(WMC) - A weather pattern with seemingly endless rain, which resulted in the wettest February on record in Memphis, took a break this weekend. The sunshine has been drying things out but underground water, swollen streams, and small rivers continue to filter into the Mississippi River. This is why it is still rising instead of falling.
Large, long rivers like the Mississippi don't flood quickly like small streams or rivers. It takes time for all the rain to collect into the tributaries and groundwater that eventually feeds into the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River Drainage Basin covers a large area (above graphic). In fact, the flooding or cresting of the Mississippi River is usually one to three weeks later, at any given location, because it takes so long for the water to arrive above and below ground from those areas. Spring snow melt upstream in the northern plains also causes the river to rise downstream from Minneapolis all the way to New Orleans. It then exits into the Gulf of Mexico as seen below.
As of 4 p.m. Saturday, the Mississippi River at Memphis was at 37.2 feet. It's just over 3 feet above flood stage, which is 34 feet. It is expected to crest on Friday March 9 at 39 feet (see river stage graphic below). It will slowly recede as we head into mid March unless we get more heavy rain events here in the Mid-South or heavy rain falls upstream.
We will continue monitor any changes and let you know. If you take any photos or video, feel free to share it on my social media pages at the links below.
WMC Action News 5 Meteorologist
First Alert Storm Tracking Team