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Wake of the Flood

Wednesday, Jun 5, 2019

* Washington Post

Through all of April and all of May, wave after wave of rain hit the nation right in the breadbasket, with April capping the wettest 12 months on record for the continental United States. The past 60 days, in particular, have coincided with planting season in much of the country. […]

Recent measurements show most of Illinois’s famous topsoils are more waterlogged than they have ever been, University of Illinois economist Scott Irwin said.

Farmers cannot plant in that muck. It fouls their equipment and strangles their seeds. It is not enough for the rain to stop. The soil has to dry for as much as a week before they can plant again. According to the latest forecasts from the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, that does not look likely. […]

This is not like most years. As the calendar ticks toward the point of no return, new data released Monday shows farmers have planted 67 percent of the acres they had planned to put in corn. In key states such as Illinois (45 percent) and Indiana (31 percent), it is even lower. […]

Irwin estimates that about 85 percent of the corn acres in Illinois were covered by such insurance, often as part of enormous operations that can afford coverage. The remaining 15 percent includes many small, family farms that are left with little protection against this unprecedented weather.

* Wall St. Journal

Along the Illinois River—which meets the Mississippi in Grafton, Ill.—a levee was breached Monday night, the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office said, forcing the closure of the Joe Page Bridge that is the main way in and out of the county. They agency was notified of the breach around 8:30 p.m. local time. The breach threatened homes in Nutwood, a community in nearby Jersey County.

The record wet weather over the last 12 months across the U.S. caused several crests along the Mississippi River and record flooding along the Missouri and Arkansas Rivers. May generated 549 tornadoes for the month, according to preliminary reports, the most for that month ever and second to April 2011 for the most tornadoes in any month.

In some areas over the next several days, the Mississippi River will crest within a foot of the 1993 record, Mr. Fuchs said. That flood killed 50 people, caused $15 billion in damage and forced the evacuation of thousands of people.

* AP

Governor JB Pritzker has deployed an additional 200 National Guard troops to southern Illinois to monitor rising water in the region.

The additional troops bring the number to 400 patrolling the region threatened by the rising Mississippi and Illinois rivers. […]

According to the governor’s office, state agencies have provided more than three million sandbags, more than 2,700 rolls of plastic, 27 pumps and five dozen Department of Corrections detainees to help hold back rising rivers.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Jun 5, 19 @ 9:30 am:

    Though we can’t say for sure this is a result of climate change, it does remind us of the potential for disaster if we don’t address it. Unfortunately we have a complete political failure: the GOP denies it’s happening, the Democrats are unwilling to address the main culprits (China, who is cheating on an already too generous Paris agreement, and to a lesser extent India and certain second world economies) or embrace expansion of nuclear power. Our best hope is investing in new technologies that can hopefully be game changers.

  2. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 5, 19 @ 9:50 am:

    –Irwin estimates that about 85 percent of the corn acres in Illinois were covered by such insurance, often as part of enormous operations that can afford coverage. The remaining 15 percent includes many small, family farms that are left with little protection against this unprecedented weather.–

    So the federal government through the FCIC subsidizes the private insurance premiums for the big dogs with taxpayer money, but the little guy is left to the mercy of the elements.

    What’s wrong with this picture?

  3. - Ducky LaMoore - Wednesday, Jun 5, 19 @ 9:57 am:


    I can tell you that the big boys in farming get a better deal. But there is no excuse to not have crop insurance if you rely on that income to sustain your life. Members of my family farm a small acreage, they would never never never not buy it. My assumption is that a lot of the “small family farms” are less than 100 acres and have been in a family for several generations and are without debt. So they might be out their extra income, but not have large (or any) operating costs (if they rent the ground).

  4. - illini - Wednesday, Jun 5, 19 @ 9:58 am:

    @Wordslinger - Exactly correct.

    My brother is still farming the ground that has been in our family 100 years while running while running a full time business that can at times require 12 hours a day oif his time, He is a small farmer and there is no way he can compete with others in this community who farm 5, 10, 15,000 or more acres. The small farmer is an endangered segment of our society.

  5. - City Zen - Wednesday, Jun 5, 19 @ 10:29 am:

    ==or embrace expansion of nuclear power==

    Indeed. Now we have to persuade they you-know-whos and they’ve probably been watching “Chernobyl.”

  6. - Lefty Lefty - Wednesday, Jun 5, 19 @ 10:49 am:

    Keep the Grateful Dead references coming. They had a lot to say, especially Hunter/Garcia.

  7. - Going nuclear - Wednesday, Jun 5, 19 @ 12:20 pm:

    = Indeed. Now we have to persuade the you-know-whos and they’ve probably been watching “Chernobyl.” =

    So, what’s your plan to grow nuclear power? It’s economic and policy barriers that are blocking expansion, not the “you-know-whos.” The existing nuclear plant technology is a dead end, unable to compete with natural gas and renewables. Advanced nuclear designs are unlikely to commercialize in the next few decades without hundreds of billions in subsidies, a robust carbon pricing system and a national policy commitment to decarbonize the economy. If you want nuclear power to be a more attractive energy option in the coming decades, then I would suggest supporting something akin to the Green New Deal.

  8. - Chicagonk - Wednesday, Jun 5, 19 @ 12:53 pm:

    Farmers that don’t buy farm insurance are frankly making terrible decisions.

  9. - Kayak - Wednesday, Jun 5, 19 @ 1:15 pm:

    Broken ground
    open and beckoning to the spring
    Black dirt live again

  10. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 5, 19 @ 2:02 pm:

    Ducky, Chicagonk, do the federal subsidies to small farmers make the private crop insurance affordable?
    I’m trying to determine if the game is rigged for the King Corn big dogs.

  11. - Ducky LaMoore - Wednesday, Jun 5, 19 @ 3:24 pm:

    Yes. But the price gets better with greater acreage. Would I call it rigged? No, probably not. The crop insurance has paid off in the bad years. But I wish everybody paid the same regardless of acres planted. The system is regressive.

  12. - The Mythical Middle - Wednesday, Jun 5, 19 @ 3:49 pm:

    This is probably the new normal. Rising ocean temperatures leads to more moisture in the air which makes for more rain.

    Government needs to get serious about climate change, it will impact every single one of us in some way. Probably starting with increased cost of food.

  13. - vole - Wednesday, Jun 5, 19 @ 3:50 pm:

    Climatologists are predicting more frequent occurrences of these wet Springs that challenge the resilience and sustainability of massive industrial monoculture.

    A greatly under reported story by the urban dominated mass media, increasingly detached from and ignorant of agriculture, is the great loss of topsoil these heavy rains have brought. Millions of tons of soil and resources and millions of dollars of capital are being flushed from the heartland, with nary a word of warning.

    Nathaniel Popkin: “ours is an age of loss disguised as plenty”. So true of Illinois.

  14. - Dutch 3001 - Wednesday, Jun 5, 19 @ 6:54 pm:

    The similarity of what going on now to the 1993 flood is scary. Most people seem to forget that the 1993 flood was caused by multiple levee breaks along the Mississippi, not the overtopping of the levees. The levees are not built to withstand continual water pressure. The longer the river stays high, the softer they get and eventually they burst. There is so much water pressure behind the levee breaks, it looks like someone turned on a giant water hose that creates huge scour holes on the floodplain. I know because I had to look at dozens of these in 1993 as part of a contract the company I worked for then had with the COE to inspect the breaks. It was pretty incredible to see all the devastated homes, farms, trailer courts, you name it, behind the levee breaks. If the current rainy weather keeps up, the water pressure on the levees will increase, and it will be deja vu all over again.

  15. - Lynn S. - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 12:45 am:

    Dutch 3001,

    I’ve been telling everyone around me that this year feels like a repeat of 1993.

    I check the long-range forecast at least 1x / week. I don’t think it shows a day at 90 degrees or more until almost the middle of August.

    Real curious to see how the winter of 2019-20 goes.

  16. - theCardinal - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 6:47 am:

    In 93 there was bad flooding even earlier than this season, but the vibe is the same. Massive rain dumps every 2 or 3 days hot temps repeat. Watch the aquifers and see if they rise to the point where ground water seeps upward and on top of ground.

  17. - Nameless - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 12:07 pm:

    In 93 Jerry Garcia was still with us.

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