The rainy season in Louisiana is here and it, coupled with run-off throughout the US, keeps creating historic flood stage levels for the Mississippi River as it reaches Baton Rouge. While the river is at its crest, experts predict it will take longer than normal for the levels to drop to where we are used to seeing it.
Most people seem concerned about the duration of high water. This year’s river flow has established a new record for the amount of time that the river has been running above flood stage for the Baton Rouge’s section. Levels this year have forced the Bonnet Carre Spillway to reopen for a record number of days. A variety of factors are taken into account to determine when to open the spillway including levees conditions, high water, river currents, effects on shipping, but the most important factor is when water starts to move through an area greater than 1.25 million cubic feet per second. This has been the second time that the spillway opens trying to keep the water level from rising .This is also the 13th time that the spillway has been opened since it was built 90 years ago, but this is also the first time that it has been opened back to back in flood seasons. In spite of the need for the Bonnet Carre to remain open for so long, officials with the US Army Corps of Engineers have not opened the Morganza Spillway further up river.
What are some things that high water can affect?
Shipping and industrial activities have been significantly affected. Low agricultural areas became inundated and their operations have been impacted. All this saturation also hurts farmers who ship their goods through South Louisiana ports. This persistent high water is bringing threat to economic and ecological ramification as well as to Louisiana’s seafood industry. Baton Rouge is protected by levees. But as you can see in the photos, those levees were dangerously close to being topped. Few roads and bridges have been damaged as well.
Major General Richard G. Kaiser, the commander from the Mississippi Valley Division and president of the Mississippi River Commission said that the river is so high in large part because it has been at least 124 years since the eastern half of the country has gotten this much of rain. Jeff Graschel, a hydrologist from the National Weather Service said that it was 1983 the last time when they saw the river having this level of flood.
The areas in the photos below are near LSU, downtown, and at Port Allen’s Waterfront Park.