Predicting what the Mississippi River is going to do is not easy. No one knows that any better than long-time river-watcher John Hark, Hannibal’s emergency management director.
Approximately 24 hours after speculating that all five of Hannibal’s flood gates might be pulled Thursday, Hark on Wednesday did an about-face and said the gates at Hill, Center and Main streets, plus Broadway, would stay in place for the time being.
Hark had a change of heart after conferring with the National Weather Service and hearing its projected rainfall totals for the next five days and what that precipitation is expected to do to the Mississippi River in Hannibal.
The river is forecast to recede over the next 48 hours and then start rising again. The projected crest is 22.7 feet by 7 a.m. on Thursday, May 9.
While that won’t approach the 27.63 crest seen on April 21, it will represent a notable rise in the river, which in Hannibal stood at 19.7 feet at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
According to the National Weather Service, if the river continues to fall over the next 48 hours, it would stand at 18.5 feet at 7 p.m. Friday, May 3.
Hark says it just doesn’t make sense to pull any of the flood gates out at this point.
“If we took them out we’d have to put them back in the first of next week and I can’t justify that,” he said. “I’m not going to play yo-yo with these things.”
Hark says he won’t consider pulling the flood gates until the river has dropped to 18 feet.