River climbs, expected to crest this week

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 4, 2002

Shane Acuff takes advantage of the high water from Chickasaw Bayou off Chickasaw Road Wednesday by doing some jig fishing. He said he was fishing for white perch. Standing water sits in many of the yards along the flood-prone area.(The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[04/04/02] By this date in 1927, the Mississippi River had already reached two crests above flood stage and was headed for a record in what became the lower valley’s greatest flood.

Something of that magnitude is not likely now, but higher water is coming.

Seventy-five years ago, the Mississippi reached a crest at Vicksburg that would measure 57.12 feet on the river gauge in use today. That came despite breaks in levees that spread the floodwaters over millions of acres. Flood stage at Vicksburg is 43 feet.

The Mississippi River was at 40.5 feet this morning, up 0.3 foot from Wednesday, and river forecasters predict the river will crest at 40.7 feet Saturday afternoon.

Amanda Roberts, a forecaster with the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center in Slidell, said the Saturday crest is likely to be about the highest that will be seen in the near future.

“We have a storm system that will start moving in … Sunday and Monday,” she said.

The storm system could produce as much as 2 to 3 inches or a bit more, but it will take a week or 10 days to reach Vicksburg. In that time the Mississippi should have receded some, keeping the river well below flood stage.

“It all depends on the location of the rainfall and how much we get,” Roberts said.

She also said the Yazoo River crested this morning at Yazoo City at 30.2 feet and a slow fall should follow. The Big Sunflower is also near crest.

“We have some water” in the Delta, said Wayland Hill, a spokesman for the Vicksburg District Corps of Engineers, speaking about water from the Yazoo and other streams in Mississippi.

He said gates at the Steele Bayou Control Structure, which can release that water into the river, are closed, but they probably won’t be for long.

Hill said about 230,000 acres of land in the Delta are under water right now, but there are no buildings or occupied houses flooded or threatened now. Crop impact is minimal because it’s early in the planting season.

Water is approaching some of the traditional flood areas near Vicksburg but there is no water in any houses.