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River will rise less and fall faster than forecast

[6/9/04]The June rise on the Mississippi River will crest lower at Vicksburg and fall faster than expected.

Forecasters now say the river will top out on the gauge here at 38 feet on June 17.

A previous forecast had shown a crest 1.5 feet higher, bad news for farmers in the Lower Mississippi Delta, especially those outside the mainline levee. They would have lost crops already planted, or had planting delayed until fields dried.

Tuesday, Angelo Dalessandro, a forecaster at the Slidell, La., National Weather Center office, said the new level is based on the speed of runoff from rains that drenched the upper basin in May. “Cairo crested a foot and a half lower and a day sooner,” he said.

“Local farmers will lose some (soy)beans around Chickasaw” Bayou north of Vicksburg and in the lower Delta, said Wayland Hill of the Hydraulic Branch of the Vicksburg District Corps of Engineers.

Also, some of the lower areas in the nearly abandoned Long Lake community will receive a small amount of flood water.

Hill said there will be less flooding around the Steele Bayou Control Structure. The river side is likely to reach a level of about 86 feet mean sea level instead of 88 feet. Gates at Steele Bayou may be opened between June 22 and June 26 to release water trapped in the impoundment area.