And while the open warfare between speculators and the administration, senators and exchanges continues, the gasoline fundamentals are poised to take another turn for the worse. As Reuters reports, "Valero Energy Corp's and Motiva Enterprises refineries in St. Charles Parish Louisiana, west of New Orleans, will be flooded if the Morganza Spillway is not opened, the St. Charles Parish emergency preparedness director said on Wednesday." Alas, the decision is not a simple one, and diverting the water from Louisiana, and attendant surge in gas prices once refining critical capacity is taken off line, would result in the flooding of Morgan City. From KFLY: "Officials say a decision on opening the Morganza spillway could come soon. The Morganza Spillway is upriver from Baton Rouge and could be opened today, or this weekend. The floodway pours into the Atchafalaya River, and on to the Gulf of Mexico. Right now, inmates are filling sandbags to protect properties that could be damaged if the spillway is opened. If the Morganza spillway is opened, Morgan City could see up to 20 feet of water. Mark Bernucho owns a fire and safety supply business across the street from the 22-foot seawall, and he said it's the only thing keeping the water away. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers installed water gauges Wednesday, to monitor the rising river waters." So the administration is faced with another dilemma: not divert and potentially see a surge in gas prices, or divert, and risk flooding and be accused of pandering to the oil lobby, one short year after the same lobby was villainized for the biggest oil spill in history. The biggest loser, however, is all the real estate in proximity to the flooded Mississippi river.
For those who have not seen before and after pictures, see below:
And an update from Earth Observatory:
The Mississippi River reached 47.87 feet (14.59 meters) in Memphis, Tennessee, on May 10, 2011, according to the Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service (AHPS) of the U.S. National Weather Service. It was the highest water level for Memphis since 1937, when the river reached 48.7 feet (14.8 meters). Fortunately in 2011, an effective flood-control system helped save most residents from harm, according to The Commercial Appeal.
The Thematic Mapper on Landsat 5 captured the top image on May 10, 2011, and the bottom image (showing non-flooded conditions) on April 21, 2010. Both images are natural color and show the area as it would look to the human eye. In May 2011, muddy water has pushed over the Mississippi’s banks both east and west of the normal river channel. Flood waters span the distance between Memphis and West Memphis, and also fill a floodplain extending to an industrial park northwest of Treasure Island.
On May 7, authorities closed Mud Island River Park indefinitely due to flooded service roads that prevented emergency responders from reaching the park, The Daily News reported.
Although flooding has not yet caused major damage in Memphis, the possibility of another rise on the Mississippi has not been ruled out, and flood waters are expected to recede slowly. The AHPS projected that the Mississippi River would remain at major flood stage until at least May 15. The Commercial Appeal reported that two weeks might pass before the river dropped enough to again absorb water from local tributaries, which were currently rising.
The Mississippi River Basin is the third largest in the world, after the Amazon and Congo. Managing floods along the river has challenged engineers for more than a century. As of May 10, 2011, the AHPS reported major flooding along the Mississippi from Cairo, Illinois, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Springtime flooding also plagued other parts of the continental United States, including areas along the Red River and in New England.