Crest prediction rises, moves back after weekend rain|[03/31/08]

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 31, 2008

Heavy rains pounded portions of Arkansas and Tennessee over the weekend, leading the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center this morning to increase the anticipated river crest in Vicksburg by 1 foot and push the crest date back a day.

The revised forecast has the river rising to 46.5 feet and cresting Saturday.

For much of the past week, the prediction was for the river to top out at 45.5 feet Friday.

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Today’s reading at Vicksburg was 44.4 feet, a rise of 0.5 feet from Sunday. Flood stage at the city is 43 feet.

“They got hit pretty hard up there, and so crests in Memphis and Helena have been increased, meaning crests down the river at nearly every city will be going up, too,” said Marty Pope, senior hydrologist for the National Weather Service at Jackson.

With the river already more than a foot beyond flood stage at Vicksburg, the number of people affected in the city and throughout Warren County has been limited.

Roads in Ford subdivision and Kings, north of Vicksburg, are still clear. Only a few roads that no longer have houses on them, including Jackson Street, Main Street and Hardin Road, are under water.

Outside of the city many roads are inundated with floodwater, and the Warren County Sheriff’s Department has been making daily patrols of those areas by boat for a week. Sheriff Martin Pace said no incidents have been reported thus far.

“We have provided some assistance to people who live out there, but for the most part they’ve been there for generations and they are well versed on preparing for and handling river flooding,” said Pace. “Thus far, the only homes affected are stilted, and so the houses themselves have not been affected.”

John Coccaro, Warren County Extension Service director, said wheat damage due to flooding is also not widespread. However, for those who have been affected by rising waters, the damage has been severe.

“The impact is relative. It’s probably going to be a small number of farmers affected, but to those farmers it’s a major event,” Coccaro said. “For those farmers who have fields on Chickasaw Road and other areas north of the city, that’s their entire crop for the season. They don’t have land in other areas, and they’re likely to lose 100 percent of their crops.” Winter wheat, planted in the fall and harvested in the spring, has been a lucrative crop due to commodity prices this year, but not for those who lost their fields to water.

Doug Jeter, who farms about 150 acres of wheat planted off Chickasaw Road, estimated two-thirds of his crop is under water today.

“We won’t know what the actual loses are until the water comes down and we can go in there and see what it looks like,” Jeter said.

With the river expected to rise more than 2 feet before its forecast to crest Saturday, there’s a good chance all of Jeter’s crop will be inundated.

The Red Cross and Salvation Army are prepared to assist those who are affected by rising waters. Thus far there have been no reports of homes being inundated with water.

“If people do need assistance, we will be there immediately,” said Janice Sawyer, emergency services director for the local chapter of the Red Cross.

Pope said there is a chance the forecast crest in Vicksburg could rise even further depending on rainfall locally and in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys.

“If this is true, it’s not going to be pretty,” said Pope as he reviewed the five-day rainfall forecast this morning. “There’s a maximum of 5 inches expected to fall in Missouri this week, and another two-and-one-half inches to fall on the Ohio River Valley. We’re not seeing heavy rainfall over Vicksburg — about an inch to an inch-and-one-half — but it’s still not a great scenario right now.”

Mississippi RiverCREST FORECAST46.5 feet on April 5TODAY’S STAGE: 44.4 feetROSE:0.5 footFLOOD STAGE:43 feetFlooding infoVicksburg and Warren County are under a flood warning. Affected areas include Ford Road, Hutson Street (200 block), Williams Street, Hardin Road, Browns Alley, Railroad Alley, Eva Street, Youngs Alley, Round Alley, Water Well Road, Randle Street, Rankin Alley, Thompson Lake Road, Kings Crossing (100 block and greater), Falk Steel Road (200 block, even numbered addresses). Non-residential areas of Jackson Street, Main Street, and Hardin Road are currently flooded. Other areas currently affected are Jackson Lane, Pittman Road (400 block), Chickasaw Road (80 block and greater), Chickasaw Lane (outside city), and Chickasaw Drive (outside city).Updated river forecasts available on the Internet at local flood information available by calling the City of Vicksburg Temporary Emergency Flood Update line at 601-801-3443Those with questions or concerns are encouraged to contact the City of Vicksburg Emergency Management Action line at 601-636-3411Updated river forecasts are on the Internet at RiverPast high readingsYearDateGauge1973May 1351.61974Feb. 944.21975April 1248.01976March 732.41977April 2132.41978April 939.81979April 2647.91980April 1440.51981June 1432.51982Dec. 1939.71983May 2749.31984May 2545.81985March 1842.21986Oct. 2035.11987March 1336.51988Jan. 636.41989March 841.01990June 842.81991Jan. 2044.41992Dec. 3134.41993May 1843.61994May 346.01995June 1247.01996June 143.61997March 2249.11998May 1443.61999Feb. 1341.72000March 629.32001March 839.92002June 345.42003May 2943.02004Dec. 2039.32005Jan. 3144.52006March 2731.62007Jan. 2637.8Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers