Potential for spring flooding higher than normal

Published 12:12 am Wednesday, February 17, 2010

VIDALIA — Odds are good that the Mississippi River will flood again this spring, National Weather Service Hydrologist Marty Pope said.

“From the middle of March to April, we could see another pretty good rise on the river,” Pope said. “If the snow up north melts fairly rapidly instead of slowly eroding away, or if we get a lot of rainfall on top of the snow, we have a high potential for above flood stage water.”

The Mississippi River is currently above flood stage, but the rise has crested and NWS river forecasts predict it will fall to 47.5 feet above gauge zero by Saturday morning.

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Flood stage at Natchez is 48 feet above gauge zero, and this morning the river is expected to stand at 48.7 feet.

“Everything is falling, all the way up to Cairo, Ill., and along the Ohio River, and as of now and over the next two weeks, we are going to have a falling (Mississippi) river,” Pope said.

A second rise, if it should happen, is not expected until at least mid-March, Pope said.

Louisiana Fifth Levee District President Reynold Minsky said that the levee district has been engaged in an active flood fight, and that the district will continue to do so until the river falls significantly.

“We will continue to ride the levee, watch the levee and if we have a sand boil that pops up we will bag it,” Minsky said. “We don’t quit until the river gets down into the low 30s, especially as wet as it is and with as many boils as we have.”

Sand boils are caused when water pressure from the river forces water under the levee system and through the ground on the other side, displacing soil and potentially undermining the levee.

Sand boils are fixed by building rings of sandbags around the boils until the water pressure equalizes and stops pushing soil material through.

The levee district is watching approximately 10 sand boils in its southern portion, Minsky said.

“To say the least this fight was brief,” he said. “On a scale of one to 10 this was a one.”

More rain is not expected for several days, and Minsky said that where it falls will determine the local river levels.

“If (rain) comes through here and not up north, we won’t have a problem,” he said.