Each spring, the Mississippi River and its tributaries, including the Red, Ohio, and Missouri Rivers, receive large amounts of water from spring rains and snow melt, often causing flooding. Usually the swollen rivers reach peak by early June before floodwaters begin to recede.
On May 31, 2020, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board NASA’s Terra satellite acquired a false-color image showing that the Mississippi and main tributaries remain swollen with copious amounts of water.
This image shows a broad view of the Mississippi watershed, and stretches from Lake Michigan in the north to Mississippi and Louisiana in the south. By combining infrared with visible light (bands 7,2,1), water becomes very easily visible, appearing black or deep blue. Vegetation appears bright green and areas with open land appear tan. Cloud appears white. Every major river within the region appears very dark, indicating they are swollen with water.
According to the National Weather Service on June 2, a flood warning continues for the Mississippi River at Louisiana until further notice. At 10:30 am on June 2, the stage was 15.3 feet, which is over the Flood stage of 15.0 feet. The river is forecast to crest near 15.4 feet by early on June 3, with minor flooding expected.
The Mississippi River watershed is one of the largest in the world, consisting of more than a hundred tributaries. The watershed extends from the Appalachians to the Rocky Mountains and contributes to about 40 percent of the drainage in the continental United States. It drains water and sediment from 31 U.S. states, delivering both to the Gulf of Mexico via the Atchafalaya and Mississippi River deltas.