Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mississippi River on the rise

The muddy Mississippi River is beginning to stir up some issues for boaters, river enthusiasts, barge traffic, and many others over the past couple of days, including those who live and play near it's tributaries. If you live or work downtown, cross one of the bridges, or have traveled over the Wolf or Loosahatchie Rivers, you may have noticed higher water levels this week.  And the river and streams are not done rising!

A Flood Advisory has been issued for the Mississippi River at Memphis due to recent heavy rain upstream (north) from Memphis, as well as winter snow melting upstream and flowing into the Mississippi or it's feeder rivers.  This morning's river stage at Memphis was 25.4 feet (above an arbitrary level chosen as "zero").  The river is forecast to rise above the "action stage" of 28.0 feet Friday afternoon, then reach 32.0 feet by a week from tomorrow.  Flood stage is 34.0 feet and it's not out of the question that the river could go above flood stage sometime later in March.

At 28.0 feet, flooding is occurring in isolated lowlands along the river, and at 32.0 feet flooding in occurring over unprotected farmland along the river, mainly on the Arkansas side.You will also notice that tributaries like the Wolf and Loosahatchie Rivers may begin to overflow their banks into susceptible lowlands.  The graph below shows the forecast for the Mississippi River at Memphis (click for larger view), followed by the percentage of normal rainfall over the past 14 days.  Notice in particular the 200-300% of normal rainfall seen over the Ohio Valley!  It's no wonder the river is rising!

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