The Mississippi River is the second-longest river in North America flowing 2,320 miles (3,730 km) from Minnesota’s Lake Itasca in the Northern US to the Gulf of Mexico.
It drains water from 32 states and two Canadian provinces. And when it comes to water volume, it ranks as the 14th largest river system in the world.
And an interesting story emerged out of Hurricane Ida that smashed the state of Louisiana over the weekend with winds reaching 150 mph (240 km/h).
Ida snapped trees, dumped two feet of rain in some areas, whipped up seven foot storm surges, tore roofs off buildings and knocked out power to all of New Orleans, leaving one million people without electricity.
But in the midst of this destruction a strange thing happened.
According to a report by the US Geological Survey (USGS), for a two-hour period on Sunday (Aug 29, 2021), Hurricane Ida actually reversed the flow of the Mississippi River, causing it to flow up stream.
According to the USGS, prior to Ida’s arrival, the Mississippi River was pouring 300,000 cubic feet per second into the Gulf of Mexico, but during that two-hour time frame it was flowing 40,000 feet per second in the opposite direction.
And this is not even the first time that a hurricane did this to the great Mississippi River. The same thing occurred during Hurricane Issac (2012) and Hurricane Katrina (2005).
It showed the power that the wind has, enabling it to change the direction of a massive river like the Mississippi.
Of course, people like to mock the story of the parting of the Red Sea. A few weeks back I was watching a Prime Time Series entitled Clarkson’s Farm, it is a reality story revolving around popular British presenter Jeremy Clarkson’s humorous attempt to farm for the first time after purchasing a small farm near Chipping Norton in Britain.
One of his projects involved building a small pond on his property, and after a series of escapades finally succeeded in doing so. And as Clarkson and his farm helper, Kaleb Cooper, were watching the pond filled with water, Clarkson compared himself to Moses.
When Cooper asked who Moses was, Clarkson explained he was the man from the Bible that parted the Red Sea, allowing Israel to safely cross the land as they were being pursued by the Egyptian army.
After hearing the story, Cooper curtly responded with, “That’s bull%$#@!”
And frankly, that is how some view these Biblical accounts.
But we need to take a closer look at that story before so quickly discounting it.
Today, the Red Sea is composed of a large body of water separating Egypt and Saudi Arabia, with two smaller legs jutting out on its northern end, forming the Gulf of Suez and Gulf Aqaba.
It is nearly impossible to know what it looked like 3,500 years ago when Moses and Israel were camped along its shores.
We have no idea how big it was and if those two extensions existed in Moses day or not.
But as we read the account about the parting of the Red Sea, we are specifically told what caused the waters to separate — God sent a strong East wind that lasted for several hours:
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. (Exodus 14:21 NASV)
“At the blast of Your nostrils the waters were piled up,
The flowing waters stood up like a heap;
The deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea. (Exodus 15:8 NASV)
I had read that Exodus account dozens of times, but until recently I had no idea that the wind could actually affect water in such a dramatic way, even reversing the direction of the Mississippi.
In 2010, researchers working with the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) conducted a study to find out how much wind would be needed to push back the water, creating a land bridge allowing Israel to cross over the Red Sea.
Using a computer simulation and basic physics, they concluded that all that was needed for this to happen was a 63 mph (101 km) blowing all night.
Speaking on behalf of NCAR, Carl Drews stated:
“The parting of the waters can be understood through fluid dynamics. The wind moves the water in a way that’s in accordance with physical laws, creating a safe passage with water on two sides and then abruptly allowing the water to rush back in.”
So Mr Cooper, if a wind can reverse of the flow of the Great Mississippi River, why couldn’t the same thing have happened at the shores of the Red Sea?
READ: Hurricane Ida was so powerful it reversed the flow of the Mississippi River AND Parting the waters: Computer modeling applies physics to Red Sea escape route: NCAR AND Computers show how wind could have parted the Red Sea: BBC