Mississippi flood outlook predicts near normal risk

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By Shelia Tomkins

With melting snow and the arrival of spring, Guttenberg residents have learned to keep an eye on river levels as the traditional spring crest on the Mississippi River approaches.

The latest forecast from the National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts the risk of Mississippi River spring flooding at near-normal for the Guttenberg area.

The flood risk for local tributary rivers in this area is near to slightly below normal.

Each spring, the NWS releases periodic assessments on the chances of flooding caused by snow melt. The outlook takes into account such factors as autumn river levels, soil moisture saturation, and the amount of snowpack in areas to the north that drain into the Mississippi.

The NWS notes that there has been near to below normal soil moisture and winter precipitation, along with a lack of widespread or deep snowpack, with the exception of the upper reaches of the Mississippi River basin. "The headwaters of the Mississippi have a robust snowpack, but there is also plenty of room to intercept runoff due to the recent drought," according to NWS.

An unknown factor — the amount of spring rainfall — could skew the current outlook and result in higher river levels if rainfall is higher than expected. 

The Mississippi River depth at Guttenberg began trending higher early last week, and the weekly outlook shows a slowly rising river, predicted on Sunday to crest at 11.1 feet on Wednesday, March 30. In Guttenberg, flood stage is 15 feet and major flood stage is 21 feet. The historic flood crest here was 23.65 feet in 1965.

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