Mid-May crest forecast for Atchafalaya River here
MORGAN CITY, La. — While extreme high water is being seen along the upper Mississippi River and its tributaries, meteorologists are predicting an Atchafalaya River crest of 5.5 feet here in mid-May.
Gavin Phillips, meteorologist at the National Weather Service New Orleans/Baton Rouge Weather Forecast Office, said the crest is directly related to the water rise upriver in the Mississippi River.
While the crest is above the official flood level of 4 feet, the point at which the Atchafalaya River at Morgan City leaves its banks, it is not high enough to cause major problems on either side of the river.
Morgan City Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi said “at five feet, that’s when we address our lowest sills (openings in the flood wall) which are at 6 feet at Freret Street and by the railroad tracks.”
Sills in Morgan City are between 6 and 11 feet. Businesses on the unprotected side of the flood wall also will have been contacted by that time, he said.
The river level Monday was 4.44 feet, and showed no real gain through the first 10 days of May, Grizzaffi said.
Berwick Mayor Louis Ratcliff said “We still are OK. We don’t have to start closing any gates until it gets up to around seven (feet). Keep a watchful eye on the 30-day forecast from the U.S. Corps of Engineers.”
However, the Port Morgan City has issued a high water advisory for Berwick Bay once the river reaches five feet there, said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Jay Michalczak, director of Vessel Traffic Service and chief of Waterways Management for Marine Safety Unit Morgan City
“Thus far, we haven’t seen water levels rise to the extent they have further north, but we expect that to change in the next couple of weeks. With good planning and prudent decision making, we can work together to get through this year’s high-water season safely,” Michalczak said via news release.
According to a news release from the corps, the Mississippi Valley Division’s St. Paul, Rock Island, St. Louis, Memphis and Vicksburg districts “are working closely with state and local emergency responders to inspect, advise and assist communities with professional engineering expertise and flood-fight materials. The districts have supplied all of their staging areas with sandbags, pumps and poly to support the public with their flood-fight efforts.”
The division is now contending with record flooding along 240 miles of the Illinois River and extreme high water along 660 miles of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. High water also is expected to occur along the Red River in North Dakota and Minnesota, the news release said.
Additionally, eight locks are closed on the Upper Mississippi River due to extreme high water levels and two are closed on the Illinois. One lock is closed on the Kaskaskia River.
The Mississippi River drainage basin is the world’s third largest and has commercial and environmental impacts for 41 percent of the United States. It includes 1.25 million square miles, more than 250 tributaries, 31 states and two Canadian provinces. The basin also is home to the world’s largest inland waterway navigation system with more than 12,000 miles of commercially navigable channels.