of floods are happening. As Al says, we can either accept progressive (not progressive in the political sense but as in "it's only gonna get worse") climate change as the primary explanatory variable and start planning accordingly ...or we can pretend it's just a blip on the radar screen, and continue to suffer more and more dire consequences. 

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11 hours ago, creek wader said:

"scientist" cooking the books for decades to fit their agenda. 

Seriously? Do you actually believe that statement? At what benefit? Did they all the scientists in the world get together 20 or 30 years ago, and hold a pow wow? Producing a plan, better yet a vast conspiracy to lie to the world. Why? At what gain?

I guess people can believe that the earth is flat, that's your right.

Yes, it's called the weather and climate summit. And it's to keep their grant money

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I'm pretty sure that Phil will shut this down pretty quick if we start arguing climate change.  But I think I'd rather trust the vast majority of scientists in the field (and only a small percentage of them are depending upon "grant money", especially grants from organizations that have a vested interest in supporting anthropomorphic climate change), than a bunch of politicians and media rabble rousers who don't know a darned thing about the science.  And that's all I'll say on the subject.

 

 

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At some point outdoorsmen have to get to the point where the single greatest issue facing our resource isn't something we have to tiptoe around. It's happening, half the darn state is underwater, and if it hasn't smacked you in the face it will soon enough. I for one am done trying to pretend it's something we can afford not to discuss.

I'm not arguing anything. I'm long since done with that. Believe what you want.

I am a natural resource scientist, and the future of our streams, forests, and everything we hold dear, in the face of climate change is something we need to plan for. It's not a debate, it's a reality that it's past time to face.

 

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8 hours ago, ozark trout fisher said:

At some point outdoorsmen have to get to the point where the single greatest issue facing our resource isn't something we have to tiptoe around. It's happening, half the darn state is underwater, and if it hasn't smacked you in the face it will soon enough. I for one am done trying to pretend it's something we can afford not to discuss.

I'm not arguing anything. I'm long since done with that. Believe what you want.

I am a natural resource scientist, and the future of our streams, forests, and everything we hold dear, in the face of climate change is something we need to plan for. It's not a debate, it's a reality that it's past time to face.

 

This x1000.

It's a reality to face, and the American way to face new reality is to try and figure out how to make a buck on it. You don't have to be a Democrat Commie Liberal Socialist like me to accept climate change. You can be a good capitalist, accept the science, and innovate a way to help the planet, and make a healthy profit at the same time.  

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