Snow melt causing river rise

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 25, 2010

VIDALIA — The yearly snow melt is pushing the Mississippi River up, and while it is expected to rise three feet over the next four days, it isn’t expected to reach flood stage.

The National Weather Service’s Mississippi River Forecasting center has predicted that by Monday the river will stand at 45.2 feet and will crest at a height of 46 feet April 5.

Flood stage at the Natchez-Vidalia pass is 48 feet.

The rise can be attributed to a melting snow pack in the north, and NWS Senior Hydrologist Marty Pope said the concern of having rain fall on top of the snow pack — which would melt the snow — has been abated.

“All of the snow is melted,” he said. “The majority of that rise was the heavy snow pack in the upper Ohio and upper Mississippi River valleys.

“(The melt) was slower than it could have been, which was good, because we didn’t get as sharp a rise as we could have.”

With the snow melt out of the way, any future spring rises will be limited to rains in the north.

“If we get this (rise) out of here now, our vulnerability is now heavy rain over the Ohio, the Arkansas and the Tennessee valleys,” Pope said.

Historically, the river has a significant rise in April and May.

Because weather patterns have been cooler this year, some heavier rains may come a little later in the year, Pope said.

“We are doing pretty good right now if we can get the snow melt down the river and have it crest and start falling down before we get more rainfall across the basins, but it only takes one heavy rainfall to turn it around,” he said.

The river is expected to be at 42.2 feet this morning.