6A.2 The Historical 2018–19 Mississippi River Flood Event: A NWS Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center (LMRFC) Perspective

Tuesday, 14 January 2020: 10:45 AM
253C (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Suzanne Van Cooten, Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center, Slidell, LA; and J. S. Graschel, D. Welch, J. Smith, A. Hayes-Patterson, G. Tillis-Nash, D. Schlotzhauer, C. D. Pearce, A. Roberts, M. J. Czikowsky, E. Nipper, J. F. Lesko, and K. Roth

The 2018-2019 flood event on the Mississippi River and its tributaries was unprecedented in terms of its duration and magnitude of flood crests. The NWS Lower Mississippi Forecast Center (LMRFC) provides hydrologic guidance and river stage forecasts to 18 NWS Weather Forecast Offices for over 220 locations across its 220,000 square mile hydrologic services area encompassing portions of 12 states. In addition to other river forecasting responsibilities, LMRFC produces 5 day and 28 day forecasts for the mainstem of the Mississippi River below the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers at Cairo, IL. These forecasts are produced collaboratively with water management staffs at Tennessee Valley Authority and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well as forecasters at upstream NWS River Forecast Centers. In this historic flood event, these partners were each affected by long-lived flood events with historical flood crests on the upper Mississippi, Arkansas, Red, Missouri and Ohio Rivers. This presentation provides the historical context of this event at LMRFC forecast points to present an overview of critical decisions based on LMRFC forecasts with regard to the operation of reservoirs, spillways, floodways, emergency management response, and navigation closures of some of our nation’s largest ports and critical waterways.
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