Third river rise headed to Vicksburg

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 26, 2002

[04/25/02]A third rise is coming down the Mississippi, but forecasters don’t expect flood stage will be reached at Vicksburg.

The Mississippi has already reached two crests since Jan. 1, but neither hit the official flood reading of 43 feet on the Vicksburg gauge. The first crest was in February when the Mississippi reached a stage in the mid-30-foot range on the local gauge. The latest was on April 13 when the Mississippi reached a crest of 41.7 feet, 1.3 feet below flood stage.

At that level, some county roads were impassable and farmland was covered, but no residents were displaced.

Today, the Mississippi was at 33.6 feet at Vicksburg and falling, but David Welch, a river forecaster at the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center in Slidell, said a turnaround is coming.

The new forecast is for 35.5 feet about May 3.

“That’s based on rain that is already on the ground,” Welch said.

Weather systems that will move through the Mississippi basin and into the Ohio River basin this weekend could change that forecast, but not very much.

“To reach flood stage at Vicksburg, it would take a stage of 50 feet at Cairo (Ill.),” Welch said, adding such a stage would require a lot more rainfall upstream, something that grows less and less likely as summer approaches.

There are still some remnants of the most recent high water in the Mississippi Delta, said Wayland Hill of the Vicksburg District Corps of Engineers.

He said at a level of 82.4 feet mean sea level in the sump area above the Steele Bayou Control Structure a total of about 120,000 acres of land was flooded in the Delta, of which about 49,000 acres was cleared crop land.