Flooding in at least 8 states along portions of the Mississippi River – due to relentless, record-breaking spring rainfall – is the longest-lasting since the “Great Flood” of 1927, the National Weather Service said.
The 1927 flood, which Weatherwise magazine called “perhaps the most underrated weather disaster of the century,” remains the benchmark flood event for the nation’s biggest river.
Anytime a modern flood can be mentioned in the same breath as the Great Flood is newsworthy: During that historic flood, hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes as millions of acres of land and towns went underwater.
At one point in 1927, along the Tennessee border, the Mississippi rose an astonishing 56.5 feet above flood stage, and in Arkansas, the river ballooned to 80 miles wide, according to the book Extreme Weather by Christopher Burt.
Hundreds of people died in the flooding.
That flood “was the seminal event that led to the federal flood-control program and gave the Army Corps of Engineers the job of controlling the nation’s rivers via the erection of dams, dikes and other measures of flood abatement,” Burt wrote.
At the height of the disaster, some 750,000 refugees were under the care of the Red Cross.
While the scale of this year’s flood may not match the 1927 catastrophe, in terms of longevity, this year’s flood rivals that one: For example, In Vicksburg, Mississippi, the river went above flood stage on Feb. 17, and has remained in flood ever since. The weather service said this is the longest continuous stretch above flood stage since 1927.
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the Mississippi first rose above flood stage in early January, and has been above that level ever since, the National Weather Service said. If this record-long stretch extends well into June, it would break the record from 1927, according to the Weather Channel.