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Nature’s Fury: The Science of Natural Disasters

Kansas City Floods

Kansas-Missouri Flood of 1951

Heavy rainfall in Kansas and Missouri during the spring and early summer of 1951 set the stage for Kansas City’s record flood. On July 13, the Kansas River breeched levees, flooding the Argentine and Armourdale districts in Kansas City, Kansas, and the West Bottoms of Kansas City, Missouri. Damage in the metro totaled $500 million (or $3 billion in today’s dollars) with 28 deaths reported in the region.

Third and Pacific in Kansas City, Kansas. Image source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo in Kansas-Missouri Floods of June-July 1951, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1952. View Source
Image from Kansas-Missouri flood showing buildings and rail yards under water

Armourdale District underwater. Note the fuel storage tank that has floated next to the bridge. Image source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo in Kansas-Missouri Floods of June-July 1951, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1952. View Source

1977 Flash Flood

On September 12, 1977, Kansas City experienced two once-in-a-century rainfalls in the same day. The USGS recorded over 11 inches of rain in Independence, with some reports of 16 inches elsewhere in the metro. It became the deadliest flood in Kansas City history with 25 deaths and over $100 million in property damage.

Image source: Kansas City Flash Flood of September 12-13, 1977: A Report to the Administrator. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 1977, p. 5. View Source
Brush Creek looking east along Ward Parkway. Image source: Photograph by Frederick Solberg, Jr., Kansas City Star, in Hauth, Leland, and William J. Carswell, Jr. Floods in Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas, September 12-13, 1977, U.S. Geological Survey, 1978. View Source
Brush Creek along West 48th Street. Image source: Photograph by Frederick Solberg, Jr., Kansas City Star, in Hauth, Leland, and William J. Carswell, Jr. Floods in Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas, September 12-13, 1977, U.S. Geological Survey, 1978. View Source