University of Illinois | Published: November 14, 2016
U of I researcher Ken Olson and his colleague from Iowa State University, Lois Wright Morton,n, have studied the seasonal Mississippi River flooding for over a decade. They’ve paid particularly close attention to the damages caused by major flooding events in 1993, 2011, and most recently in January 2016.
“Approximately 15,000 acres of farmland in the Dogtooth Bend area would no longer be accessible by road if the Mississippi River is allowed to realign naturally. In some cases the land use would likely shift from agriculture to other uses,” Olson explains.
Olson says climate scientists predict a continued pattern of extreme rainfall events in the upper Mississippi River region. This suggests that unexpected above-average rainfall events in the Ohio and Mississippi River basins will continue to increase the frequency of extreme flooding events.
“The 2016 Len Small levee breach was much more severe than 2011 because of its location,” says Olson. “The fast-moving river cut a 1-mile long breach in late December through early January, scouring out a crater lake and deep gullies info adjacent farmland. The southeast flow of the Mississippi River created a new channel connecting the old channel with the main stem of the river.”