Forecasters: River to rise to 57 feet in March

Published 12:01 am Thursday, March 1, 2018

— River forecasters Wednesday predicted the Mississippi River would rise to 57 feet on the Natchez gauge later this month, a 1-foot increase from the day prior’s estimates.

Projections as of Wednesday night had the river reaching its height and cresting on March 16.

Concordia Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness Director Guy Murray said the latest forecast of 57 feet, which would break the threshold of what the National Weather Service labels a major flood stage in the area, could call for an increase in preventative measures.

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“It’s definitely making us look at things a lot closer,” Murray said. This 57 (foot forecast) is probably a trigger point for the (fresh) water well, which provides water to the town.”

Murray said protecting the water well would be a priority at that stage, but that any increase in the expected crest could necessitate more precautionary action.

“If they revise it up much more, it could trigger other things,” Murray said.

He said that once the gauge reaches 53.5 feet, which Wednesday’s forecast predictted would happening March 6, crews would need to isolate the drainage on the riverfront from the river and switch over to a pump system.

Murray said the parish now has a new set of permanent pumps that would enable the parish to handle flooding more effectively than in years past when workers used rental pumps.

“They will move around 2,000 gallons a minute each,” Murray said.

If the river does crest at 57 feet, that would mark the first time reaching that level in the area since 2011, when the river crested at a record high of nearly 62 feet.

The majority of the Natchez and Vidalia area is free of most flooding concerns as Natchez sits high above the river and Vidalia is protected by a levee. Low-lying areas will be affected by the seasonal flooding, however.