River to rise quickly

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 4, 2010

NATCHEZ — Storms that made their way across the southeastern United States last week are making their way back to the Miss-Lou, this time through the river systems.

And that means a big rise — as much as two-and-a-half feet above flood stage — for the Mississippi River at Natchez.

The river is expected to be 35.3 feet this morning. By Friday, projections by the National Weather Service’s Mississippi and Ohio River Forecast center expect the river to be at 43.9 feet.

The river is expected to be at flood stage, 48 feet, by next Wednesday, and is expected to crest at 50.5 feet May 16.

All of that water is coming from the Tennessee and Cumberland River Valleys, which will be producing 640 cubic feet of water per second, NWS Senior Hydrologist Marty Pope said.

“From west Tennessee to the Nashville area, they got anywhere from five inches to 18-20 inches of rain in places,” he said. “Going down the Ohio River over the same time period they have picked up probably three to five inches.”

The river had fallen from an above flood-stage rise earlier this year before the storms.

“We were hoping we would get only that one rise, but all it takes is one event, and that one did it,” Pope said.

The good news is the heavy rain did not fall over the Arkansas River valley, and NWS weather models are not currently predicting significant rain, he said.

Flood control structures at Cairo, Ill, will be used to mitigate the amount of water flowing out of the Ohio River, Pope said.

“We are going to have to really watch this,” he said. “At Cairo there is going to be a lot of maneuvering to keep that crest down.”

Should the predictions prove true, this will be the second time this year and the fourth time in two years that the Mississippi River has reached flood stage at Natchez.