Mississippi River Commission Members Update – January 9, 2016

The Mississippi River Commission total system brief for today (January 9, 2016) is attached. 

The Bonnet Carre’ Spillway will be operated tomorrow morning (Sunday, January 10, 2016) with a limited number of bays set to be opened beginning at 1000 hours.  

Please note the full details in the attached Brief and the notes below, the areas in bold (emphasis applied) would be of particular interest to Lower Mississippi River operations.

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The MR&T system continues to perform as designed as it safely conveys floodwaters further downstream.  Our partners from levee districts throughout the valley continue to ride the levees all day, every day, looking for underseepage, slides and weak spots.


-The river is expected to crest at Arkansas City on Tuesday, Jan 12 and at Greenville on Wednesday, Jan 13 at stages roughly 7-8 ft lower than the 2011 flood peak gauge readings.  I have spoken with engineers from the Mississippi Levee Board and the Yazoo-Mississippi Levee Board and they do not anticipate major problems in conveying the flood on the main stem, though they indicate a need for vigilance. 

-Our friends along the Fifth LA Levee District expect to see crests on the Vicksburg and Natchez gauges next weekend.  Reynold Minsky flew his levees earlier this week and was impressed by the conditions they are in.  He anticipates no problems during this current flood fight and extended the invitation for MG Wehr to visit the levees.

-Down in the lower Atchafalaya Basin, flood fighters in Morgan City are busily prepping for a potential major flood fight.  Current projections indicate a crest of 8.5 ft on the Morgan City gauge without operation of the Morganza Spillway.  This is the threshold height for major flood fighting operations in Morgan City and the sinking of the barge at Bayou Chene by the St. Mary Levee District.  Barge sinking operations could commence on Jan 12 or Jan 13, depending on the outcome of the potential Morganza floodway operation. As part of the backwater flooding protection in Bayou Chene, the LA National Guard has already begun installing HESCO baskets on Avoca Island.  

-No decision has been made regarding the potential opening of the Morganza Spillway operation because forecasted discharges and stages are hovering around the trigger points for activation though absent a rising hydrograph. If activation were to become necessary, it still looks as though Jan 13 would be the earliest date under current forecasted conditions.

-A freeboard assessment of the Mississippi River levees along the Baton Rouge to New Orleans corridor  that takes into account the current forecast without Morganza operation is positive.  All but 6000 ft of the levees and structures will have 3 ft or more freeboard.  There are 9 segments of Mississippi River flood protection within the New Orleans District boundary (total 1.1 miles) that have less than 3 ft of freeboard against the predicted crest.  Under current forecasted conditions,  engineers do not anticipate needing to flood-fight the deficient areas.  

– On Monday, the tail water should be sufficient to open the overbank structure at the Old River Control Complex in a staggered panel configuration, marking the first time since 1984 that the overbank structure has been opened to full capacity of 100k cfs.

-The Bonnet Carré spillway will open tomorrow following a news conference on the structure at 10:00 am.


Best regards,

Charles A. Camillo

Executive Director

Mississippi River Commission



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