NASA created this animation showing all the rivers that flow into the Mighty Mississip’.

More than 50 cities draw their water from the mighty Mississippi—which, when combined with its conjoined twin the Missouri River, is the fourth-longest river in the world.

But where’s all that agua originating? Horace Mitchell at NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio has the answer with this wonderful animation of the streams, rivers, and rivulets of spilled Southpaw Light (not pictured) that make up the vast Mississippi Watershed.

The space agency writes:

The Mississippi Watershed is the largest drainage basin in North America at 3.2 million square kilometers in area. The USGS has created a database of this area which indicates the direction of waterflow at each point. By assembling these directions into streamflows, it is possible to trace the path of water from every point of the area to the mouth of the Mississippi in the Gulf of Mexico. This animation starts with the points furthest from the Gulf and reveals the streams and rivers as a steady progression towards the mouth of the Mississippi until all the major rivers are revealed. The speed of the reveal of the rivers is not dependent on the actual speed of the water flow. The reveal proceeds at a constant velocity along each river path, timed so that all reveals reach the mouth of the Mississippi at the same time.

At the Mississippi’s origins in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, the average rate of flow is 6 cubic feet per second, according to the National Park Service. By the time all the water has compiled and is shooting out of the river’s mouth in New Orleans, the average flow is 600,000 cubic feet per second—which the service says is the “equivalent of 166 semi-trailers of water flow past Algiers Point each second.”

H/t FlowingData

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo-illustration of several big-box retail stores.
    Equity

    After the Retail Apocalypse, Prepare for the Property Tax Meltdown

    Big-box retailers nationwide are slashing their property taxes through a legal loophole known as "dark store theory." For the towns that rely on that revenue, this could be a disaster.

  2. A photo of a small small house in San Francisco's Noe Valley that sold for $1.8 million in 2014.
    Equity

    Why Cities Must Tackle Single-Family Zoning

    As cities wake up to their housing crises, the problems with single-family-home residential zoning will become too egregious to ignore.

  3. Children play in a spray park in Rockville Town Square in suburban Rockville, Maryland.
    Life

    America Really Is a Nation of Suburbs

    New data shows that the majority of Americans describe their neighborhoods as suburban. Yet we still lack an official government definition of suburban areas.

  4. A man walks his dog on a hilltop overlooking San Francisco in the early morning hours on Mount Davidson.
    Equity

    When Millennials Battle Boomers Over Housing

    In Generation Priced Out, Randy Shaw examines how Boomers have blocked affordable housing in urban neighborhoods, leaving Millennial homebuyers in the lurch.

  5. Columbia University's Low Library
    Design

    Rediscover the Gilded Age’s Most Famous Architects

    McKim, Mead & White, Selected Works 1879-1915 highlights the nation’s defining classical structures from the late 19th century.