Rising Mississippi River prompts Army Corps to begin monitoring the situation

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Mississippi River Carrollton gauge has risen to a little more than 11 feet prompting the Army Corps of Engineers to take proactive measures.

"During this phase, we are patrolling the levees twice a week, and we're working with the locals for any areas of concern that we should be aware of," says Civil Engineer Dana Ray.

The efforts will continue until the water levels drop below 11 feet at the Carrollton gauge.

Forecasters though are predicting it to rise a few more feet before it goes down.

"They are predicting about 16 feet at the Carrollton gauge on the Mississippi River, and that will trigger phase two of operations and they're seeing that rise in about three weeks," says Ray.

The latest National Weather Service forecast shows the river cresting March 18th at 16 feet and then begin falling two days later. Of course, that's a very fluid forecast and the numbers could easily be higher or lower.

Every spring the water levels rise in the Mississippi. This year, though, it's early.

"We annually see a spring flood. We just have to always remember that in New Orleans, we do drain 41 percent of the continental United States," says Ray.

The river levels will continue to trend upward because of a wetter than normal pattern in parts of the Ohio Valley. The Army Corps says it doesn't typically have to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway until the river rises to 17 feet, and that's not expected to happen.

"Right now, we do not see any predictions of opening up the spillway, however, our teams are trained and they are ready to go if operation will be necessary at the time," says Ray.

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