River on the rise

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 29, 2010

VIDALIA — The Mississippi River is expected to rise two-and-a-half feet above flood stage in the next week-and-a half.

While the river is expected to stand at 40.9 feet above gauge zero this morning, the National Weather Service’s Mississippi River Forecast predicts that the river will reach 50.5 feet by Feb. 8.

Flood stage at the Natchez-Vidalia pass is 48 feet above gauge zero, and at Natchez gauge zero is set at 17.28 feet above sea level, meaning that at the crest the water will actually stand at 67.78 above sea level.

The rise is caused by a combination of both snow melt and rainfall, NWS Hydrologist Marty Pope said.

“Up unil last week, there were some pretty good snow accumulations in northern Missouri and northern Illinois, and some places in Iowa had 10-20 inches of snow on the ground,” Pope said.

“It warmed up a little and then they got a little rain over (the snow) over the time frame of Jan. 24-25.”

Following the beginning of snow melt, rain started falling.

On Jan 21, the Tennessee River Valley got 1-2 inches of rain, on Jan. 22 the Ohio River Valley received 1.5 inches, on Jan. 24 1.5 inches fell over the Missouri River Valley and on Jan. 25 the Tennessee River Valley received another 1.5-3 inches of rain.

“All of the major drainages into the Lower Mississippi River got hit with rain,” Pope said.

While the rise is early for this time of year, it could actually help the area in the future, Pope said.

“If we can get some of that snow pack to melt a little at a time, it may help us out in the spring.”