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River expected to rise quickly

VIDALIA — Due to rainfall in the Ohio Valley, the water level on the Mississippi River is running high and expected to crest near the flood stage of 48 feet March 17.

While the river is projected to sit at 36.2 feet this morning, National Weather Service Senior Service Hydrologist Marty Pope said the river is expected to slowly rise until March 17 when it is projected to crest at 47.5 feet.

Pope said the rise in the river level has stemmed from rainfall and melting snow in the Ohio Valley.

“The last two weeks is when we have gotten most of the additional water,” he said. “With the Mississippi River, the biggest runoff lies in the Ohio Valley.”

Pope said three to six inches of precipitation came down from the valley over the past two weeks and with rain projected for this weekend and next weekend, the levels are only going to climb.

“With the weather patterns we have been seeing, we have been receiving above normal rainfall,” he said. “The storm systems coming through over the next two weeks combined with the rainfall we have already received will help push the river up.”

Pope said while the river is not projected to go above the flood stage, it could happen depending on the weather.

“If we get more rain than we are expecting then we could see the level get higher,” he said.

The main area of concern for the National Weather Service is how high the level is this early in the year, Pope said.

“We are having an early rise this year,” he said. “That can be bad if the rise doesn’t have time to stop and lower before rising again.”

Pope said once the level reaches 38 feet, low-lying areas will start to flood in the Miss-Lou.

“At 38 feet you start seeing the lower lying levees have some trouble,” he said. “Around 47 feet is where it starts to cause problems for agriculture, because it starts to flood the Carthage Point area.”

Pope said the NWS is just waiting for the river to crest.

“The river rises and falls at a slow pace,” he said. “So we are really hoping to get a crest out of it soon.”

Pope said once the water level crests, it would take from 10 to 15 days for the water level to drop back down to safe levels.

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