[imgcontainer right] [img:lakeflood.jpeg] Photos from Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin’s aerial flood survey Thursday, May 5, 2011. [/imgcontainer]
Flooding isn’t just for the Midwest and now the Mississippi Valley.
Lake Champlain has been flooding in Vermont. The lake is at record levels and the governor has called a state of emergency. State roads are closed and some islands in the lake could be cut off. Flooded and soggy fields are keeping dairy herds off their pasture. Grass is ruined in some areas and corn planting is late.
Meanwhile, Memphis is managing a massive flood of water and Louisiana is bracing for what Gov. Bobby Jindal describes as “a massive amount of water heading our way.”
The waters are greater than those of the huge ’27 flood, but New Orleans expects the river to crest just below the tops of the levees that protect the city. The difference between now and 1927, according to the New Orleans Picayune, is the presence of upstream spillways that will divert water out of the Mississippi into other tributaries.
The 1927 flood crested at 21 feet. With the spillways working, this larger flood is expected to top out at 17 feet, three feet below the levees protecting New Orleans.
The 1927 flood covered more than 23,000 square miles.
• The tornados in Alabama were particularly destructive in part because people didn’t receive warning.
Power was cut to areas and that short-circuited the warning system, contends Mike Smith, CEO of WeatherData. “So, the usual systems for receiving the warnings would be, at best, disrupted,” Smith wrote. “In some areas, especially in rural regions without power, the warnings may not have been available through any routine source due to local radio stations signing off at sundown.”
• Climate change worldwide is already cutting grain yields — although the effect is not yet seen in the U.S., according to a study that appeared in the journal Science.
Corn yields worldwide between 1980 and 2008 would be 3.8% higher if not for temperature change.
• There is a biofuel alternative to ethanol, reports Philip Brasher, and it lacks many of the disadvantages of the corn-based standard.
The new fuels are made from the same sources as ethanol (such as corn, corncobs and other biomass), but the fuels are “synthetic versions of today’s gasoline, diesel and jet fuel,” Brasher writes. “Unlike ethanol, a renewable version of gasoline could be used in any amount in today’s engines, filling stations and pipelines.”
Moreover, the new fuel can be manufactured in existing oil refineries. Not surprisingly, this technology is being backed by some major oil companies.
The result is a fight between the two technologies and their backers.