The actual big news this weekend was the opening of the other spillway, the Morganza Spillway. The Morganza is above Baton Rouge and the Bonnet Carre is between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. New Orleans is downriver from Baton Rouge.
Frank and I went to the Exterran Picnic in Destrehan at Ormond Plantation on Saturday. One of the big draws for me to go was the proximity of Bonnet Carre. I wanted to see it. At Bonnet Carre, it was the atmosphere of a carnival. Cars were parked up and down the River Road, people were riding motorcycles and bicycles, walking. All either heading toward or from the Spillway weir. The Army Corps of Engineers had set up a tent at the site, I guess to make sure no idiots fell in, and they were answering questions, offering information and keeping the peace.
The board said that on Saturday there were 264 bays open, and the total flow of water through the weir was 258,000 cfs or cubic feet per second. The incredible thing to see was how fast the water was rushing by. Such power.
On the River Road are the large refineries, Norco is where they all line the levee and use the Mississippi River to move their product and provide electricity for their production. Here are three you can just about touch from the road.
Motiva, Shell Chemicals and Hexion. Dow is across the water.
This is the top of the weir. It has a rail that holds two cranes to lift the timbers. The timbers are then placed on top of the rails to facilitate their replacement in closing the structure.
See the timbers across the top? I will show you the front in a minutes. Where the timbers end that bay still has the timbers in place. The water always leaks through the weir providing some water to the spillway and thus Lake Pontchartrain all the time. However the water level and pressure behind the weir is not usually this great.
Look at the bay with the timbers in place here:
What you can’t see is the tremendous power of that water as it rushes through. And it is muddy and brown, like we are used to seeing our rivers and swamps.
The guage says 22 feet
Frank keeps using the word “historic” and I guess this is an historic event. The Morganza Spillway has only been opened once before and now to have two of them opening is pretty historic.
I will have more on the Morganza if I can. It is north of us and accessible only by a small highway road. They were closing the area on Saturday, so they didn’t want tourists like they have at Bonnet Carre.
For more information on the Spillway go to:
And for some great photos go to: