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Some amazing preliminary observations of the flood records


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Okay...somehow the editor messed up (surely it wasn't me), so here is what I meant to write: I've been perusing the various USGS gauges looking at the preliminary peak streamflow for a bunch of o

I'm a natural skeptic of "global warming" or "climate change" or whatever the hell its being called now. No doubt this past weekend was an outlier for precipitation, but I put far more stock in the th

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Okay...somehow the editor messed up (surely it wasn't me), so here is what I meant to write:

I've been perusing the various USGS gauges looking at the preliminary peak streamflow for a bunch of our float streams and comparing it to the historic peak flows.  

Gasconade River at Jerome:

The river here appears to have reached somewhere around 200,000 cubic feet per second.  The previous record was set last December at 140,000 cfs, so that is a huge increase.  Indeed, from 1897 to the present, not including this flood, the river only surpassed 100,000 cfs twice before 1983.  Then...1983-136,000, 1993-110,000, 2008-118,000, 2013-138,000, 2016-140,000.  You'll see this in several of the other rivers as well--far more frequent "super-floods" in more recent years than in earlier years.  More about that later.

Big Piney River at Ross Bridge:

Looks like it reached at least 90,000 cfs (which means that the Piney may have been contributing half the Gasconade's flow at the peak at Jerome).  From 1922 to 1943, the peak flow only went over 20,000 cfs 15 times.  In 1943 it set a new record at 32,700.  It wasn't until 1983 that that record was broken, and it was shattered at 81,200.  In 2008 it got to 64,000.  In 2016, 57,700.  And now a new record.

Meramec River at Sullivan (Sappington Bridge):

It appears to have set a new record at about 95,000 cfs.  The previous record, set way back in 1915, was 90,000 cfs.  Other notable floods were 1945-77,300, 1969-50,000, 1983-67,700, 1994-56,400, 2008-66,900, 2016-66,000.

Big River near Richwoods:

The gauge wasn't reading well at the peak, but it looks like it was somewhere between 70,000 and 85,000 cfs, which shattered the old record of 59,800 cfs in 1993.  Only four other times has the river gone over 50,000 cfs, including 1957, 1994, 2008, and 2016.

Bourbeuse River at Union:

It was one of the few which didn't set a new record.  Not even close.  It peaked at around 42,000 cfs, which tied 1994, with 1897, 1915, 2016, and the all time record of 73,300 cfs in 1983 all beating this year's flood.  Which points out something else...the December 2016 flood, which set records on the lower Meramec in St. Louis County, was not as bad as it could have been, and neither will this one be unless the rain this week adds to it.  Why?  Last December, Big River didn't reach it's previous record.  This flood, the Bourbeuse was well below it's record flow.  If both rivers ever set records at the same time the Meramec itself above them is setting a record, the lower Meramec will go several feet higher yet.

St. Francis River at Patterson:  

At about 120,000 cfs, this is a little below the record, set in 1983 at 155,000.  There has only been one other recorded flow over 100,000 cfs, and it was in 1994 at 130,000.  Note...the years I'm listing are "water years", which actually run from July of the year before to July of that year, so the 1994 flood was actually in November, 1993).

James River at Galena:  

It apparently reached somewhere between 70,000 and 80,000 cfs.  It's gone over 70,000 three other times, including 1993-73,200, 2008-85,100, and 2016-78,100.

North Fork at Tecumseh:

It is believed to have gone over an incredible 200,000 cfs.  The gauge ceased working at 130,000 plus.  In 1986 it reached 130,000, and the only other time it went over 100,000 was in 1985 at 108,000 cfs.

Black River near Annapolis:

At about 70,000 cfs, the upper Black was nowhere close to the record of 109,000 in 1994, nor the 98,600 in 1986, but it was the third highest flow recorded, with the fourth being in 2002 at 59,800.

Jacks Fork at Eminence: 

It reached somewhere around 80,000 cfs, which when you stop to think about it is pretty incredible for a stream with that small of a watershed.  The previous record was in 1994 at 58,500 cfs, and only three other times has it gone over 50,000 cfs.

Current River at Van Buren:

It appears to have peaked at between 170,000 and 180,000 cfs.  Next closest record was way back in 1904 at 153,100.  In 1915 it got to 125,000.  Other than that, it went over 80,000 cfs only seven different years.

With a few outliers way back in the first three decades of the 20th century, almost all the other really high flows on these streams have been since the 1980s.  One reason for this is probably increased development, with more cleared land and asphalt allowing water to run off the land more quickly instead of sinking into it.  However, there was a lot of poor land use practices, including almost completely denuded forests, back in the years from 1900 to 1950, which would have caused increased run-off as well.  Yet there weren't that many huge floods back then.  Part of the reason was an ongoing drought throughout the years of the Great Depression, but there were still plenty of wet years.  So those who say that the greatly increased flooding is a sign of climate change do have some validity for that statement.

But for whatever reason, while this was not a record flood on every Missouri Ozark stream, it appears to have set plenty of records so far.

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That is some good work, and I'm sure it took some time to compile all that. Thanks Al.

I have a hard time assuming the accuracy of the earlier records, especially when you start talking about the late 1800's and early 1900's.  Things were pretty "guesstimatory" back then.  The only thing they did better back then was make shoes.   When was the last time a pair of shoes lasted long enough to be RE-SOLED ? 

They made some darn good shoes back then, but they were pretty ignorant about everything else. 

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Ignorant about everything else.You need to watch the history channel more often and learn about the great building feats of centuries past.Ther are great cathedrals that took several hundred years to build that are still standing.I will bet there isn't anything we do that will surpass that.I know that you probably made those statements in jest.

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3 hours ago, cart7 said:

Well, this might have helped.

 

meramec_basin_plan200_sm.jpg

Your right about the "might have helped" but then it doesn't make any sense to create several permanent floods to prevent the occasional temporary flood. The only real solution to flood damage is to stay out of harms way. 

His father touches the Claw in spite of Kevin's warnings and breaks two legs just as a thunderstorm tears the house apart. Kevin runs away with the Claw. He becomes captain of the Greasy Bastard, a small ship carrying rubber goods between England and Burma. Michael Palin, Terry Jones, 1974

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4 minutes ago, Greasy B said:

The only permanent solution to flood damage is to stay out of harms way. 

I agree.  I've lived here my whole life and it still baffles me why anyone would live in a flood plain.  The news comes on with a big story, "West Alton braces for floods"

Really??  Boy that never happens every year.

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Glad you mentioned climate change, which global warming is just one factor. Perhaps the most significant characteristic predicted with even slight increased global temperatures  is extreme weather conditions and more severe weather with increased tornados, hurricanes, periods of drought, periods of extreme rainfall, even extreme winters. Just a spike in the average global temperature is the tip of the iceberg. It changes the entire dynamics of our global weather patterns.

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