An aerial view of the Bonnet Carre Spillway

An aerial view of the Bonnet Carre Spillway
Missisippi River water rushes through the Bonnet Carre

(WVUE) - The power of the Mississippi River could be seen from the air Thursday, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operated its giant relief valve 30 miles upriver from New Orleans.

The Corps opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway for the fourth time in 10 calendar years.

Engineers planned to open eight of the spillway's 350 bays Thursday and dozens more in coming days depending on the river's flow. Even with that limited operation, river water rushing through the 5.7 miles between the river and Lake Pontchartrain created mini waterfalls in places.

On the lake itself, the first effects of the opening could be seen as blue hues from the Lake and greens from vegetation quickly mixed with the chocolate-colored river water.

The Mississippi has been pushing up against the spillway bays for a couple of weeks now.  Even in the bays that remain closed, water poured through gaps in the pins, large creosote timbers.

Ninety years ago, engineers designed those gaps to relieve pressure on the structure.

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