River expert: Current swell in the Mississippi River no reason for concern

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Mississippi River at Vicksburg is expected to crest at 37 to 37.5 feet by mid-December, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service Office in Jackson said Wednesday. Beyond that, the river is expected to fall over the rest of the month, before rising once again.

Hydrologist Marty Pope said the Mississippi Valley is in a weather pattern with above-normal rainfall in the northern part of the Valley, above-normal rainfall north of Cairo, Ill., and higher than normal river flows.

“As we get into December, that starts becoming fairly normal; you’ll get a good little rise in the early to mid parts of December, and if you ever get that freeze up north, then you can see a drop off after that,” he said.

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“It looks like we’re following that pattern,” he said, adding the Mississippi River at Cairo is expected to be around 40 to 42 feet. Unless the area gets additional rainfall, he said, the Mississippi will continue to fall until around the middle of the month, with a slight rise toward the end of December.

The Mississippi at Vicksburg was at 30.65 feet Wednesday; it is forecast to be at 35.5 feet by Dec. 9.

“What we’re seeing now will probably be our crest at 37 to 37.5 (feet) by Dec. 15,” Pope said. “That should be our high point, for now, depending on how much rain we get later in December.” The river, he said, is expected to fall to about 30 feet here.

After the Mississippi crests at Vicksburg, “It looks like we’ll see a fall for probably the remainder of the month and then go back up a little in early January,” Pope said.

He said the Weather Service’s 16-day forecast indicates rainfall in the Vicksburg area, and less than an inch of rain across the northern Mississippi Valley, adding, “It looks like a lot of that stuff may be more on the snow side of things up there, because it looks like it’s fairly cold up in the northern parts of the country.”

Looking at the forecasts, he said, “It looks like everything is staying cold up there (in the north). We may see some rise probably in the early part of January, but it would be less than we have now unless we get a lot more rainfall.”

Pope said the snowpack in the northern states should have no effect on the Mississippi until spring.

Presently, he said, most of the snow is in North and South Dakota and across Minnesota and into Wisconsin, and is the equivalent of 2-3 inches of water.

“If we got a big melt, it could cause a rise, but that is not expected,” he 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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