Miss. River expected to hit flood stage this week - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Miss. River expected to hit flood stage this week

(WMC-TV) - Have you been downtown recently? Water levels are pretty high. In fact, the Mississippi River is expected to hit flood stage this week at 34 feet. The river is still lower than the historic flood of 2011, but county crews are watching levels very closely.

"These rising waters are unpredictable," said Bob Nations, who is the director of the Shelby County Office of Preparedness. Two years ago, his team gave daily updates on the historic flooding on the Mississippi River.

"We have now, through our homeland security program, installed river gauges, a whole network of river gauges on our tributaries and that gives us 24/7 data," said Nations.

One of the big lessons learned from 2011 is the importance of water levels, not just Mississippi River but the feeders as well, specifically the Wolf River, Nonconnah creek, Loosahatchie River, and Big Creek.

Two years ago, the Mississippi River was so high, the flooding problems extended to several other bodies of water.

"The Mississippi had gotten to such a level that the tributaries couldn't dump. So we started getting that back water flooding," explained Nations.

This week, the Mississippi River is expected to crest at 34 feet, which is officially "flood stage" but it is still 14 feet below the 2011 height of 48 feet.

Nations says everything is running smoothly so far. The current flood stage is fairly typical this time of year and thanks to more gauges across all waterways, crews are more educated on the issue than ever before.

"We can build impact maps. We can build predictive maps. And we can get messages out to the public and take action much quicker," he added.

Nations does not expect 2013 to be a repeat of 2011. He says Memphis In May and all downtown activities and events should see no interruption. But just in case, his office is monitoring every major body of water and the rainfall so that they can be informed and in turn, inform us all.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV . All rights reserved.

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