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River crests, heads down at steady pace

Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat — Barges push their load down the Mississippi River Monday afternoon.

NATCHEZ — With the Mississippi River finally cresting, the waters may soon be back under the flood stage of 48 feet.

The river crested at 49.86 feet Friday afternoon and has been declining ever since, sitting at 49.5 feet Monday afternoon.

The National Weather Service in Jackson had originally projected a longer crest, but the water dropped faster than expected.

NWS Senior Hydrologist Marty Pope said the river level is projected to drop below 48 feet Friday.

“It has been on a fairly good decline ever since it crested,” he said. “If we can keep it like this, we should be under flood stage before too long.”

Even with Monday’s rain, Pope said residents should not worry about seeing the river start to rise.

“When the river starts to fall the way it is now, it takes more than just rain to cause an impact,” he said.

Pope said storm systems that bring in only an inch or two of rain generally do not raise the water level.

“If a system comes through and just dumps a couple of inches of rainfall and moves out quickly, there is nothing to worry about,” he said. “It’s those four- and five-inch rains, like the ones we had that raised the level, now that causes the problems.”

Pope said the upper Mississippi River Valley is also projected to have some rain in the next few days, but nothing that should affect the water level in Natchez from declining.

“None of the rain they have received so far has turned their water levels around,” he said.

Pope said the Ohio Valley is looking at rainfall on April 10, and preliminary projections also show that this front should be no cause for concern.

Pope said the river should continue see a steady decline during the next week.

“So far it looks like everything is staying progressive,” he said. “That should really help things out over the next 10 days as the water level drops.”

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