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Lower Mississippi River to fall below flood stage after 7 months

By
Alex Sosnowski, Accuweather.com
Historic flooding during the spring and summer began last fall when widespread heavy rain fell from northern Louisiana through the Ohio and Tennessee valleys. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Historic flooding during the spring and summer began last fall when widespread heavy rain fell from northern Louisiana through the Ohio and Tennessee valleys. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

July 29 -- The lower Mississippi River in the south-central United States is forecast in the coming days to fall below flood stage -- ending a nearly seven-month ordeal.

AccuWeather meteorologists say while the tropics remain a wild card, a lack of widespread heavy rain over the central United States should allow the Mississippi River to continue settle or generally remain below flood stage for the balance of the summer and the early autumn.

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A few showers and thunderstorms are forecast to focus over the Southeastern states into the first part of August, according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

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"We suspect there may be a tropical system that brews in the western part of the Atlantic during the first week of August, but it is unclear if that system will ever reach the U.S. or not," Pastelok said. "It's possible it takes a curved path just offshore."

That feature will spread drenching showers and thunderstorms westward across the eastern and northern Caribbean through the middle of this week.

Long-running flood to come to a close on the Mississippi

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There have been several periods of rising and receding waters on the Mississippi since flooding was set into motion late in 2018.

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The roots of the historic flooding during the spring and summer began last November when the first widespread heavy rain fell from northern Louisiana through the Ohio and Tennessee valleys.

"Rain that falls directly on the Mississippi Delta does little to contribute to non-storm surge flooding in that area," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews.

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Major Rivers

"It can be bone-dry in terms of rainfall in the delta, but flooding can still occur due to rainfall hundreds of miles away."

Ongoing rounds of heavy rain over much of the Mississippi Basin, as well as heavy snow, which then melted over the upper reaches kept the Mississippi River in the delta region at high levels during the winter, spring and the first part of the summer.

"There can still be complexes of thunderstorms that bring localized heavy rainfall and rises on some of the secondary rivers and their tributaries," Andrews said.

"But, we are entering a drier part of the year for much of the Ohio and Mississippi basins, when river levels tend to fall," he added. "The thunderstorm complexes are not widespread enough to aggravate the main stem rivers on a mass scale."

Record-shattering flood duration set at Baton Rouge

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Each day the Mississippi River remains above flood state at Baton Rouge, La., sets a new record.

At Baton Rouge, the Mississippi first rose above flood stage on Jan. 5, and has been above that level ever since. Flood stage at Baton Rouge is 35 feet.

Next week, the Mississippi River is forecast to drop below flood stage. By then, the river will have spent a record-shattering 210 days above flood stage. The prior record was 135 straight days during the Great Flood of 1927.

Except for a very brief time on April 17, the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge was at major flood stage from late February to the fourth week of July. Major flood stage is 40 feet or higher. This period of major flood is longer than the stretch at minor flood stage or greater from 1927 at Baton Rouge.

At Vicksburg, Miss., the river was expected to slip below flood stage Monday. At New Orleans, the Mississippi level has hovered in recent days near the 15-foot mark, a couple feet below flood stage. Slow recession of the river will continue into August.

Hurricane Barry this month caused water to back up and rise on some of the rivers in the Delta Region due to storm surge. Flooding occurred in some communities in southeastern Louisiana as a result of the prior rainfall upstream and the reverse flow of rivers created by Barry.

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Farther upstream, the Mississippi was below flood stage along much of Arkansas and Tennessee.

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