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Uncover Why the Mississippi River As soon as Flowed Backward for twenty-four Hours

Rivers circulate in a single route, and that is an immutable reality. Why has the Mississippi River flowed backward greater than as soon as in latest reminiscence if that’s the case? Actually, it flowed backward for a full 24 hours in 2012, because of Hurricane Issac. There are two extra instances that the river flowed backward as properly.

The Mississippi River has an extended and strong historical past. It is likely one of the most spectacular and important rivers in United States document. Even animals perceive its makes use of; it is likely one of the landmarks 40% of the nations birds comply with throughout migration.

This river extends the size of the nation, from Louisiana all the best way to its beginnings in Minnesota. The Mississippi watershed extends even additional, to Montana within the west and New York within the east. Commerce was made alongside its banks, and the waterway was used for exploration when white settlers first arrived. 

This river helps irrigate 78 p.c of the soybeans and grains wanted on the earth. That’s quite a lot of duty for one physique of water, nevertheless it will get the job carried out.

The second-longest river in the US, the Mississippi River flows south throughout the continental inside and is residence to greater than 260 completely different species of fish. Taking a look at its whole system, the Mississippi extends greater than 3,700 miles throughout the nation and is the 4th longest river system on the earth.

Consider it or not, forces of nature can compel this river to fight its nature and circulate in the wrong way. It appears nearly unimaginable, but it has been recorded as occurring a number of instances.

When the Mississippi Flowed Backward for twenty-four Hours

Because of Hurricane Issac, the Mississippi River flowed backward for twenty-four hours in 2012.

Due to the ability of Hurricane Issac, the Mississippi River flowed backward for twenty-four hours in August of 2012. This was fully unprecedented on the time, particularly for such an prolonged interval.

A hurricane is a large storm that rotates and slowly positive factors energy over time. The power of the rotating winds and excessive climate situations of Hurricane Issac precipitated the river to maneuver water insanely quick within the unsuitable route. The pull of the wind was far an excessive amount of for the Mississippi River to deal with.

The traditional circulate of the Mississippi River is 3,540 cubic meters per second going south. Because of Hurricane Issac, it flowed a whopping 5,200 cubic meters north as a substitute, with the waters surging greater than ten ft above their common degree.

This left a sequence of destruction behind, flooding the banks of the river and native areas and spreading water out in a wake of damage. 

Folks within the path of this hurricane needed to be terrified. The occasion showcased the energy of a hurricane in a means that has solely been seen just a few instances earlier than. Hurricanes are recognized for being massively damaging, with winds upwards of 80mph (and typically a lot larger!) bashing towards properties and landmarks.

The rain is so intense and heavy that it causes rivers to overflow their banks and oceans to crash aside seawalls. A hurricane can bury entire cities in storm surges and large deluges of rain, and there’s no strategy to predict what hurricane will resolve to decide to its present of power till it’s bearing down upon us.

Hurricanes have an intense historical past inside the US, and each summer time, the japanese a part of the nation lives in concern that one will strike. Many tropical storms develop and even type into hurricanes, however only a few find yourself touching land and inflicting important harm.

Different Instances the Mississippi River Flowed Backwards

1653556118 451 Discover the Mississippi Rivers Greatest Flood in Recorded History - June 10, 2023
The Mississippi River has flowed backward two different instances.

The Mississippi River is likely one of the strongest and most well-known rivers globally, so for it to reverse course is genuinely one thing that looks like as soon as in a lifetime, nevertheless it isn’t. The primary recorded time that the Mississippi River flowed backward was in 1811-1812. 

New Madrid Fault in 1812

Greater than 200 years in the past the Mississippi River waters spun in a reverse course for 3 days, additionally on account of a pure catastrophe, however not a hurricane. As a substitute, this was attributable to a large earthquake within the New Madrid seismic zone reaching down into the Mississippi River. Sure, you learn that accurately; an earthquake affected the Mississippi River and its circulate.

The New Madrid Fault is a fault line that extends by way of Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee. A fault line is a crack deep inside the earth that may probably trigger points like earthquakes and different seismic exercise.

Three earthquakes occurred between December 1811 and February 1812, which precipitated shifts within the earth, affecting the river. The earthquakes ranged from six to nearly 9 on the Richter scale, which suggests they have been extremely highly effective.

The thrust from the fault lurching ahead within the earthquakes precipitated a dam to type fairly just a few ft excessive the place the river flowed by way of New Madrid. The waters instantly backed up and flowed outward earlier than reversing. Apparently, the fault itself crossed the river many instances, making the dam further robust. 

Water flowing backward was on account of a phenomenon generally known as fluvial tsunami. A fluvial tsunami is when the strain and power of the dam and earthquake pushed the river again whence it got here. 

Often, rivers solely circulate out and backward lengthy sufficient for the river to discover a new means across the dam, however this took three days to occur. The fluvial tsunami was immensely damaging because it tore a path again up its path.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005

Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina pushed the Mississippi River north in 2005.


The devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina was astronomical, and one of many results it had was to reverse the Mississippi River. It was for a brief time period, however the hurricane’s power pushed it again, identical to with Hurricane Issac.

Hurricane Ida in 2021

Hurricane Ida was one more hurricane that struck the US. In August 2021, it flowed backward for 3.5 hours and rose at the very least 17 ft above its regular ranges.

The Mississippi River is previous with mighty energy, however even it could possibly’t stand as much as the power of pure disasters. It makes you surprise what may occur sooner or later to trigger the Mississippi River to overrun its banks and circulate in reverse but once more. 

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