May 2011 Current Events: Disasters & Science News

Updated February 11, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

World News | U.S. News

Here are the key events in Science and Disasters news for the month of May 2011.

  • Floods Force Evacuations Along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers (May 5): Heavy rains cause flooding in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys. People in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas are forced to leave their homes. The Army Corps of Engineers intentionally breach a levee south of where the Ohio River meets the Mississippi in order to lower river levels and prevent widespread flooding in communities like Cairo, Illinois. (May 14): Engineers open a portion of the Morganza Spillway to relieve pressure on levees along the Mississippi River and to protect New Orleans and other areas downriver from flooding. The decision to open the Morganza Spillway does have consequences; water will pour into the Atchafalaya River basin, flooding marshes, bayous, farmland, and thousands of homes. (May 15): According to the Army Corps of Engineers, the Mississippi River breaks the elevation record in Vicksburg, Miss., which was set by the 1927 flood. The river rises to 56.3 feet, 13 feet above flood stage, at a rate of nearly 17 million gallons per second.

  • One of the Deadliest Tornados in U.S. History Hits Joplin, Mo (May 22): At least 140 people are killed and hundreds more injured as a three-quarter-mile-wide tornado hits Joplin around dinner time. The tornado is among the deadliest in the nation's history, destroying nearly a third of the city and damaging about 2,000 buildings, including water treatment and sewage plants.

Sources +