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The Mississippi River at Natchez is expected to crest at 55 feet on Saturday before beginning a fall, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters project that the river will drop to 49 feet, one foot above flood stage, by March 9, according to current conditions.

Jason Trichell, Director of Operations for the Fifth District Levee Board, said Wednesday that the levee system is in good shape.

“We’re hoping the 28-day forecast is correct,” he said. “Right now the predictions show that by the middle of March the Mississippi at Natchez could be down to 42 or 43 feet.”

He said that does not account for any possible major rain events.

Tensas Basin Levee Board Executive Director John Stringer, observing forecasts for the Mississippi and interior rivers on Tuesday morning, said the next few days of dry weather should help dry out the ground before rain returns early next week.

“They project everything into their models, including rainfall and snow melt, when the forecasts are made,” Stringer said. “Of course, one rain event can change everything.”

Early projections call for rainfall of up to an inch and a half.

He said a dryer trend this week would particularly benefit the many farmers whose fields are still covered by backwater in northeastern Louisiana.

“But it will be quite some time before they will have any relief,” he said.

Stringer said the Black River at Jonesville stood at 49.8 feet on Tuesday, a fraction below flood stage of 50 feet.

The Ouachita River in Monroe stood at 41.58 feet and is continuing to rise. Flood stage is 40 feet.

“We’re pumping water out but there are no major issues right now,” he said.

At Columbia, the Ouachita was at 63.92 feet on Tuesday.

“They’ll reach flood stage of 65 feet in the next couple of days,” Stringer said.

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