Not much expected from river’s recent rise
NATCHEZ — The Mississippi River is moving upward and will for a second time this year pass the invisible line that marks “flood stage” at the Natchez-Vidalia pass.
But forecasters say it won’t move much past that and officials with Louisiana’s Fifth Levee District say they aren’t worried with the rise.
The National Weather Service is predicting the river will reach 47.6 feet this morning, before slowly creeping past the official flood stage mark of 48 feet sometime Thursday morning.
The river is only expected to rise a foot higher to a crest of 49 feet, a crest that is expected May 3.
NWS Staff Hydrologist Marty Pope said the current creep upward has been driven over the last seven days by a good rain over Cairo, Ill., and a second rain that dumped 2-3 inches over the Ohio River Valley over the weekend.
The Ohio River Valley feeds into the Mississippi at Cairo.
“We are expecting Cairo to crest in the next couple of days, and once it crests, we have to watch what goes on in the Arkansas River Valley,” Pope said.
The U.S. is currently under an El Nino weather system, which means the jet stream is flowing further south than usual and is pulling moisture from the Southern Pacific Ocean.
“Generally, that just keeps our area wet, but sometimes that stuff can get up into the Ohio Valley as well,” he said.
Even though the river appears high, it’s not as high as it was during this same period during the last major flood, Pope said.
The last major flood was 2011’s 61.9-foot river stage, a 500-year record.
Barry Maxwell of Ferriday, who serves on the Louisiana Fifth Levee District Commission, said the levee district is watching the current levels but isn’t preparing for a flood fight.
“It is nothing to be alarmed about, it is barely above flood stage,” he said. “It is just a seasonal rise as far as we are concerned.”
Pope said all of the snowmelt from the north has happened already and won’t contribute to any further river conditions this year.
While flood-stage waters do not directly impact most of the Miss-Lou, a few areas are impacted.
Thornburg Lake Road in Anna’s Bottom in Northern Adams County starts to take on water at 43 feet, while at 44 feet areas around Lake Mary are inundated and at 45 feet some buildings in the Wilkinson County community of Fort Adams are impacted by the floodwaters. The Concordia Parish areas of Deer Park and Minorca are likewise affected by the high water prior to flood stage.
The former Belwood Country Club near the Natchez-Adams County Port takes on water at 47 feet. Carthage Point Road, which is near the Belwood property, has been closed because of the previous floodwaters.