Memphis Weather Has Us Bracing for Historic Flooding of the Mississippi River

Thursday I was returning to Memphis after a long visit in St. Louis. The drive home was one I had been looking forward to. It had been a tough time in my part of the world. Some of the big notes were I drove through a night of storms on my way up, a tornado ripped through St. Louis while I was there and Memphis suffered days of storms but survived largely unscathed while other areas, particularly Alabamaeast Tennessee  had tornado-related issues resulting in a historic level of devastation. And while I still have lots of friends in recovery mode from tornadoes, the focus on flooding is just beginning.

I saw a lot of the flooding as I drove home. and the difference from my previous trek home just two weeks ago was shocking. So shocking I was glad I had taken photos two weeks ago too! Not in the exact same spot but it was definitely the same field.

two weeks of rain - example of flooding

This water was from a “smaller river” that feeds into the Mississippi later. Lots of these smaller rivers in the Mid-South are flooding. In fact, the tributary that Memphians know best, the Wolf River, actually has flooded enough to not only close lots of the parks, etc but put water in the parking lot of the hospital I spent the morning at recently. A bunch of the photos I’ve taken this week are in a slideshow at the end of this post!

You can see just how many rivers and streams in this area are affected by looking at real time state-by-state maps the US Geological Survey has on its website. Here are links to the three states I’ve been in the last few days:

flooded river at night

Memphis Anticipates Near-Historic, “Catastrophic” Flooding

Since we are right on the Mississippi River, we tend to pay attention to things like the river stage. While we may not always know the exact feet above or below flood stage, we can tell when it’s up or down without even giving it a thought. And when family was in town a few weeks ago, we noticed it had come up quite a bit but I was captivated by how close boats could come to Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival! And probably more amazing was the fact the first two days of music fest went off without rain falling. That changed today though and we’re just hoping it sticks to rain and the tornadoes stay away (first pass of tornado warnings today were around 2:30 pm but the cells were staying north of Tom Lee Park).

While the music festival seems to have gone along nicely, it seems that today’s rain may be one of the last forms of normalcy along the Mississippi for a while. The river is rising quickly and several towns are evacuating. One of the small private airports nearby has already closed and planes have been moved. The Mississippi Gaming Commission decided that the Tunica casinos need to shut down as a safety precaution. Suddenly people are learning what 100 year floodplains are as they are expected to be similar to what we experience in flooding this week. And farmers are trying to determine which fields will be under water and whether they have some that are going to make it. Cities are discussing the situation with levees and some are debating whether to purposely blow the levees or not. The Memphis Commercial Appeal did a great piece the other day and did a good update this afternoon.

Other Good Reads on Flooding/Weather issues

I enjoy reading first-hand accounts of what’s going on in the world of weather and have seen several posts recently on the rain we’re getting and the impact its having. Some you may want to check out include:

Mississippi River flooding Arkansas

Not sure who took this but its being spread all over Facebook. GREAT PHOTO!

About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

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11 Responses to Memphis Weather Has Us Bracing for Historic Flooding of the Mississippi River

  1. Ryan Goodman May 1, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    Thanks for the mention Janice. It’s been a soggy day here in Arkansas with many interstates closed due to flooding, along with all of the by-passes and detours. It’s made for some interesting conversations on SM feeds. Just wait til the wind picks up, with all of this saturated soils, we will all have many trees blow down.

    • JPlovesCOTTON May 1, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

      We had tornado watches again today with a lot of water…. Even though I really wanted to go downtown for the final night of the music fest, I was too tired.

  2. Jennifer Campbell May 2, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    Thanks – sure hope it starts clearing up everywhere – I never wish for the rain to stop because sure enough it will in June and July when we really need it here in Indiana!

    • JPlovesCOTTON May 3, 2011 at 1:08 am #

      I agree. Actually just worked through things again and had a Mississippi farmer share that same sentiment. Take care up river!

  3. Erin May 5, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    Stumbled upon this blog as I was doing some searches on the flooding in and around Memphis. Dad and I have been planning a vacation to Memphis for months now – we arrive there on Sunday. So my question is, is this situation bad enough (or will it get bad enough) that we should just cancel the whole trip? I sincerely hope not – a lot of money has already been poured into this trip! Please let me know.

    • JPlovesCOTTON May 5, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

      Erin, Memphis itself is pretty dry. Its more the areas around us that are having problems and a few low-lying areas. We are still open, especially for tourists! There will be lots of things to see and do and for many of them you won’t even know there is a flooding issue nearby. If you need help choosing some things to do, let me know! I’m a big fan of my hometown!


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