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Archive for May 17th, 2011

Slave Lake Fires (Update 2): 40% of the City Destroyed

Posted by feww on May 17, 2011

Alberta emergency at max level: 4

116 wildfires burning in Alberta with 34 blazes raging out of control

“We’ve burned about 55,000 hectares of real estate already.”

The emergency response level was raised to the maximum level of four, indicating a “governmentwide, sustained response,”  the first time since the mega deluge devastated southern Alberta in 2005.

Photo Credit: Shane O’Brien, Reader Photo, edmontonjournal. Photo uploaded by  Shannon DoS Santos: “The Slave Lake fire devastated my family there. These pictures should not have been taken just an hour after the fire wiped out my brother’s home on 6th Ave. He snuck down the hill from the evacuation spot and took these pictures. He lost everything and is still trying to find out what to [do] as they have been evacuated from several other areas.”

“We’ve burned about 55,000 hectares of real estate already.” Sustainable Resources Development Minister Mel Knight said. 

City Hall, the local radio station,  hundreds of homes, businesses, cars, trucks, campers, motorcycles, everything burned.

In the upmarket Slave Lake’s southeast at least 200 properties, “ranging in price from $300,000 to $500,000” were destroyed, a report said.

The fires have also forced road closures, halted rail transport, and stopped oil operations in northern Alberta, reports say.

Provincewide Emergency

Slave Lake and several surrounding towns and communities have declared states of emergency, however, the government has not yet issued a provincewide declaration, said Alberta’s Municipal Affairs Minister Hector Goudreau.

Wild Assumptions

“It’s going to take a couple years to rebuild the town, there’s no doubt.” Mr Goudreau declared.

What’s happened to Slave Lake is pretty awful, of course, and people need shelter.

However, the Minister seems to be basing his estimate on the wild assumption that there would be no other disasters occurring in Alberta, or in the rest of the country for that matter, to affect the town’s rebuilding schedule.

The human-enhanced natural events that are about to unfold in Canada, North America, and indeed throughout the world, may unpleasantly surprise the Minister. 

Alberta Fires – Satellite Images

Click images to enlarge

Download largest image (5 MB, JPEG)

These images were acquired by MODIS on NASA’s Aqua satellite. Top and middle images were taken on May 16, 2o11, bottom image on May 15. Source: NASA-EO. Download largest  image (3 MB, JPEG). Click images to enlarge.

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Vicksburg, Mississippi Faces Flood Invasion

Posted by feww on May 17, 2011

Water level at Vicksburg 5 inches above the 1927 record of 56.2 feet

The river in Vicksburg is forecast to crest at 57.5 feet, 14.5 feet above flood level,  by Thursday.

About 2.3 million acres of land have already been  inundated in central Mississippi, according to FIRE-EARTH estimates, which are based on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers data.

An aerial view of the Vicksburg Harbor, which is located on an arm of the Mississippi River at Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA. The harbor is located north of the main part of the city. View is to the west-northwest. Date: 20 April 1999. Source:  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Siege of a different kind

Vicksburg (pop: 26,410) was the scene of a 47-day Union army siege in 1863 when Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s Union army finally forced its surrender on July 4.

In 1894, Coca-Cola was first bottled in Vicksburg by a local confectioner, Joseph Biedenharn.

Thousands of Mississippi and Louisiana residents have already evacuated, and thousands more will evacuate, as a silent tsunami on moves south through Mississippi and Louisiana.

Upstream, the swollen Mississippi River has already inundated hundreds of homes and millions of acres of farmland across 5 states: (Southern) Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas.

Morganza Floodway Opens – Satellite Image

On May 14, 2011, the U.S. Army Engineers opened the Morganza Floodway to relieve the pressure  along the Mississippi River in Louisiana. A day later, at 11:20 am CDT, ALI on NASA’s EO-1 satellite captured this photo-like  image of the Floodway. Source: NASA-EO. Click Image to enlarge.
Download largest image (4 MB, JPEG) 

This aerial photo was taken by the Army Engineers on May 14, shortly after water was released through the floodgates of Morganza Spillway. Source: NASA-EO

Aerial photo was taken by the Army Engineers on May 14, several hours after water was released through the floodgates of Morganza Spillway. Source: The Army Engineers.

Key Details (from previous posts)

  • Army Engineers Quote of the Day: “It’s a historic day, not only for the entire Mississippi River, but for the state of Louisiana.” ~ Corps spokesman Col Ed Fleming.
  • The Mississippi and its tributaries have extensively flooded large areas upstream
  • At least 3 million acres of cropland in Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas have already been inundated as the tsunami of floodwaters on the Mississippi raged south.
  • The Morganza Spillway is located 45 miles NW Baton Rouge.
  • Morganza Floodway was Built in 1954 to relieve flood pressure on Mississippi River
  • The giant structure is 20 miles long, with 125 gates which could release up to 600,000 cubic feet of water per second (cfps) or 17,000,000 liters/sec
  • A single gate releases about 10,000 cfpc
  • Raging Mississippi River forced Morganza floodgate to be opened for the first time since 1973.
  • About 25,000 people and more than 10,000 buildings may be affected by intentional flooding.
  • About 3,000 sq miles of low-lying swamp and cropland are expected to be submerged under up to 20 ft of floodwater for several weeks
  • Army Engineers say if the spillway was not opened, New Orleans could be inundated by 20ft of floodwater.
  • Morganza was the third of the Mississippi River floodways to be opened this month (the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway and the Bonnet Carre Spillway were opened earlier in May.)
  • “Today’s the first day in the history of our nation that we have had three floodways open.” Col Fleming said.
  • Today’s the first major alarm day in our history that we were forced to have three floodways opened simultaneously: FIRE-EARTH
  • Louisiana’s Cajun country is expected to be inundated by up to 20ft as  floodwater moves south.
  • A video of the opening of the Morganza Floodway is posted online here.

Morganza Floodway Travel Times

Click image to enlarge. Click HERE to view the original size. Source: The Army Corps of Engineers. [Note:  The image is dated May 12, 2011. The travel times should be adjusted accordingly]

Potential Inundation Map (Scenario 1a)

Click image to enlarge. Click HERE to view the original size. Source: The Army Corps of Engineers. [See inset for details.]

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