Mississippi River expected to rise to 56-foot mark in March

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, February 27, 2018


NATCHEZ — Forecasters expect the Mississippi River to surpass flood stage Wednesday and continue to rise well into March before cresting at what would be in the top 10 highest levels in recorded history.

The National Weather Service has declared a river flood warning in Natchez and Vidalia from 10 a.m. Wednesday through March 24.

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Area officials have begun the planning stages in anticipation of the flooding, and Concordia Parish declared Monday a state of emergency. Declaring a state of emergency allows the parish to expediently enact emergency procedures in the event of flooding.

The river stage stood at just less than 46 feet on the Natchez gauge at noon Monday, approximately 2 feet below the flood stage.

While flooding does not affect a majority of Natchez and Adams County as well as Vidalia and Concordia Parish, floodwaters could pose problems for low-lying properties in the area.

As of Monday, the NWS forecast a river crest near 56 feet by March 16. Last May, river levels of approximately 52.5 feet caused crews to partially close Silver and D.A. Biglane streets. The river crested later that month at approximately 55 feet.

Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford said his department is currently monitoring the situation and would plan accordingly throughout the week.

Bradford also said officials are fully capable of handling the type of flooding projected by current forecasts.

“We’re kind of accustomed to it,” Bradford said.

Areas likely affected by the expected flooding include sections of Carthage Point Road, some properties in the northern part of the county near Anna’s Bottom, and the Natchez-Adams County Port.

“We’ll possibly close the boat-docking area over there at the port,” Bradford said.

Bradford said he would reach out to city officials later this week to coordinate plans. The potential flooding, Bradford said, would also be a topic discussed at 9 a.m. Wednesday at a special call Adams County Board of Supervisors meeting, though the agenda for that meeting did not contain an item pertaining to the river as of 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Across the river, Vidalia Mayor Buzz Craft said the town has begun its pre-disaster planning and would consider a special meeting to declare a state of emergency.

Craft said one of Vidalia’s main priorities amid potential flooding is protecting the town’s freshwater wells from contaminated waters.

The moderate flood stage consists of levels between 51 and 57 feet on the Natchez river gauge, while anything above the latter would surpass the threshold for major flooding in the area.

Current predictions still fall approximately 6 feet short of the record crest in Natchez of just less than 62 feet in May 2011.

Forecasts, however, could fluctuate — the crest prediction reported by the NWS increased from 54 feet Monday morning to 56 feet by early afternoon that day.