Atchafalaya River reaches flood stage


MORGAN CITY — The Atchafalaya River here has been above flood stage since Wednesday night and is predicted to stay there for two more days.

River forecasters said this morning there is potential for spring floods, depending on whether our area experiences a wet or dry weather pattern in the coming months.

Gavin Phillips, a National Weather Service meteorologist, explained that some smaller rivers are trending higher than normal for this time of year, leaving him to believe the possibility for future flooding exists.

However, he said, it should be noted that the river stage at Morgan City can stay above four feet for months. Phillips said he believes the river’s average is “between the upper twos and the upper fours.”

He also noted that the National Weather Service has lobbied to have the river’s official flood stage level here raised to no avail.

At 4 feet, the river does not affect businesses or residents.

There is “no effect at 4.17 feet. Our wharves are still way above that. About a 7-foot stage is when it actually starts affecting businesses. At 4.17 we don’t even begin to worry about closing gates,” said Berwick Mayor Louis Ratcliff.

Morgan City’s 27 flood gates have sill elevations ranging from 6 feet to 18.28 feet, meaning the gates in the sea wall must be closed ahead of those elevations.

During the 2011 flood, the Atchafalaya River crested at 10.35 feet locally, the second highest ever recorded here and just shy of the 10.53 mark set in 1973.

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