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Experts keep watch on rain forecast for state, elsewhere

The Mississippi River is expected to begin dropping, but the potential for rain in areas north of Vicksburg might cause that prediction to change, a National Weather Service hydrologist said.

The Mississippi was at 50.21 feet Friday and forecast to be at 49.4 on June 19.

“It’s right at crest,” hydrologist Marty Pope said. “Right now, looking at everything, The 16-day forecast as of (Thursday) keeps us coming at a steady pace down, and by the 12th to the 15th July, it’s going to approach pretty much to flood stage by that time.”

He said, however, rain forecast for the Ohio and Missouri valleys as frontal systems move through those areas could raise the river forecast.

“It’s going to depend on how much rain they get,” he said, adding if rainfall along the two river basins turns out to be heavier than projected, “It could push that (stage forecast) up a little bit, so we’re going to just keep an eye on what happens over the Ohio Valley over the next so many days.”

Pope said a seven-day forecast projects 4-7 inches of rainfall over southwest Missouri and northwestern Arkansas for the next seven days, and from 3-5 inches across the Ohio Valley.

“So it’s going to depend on how spread out that rainfall’s going to be and also if it is over a longer period of time. The first five days still has a lot of it in there, and includes some the sixth and seventh day as well.

“Most of the rain will be this weekend, and we’re going to see most of it occur in the Ohio Valley and then it shifts further southwest after that.”

All the forecasts, Pope said, show the river falling, “but we’ve seen that in the past, where we’ve seen it come down and then we get a little heavier rain than what we were thinking about and then it goes up.”

Pope said the rain forecast for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday should not affect the flooding in the Yazoo Backwater Area.

“The rainfall probably will be between three-quarters to an inch, inch-and-a-half, right now, which is not going to do too much to us right there,” he said.
“What’s interesting, it looks like the backwater is slowly drifting downward; it has actually come down a little bit, even though the (Steele Bayou) gates are closed. Once the river level drops, they can reopen those gates and start to get some of that out from there.”

The backwater level was 97.70 feet Friday.

Warren County Emergency Management Director John Elfer said the level in the backwater area has dropped about 6 inches. He said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to reopen the Steele Bayou gates sometime next week.

If the gates can remain open, Elfer said, the backwater level could drop to 90 within a month.

‘We’re looking better,” Pope said. “It looks good, but I hate to see all this frontal activity. When fronts are moving, they can dump some rain in an area. Right now, we’re seeing a good downward movement for now. That’s a good sign, but we’ll have to watch the rain in the lower Missouri Valley into the Ohio Valley.”

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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