What a difference a month makes! Temps are settling in the 40s one week, 70s next, and then back to 40s! Snow accumulates, then melts, then falls again. Our great Mississippi rises, then falls, then floods! Just now, the crest is slipping from La Crosse into Iowa, but hover close to moderate flood levels everywhere.
Many parks are still closed, but birds are still moving along the Mississippi River flyway. They are, however, moving in fits and starts along with inclimate weather and high water. Their one necessity is the availability of food along the route. With another round of nice weather approaching Wisconsin and Minnesota, birds should be back on the move!
Our Sandhill nest is full of activity as the eggs hatched on April 29 – about a week early. Eagles are busy with their own fledglings, so check out nests for the white heads of adults busy with bringing food to the nests. Egrets and Great Blue Herons have arrived and are visible in ponds and sloughs not directly on the flooded Mississippi River. White pelicans also are checking out the smaller wetland ponds along the flooded river. We see them frequently.
Riverboats, including the Twilight, the newly restored Julia Belle Swaine, and the La Crosse Queen are all eager to start their seasons “come hell or high water!”
I will be posting several links just to remind you of what you can find on our Mississippi River at this time of year, and also on greatriver.com While I no longer post daily, our archives are filled with seasonal information!! Use the Search Button above or search through our CATEGORIES! And Happy Spring!
For Jack, who wants to know more about all the tributaries of the Mississippi River: how many there are, their names, and how long they are!
There are some 250 tributaries of the Mississippi which drain a total area of more than 1,247,000 square miles–one third of the nation’s landmass–extending from the Allegheny Mountains in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west!
We start here with quick facts on the Mississippi River and several navigable tributaries! Please follow links for a little more depth of historical interest and to see our collection of hand-painted maps!
The Mississippi River, from its source at Lake Itasca in Minnesota, to the Gulf of Mexico, is approximately 2,348 miles long. The combined reach of the Missouri-Mississippi Rivers is 3,741 miles–a length exceeded only by the Amazon and Nile rivers. The Mississippi River has shortened by several hundred miles since the days of Mark Twain. Even today it varies 30-50 miles each year.
The widest navigable part of the Mississippi is Lake Pepin, on the Upper Mississippi, where it is approximately 2 miles wide. The average current flows from 1.2 miles per hour nearer Lake Itasca, and about 3 mi per hour nearer New Orleans. Our historic Mississippi River Ribbon Map has been a best-selling Gift for many years.
“This is a beautiful map!! My whole life is on this map! My home town, the towns where my kids live, even New Orleans, my favorite place to vacation!”
Remember the great Mississippi River Flood of 1993? It wasn’t just the Mississippi River flooding that wreaked havoc, it was that all those tributaries flooded as well! At one point, the volume of water flowing past St. Louis was eleven times the volume of Niagara Falls!! You may also want to check out our interactive map of which of the tributaries are at flood stage today! Click INTERACTIVE MAPS in the category list, right hand column, to see where the tributaries are at flood level TODAY!!
Lisa now offers her own custom ribbon map designs of both the OHIO RIVER and the Missouri River. Please click on any map image for more info on the map or the tributary. Or PHONE 888-255-7726 to order any map. Click on map images for more info on the tributaries.
THE MISSOURI RIVER is considered to be the longest stream of river in the US . The Missouri River which begins at Three Forks, Montana (elevation 4,032 feet) and flows 2,714 miles to near St. Louis, Missouri. Many people consider the Missouri to be the main reach of the Mississippi River!
The Ohio River is the second major tributary of the Mississippi. It is formed in Pittsburgh by the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela River and travels about 980 miles to Cairo, Illinois, and the Mississippi River. Interestingly, today’s Ohio River Basin is approximately the northern extremity of the ancient shallow sea that is represented today by the Gulf of Mexico! Consider that nearly 1/3 of the nation’s water drains past the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers at Fort Defiance in Cairo, Illinois!
The Illinois River, cutting through steep rocky bluffs, runs approximately 273 miles (439 km), with some 60 miles of scenic water. It flows through the heart of the State of Illinois, and links the great rivers of the American West with the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and finally the Atlantic Ocean.
Historically, the Illinois River has had a significant impact on the state’s economy, communities, and peoples. Long before Europeans discovered America, indigenous tribes inhabited the Illinois River Valley and settled on the riverbanks, creating a river culture of their own. In 1673, Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet surveyed the region, canoeing up to the Illinois River via the Mississippi River, hoping to find a route linking the Great Lakes to the Illinois River and the Gulf of Mexico. Today, the Illinois and Michigan Canals are the evidence that their vision became reality.
And for fun, checkout our fascinating 1841 STEAMBOAT MAP OF ILLINOIS lists all the steamboat stops and distances along the Illinois River and the Mississippi, Ohio and Vermillion Rivers!
Planning for an upcoming CRUISE? We’ve featured several of our SMALL BOAT CRUISE destinations here! WATERWAY CRUISE REPORTS
Much of the central part of the country, along with the Lower Mississippi, is currently experiencing dangerous high water. See up to the minute status reports for American rivers by clicking on our INTERACTIVE FLOOD MAP. Black triangles indicate serious flooding.
Related categories are highlighted above this story. Click on a category above to see more stories from our massive archive!
This map is interactive and constantly updated by the USGS.
Looking for more great content, lots of river content available by clicking on any of the category links shown below the comments!
I am beginning to relive some of the trauma of life along the Middle Mississippi Mississippi during 1993. Valmayer, Illinois, is back in the news as the community works desparately to fill 25,000 sandbags, and flooding at the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi near St. Louis has caused widespread flooding. During 1993, which closed down commercial shipping on the river for many months, I traveled the river frequently. ALWAYS it was stomach-wrenching!
The Flood of 2019 has now been ongoing some 82 days… since MARCH for folks in the Middle Mississippi. As we watch the current flood peaking in the next week, and hear about “levee boils” and breaks in the levees, it is worth noting that in 1993, the first dam did not burst until June 20th in Wisconsin. It was August 2 before the Mississippi crested at 49.7 feet in St. Louis. Today, rains still fall from Oklahoma to Louisiana, impacting both the Missouri and the Lower Mississippi Rivers. 2019 has been a record flood in terms of the time it has been affecting those who live along the Mississippi and its tributaries.
First a Chronology of the Flood of 1993, compiled by Pat Middleton, Greatriver.com
1993 Mississippi Flood CHRONOLOGY
March 10 The National Weather Service predicts below normal precipitation for the summer: “but above average rainfall could mean flooding, given soil saturation, spring snow depths, and normal spring rains.” June 10 The first 8” rainstorms begin in Dakotas, Wisconsin and Minnesota June 20The first dam bursts, submerging 100 homes to their rooftops on the Black River in Western Wisconsin. The upper 200 miles of the Mississippi River are closed to river traffic. Locks and Dams are not operating. July 5 The bridge at Keokuk closes. July 10 The bridge closes at Fort Madison, Iowa, which has experienced rain for 54 of 58 days. 830 miles of Mississippi River are closed to boat traffic between Cairo, Illinois and St. Paul, Minnesota. Over 100 rivers feeding into the Mississippi River flood by July 14. Unprecedented high-water on the Missouri River, Des Moines River, Illinois, Iowa, Skunk, Rock and Raccoon rivers (all tributaries of the Mississippi River) promote the massive flooding of the Mississippi River. July 16 The last Quincy, Illinois, bridge is closed, leaving no bridge between Alton, Illinois and Burlington, Iowa. The Mississippi River is flooded to seven miles inland. July 24 The Mississippi River at Quincy crests at a record 32 feet. August 2 The Mississippi River crests at 49.7 feet in St. Louis, Missouri. Eleven times the volume of Niagara Falls is flowing under Eads Bridge; enough to fill Busch stadium every 65 seconds. August 24 The Mississippi River locks reopen to commercial river traffic. August 30 The Des Moines River floods again, after another 10 inches of rain falls. The Mississippi River stays open.
Sandbags and Stuff (Statistics collected from various regional newspaper sources.)
These stats offer a base for comparison as states come out for the Flood of 2019.
Estimated that two truckloads of sand (a little less than fifty tons) will fill 4000 sandbags.
More than 26.5 million sandbags were used in towns along the Mississippi River during the Flood of 1993
Approximately 927 million pounds of sand was used to fill those sandbags
Homeowners had to fill their own sandbags
In all, 150 primary and secondary levees failed during the summer.
12 billion dollars in damages
nine states involved
1 inch of water on an acre of land equals 27,143 gallons.
Every year the day arrives when I can say “spring has sprung in the valley,” Today was that day! 49 degrees. Sandhill cranes, redwing blackbirds, Canada geese, a pair of trumpeters, a turkey vulture, a Valley awash in snow melt. While it seems late compared to recent arrival dates, a quick review of past Sandhill arrival dates shows that the cranes arrived right on schedule.
March 15, 2009 “Bitter cold night as late as 03/13/09. So cranes waited until we hit the 50 degree mark two days later.“
March 12, 2008 “3 Sandhill cranes fly over Goose Island near La Crosse.
March 13, 2008 A Single crane flies, calling, over Coon Creek near Stoddard. Lots of melting snow in the valley. Temp of 56.7 degrees. ”
March 11, 2007 “Sandhill Cranes on the islands off Goose Island Park south of La Crosse. Temps in upper 40s, two weeks after record snowfalls in Western Wisconsin, so lots of snow on the ground. March 12 the cranes are reported along Coon Creek and other valleys off the Upper Mississippi River.”
Feb 23, 2005 (a good two weeks earlier than normal!) March 15, 2003 March 13, 2002
March 13, 2001
March 16, 1999 March 1, 1998 March 10, 1997 March 13, 1996 March 18, 1993 April 4, 1992 March 9, 1988 March 17, 1987
Much of the central part of the country is currently experiencing high water from record February rains . See up to the minute status reports for American rivers by clicking on our INTERACTIVE FLOOD LINK in the category list to the right.
Much of the central part of the country is currently experiencing dangerous flash floods. See up to the minute status reports for American rivers by clicking on our INTERACTIVE FLOOD LINK in the category list to the right.
Looking for more great content, lots of river content available by clicking on any of the category links.
We’re excited! Great River Arts, our historic map publisher, is gradually taking over our collection of quality Mississippi River and they are making a special offering all four Volumes ofDiscover! America’s Great River Roadand the1887 “Father of Waters” Historic Reproduction of the full length of the Mississippi River.
This is an opportunity for you to save more than $30 on our most popular Book/Map Art Bundle!
Perfect for Gift Giving!Need extra maps? Everyone who loves our 1887 map by Lisa Middleton will love Discover! America’s Great River Road, our comprehensive guide to life along the river for their favorite section! Just CLICK HERE to purchase additional maps!
All Great River books can be ordered individually as well. CLICK HERE to go Straight to BOOKS on our new Shopping Cart at Great River Arts.
Below is the USGS interactive map that provides REAL TIME info on which Rivers in the US are cresting. The map below is accurate every day. Black Triangles indicate flood stage. Looking to compare stats with the Flood of 1993? CLICK HERE.
See more interactive maps by clicking the category in the list to right: INTERACTIVE MAPS
Recent landslides after rains of 9-11 inches have many of us reminiscing about past experiences of landslides, rockslides, and flooding along the Mississippi River. Below is my own memory from very similar flooding in 2007.
Enter FLOOD in the Search button to bring up an interactive map that shows flooding at any moment along America’s major waterways as well as stats and Chronologies from previous years..
August 20, 2007
“Mom, you missed the HUUUgest Storm!”
“Mom, you have to hear what’s happening. I’ll read it right from the newspaper!”