Record Midwest flooding to create largest ever 'dead zone' in Gulf of Mexico, more storms and levee releases on the way

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: Midwest, flooding, health news

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(NaturalNews) The US Midwest continues to get slammed by heavy rains and winter snow melt that have swelled the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and left countless thousands of acres of the plains under water. Many towns and cities along the Missouri River in Nebraska, Iowa, and even up into the Dakotas and Montana, are now threatened by new flooding caused by levee breaches and more rains expected to hit in the coming days. Worse, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) supported scientists say the overall flooding could create the most severe dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that has ever occurred.

Epic flooding, repeated onslaughts of severe storms and extreme tornadoes have created one of the worst disaster situations ever experienced in the Midwest, and things are only expected to worsen. According to recent reports, six major water reservoirs along the Missouri River are severely swollen, and six dams between Fort Peck, Mont., and Gavins Point along the South Dakota and Nebraska border, have either already reached peak releases, or are expected to reach them within days.

More severe storms are also expected to slam areas near the Missouri River in the coming days and weeks, which will exacerbate the situation even further. And federal officials recently announced that a crucial levee near the southwest Iowa town of Hamburg now has a gaping 300-foot hole in it that is gushing water into rural farmland, and threatens to flood the already-evacuated town.

Meanwhile, scientists reporting for the NOAA say that the hypoxic zone in the Gulf, which is the annual dead zone area caused by excess nutrient pollution flowing from the Mississippi River, could measure as large as 9,421 miles, exceeding the 2002 record of 8,400 square miles. According to their data, the water flow rate from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers into the Gulf during May 2011 was twice the normal amount, and nitrogen rates were 35 percent higher than normal.

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