May 2011 New Madrid Floodway

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Learn more about USGS flood activities related to the May 2011 New Madrid Floodway breaches.

In response to dangerous flood levels near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) activated the Birds Point-New Madrid floodway (New Madrid Floodway in USGS literature) at 10:03 pm on May 2, 2011, by detonating explosives along a stretch of the Mississippi River levee just downstream of Cairo, Illinois. The resulting inflow of water into the 130,000 acre floodway caused the Ohio river stage near Cairo to drop nearly 1/2 foot during the first hour of operation. Two additional inflow/outflow breaches were initiated at 12:40 pm on May 3 and at 2:39 pm on May 5. The USGS provided vital floodway data to the USACE and other agencies.

New Madrid Floodway - before and after 2011 breach

New Madrid Floodway - before and after 2011 breach

 

USGS Activities in the News:

 

 

The activation of the floodway, which had not occurred since 1937, provided a rare opportunity to collect a unique dataset describing a flood wave downstream from a levee breach as well as the flow through a large floodway.

 

Stage Data are available in the National Water Information System (NWIS).

 

Streamflow Measurements near the New Madrid Floodway

Select the station number below to jump to an NWIS summary of all measurements at that station.

Ohio River at Metropolis (03611500)

Mississippi River at Thebes (07022000)

Mississippi River above Cairo (370000089122601)

Ohio River at Cairo (365939089084601)

Upper Inflow Breach at Birds Point (365659089073101)

Mississippi River below Ohio confluence (365730089063001)

Middle Breach (IFOF#1, 363740089180601)

Combined Outflow (363618089251701)

Lower Outflow Breach (IFOF#2, 363454089285900)

Lower Outflow Gap (363524089302700)

Mississippi River at Tiptonville (362216089303901)

 

USGS Velocity Maps of the Mississippi River/Ohio River Confluence before and after the breach on May 2, 2011.

This figure shows depth-averaged velocities in feet per second on May 2, 2011 prior to the Upper Inflow Breach. 

New Madrid floodway depth-averaged velocities on May 2, 2011 prior to the Uppder Inflow Breach

Image of New Madrid floodway depth-averaged velocities in feet per second on May 2, 2011 prior to the Uppder Inflow Breach

 

This figure shows depth-averaged velocities in feet per second for the uppermost 2 meters of water on May 2, 2011 prior to the Upper Inflow Breach. 

New Madrid floodway depth-averaged velocities for uppermost 2 meter

Image of New Madrid floodway depth-averaged velocities in feet per second for the uppermost 2 meters of water on May 2, 2011 prior to the Upper Inflow Breach

 

This figure shows depth-averaged velocities in feet per second on May 3, 2011 following the Upper Inflow Breach. 

New Madrid depth-averaged velocities in feet per second - May 3, 2011

Image of New Madrid floodway depth-averaged velocities in feet per second on May 3, 2011 following the Upper Inflow Breach

 

This figure shows depth-averaged velocities in feet per second for the uppermost 2 meters of water on May 3, 2011 following the Upper Inflow Breach. 

New Madrid floodway depth-averaged velocities for the uppermost 2 meter postbreach

Image of depth-averaged velocities in feet per second for the uppermost 2 meters of water on May 3, 2011 following the Upper Inflow Breach

 

This figure shows depth-averaged velocities in feet per second on May 3, 2011 following the Upper Inflow Breach, including velocity measurements along the breach. 

Depth-averaged velocities in feet per second on May 3, 2011 following the Upper Inflow Breach

Image of depth-averaged velocities in feet per second on May 3, 2011 following the Upper Inflow Breach

 

This figure shows depth-averaged velocities in feet per second for the uppermost 2 meters of water on May 3, 2011 following the Upper Inflow Breach, including velocity measurements along the breach. 

New Madrid floodway depth-averaged velocities for the uppermost 2 meters of water on May 3, 2011 following  Upper Inflow Breach

Image of New Madrid floodway depth-averaged velocities in feet per second for the uppermost 2 meters of water on May 3, 2011 following the Upper Inflow Breach

Timeline for Flood Crests map

New Madrid floodway map shows flood crest predictions by the National Weather Service as of Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Madrid floodway map shows flood crest predictions by the National Weather Service as of Wednesday, May 4, 2011

 

Water Quality Measurements are available in NWIS.