Big River on the rise

Published 7:19 pm Monday, September 17, 2018

Hurricane Florence may be dumping rain and causing flooding in the Carolinas and along the East Coast, but the heavy rains falling in the east are not affecting a current rise in the Mississippi River, the hydrologist from the National Weather Service Office in Jackson said.

According to projections by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Mississippi is expected to reach 32.7 feet by Sept. 24. It was at 17 feet Sept. 10. And the rise, hydrologist Marty Pope said, is the result of a combination of rain from Tropical Storm Gordon and a frontal system that was dropping heavy rain in the upper Ohio River Valley before Gordon arrived.

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“Right now, it looks like Florence is in the upper parts of the Ohio River, and I’m seeing maybe 1-2 inches now,” he said, adding the forecast has Florence going up the East Coast.

“By tomorrow, it looks like most of its remains will be sitting over northern Virginia, Pennsylvania and then to New York,” Pope said. “We do have some movement — rain predicted from about 1.5 inches to isolated amounts of 4-5 inches, and that 4-5 inches would be in northern Iowa, so we’re talking about a long way from us.

“But even then, looking at St. Louis north, and the northern parts of the Ohio Valley, it looks like 1.5 to 2 inches with a maximum of 3-5 inches over northern Iowa into Southern Minnesota.”

He said Gordon and the front in the Ohio Valley combined between Sept. 8 and 9.

“I remember them having some heavy rainfall right around the time of Gordon moving across,” he said. “Between the eighth and ninth, going from around Cairo to St. Louis and that area, it looks like anywhere from 3-5 inches of rainfall fell right across the upper Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley.

“On the eighth, there was rain across Cairo (Illinois) and up into the upper and lower Mississippi Valley. Before that, there was scattered rain and a line northeast of Cairo had 1.5 to 3 inches, so they were getting a little bit of rain before the remnants of Gordon reached there.”

He said the Mississippi’s level at Cairo was about 40 feet and holding.

“I would think before anything else gets in there, it should be coming back down a little bit unless it gets hit by some heavy rainfall,” Pope said.

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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