River level rising here in wake of storms, high winds in South

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 22, 2001

[02/22/01] Rain that came with the storm system that brought tornadoes and high winds across the South late last week is making its way to the Mississippi River.

The river was at a stage of 32.3 feet on the Vicksburg gauge Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service, and had risen 0.8 foot to a level of 33.1 feet by Thursday morning.

Angelo Delessandro, a river forecaster with the weather service’s River Forecast Center in Slidell, La., said the rise should continue toward a crest of about 36.5 feet about March 3.

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That crest will be 6.5 feet below the flood stage of 43 feet at Vicksburg.

The three-day forecast for Vicksburg calls for a level of 33.7 by Sunday.

Although water begins getting into low areas in the Long Lake Community at about 36.5 feet, rising water does not begin cutting off access until higher levels are reached.

“We had a heavy rain over the Ohio River basin and the Tennessee River basin late last week and this past weekend,” Delessandro said explaining the reason for the rise.

He said the storm system dropped 2 to 3 inches of rain over the drainage basins that feed the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers and one to two inches over the Ohio and its northern tributaries. It was the same one that brought wind and 1.5 inch of rain to Vicksburg Friday and Saturday and even more rain and wind damage to northeast Mississippi.

If no more rain falls over the drainage basin, Delessandro said the river should start a slow fall following the March 3 crest.

But, weather forecasts are calling for more rainfall Thursday and over the weekend that Delessandro believes could produce as much as 2 inches of rain over the Ohio basin. The storm system could also put additional rainfall in the Arkansas River basin.

Those factors, he said, could slow the fall at Vicksburg after the March 3 crest.

“Even without any more rain, it will be a slow fall, but with rain, the fall will be even slower,” Delessandro said.

Again, he warned, depending on how much rain falls in the Arkansas, Upper Mississippi and Ohio basins, the stages at Vicksburg could go even higher.