NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The Latest on flooding in the Midwest and South (all times local):
Officials are days away from re-closing a floodgate in Mississippi, with predictions issued Friday that a flood inside a region walled off by levees will set a new record.
The lingering flood makes it unlikely that farmers will plant any summer crops on hundreds of thousands of acres in the south end of Mississippi’s Delta region.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened a floodgate north of Vicksburg on April 1 after six weeks of closure. Floodwaters fell for a time, but began to rise again because of heavy rainfall. Now a rising Mississippi River means the gate will have to be closed again to prevent even worse flooding inside the walled-off basin.
The Corps now predicts a crest higher than the peak earlier this year. That was the worst flooding since 1973.
Iowa has reopened a flooded stretch of the Iowa Highway 2 approach to a Missouri River bridge that links southwest Iowa to southeast Nebraska.
The Iowa Transportation Department says concrete barriers have been placed along the edges and permeable aggregate has been atop the roadway, followed by a fabric barrier and then covered with road rock. The department’s Scott Suhr says the idea is that water will percolate through the aggregate and allow traffic to pass over.
Suhr said Friday that pilot cars will be used on the single lane available to light, local traffic. Motorists should expect delays and slow speeds.
The National Weather Service says millions of people across the Deep South could be affected by severe weather over the weekend.
The Storm Prediction Center says there’s a marginal risk of severe storms from eastern Texas to South Carolina and western North Carolina. About 38 million people live in the region.
Forecasters say wind damage and hail are most likely on Saturday. The at-risk area includes nearly all of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
The possibility of severe weather continues on Sunday, when there’s a better chance of storms across central Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Strong storms on Thursday drenched Mississippi and left scattered damage including downed trees in north Alabama. Forecasters confirmed a weak tornado along the Alabama-Tennessee state line.
The Army Corps of Engineers says torrential rains are bringing a rapid rise on the Mississippi River, so they’re opening a major Louisiana spillway four days earlier than expected.
A news release says the Mississippi River rose 6 inches in the past 24 hours, and more rain is expected through the weekend.
The Bonnet CarrÃ© (BAH-nee KEHR-ee) Spillway gets opened to relieve stress on New Orleans levees.
Corps spokesman Matt Roe says the spillway could be opened as early as 1 p.m. Friday. He says the work will require a break in the storms, expected in the afternoon.
The spillway is opened by using a crane to pull up huge timbers called needles.
Friday’s opening will mark the first time it has been used twice in one year.
A stretch of the Kansas Turnpike has reopened near the Oklahoma border after a flooding creek inundated the roadway.
The Kansas Turnpike Authorities said in a tweet Thursday night that, “The first 24 hours belonged to Mother Nature; the second 24 hours belonged to us.” The tweet included a video of the flooding and crews working to repair the toll road, which had been closed south of the exit in Wellington.
The area flooded Wednesday when up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain fell across parts of the state in just 24 hours. Flooding also forced evacuations and school closures. Wellington is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Wichita.
The Missouri River is causing new problems in a flood-battered part of northwest Missouri where levees were busted in March.
The rain-swollen waterway has again inundated the tiny village of Big Lake in Holt County, where some residents were beginning to clean up after the last deluge.
Holt County emergency management director Tom Bullock said Friday that water levels haven’t dropped enough to fix the earthen levees that protect the area after the last round of flooding. That means even moderately high river levels can cause problems. He calls it “a continuous mess.”
Several roads are closed again, including U.S. 59, a key transportation artery between northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri.
In eastern Missouri, water levels are falling along the Mississippi River after some levees were busted.