Friday, January 1, 2016
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Coast Guard on Thursday issued a high-water safety advisory for a section of the lower Mississippi River and is asking the general public to stay off the fast-moving, rising waters swollen from heavy rainfall in the Midwest.
Rivers and streams in the Midwest have been pushed to heights not seen in nearly a quarter-century after more than 10 inches of rain fell this week in a wide swath from central Illinois through southwest Missouri.
Thursday's advisory by Capt. Timothy Wendt extends from the Caruthersville, Missouri, area to Natchez.
It says the general public should stay off the river because of high flows and significant debris in the water.
The advisory is expected to remain in effect for several weeks.
Officials in Louisiana and Mississippi have been watching the rising waters of the Mississippi and the Red rivers closely to see what effect the deluge will have in the two states.
The Mississippi River in Tunica is expected to crest on Jan. 10 at 52 feet, said Daniel Lamb, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson. That would be below the record high of 58.45 feet seen during the 2011 floods. The river will crest in Vicksburg on Jan. 16, Natchez on Jan. 18 and Baton Rouge on Jan. 19. In New Orleans, where the river's height is affected by spillways, the river will crest at 17 feet on Jan. 9.
Both Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Wednesday declared states of emergency ahead of the expected January flooding.
In northwest Louisiana, the Red River was expected to crest at 31.5 feet late Friday night or early Saturday morning, said Cynthia Palmer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Shreveport.
At that level there would be some flooding of roads, parks and farm land, said Robert Jump, from the Caddo parish's emergency preparedness office. But he said the impact would be minimal and authorities do not anticipate flood waters getting into any homes or businesses.
The parish has reached out to farmers in areas where flooding might be a problem and asked them to move animals to drier areas, he said.