From this week’s “THE WORD” column in The Boston Globe, by Wordnik founder Erin McKean, about words related to the Mississippi River flooding:
The spillway (“a path designed to take away overflow safely”) was opened because the waters of the Mississippi are cresting at record highs, with a flow rate of 625,000 cubic feet per second, leading to worries that the river would overtop the levees that hold it back. The amount of water that the Army Corps of Engineers expects to flow past the barriers is the inundation estimate. Should the levees fail, especially on the west bank of the river, the Mississippi could leave the path it takes now — the one on which massive industries and the city of New Orleans both depend — and be captured by the Atchafalaya River, which offers it a faster, steeper shortcut to the Gulf of Mexico.
Read the whole column here.