BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Mississippi River is predicted to reach a crest of about 30 feet by the month’s end, but that should not be cause for concern for residents in Baton Rouge. Here’s why.
As of Wednesday, September 12, the river was approaching its local crest in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. That crest will then reach Cairo, Illinois, where the upper Mississippi and Ohio rivers meet, in a couple of days. That crest is expected to last about five to seven days before water levels should drop significantly.
Picture it as a wave traveling downhill. That wave crest will reach Baton Rouge in a couple of weeks, however, a steady climb in river levels should begin locally in about two to three days.
However, even with rising river levels, at its peak, the forecast for the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge crests at less than 30 feet, with the worst case scenario (highly unlikely) at about 34 feet. Flood stage is 35 feet and the levees in Baton Rouge protect the city up to 45 feet.
Also, the crest will be short-lived, with river levels steadily falling starting about October 1.
All that said, these changes in levels are nothing out of the ordinary and should only truly affect operations on the river. Impacts to land are expected to be minimal. For instance, the forecast for levels in New Orleans brings the river to about 11 feet or higher for the last days of September. At 11 feet, all ground digging construction within 1,500 feet of the levees must be approved by the Corps of Engineers. That applies all the way up the river to Baton Rouge and beyond as well. However, these constraints should be lifted around the beginning of October.