Cassidy, Vitter, Fleming, Abraham Question Inaccurate Red River Crest Predictions
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, Senator David Vitter, Representative John Fleming and Representative Ralph Abraham are questioning federal agencies on their inaccurate cresting predictions for the Red River, which crested 3 feet higher than expected and resulted in flood damage across northwest Louisiana.
“…Predictions on the crest of the Red River changed seven times in thirteen days,” write the Congressmen. “Predictions went from a 31.5-foot crest on May 24th to a 34-foot crest on May 29th. Expectations then moved to a 35.5-foot crest on June 4th, for an additional foot on June 5th and were finally changed to 37 feet on June 7th. The seemingly constant changes in crest predictions presented significant challenges for local and state emergency managers.
“In light of the information above, as well as our goal for increased transparency and accountability of federal agencies, we request answers to the following questions…”
Read the full letter HERE or below:
June 18, 2015
The Honorable Kathryn D. Sullivan, PhD
Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans & Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
The Honorable Jo - Ellen Darcy
Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works)
108 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310
Lieutenant General Thomas P. Bostick
Commanding General and Chief of Engineers
Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
441 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20314
Dear Dr. Sullivan, Assistant Secretary Darcy, and LTG Bostick:
As the Members of Congress that represent north and central Louisiana, we are writing to express our deep concern over the recent inaccuracy of cresting predictions produced by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the National Weather Service (NWS) for the Red River. Given Louisiana’s geographic location along the Gulf of Mexico and within the Mississippi River Basin, communities throughout the state rely heavily on timely and accurate information from USACE and NWS on how threats from natural disasters will potentially impact life and property. Unfortunately, the recent flooding in north and central Louisiana is an example of the impact(s) inaccurate predictions can have on life and commerce.
As you are aware, massive amounts of rain in Texas and Oklahoma have raised water levels to the point where USACE needed to release water downstream. In early June, the Corps discharged 55,000 cubic feet of water daily from Lake Texoma, OK. That water eventually ended up on the roads and in the backyards of Louisiana communities. As the water approached these communities, NWS predictions on the crest of the Red River changed seven times in thirteen days. Predictions went from a 31.5-foot crest on May 24th to a 34-foot crest on May 29th. Expectations then moved to a 35.5-foot crest on June 4th, for an additional foot on June 5th and were finally changed to 37 feet on June 7th. The seemingly constant changes in crest predictions presented significant challenges for local and state emergency managers.
In light of the information above, as well as our goal for increased transparency and accountability of federal agencies, we request answers to the following questions:
- It has come to our attention that data used to create the predictions for Red River cresting was obtained from flooding that occurred in 1990. Why did NWS and USACE use data that was 25 years old to create these hydrological models?
- Why did the predictions for Red River cresting vary from the river’s real time activity?
- What remediation measures do NWS and USACE plan to implement following the inaccuracies associated with the Red River cresting predictions?
- How will NWS and USACE engage local, state, and community leaders in gathering hydrological data for future cresting predictions?
Thank you for your personal attention to this matter of importance to the people of north and central Louisiana.
BILL CASSIDY, M.D. DAVID VITTER
United States Senator United States Senator
JOHN FLEMING, M.D. RALPH ABRAHAM, M.D.
United States Representative United States Representative
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