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Forecast for flood increased

Increased water flow from the Arkansas and White rivers in Arkansas has forced National Weather Service forecasters to increase the Mississippi River’s crest at Vicksburg from 48 to 49 feet.

The crest is expected to reach Vicksburg Friday. It will be at 48.8 feet Saturday and 48.5 feet by Sunday, according to the National Weather Service forecast.

At 49 feet, the river reaches Hall Road at Cedars Road and the edge of Cedars School Circle on the west side in Vicksburg. Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said city street crews were expected to closes the China Street gate in the floodwall Thursday.

“There’s a lot more flows coming out of the Arkansas, the White, the St. Francis,” said Greg Raimondo, public affairs director for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District. “They’re all putting a lot more water than expected. This is going to be a really long crest. The water’s going to be up for a while.”

Presently, the Mississippi at Vicksburg is expected to remain above flood stage at least until June 5, said Marty Pope, hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson.

“If you look at the Mississippi River, you’ll see that the Mississippi above Arkansas City (Ark.) is falling and actually falling very well, but looking at the Arkansas River, the Arkansas River flows have been increasing and will probably increase another couple of days,” he said.

“They’re sort of negating that fall that’s coming from upstream. That has allowed us to keep a long, very broad crest. It’s been holding up at Arkansas City and Greenville for quite while.”

What that does, he said, is fill the backwater areas and allow the river to creep up, and that, combined with 1 1/2 to 2 inches of rain in the Vicksburg area over the past 24 hours, keeps pushing the river (level) up.

“Until we get off that crest, there’s always that potential, every time we get a rain now, to continue pushing up a little bit more each time.”

The problem in the Arkansas and White River basins, he said, is the ground is already wet from previous rains, “And they just keep getting a little more rain all the time up there, so all that (ground) in that area is very moist and very wet, and anytime we get anything more, it just keeps more flow coming out of there, because it just runs off. “

Over the last seven days, Pope said, the Arkansas River basin received 11/2 to 2 inches across the area, and it all goes to runoff. Also, he said, water is being discharged out of the lakes in that area.

And there is the possibility for more rain over the Arkansas and White River basins. Another system is expected to go through the area and drop another 3/4-inch of rain.

“We’ve just got a little of everything coming together at the right time for all the stuff to get into the Arkansas River right now,” he said.

Is there a chance the crest may be revised?

“Until we get the thing (the river) crested, I can’t say no, because we’ve got another system coming through this weekend that has the potential to dump a little more rainfall … but until we can get a good recession on the Arkansas and add more rainfall to it, I can’t say we’re totally out of it yet until we start seeing a decent fall at least up in Arkansas City and Greenville.”

Pope said forecasters were looking at another 1/2-inch rain Tuesday night and from Friday night through Sunday night another 2-inch rain across the lower Arkansas River Basin and the White River.

“We’re just hoping we don’t get hit with a lot of rainfall in especially the lower Arkansas in the next few days, and until we get a good fall stating at Arkansas City, and once we get a good fall at Arkansas City and Greenville, that will help us out tremendously. It’s hard to turn the river back around when that happens.”   

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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