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Hurricane Ida’s storm surge was so powerful it caused the Mississippi River to briefly reverse course.
The river temporarily flowed from south to north on Sunday afternoon after Ida made landfall as a Category 4 storm that underwent rapid intensification. Data from the U.S. Geological Survey shows that a river gauge at Belle Chasse, just southeast of New Orleans, recorded the stunning about-face of the Mississippi River.
Ida made landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, early Sunday afternoon as an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
The Mississippi was discharging roughly 350,000 cubic feet (9,910 cubic meters) of water per second in the days prior to Ida’s arrival. Water moved upstream at a rate of 40,000 cubic feet (1,132 cubic meters) per second. That’s a staggering amount of water to turn around.
“I remember, off hand, that there was some flow reversal of the Mississippi River during Hurricane Katrina, but it is extremely uncommon,” Scott Perrien, a supervising hydrologist with the USGS Lower Mississippi Gulf Water Science Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, told CNN.
Perrien noted that the river level on Sunday rose about 7 feet due to storm surge pushing up the river at the USGS gauge, located in Belle Chasse, about 20 miles south of New Orleans in southeastern Louisiana.”During that time, the flow of the river slowed from about 2 feet per second down to about half a foot per second in the other direction,” Perrien said.
Hurricane #Ida damage in Larose, Louisiana, hometown of @LSUfootball Coach Ed Orgeron, as viewed BEFORE the passage of the eyewall of the storm… Videos from the public snap map on @Snapchat. pic.twitter.com/tbI68VHs5R— Spinks Megginson (@rzweather) August 29, 2021
The camera that we put in Laplace at Frenier Landing was 10 feet above the ground. This is what it looks like right now. pic.twitter.com/r1sPslU7nU— Mark Sudduth (@hurricanetrack) August 30, 2021
Breaking: Storm surge is causing major flooding in LaPlace, Louisiana, as Hurricane Ida affects the area. pic.twitter.com/JeIEob6ull— PM Breaking News (@PMBreakingNews) August 29, 2021