Climate Disasters Strike Home & Around The World
Tornadoes, Floods, Scorching Heat Waves,
Hurricanes, & More Floods...
Tornado Cuts Swath of Destruction Through Jefferson City - Flashes of lightening reveal a funnel cloud storm system approaching Jefferson City late Wednesday night, May 22, 2019 - Missouri Sheriffs’ Association – https://www.mosheriffs.com/tornado-cuts-swath-of-destruction-through-jefferson-city/
In This Issue:
Global Climate News Brief
Violent Tornadoes, Torrential Rains,
Apocalyptic Floods Sweep Across U.S.
The Path Of Destruction
Governor Visits Flooded Northeast Missouri
Water Quality Concerns
Extreme Flooding Is Drowning Parts Of The Midwest
What’s the Future for Midwest Farms & Towns Affected by Climate Change? Watch:
A Climate Reckoning In The Heartland
Coming Events + 2 More
Extreme weather conditions are accelerating around the globe.
The focus of this report is the devastating onslaught of tornadoes and widespread flooding across the Midwest and surrounding regions. However, deadly climate change impacts around the world are spiraling out of control, with exponentially more catastrophes as time goes on. This brief overview of the global situation is to place the disasters in America’s heartland in context. Decisive strategies for climate action call for global collaboration to restore and manage earth's resources, to leave future generations a livable world.
Several Deaths Reported as Record Breaking Heat Wave Scorches Europe
June 2019 was the hottest June on record. July is on track to be the hottest month ever recorded. A searing heat wave in Europe with temperatures as high as 113 degrees in France, Germany, England, Spain, and Italy. Two nuclear reactors at a power plant in France shut down because the water they used for cooling became too hot. In Norway, over 200 reindeer starved to death when rain drowned their food supply. Paris officially declared a “climate emergency,” making the French capital one of the first major global cities to do so, after London, Sydney, and New York City among 935 cites, states, and nations around the world.
The massive heat dome that shattered all-time temperature records across much of Europe has settled over Greenland, driving temperatures across the vast Arctic island to as much as 30 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Greenland’s ice is expected to melt at its fastest rate ever recorded, when “more than 12 billion tons of water will permanently melt away from the ice sheet, irreversibly raising sea levels globally.” If the ice sheet melts entirely, it would raise global sea levels by almost 23 feet.
Women fetching water from an opening in a dried-up lake in Chennai, India. Credit P. Ravikumar /Reuters https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/13/world/asia/india-heat-wave-deaths.html
India was devastated by Cyclone Fani, followed by one of India’s longest and most intense heat waves in decades, with temperatures reaching 123 degrees, claiming at least 36 lives. Chennai, India, a city of 10 million people, is running out of water. Poor government management is getting most of the blame for the current crisis across India, where 21 major cities are at risk of running out of groundwater. Other water-stressed countries include Iraq, Spain, South Africa, and Brazil. Record heat, rain, flooding, and a rare tornado in China damaged 3,600 homes. https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2019/08/01/india-chennai-water-shortage-crisis-infrastructure
In the U.S., a record heat wave has hit Alaska, intensifying hundreds of wildfires across the state and speeding the melting of glaciers. Wildfires are also raging across the Western states. In June and July 2019, more than 100 long-lived and intense wildfires blazed within the Arctic Circle. Most of them burned in Alaska and Siberia, though a few raged even in Greenland. So much of the Arctic is on fire you can see it from space.
US Intelligence Officials Warn Climate Change Is A Worldwide Threat:
Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats is being replaced, having informed President Trump that climate change is a serious threat to our national security. The DNI's job is to oversee the entire US intelligence community — including the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA as well as offices within the Pentagon, State Department, and the Department of Energy.
Sue Gordon, second-in-command at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), was confirmed to be departing by President Trump.
State Department intelligence analyst Rod Schoonover has resigned in protest after the White House blocked data and evidence on climate change and its threat to national security. https://www.wsj.com/articles/state-department-analyst-resigns-after-white-house-blocks-climate-change-testimony-11562780573
National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and directors of the FBI, CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency testify on the Worldwide Threat Assessment before a Senate committee. Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Gett
Deforestation in the Amazon has dramatically increased since the far-right former military officer Jair Bolsonaro became president in January. Brazil has lost more than 1,300 square miles of forest cover this year, and the pace of deforestation is increasing. One report claims that the equivalent of three soccer fields are being deforested every minute in the Amazon. In June, deforestation increased by 88% over the same month last year. The drastic spike is due to Bolsonaro’s rolling back of regulations and allowing illegal land invasions, logging and burning. Climate scientists say the protection of the Amazon rainforest is crucial in the global effort to fight climate change.
One Million Species Of Wildlife At Risk Of Extinction
A landmark Global Assessment by the UN Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) warns that the window is closing to safeguard biodiversity and a healthy planet. The new report paints “an ominous picture” of the health of ecosystems rapidly deteriorating. In parts of the ocean, little life remains but green slime. Some remote tropical forests are nearly silent as insects have vanished, and grasslands are increasingly becoming deserts. Human activity has resulted in the severe alteration of more than 75 percent of Earth’s land areas, the Global Assessment found. Yet solutions are in sight.
Humanity Has Wiped Out 60 Percent Of Animal Populations https://www.worldwildlife.org/publications/living-planet-report-2018
Biodiversity Loss Breaching Safe Limits Worldwide - Natural History Museum https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/news/2016/july/biodiversity-breaching-safe-limits-worldwide.html
Trump Rolls Back Protections for Endangered Species
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a new report on the importance of land management on climate change, food and water security, and the viability of ecosystems for humans and wildlife. Cutting out fossil fuels, vitally needed within the next ten years, isn’t enough. We as a species need to fundamentally transform our relationship with the land to stand any hope of fighting climate change. This new report describes how our abuse of the land—deforestation, industrial agriculture, draining of carbon-capturing peatlands—is driving climate change, and in turn how that climate change is exacerbating the degradation of land the world over. It’s a vicious circle the human species has to break, and fast.
New IPCC Report Shows How Our Abuse of Land Drives Climate Change
As Alaska warms, wildfires pose a growing threat.
Farmers On The Front Lines Of Climate Change
A Climate Reckoning in the Heartland - America's grain farmers were particularly hard-hit by historic flooding in Spring 2019, and the realities of climate change could threaten their way of life. Now, some farmers are hoping they can be part of the solution. CBSN Originals' Adam Yamaguchi travels to Nebraska, where he meets two farmers on different paths, both determined to pass their legacies on to the next generation.
A Climate Reckoning in the Heartland The full story at cbsnews.com/heartland is linked to at the end of this newsletter.
Violent Tornadoes, Torrential Rains, Apocalyptic Floods Sweep Across U.S.
CNN Tornado View - Tornadoes, Storms, & Historic Floods Threatens Millions
Hundreds of tornadoes raged across the U.S. this spring, hurling trees and vehicles, shredding homes and businesses, claiming nearly 40 lives so far. Months of flooding drowned large parts of the Midwest, wrecking communities and turning farms into inland seas. All during the wettest 12 months on record in the US. Followed by the hottest month of June in recorded history..
A neighborhood in Bellevue, Nebraska, is flooded by waters from the Missouri River, by the Offutt Air Force Base runway. Nati Harnik—AP/Shutterstock https://time.com/longform/scenes-from-the-historic-floods-that-hit-the-midwest-and-could-get-worse/
Tornadoes, thunderstorms and flooding batter states including Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Missouri
Several deaths were blamed on flooding and severe weather, including one each in Arkansas, Kentucky and Ohio; three in Missouri and six in Oklahoma. Significant weather-related damage and injuries were reported in the central states. Residents were forced to flee their homes, while others hunkered down in storm shelters. … https://www.newsweek.com/tornadoes-flooding-texas-oklahoma-pennsylvania-kansas-city-canton-harrisburg-1439180
Firefighters rescue a baby from the boat and assist with home evacuations due to the East river flooding on March 15, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Adam Wesley—The Post-Crescent via AP https://time.com/longform/scenes-from-the-historic-floods-that-hit-the-midwest-and-could-get-worse/
Tens of thousands of people have been displaced
Torrential rains overflowing the Arkansas, Mississippi and Missouri rivers inundated communities from Oklahoma and Nebraska, to South Carolina and Michigan, to Texas, driving tens of thousands into shelters, shutting businesses and closing interstate highways..
Thunderstorms, tornadoes, flooding: Aftermath of severe weather for Midwest Tribes https://newsmaven.io/indiancountrytoday/news/thunderstorms-tornadoes-and-flooding-aftermath-of-severe-weather-for-midwest-tribes-inyJtvPBsESfLvVYbWkTGA/
By the end of May, NOAA had processed at least 960 tornado reports, compared to about 750 in an average year. Most of the reports were from 22 states, with at least 50% from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
According to NASA Earth Observatory data, the past year has been the country’s wettest since modern record keeping began. Drenching rains have left some parts of the United States underwater for weeks. At least 80 river gauges along the Mississippi River and its tributaries indicated major flooding, and 104 more registered moderate flooding. Cities across the region from Minneapolis down to New Orleans have been slammed by heavy rain and flooding..
Every Single County in Oklahoma is Under a State of Emergency https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/28/us/oklahoma-counties-emergency-wxc-trnd/index.html
Tornado threat subsides but major flooding is still a concern in central US Watch: https://abcnews.go.com/US/tornado-threat-subsides-major-flooding-concern-central-us/story?id=63367206
One dangerous storm system in the Midwest produced dozens of tornadoes, demolishing a racetrack grandstand and damaging buildings in a wild animal park in Missouri - but sparing St. Louis, the biggest city in its path.
St Joseph evacuation – Mandatory evacuation order for parts of St. Joseph, MO https://www.kshb.com/news/local-news/residents-of-st-joe-neighborhood-ordered-to-evacuate-due-to-flooding
The big picture that is emerging ever more clearly is a widening zone of destructive weather patterns, loss of life, and destruction of property. Countless Americans are reeling from the impact of being driven from their homes by catastrophic weather disasters. These are happening at an accelerating pace across America’s heartland and around the world.
Golden City Tornado Deaths
“This is about as scary a radar image you can see.”
Golden City Tornado Deaths, Carl Junction Damage - Large tornado moving through Missouri. Near Golden City now. Tim Buckley, https://heavy.com/news/2019/05/golden-city-tornado-deaths-carl-junction/
Nothing captures the harsh reality of how these events are shattering peoples’ lives like the tornadoes that descended in the darkness of night, slashing through our own Missouri towns.
First among the hardest hit areas were Carl Junction and Golden City near Joplin, both by EF-3 tornadoes with winds around 140 miles an hour. Three people died when the tornado hit their home in Golden City. The Carl Junction tornado destroyed about three dozen homes.
Moving north, the tornado-laden storm system struck Eldon, then Jefferson City– eerily on the same date as the Joplin tornado that killed 158 people, destroying over 6,000 buildings on May 22, 2011.
EF-3 Tornadoes were blamed for three deaths in Golden City in Barton County, near Joplin. https://www.ksgf.com/2019/05/23/ef-3-tornadoes-hit-carl-junction-golden-city/
“Like A War Zone”
Widespread Damage In Eldon As Missouri Town Hit By Tornado
Eldon tornado - The scenes emerging at daylight
Multiple residences, businesses and government buildings were destroyed or sustained damage in Eldon, 40 miles south of Jefferson City towards the Lake of the Ozarks. The Willow Creek Retirement homes were destroyed. Residents of the home were evacuated to the Eldon Church of the Nazarene. The Salvation Army and the Red Cross set up shelter at the Elks Community Lodge and the South School FEMA Storm Shelter.
Tornado Cuts Swath Of Destruction Through Jefferson City
Shortly after the tornado strike in Eldon, an EF-3 tornado with maximum wind speeds of 160 mph ripped through Jefferson City at 11:43 p.m., cutting a swath through the state capital with its 43,000 residents. https://weather.com/news/news/2019-05-23-jefferson-city-missouri-tornado
Tornado Damage in Jefferson City
The Path of Destruction
Tornado path & Structure damage MAP The path of severe destruction from the night of the May 22, 2019 tornado in Jefferson City stretched from Christy Drive north to the Missouri River. Tornado Path & Structure damage Jefferson City map – Complete destruction is marked in red: Data shows tornadoes path through Jefferson City.
The path of destruction carved by the twister that ripped through Jefferson City is shown in the damage map produced by city officials, from the checks made by search-and-rescue teams who went house-to-house through the impacted area. 19 people were taken to hospitals and treated for mostly moderate injuries. One person later died from their injuries.
Life-Saving News & Weather Coverage
“People really paid attention to the warnings.”
First Responders On The Scene Right After Tornado Strike
The Tornado Destroyed the Hawthorne Apartment Complex - FEMA Offers Temporary Housing Reimbursements Following Tornadoes, Flooding http://www.newstribune.com/news/local/story/2019/jul/24/fema-offers-temporary-lodging-reimbursements-following-tornado-flooding/787873/
The damage was extensive, slashing a trail of uprooted trees and power lines, demolished buildings and vehicles, through the center of the city. The toll it could have taken on human life would have been far higher, if not for the live weather radar coverage by News Reporters, and response by Police, Fire Department, City & State Agencies, Volunteers and Organizations. Thanks to the hundreds of First Responders who headed out in the darkness after the tornado working to find victims, clear streets, restore power, and provide shelter to those who have been made homeless, many lives were saved.
Jefferson City tornado damage to stately homes on Capital Ave
Many of the worst hit homes are on streets adjacent to Jefferson City High School and Thorpe Gordon Elementary. The high school is undergoing renovations to parallel the new high school under construction on the west side of Jefferson City. The school district is initiating a conversation about possibly purchasing the severely damaged properties to benefit all concerned. Watch:
Soggy Midwest, Battered Missouri Towns brace
for more storms, flooding
John Bacon, USA Today May 7, 2019
On the Mississippi, cities and towns from South Dakota to Louisiana, such as Davenport, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska; Madison, Wisconsin; St. Louis, Missouri; Cairo, Illinois; Memphis, Tennessee; Natchez, Mississippi; Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, have been hard hit by rising flood waters and incessant rains.
The unyielding rain and flooding that overwhelmed parts of the Midwest has become more prevalent in the past decade or so, slamming through towns along the river once a year or more. Years ago, the Mississippi River town of Clarksville, Missouri was a historic, energetic town that would fill with tourists driving up Route 79 from St. Louis to dabble in antique and woodworking shops, says Pike County Commissioner Justin Sheppard. Now almost all those shops have closed.
CLARKSVILLE — The Mississippi River town of Clarksville, Missouri faces short and long-term challenges brought by frequent flooding of its historic downtown. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pG0tUtCnsfE
Along the Missouri River, towns including Rockport, St. Joseph, Kansas City, Booneville, Franklin and New Franklin, McBane, Easley, Coopers Landing, Hartsburg, Jefferson City, Mokane, and Hermann have been inundated, many evacuated. Flood watches were issued spanning Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas.
Governor Parson Visits Flooded
Water from the swelling Mississippi River covers roadways and approaches houses on May 4, 2019, in Winfield, Mo. (Photo: Colter Peterson, AP) https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/05/07/midwest-flooding-soggy-midwest-braces-more-storms/1127348001/
by Monica Ryan Monday, June 3rd 2019
CLARKSVILLE — Governor Mike Parson met with local officials Monday in Hannibal, Canton and Clarksville, touring the Mississippi River flood levels at all three stops.
"The flooding is devastating, and we're not out of it yet," Parson said in a release. "Working together, we're going to battle this flood for the long haul. Today was about witnessing firsthand how Missourians are rallying together to support each other, and sharing with local cities that we are here to help."
The governor said 28 levees have been breached across the state.
MODOT Road Closure Map 6-7-19 According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, flooding closed approximately 382 roads in 56 counties.
Missouri submits second federal disaster declaration, based on tornadoes and more flooding
Federal Disaster Assistance Information
FEMA Offers Temporary Housing Reimbursements Following Tornadoes, Flooding http://www.newstribune.com/news/local/story/2019/jul/24/fema-offers-temporary-lodging-reimbursements-following-tornado-flooding/787873/
Turn Around – Don’t Drown
Storms flipped campers at Lucas Oil Speedway in Hickory County, Missouri, injuring seven people, four of whom were taken to hospitals. The speedway's grandstand was destroyed, forcing cancellation of racing this weekend.
Another twister hit a drive-thru wild animal park near Springfield, Missouri. Webster County Emergency Management Director Tom Simmons said buildings were damaged at the Wild Animal Safari, but no people or animals were injured. A half-dozen homes were damaged. A tractor-trailer was blown off a highway.
Water Quality Concerns
USGS Map of Rivers Above Flood Stage in the Midwest, May 22, 2019 -Missouri Governor Mike Parson declared a state of emergency in response to flash flooding, strong winds, heavy rain and hail. Associated Press said that the heavy rain was called a contributing factor in the deaths of two people in a traffic accident Tuesday near Springfield, Missouri.
As reported in Massive Storms, Floods, and Tornadoes Sweep Across Midwestern, Southern, & Eastern States, flooding in upper Midwestern states containing thousands of hog farms, millions of tons of coal ash waste from power plants, toxic waste contained in EPA Superfund storage sites, and pesticide and fertilizer runoff from croplands, are being carried down the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, among other waterways from upper midwestern states. This poses a serious water quality problem, to the extent that floodwaters are carrying these contaminants downstream, both for wildlife, and public drinking water supplies.
A further set of water quality concerns raised by the Environmental Working Group says that harmful levels of fluorinated compounds, known collectively as PFAS, have been detected, both in groundwater or drinking water sources of cities, as well as at at more than 230 military installations. An overview of PFAs in Michigan - https://www.michiganradio.org/term/pfas
Report on the military’s response to the presence of harmful chemicals used in firefighting foam https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2019/07/24/esper-creates-task-force-to-deal-with-cancer-causing-chemicals-on-military-installations/
Water Quality Concerns - Three Ways Wildfires Can Pollute Our Water
Note that while Cancer-causing PFA uses include as fire retardants are now banned in the US, they appear to be aggressively marketed elsewhere in the world.
Environmental Quality Standards Possibly Suspended for the Duration of the Flooding
An executive order grants Department of Natural Resources Director Carol Comer authority to suspend environmental quality standards for the duration of the flooding. This raises the question whether public drinking water standards have been suspended, or if water quality is still being tested. Water quality exceedances that were beginning to be reported during the early stages of the flooding seem to have ceased.
Governor Parson Signs Executive Order 19-07
An array of medical conditions may present due to contaminants such as cryptosporidium and nitrates from concentrated feeding operations (CAFOs). For example, elevated levels of nitrates cut off oxygen in the bloodstreams of newborns, which would lead to an increase in infant mortality.
Reports on Iowa's water quality are the focus of widespread concern.
Iowa and Missouri’s water pollution flow from common pollution sources, including CAFOs, power plant coal ash, toxic chemicals stored at Superfund sites, crop fertilizers and pesticides, moving steadily downriver through Iowa, on to Missouri and beyond.
A Daily Iowan Journalist’s Expedition on the Iowa River
By Ryan Adams July 16, 2019
I embarked on an expedition of the 329-mile Iowa River on May 20 to research nitrate levels — an indicator of water quality — in the waterway. I started my journey in the small stream that is the beginning of the Iowa River, near Crystal Lake, Iowa. Throughout the next month, I would paddle, photograph, test, and live on the water..
Because of recent record rainfall in Iowa, a high concentration of farm runoff has found its way into major channels such as the Cedar and Iowa Rivers, where they eventually flow into the Missouri or Mississippi Rivers. These rivers eventually feed into the Gulf of Mexico..
Farmers around Iowa have had to adapt to the increase in annual precipitation, increased length between rainfall, and more intense rainfall, according to a study the U.S. Agriculture Department conducted using data in nine Midwestern states from 2011 to 2015. The report recommended farmers add a diversity of erosion-management tools such as wetlands and cover crops.
One farmer, Dick Sloan of Rowley, Iowa, participated in the USDA and ISU collaborative report and continues to implement nutrient- and erosion-reduction systems. Sloan farms roughly 700 acres in northeast Iowa. Embedded among the field are rows of wetlands, buffer strips, and cover crops.
Farmer Dick Sloan points to a section of his cornfield near Rowley on June 18, 2019. Sloan implements cover crops, prairie land, and no till practices to reduce nutrient runoff and soil erosion in his fields. - Ryan Adams
“When I started out, I had corn, hogs, and soybeans, and you feed the corn and soybeans to the pigs, and you use the nutrients from the pig manure … and raise more corn and soybeans, and it struck me as odd,” Sloan said. “That’s a good little system, and it is on small-scale levels, but then there’s a lot missing — the diversity, the potential for adding more diversity.”
The same programs that help farmers such as Sloan are funded through state and private sources. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill in January 2018 — the first bill she signed upon taking office — that allocated $282 million to water-quality initiatives over the course of 12 years.
Water Quality Remains A Major Issue In Iowa And Beyond
Flooding Leads To Treatment Issues for Kansas City Water, Situation Not Considered An Emergency
Kansas City Water Fails State Standard, Utility Insists Supply Is ‘Still Safe To Drink’
Foreign Corporate Control Takes Over Rural Missouri
Missouri CAFO Law Puts Water, Ozarks At Risk
‘So much land under so much water’:
extreme flooding is drowning parts of the Midwest
Missouri River Flooding 2019 - PHOTOS COURTESY OF FREMONT COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT - http://www.kmaland.com/missouri-river-flooding/collection_6b936e86-48b5-11e9-8040-e362f62da431.html#15
Chris McGreal in Sand Springs, Oklahoma June 3, 2019
Weeks of flooding is drowning large parts of the Midwest, wrecking communities and turning farms into inland seas. Waters that used to surge and recede have stayed around, swamping millions of acres of farmland and devastating the planting season. The amount of land farmers are being prevented from sowing by the water is estimated to be as much as double the previous record of 3m acres of corn, set in 2013. The worst-hit states include Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Indiana.
In Nebraska, where farmers are already grappling with the effects of Donald Trump’s trade war with China, which has killed off a good part of the soybean trade, flooding is estimated to have destroyed $1 billion worth of crops and livestock.
HAMBURG, IOWA - MARCH 20: Homes and businesses are surrounded by floodwater on March 20, 2019. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
In Iowa, bordered on either side by America’s two greatest rivers, the Mississippi and the Missouri, entire towns have been engulfed - Some may never revive. Levees have failed on all three rivers, flooding homes and forcing the evacuation of thousands in Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas. In other places, authorities raced to shore up protections against surging waters. Burlington was the latest city in Iowa to be swamped after its floodwalls failed and river water poured into downtown following three days of intense rain. The Mississippi has been in flood stage for 80 days with little sign of returning to normal anytime soon.
Tornadoes, flooding continue in Midwest Watch: https://abc7ny.com/weather/tornadoes-flooding-continue-in-midwest/5312267/
Across state after state, people say the same thing: They have never seen anything like it. Many can point to previous great floods, but there is common agreement that it is rare to see so much water for so long across one state after another.
Rain falling in southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma sets off a chain reaction. The water runs into the Arkansas River which flows into Kaw Lake, a reservoir and hydroelectric dam just inside Oklahoma’s northern border. When Kaw Lake fills, the engineers open the dam gates. Ten days ago, it was 35 ft above normal and releasing more than 100,000 cubic feet of water per second.
Workers lay down sandbags to keep water from flooding the entrance to a bridge across to Arkansas River in Russellville. Photograph: Thomas Metthe/AP
By early last week, the Keystone engineers were releasing 275,000 cubic feet of water a second. The waterfall through the gates blasted a bubbling torrent down the river, overpowering levees protecting part of Sand Springs a few miles away. .
After two catastrophic floods, towns and cities face a critical decision: Rebuild, or retreat?
In 2016, Ellicott City, Maryland, was hit with a "1,000-Year Storm." Less than two years later, it happened again
Storms supercharged by climate change pose a dire threat to river towns and farms. https://www.foxnews.com/us/iowa-floods-downtown-davenport-businesses
Linda Poon May 23, 2019
The warming world is a wetter one. For every 1° F increase in temperatures, the atmosphere holds about 4 percent more water vapor. That means heavier and more frequent rain in many places. Already, flooding is the most common natural disaster in the U.S., accounting for nearly three-quarters of presidential disaster declarations over the last decade.
One recent report estimates that 41 million people live in 100-year flood plains across the U.S., more than triple the number the Federal Emergency Management Agency predicted in their most current flood maps.
The rising oceans that imperil cities like Miami and New York may grab more headlines, but urban and inland flooding happens almost daily in the U.S.,
according to the first-ever national assessment of such events.
From Texas and Louisiana to the upper Midwest, river towns and cities now find themselves reshaped by chronic inundation; the waters that were once their economic lifeblood are now threats to life and limb..
Flood Impacts Reverberate for Missouri River Farmers
Pools of water sit in rain-soaked farm fields on May 29 near Gardner, Ill. Near-record rainfall in the state has caused farmers to delay their spring corn planting. (Scott Olson Getty Images) https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/06/midwest-rain-climate-change-wrecking-corn-soy-crops/
Jacqui Fatka | Jun 24, 2019
For 100 years, Leo Ettleman of Sidney, Iowa, and his family have farmed the Missouri River bottomland. In the last decade, he has faced two 100-year flood events. Flooding has occurred along the Missouri River almost every year since 2007. “In 2008, we experienced tremendous damage due to seep water and blocked drainage. In 2010, the situation worsened, and come 2011, we had an all-out levee breach of the Missouri River just a half-mile from our family farm," Ettleman said. “Our land was devastated. It took nearly four years to clean up the mess.”…
Extreme Weather is pummeling the Midwest, and farmers are in deep trouble
Businesses on the southwest side of Hamburg, Iowa, were flooded on March 17, 2019, from the flood waters of the Missouri River. Ryan Soderlin—Omaha World-Herald https://time.com/longform/scenes-from-the-historic-floods-that-hit-the-midwest-and-could-get-worse/
Katie Mettler May 30, 2019
From the Rocky Mountains to the Ohio River Valley, millions of Midwesterners have endured unremitting rainfall, hundreds of dangerous tornadoes and debilitating flooding brought on by swollen waterways that are spilling into already saturated grounds — much of it farmland. Much of the most-severe flooding is concentrated in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, northwest Iowa, southeastern South Dakota and Oklahoma — where on Tuesday the governor declared all 77 counties under a state of emergency.
Water from the swelling Mississippi River covers roadways and approaches houses on May 4, 2019, in Winfield, Mo. (Photo: Colter Peterson, AP) https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/05/07/midwest-flooding-soggy-midwest-braces-more-storms/1127348001/
“Week after week, farmers haven’t been able to get out in the fields to plant corn and soybeans,” said John Newton, chief economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation, noting that this was the worst planting day on record since the USDA began tracking such data in the 1980s. “The frequency of these disasters, I can’t say we’ve experienced anything like this since I’ve been working in agriculture.”
Farmers Hit Hard by Historic Midwest Flooding The family estimates they were only able to save 14 out of 700 of their livestock.
It has to be dealt with: What’s the future for Midwest towns affected by climate change?
Posted: By 6 News - Apr 16, 2019 - PACIFIC JUNCTION, IOWA - The gears are turning in a methodical process to get flood victims back to their properties.
Chris McGreal in Iowa, May 15, 2019
“We’re going to lose our town,” said Larry Turner as he hosed down what little he was able to rescue from his 95-year-old mother’s house after weeks underwater in the small Iowa community of Pacific Junction. “I’ve been here 68 years and this is the worst I’ve ever seen. Every home got destroyed.”
Pacific Junction’s 470 residents were forced to flee in mid-March after a surge of water hit the Missouri river and busted through levees the length of Iowa to create the region’s biggest floods in living memory. The breach that wrecked the town occurred a few miles to the north. Within hours, surrounding farmland disappeared under an inland sea and Pacific Junction was submerged by 15 feet of water.
It was a month before most residents could get back into their homes, and no one has returned permanently because their houses are uninhabitable. Pacific Junction’s streets are still piled high with remnants of furniture, washing machines and toys. Officials went through the town tagging which homes might be salvaged and which are doomed.
A home is surrounded by floodwater in Hamburg, Iowa. A huge flow of water breached the Missouri river levees, flooding the town. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Coming after years of intensifying rains, storms and drought increasingly attributed to climate change, Turner wonders if there’s even a future for towns like Pacific Junction - without addressing the dramatic shifts in the weather. It’s a question being pondered by communities and farmers across the Midwest.
In the west of the state, Pacific Junction’s trauma is shared the length of the Missouri in Iowa and beyond, as the huge flow of water breached one levee after another, turning the meandering river into a series of lakes, swamping farms, closing an interstate highway and washing though towns.
In Davenport, a city of 103,000 on the border with Illinois, the more than 50 days of flooding has prompted renewed debate about how best to prepare for what is widely assumed to be more regular and sustained surges on the Mississippi. The streets of smaller cities to the south, such as Buffalo, were underwater for days.
Davenport’s mayor Frank Klipsch is co-chair of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative of 124 mayors along the river, many of whom are increasingly outspoken in their belief that climate change is not only real but going to have an increasingly serious impact on their communities.
“Between hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts, literally all within a year, something’s changing,” says Klipsch. “I think we would be irresponsible if we don’t address that.”
The Mayor says that in Davenport that means deciding what level of flooding the community is prepared to accept and whether that means allowing a larger part of the city to act as a flood plain in order to help protect towns downstream. That, in turn, would require the city to decide how to manage wider and more frequent incursions by the river. The baseball stadium on the river’s edge is already surrounded by its own flood wall and became a small island in the Mississippi for weeks. But the sewage and fresh water plants for the city also sit close to the river.
“We’re looking at potential flood levels in the future and how to accommodate those. Should we start planning for 22 foot being more of a normal? Or 23? Or 24? Our big concern is we have to make sure the infrastructure stays functional,” said Mayor Klipsch. …
Race To Save Towns From Floods Across The Waterlogged South
The Trouble with Flood Defenses in the Midwest
An aerial photo shows flooded homes along the Arkansas River in Sand Spring, Oklahoma. DroneBase via AP https://news.northeastern.edu/2019/05/31/northeastern-university-professor-says-the-us-needs-to-change-its-approach-to-flooding-after-record-breaking-floods-in-midwest/
by Ian Thomsen May 31, 2019
The record-breaking floods in the Midwest are revealing an urgent need to account for climate change, says geoscientist Samuel Munoz, an assistant professor of marine and environmental sciences at Northeastern.
Levees were breached along the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers, as Midwestern floods continued to affect thousands of residents around the Arkansas-Oklahoma border. The victims include homeowners who never imagined the need to buy flood insurance, based on historical models that suggested they should be safe from high-rising waters.
These types of natural disasters in the Midwest are becoming all too commonplace, as the United States Army Corps of Engineers struggles to cope with the new normal of unpredictable inland flooding.
Scenes from flooding in Davenport, Iowa Watch: https://www.nytimes.com/video/climate/100000006488020/iowa-floods-davenport.html
The traditional method of flood management “assumes that the conditions of the past are going to be there for the future,” Munoz says. “And in a world where the climate is changing, that’s not a good assumption.”
Levees built by the Army Corp of Engineers serve to narrow the river. It’s basically like constricting a hose. You’re forcing more water to go through a smaller area. And so the water that you do get is going to flow faster and it’s going to rise higher than if the river was allowed to flow freely.
The high water that rushed into downtown Davenport after a barrier breach flooded businesses and vehicles. The long-term threat is from bigger and more frequent floods, spurred by extreme weather and riverfront development. Photo by KC McGinnis for The Washington Post
The levees on the Arkansas—like the whole water management system that we have—was designed for the mid-20th-century climate. But we’re not living in the mid-20th century anymore. The climate is changing. So that infrastructure needs to be updated, and we need to have a conversation nationally and globally about how we’re going to live in low-ly