Thursday, June 14, 2018

High Water: Vicksburg's March 2018 Crest

Just before the crest, March 12, 2018, Ford Road, Vicksburg, Mississippi
The high water of 2018 in Vicksburg was on March 16 at a level of 49.9 ft on the Vicksburg gauge (which is located at the old Mississippi River bridge, the one that carries US 80). What does 49.9 ft mean? As a comparison, the table below from the National Weather Service lists other high water crests:

Historic Crests
(1) 57.10 ft on 05/19/2011
(2) 56.20 ft on 05/04/1927
(3) 53.20 ft on 02/21/1937
(4) 52.80 ft on 06/06/1929
(5) 52.50 ft on 04/28/1922
(6) 51.60 ft on 05/13/1973
(7) 51.50 ft on 02/15/1916
(8) 51.00 ft on 04/20/2008
(9) 50.23 ft on 01/15/2016
(10) 50.20 ft on 04/16/1897

Low Water Records
(1) -7.00 ft on 02/03/1940
(2) -6.80 ft on 11/01/1939
(3) -5.80 ft on 01/06/1964

As you can see, the water level of the Mississippi River as well as the Yazoo Canal and Port of Vicksburg can range about 50 ft or 15 m in many years. This poses a challenge to construction of docks and loading facilities. At Vicksburg, the definition of "flood" is when the water reaches 43.0 ft on the gauge. 
Flood Categories (in feet)
Major Flood Stage:50
Moderate Flood Stage:46
Flood Stage:43
Action Stage:35
The low-lying land north of the Anderson-Tully Worldwide on North Washington Street has always been vulnerable to flooding. The wood facility has its own protective levee, but the Ford and Kings Subdivisions just to the north begin to flood at about 44 ft.  
Ford Road, Vicksburg, March 12, 2018
Ford Road, Vicksburg, March 12, 2018
I do not know the history of these neighborhoods. They are clearly vulnerable at high water. Why were houses ever built here? Over the past decade or more, many houses have been purchased and torn down via a FEMA-funded program for vulnerable properties. I wrote about Marys Alley in 2010 and 2016 (click the links to see pictures of the lost cottages). Those houses looked to be 1920s or 1930s vintage, suggesting the area was developed a century ago, probably at a time when there were no flood zone restrictions.
View north from Haining Road, Vicksburg
During high water, it is fun to bike along Haining Road because the flooded fields and woods to the north host water birds and snakes.
Young Alley, March 16, 2018.
Young Alley is just off  Ford Road, literally behind the wood plant. The cottages are high enough to clear of the flood water at 49 ft elevation. You can see water in the driveway.
Railroad Alley, Vicksburg, March 12, 2018.
Railroad Alley, March 16, 2018.
Railroad Alley parallels the railroad tracks, just a short distance north of Ford Road. Parts of it flood at 49 ft. I have photographed the property with the horses before, at a time when the poor animals had less dry land within their yard. I recall asking a fellow about snakes, and he said horses were the best snake-squashers around.
The railroad tracks, which run north to the International Paper mill in Redwood, are on a raised embankment. The embankment serves as a levee. To the west of the tracks (left in the photograph), the the land floods. East of the tracks, or right, the houses are mostly safe. I am not sure if culverts and stream crossings are plugged before a high water event.

The tracks are operated by WATCO, a short-line operator. From their web page: "The Vicksburg Southern Railroad (VSOR) began operations January 8, 2006. Watco Companies acquired the railroad from the Kansas City Southern in November through a lease agreement and was formerly known as the Redwood Branch. The VSOR consists of 24 miles of track and interchanges with the KCS at Vicksburg, Mississippi."

All photographs are from Kodak Panatomic-X film, taken with a Hasselblad 501CM camera with 50mm, 80mm, and 250mm lenses, all tripod-mounted. I scanned the negatives with a Minolta Scan Multi medium format scanner controlled by Silverfast Ai software.

No comments:

Post a Comment