- With Tropical Storm Barry expected to make landfall Friday night, the Mississippi River is forecast to spike at 19 feet above sea level Saturday around 1 p.m.
- The river hasn’t been that high since February 1950, when it rose to nearly 20 feet during normal spring flooding.
- The Army Corps of Engineers said the levees should protect New Orleans, since they are designed to defend against flood waters of 20-25 feet above sea level.
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The Mississippi River is expected to reach historic highs once Tropical Storm Barry makes landfall, but the Army Corps of Engineers is confident that New Orleans will be protected by its levees.
According to the most recent predictions from the National Weather Service, the Mississippi River will spike at 19 feet above sea level at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
That level hasn’t been reached since February 1950, when the river reached nearly 20 feet during normal spring flooding, according to 4WWL.
That causes concerns for the city, which took years to recover after levees failed during 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.
The river is currently almost 16 feet above sea level on Friday morning, thanks to record flooding in the Midwest, CNN reported. For context, the river is usually only between 6-8 feet above sea level in mid-summer in New Orleans.
As Tropical Storm Barry makes landfall early Saturday morning, it’s expected to compound the issue by causing a storm surge of 2-3 feet.
But the Army Corps of Engineers said that New Orleans should be safe, since the levees are designed to keep floodwaters between 20-25 feet above sea level at bay.
“We’ll be working with the local officials in the levee districts as well as our engineering and modelling team to evaluate the system, what will occur with a 20-foot elevation in the river and if there’s any actions need to be taken to prevent that water from going over the levee,” Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Ricky Boyette told 4WWL.
But even with the levee system, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell warned that there would still be flooding, the AP reported.
“We cannot pump our way out of the water levels … that are expected to hit the city of New Orleans,” she said.