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Mississippi River Projected to Rise Again



The 4,159 foot long Morganza Spillway(photo from the Army Corp of Engineers)

June 3rd and 50.5 feet are the new predicted date and height of the river at Vicksburg.  June 3rd will make it 107 days the river will be above flood stage.

The river currently sits at 49.9 so the rise will be another 6 inches or so.  Heavy rainfall in the upper Arkansas basin caused the weather experts to increase their forecast.  The Arkansas basin dumps water into the Arkansas River and the Mississippi River.  After the anticipated crest, the river will drop ‘dreadfully slow’ in the following four weeks.

The unprecedented duration of this flood event has caused officials to consider opening the Morganza Spillway for only the third time in its history.  The other times were during the Great Flood of 2011 and the flood of 1973.  The fear this year is the spillway may be overtopped by the slowly rising waters.  If that were to happen the 4,159-foot long spillway would be destroyed.

Opening the Spillway is an indicator of the seriousness of this flood and it’s potential to cause damage.  The spillway’s purpose is to divert water from the Mississippi River during major flood events by flooding the Atchafalaya Basin, including the Atchafalaya River and the Atchafalaya Swamp.  Doing so decreases the impact of the river downstream and protects levees and water control implements in the cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Locally the biggest impact of the river being above flood stage has been on the Yazoo Backwater Area.  Valley Park is currently fighting the flood waters as are all the communities in the Yazoo basin.  Several homes have been lost and any rainfall in the South Delta will cause more water to pool at the Steele Bayou structure.  The Backwater area is full of water and has equalized with the river side of the control structures designed to pool flood waters there.  The Eagle Lake area is now fully engulfed by the flood waters with only some homes protected by the Brunswick Levee.

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