Flooding again? Area warned, but no major worries

Published 12:06 am Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ben Hillyer/The Natchez Democrat — A barge pushes a load down the Mississippi River past the holiday decoration on the lanterns at Natchez Under-the-Hill Monday.

NATCHEZ — The National Weather Service threw around some dirty words for waterlogged ears Monday, but a current flood advisory for the Miss-Lou should still be no big deal.

The stage of the river was 37.8 feet at 3 p.m. Monday, up from 32.65 feet from this time last week.

The expected forecast shows the river rising to 44.5 feet Sunday Dec. 18.

Flood stage in Natchez is 48 feet, and no significant trouble is caused until the crest tops 50. However, the National Weather Service begins its “action stage” warning at 38 feet.

The river is not expected to reach flood stage at Natchez this month.

National Weather Service Senior Hydrologist Marty Pope said the rise of the river level is uncommon for the winter months, but not unexpected after such heavy rains in Arkansas and the Ohio Valley.

“This is not out of the ordinary,” Pope said. “It’s a similar pattern we had going into the spring last year, but it’s not necessarily going to be something like that again.”

Last Spring, the river broke all historical crest records, reaching 61.95 at Natchez.

Pope said early December is prime time for heavy rains, but that the next week should be drier, which will help the river levels greatly.

“We’re just hoping to get some good polar air to come down to the area,” Pope said. “A little cool spell and the river will drop back down until March.”

Adams County Emergency Management Director Stan Owens said local officials don’t expect the rise in river level to greatly impact the area.

“We’re definitely keeping an eye on it,” Owens said. “It really doesn’t affect anyone except our farmers until it gets to 48 feet.”

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said historically the city hasn’t had a flood issue in the winter season, but that they will still take the appropriate precautions.

“Naturally we’re going to watch it close and make sure there aren’t any problems,” Copeland said. “But if there are we’ll be prepared to take care of them.”