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Mississippi River to rise briefly and then fall

A rise in the Mississippi River is starting to cover some of the riverbank that has been exposed since the summer, causing some area residents to wonder if they could see the river rise to flood stage soon.

But the river’s new rise is a temporary thing that will begin subsiding after mid-January.

“We’ve got a bump coming down the river and it’s going to continue downstream,” said Marty Pope Hydrologist with the National Weather Service Office in Jackson. “By the time gets to Vicksburg it will crest about 31.2 feet and that will be out some around the 14th.” The flood stage in Vicksburg is 43 feet.

He said the rise is the result of two rain events that occurred around Christmas and New Year’s that mover across the entire Mississippi Valley.

Most of the rise came from the second event that crossed the Valley, Pope said. The heaviest started in northeast Texas and Central Arkansas and went up the Ohio River Valley.

“During the period, 2-5 inches fell in Arkansas and then 2-4 in upper West Tennessee and the Ohio Valley,” Pope said. “During the rain that occurred Christmas Eve we had 1.77 inches here and .85 inches on New Year’s. Rain in the Ohio Valley brought the river up.

“Right now, we’ve just got a little blip coming across,” he said. “Luckily, we’re at a point right now where you’re getting into the situation where we’re getting little heavy rains here and there, but luckily it’s nothing really keeping us (concerned).”

The current rise on the river, Pope said, is close to cresting and then falling.

“We do get a little bit of a bump on day 14, which is around the first of the month,” he said. “Once getting around early February, that’s when we start seeing some of the bigger rains. Historically we start getting some rains across that area beginning in the February-April time frame up across the Ohio valley.”

Presently, there are no severe rains coming, Pope said.

“The upper Mississippi Valley is dry; they’re still in drought conditions in most of the upper Mississippi and the Ohio Valley isn’t getting much more rain,” he said. “In the next seven days, we’ve really got no rain in the Ohio Valley and a little bit of snow in the upper valley.”

The only rain, he said, is going be across the western Arkansas River Valley in the coming days.

Pope said the Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center outlook, however, shows above-normal rainfall from January through March with most occurring late in January to February.

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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