Heavy rains inundate Pearl River County

Published 1:55 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Emergency management officials were watching creeks, streams and the Pearl River closely for the possibility of flooding as unexpectedly heavy rains hit the Picayune and Pearl River County region this week.

It’s not only this week. Records at the Poplarville Experiment Station reveal that this December has been one of the wettest on record, if not the wettest.

The National Weather Service said that moderate flooding is expected along the Pearl River near Bogalusa, La., west of Poplarville. The river is expected to reach 21 feet. Flood stage is 18 at Bogalusa where the river was at 20.7 feet a 1 p.m. The river also is above flood stage, 14 feet, at Pearl River where it measured 15.5 feet and was continuing to rise. Hobolochitto Creek also was out of its banks at the McNeill and Caesar gauges. The flood stage at both locations is 15 feet and the creek was at 17.7 feet at McNeill and rising and at 15.3 feet at Caesar and rising.

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The service said that the Bogue Chitto Wildlife National Wildlife Refuge will be inundated including recreational camps nearby. Also woodlands and low-lying crop fields will also be flooded some. Deer hunting is banned in the refuge in both Mississippi and Louisiana and at Old River Wildlife Management Area in Mississippi when the river rises above flood stage.

According to reports at Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station, as of Tuesday, the amount of rain that has fallen, halfway through December, has already exceeded the 30-year average for the whole month.

As of Tuesday at 7 a.m. 11.08 inches of rain had fallen in December, putting it way over the December 30-year average of 4.79 inches. The rain gauge at the Picayune Item has measured 14.05 inches so far this month.

Put another way, rainfall by Dec. 15 was running 57 percent above the official 30-year average for the same month.

The December heavy rains are also expected to put the yearly average for 2009 over the 30-year annual average.

At the end of November the 2009 rainfall was running 0.93 inches below the 30-year annual average. December rains would put it way over that shortfall.

On Tuesday 1.88 inches and Sunday 1.96 inches of rain were recorded, according to records at the McNeill office of the experiment station. The station takes its readings each day at 7 a.m.

On Dec. 2, the station recorded 2.76 inches of rainfall and on Dec. 8, 2.02 inches. That’s two days in the same month of more than 2 inches of rain.

In other words, in only two days the monthly averaged was reached.

Emergency Management Director Danny Manley said that emergency personnel were keeping a watchful eye on area streams but as of noon Tuesday, though the creek is out of its banks, there had been no reports received of flooding in the county that affected people.

He said the National Weather Service had issued a possible flood warning for McNeill, but he had not, as of noon Tuesday, received any reports from that area concerning flooding.

On Monday, county road manager Mike Mitchell told supervisors that heavy December rains were wreaking havoc on county roads, washing out potholes and said that supervisors should expect a higher volume of calls from constituents complaining about road conditions.

He said the heavy rains not only wash out new holes and holes that have already been filled, but also prevent work crews from getting onto the roads to repair them. He said crews are behind schedule.

He said that supervisors should expect some overtime as county road crews work to catch up.

He told supervisors that there are products that help strengthen pothole repairs but added that it was extremely expensive.

Rainfall recorded at the experiment station through Dec. 15 on Dec. 1, 0.43; Dec. 2, 2.76; Dec. 5, 0.1; Dec. 7, 0.51; Dec. 8, 2.02; Dec. 9, 0.33; Dec. 12, 1.09; Dec. 13, 1.96; Dec. 15, 1.88.

Pearl River County has been hit by heavy fog this week, which is caused by a matching dew point and temperature.

Pearl River County remained under a “flash flood watch” issued by the National Weather Service as of Tuesday.