Last year’s Mississippi high river season broke all prior records – 23 weeks above 15 feet on the Carrollton Gauge and more than 10 weeks over 16.5 feet. This coincided with a similarly record-breaking early commencement of the hurricane season.
So far, this year’s high river season has not seen the same prolonged periods in extreme high river and flood stage. On December 8 2019, the river height at Baton Rouge was almost 27 feet and rising. Flood stage is 35 feet. The corresponding river current recorded at Baton Rouge was between 3 and 3.5 knots. For comparison, the river height and current at New Orleans (Carrollton Gauge) was about 9 feet with a current of around 1.5 to 2 knots at First Street Wharf.
Challenges for vessels
For larger and deeper draft/loaded vessels, this can create holding issues and/or associated deck machinery problems. If a vessel loses an anchor, this must be reported to the US Coast Guard, a COTP (Captain of the Port) order should follow and will likely require 'tug(s) of adequate horsepower standing by alongside until this deficiency is corrected, unless the vessel is made fast to a pier'.
On 2nd December 2019, “Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) Vol XIX Issue 091 and 091a - CARROLLTON GAUGE AT 8 FEET AND RISING” was issued, which states that 'all deep draft vessels must have three means to hold position. An example would be two fully operational anchors and the propulsion system. Should a vessel lose an anchor or suffer a propulsion casualty, and the vessel does not have redundant capabilities available, such as aft anchors or two main engines, then a third means of holding position could be via tug assist'. It continues:
Daylight restriction also went into effect on 24th February, implemented by NOBRA. It put the following High Water Restrictions into place: “Mile 170.0 AHP to Mile 232.2 AHP, all vessels shall be daylight only”. This daylight-only restriction, NOBRA went on to say, will remain in place until the Baton Rouge gauge has a reading of 40 feet and falling and the Carrollton Gauge reads 16 feet and falling.
The Lower Mississippi River Forecast Centre (LMRFC) highlighted in its bulletin of February 28 (see below) that:
A subsequent River Summary published on Monday March 2 by the National Weather Service forecasts that the Lower Mississippi will crest at New Orleans with near flood stage (16.9 feet) tomorrow, Wednesday March 4: https://forecast.weather.gov/product.php?site=NWS&issuedby=ORN&product=RVA&format=txt&version=1&glossary=0
Looking ahead, the National Weather Service (NWS), has published its longer-term forecast Spring Flood Outlook #2, updated on February 28: https://www.weather.gov/dvn/2020_springfloodoutlook This update highlights the following key points:
Norwegian Hull Club will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as appropriate.
3. Mar. 2020