Mississippi River more than 30 feet higher than past Januaries - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Mississippi River more than 30 feet higher than past Januaries

(Source: WAFB) (Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB) (Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB) (Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB) (Source: WAFB)

The Mississippi River started cresting Monday at 43.5 feet. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) keeps track of how high the Mississippi River gets. 

"This morning, the gauge was reading 43.5 feet and we're right at crest," said USGS Field Operations Chief Garron Ross. 

Along the levee on the Baton Rouge side, the words "Baton Rouge" can barely be seen with only the tops showing. At the "paperclip pier" as it's called, the ramp that people are usually able to go down is now halfway submerged. Going across the river to the Port Allen side, there is a lot of debris floating in the river and a sign submerged. 

Ross said usually around this time of the year, the river is between 10 to 15 feet. 

"The first week of October I think, we were at 10 feet water level. Now we're at 43 feet so that's 33 feet higher than the first week of October," said Ross. 

On Monday, USGS took readings from the river to see how deep it is. At its deepest point, the river was at 96 feet. USGS also looks for velocity readings, or how fast the river is moving downstream. They said currently, it is at about 10 to 12 feet per second. 

"That would be right at 10 million gallons every second going downstream," said Ross. "They calculated at that rate, it would fill up the Superdome in 90 seconds." 

Their information is then passed on to meteorologists who tell you when the river with crest and the Army Corps of Engineers who used the information to decide the Morganza Spillway was not needed and how many bays need to open at the Bonnet Carre Spillway. 

Because the flow rate is lower than first expected, the Morganza Spillway will not open like it had to in 2011. So far, 210 of the 350 gates on the Bonnet Carre Spillway have opened for what Ross said is an unusual timing for a swollen Mississippi River. 

"Normally, this happens in the spring, in the April to June time frame when we have snow melt and we have the spring thaw and the river rises. It's very unusual for us to have a million cubic feet per second in January ," said Ross. 

Proving Mother Nature has a mind of its own. 

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