Rain forecast not expected to affect river forecast

Published 12:04 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Vicksburg’s weather forecast is slightly wetter, but it won’t change the Mississippi River forecast, according to the National Weather Service.

Rain chances over the weekend should produce “a half inch or less here,” said Marty Pope, senior service hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, stressing the 43-foot crest predicted for Tuesday is solid despite a 50 percent chance of showers locally Sunday night and about an inch near Arkansas City. The rain “is not enough to take it up.”

The river stage was 41.6 feet this morning, up two-tenths of a foot. If the crest holds, it would be the third official river flood in Vicksburg in four years.

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Drain valves remain shut at three locations on the city’s floodwall. Additional closures to prevent water from the Yazoo Diversion Canal from seeping under the wall aren’t planned by the city Sewer Department unless current crest predictions are changed.

Northwest of the city, Chickasaw, Long Lake, Laney Camp and Ziegler roads were closed due to high water. Backwater flooding has inundated farmland along Chickasaw and Long Lake.

The Kings Point Ferry is out of service until further notice, and the vessel is docked at the Port of Vicksburg. Jackson Lane, which dead-ends into brush in Kings, is expected to take on water when the stage hits 43 feet.

The U.S. Coast Guard has restricted southbound barge traffic on the river to daylight hours and a 36-barge maximum per tow.

The action was prompted by a 25-barge tow that struck pier 5 on the old U.S. 80 bridge early Sunday morning, said Lt. Teresa Hatfield, supervisor of the Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment in Vicksburg.

Barges pushed by the Joshua David Esper, owned by Paducah, Ky.-based Marquette Transportation, were northbound and empty, said Darian Adrian, executive vice president of the company’s river division. No injuries were reported.

Bridge officials weren’t likely to ask for damages from the strike, which superintendent Herman Smith said occurred at 2:08 a.m.

“It wasn’t a hard hit by any means,” Smith said. “We don’t have any damage.”

Eagle Lake remained at 76.4 feet this morning. The Muddy Bayou Control Structure is open and is expected to bring the lake’s stage up to 76.9 feet over several days.

Levels on the river side of the Steele Bayou Water Control Structure on Mississippi 465 stood at 89.5 feet, up two-tenths of a foot.

The land side held at 85.4 feet overnight.

Crests forecast for March 30 on the land side near 86 feet and 91 feet on the river side Tuesday remain intact, said Wayland Hill, civil engineer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Water Control Division.

“Basically, we’re at a peak right now (at Steele Bayou) until it rains,” said Hill.