Mississippi forecast to rise back above flood stage

Published 8:27 pm Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Mississippi River is expected to drop below flood stage Wednesday, but a projected forecast from the National Weather Service indicates the river could possibly go back above flood stage by mid-April.

According to the Weather Service’s river forecast for the lower Mississippi Basin, the Mississippi is expected to be at 41.3 feet Wednesday. Flood stage is 43 feet. Greg Raimondo, public affairs chief for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District, said the gates at the Steele Bayou Control Structure were expected to be opened Sunday.

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But while the Steele Bayou gates are the opening, the floodgates along the riverfront and the Levee Street floodwall remain up in Vicksburg on the recommendations from the Corps, and based rainfall projections from the weather service.

Marty Pope, hydrologist at the National Weather Service Office in Jackson, said the potential exists for the Mississippi River to be in the upper 40s at Vicksburg by mid-April, based on early rainfall projections.

“It all depends on how good the forecast is, based on a group of weather models,” he said.

The projected seven-day rainfall totals show a maximum of about 5 to 7 inches across the middle portion of the Red River and southeastern Arkansas and Oklahoma, he said, “And then in western Arkansas; we’ve got a big band of 3 to 6, or maybe 7 (inches) across Arkansas.

“Going into the Ohio Valley, it looks like anywhere from 2 to 4 inches in the Ohio Valley and extending across the Middle Mississippi Valley above St. Louis (Missouri), so it’s a pretty large area.”

Most of that is going to be in the 6- to 7-day time period, or even the 6- to 8-day time period, he said.

“I think that there is even more beyond that time period, which I believe is next Thursday,” he said.

Pope said models indicate the Mississippi River at Cairo, Illinois, possibly reaching above 50 feet for a second time this year based on a 16-day forecast. That would translate in the Mississippi’s level at Vicksburg reaching the upper 40s if the rainfall gets at or above predictions.

“The official forecast right now is for rainfalls of anywhere across the basin from 3 to 7 inches of rainfall, and most of that is over the Arkansas Basin, which will affect us here quicker,” he said.

Pope said one thing mentioned in the forecasts is room in reservoirs in Kentucky to take water and possibly hold the crest down at Cairo, which would help the levels here.

“But we’ll just have to wait and see what the placement is, and how much water does fall.”

He said snow pack in the Northern Basin in North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin remains frozen, although recent reports indicated some melting has occurred in the southern section, with about 2 inches of melt occurring, “so we’ll see a little bit of that getting in the system.

“It looks like they’re going to be adding more snow to this — to the northern portion (of the basin) — so right now, I don’t see any major melt off or anything like that.”

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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