In 2013 and '14, high water required that the city of Hannibal's flood gates be in on the Fourth of July. After the rising river forced all five flood gates to be set last Thursday it looked like the streak might be extended to three.

In 2013 and ’14, high water required that the city of Hannibal’s flood gates be in on the Fourth of July. After the rising river forced all five flood gates to be set last Thursday it looked like the streak might be extended to three.

John Hark, Hannibal’s emergency management director, is quick to acknowledge that the July 4 flood gate string is one he would just as soon not continue. Consequently, he is leaving the door open that some, or all, of the gates will be removed by the upcoming holiday weekend.

“Basically my criteria says if it’s 18 feet or thereabouts, and it’s showing a steady decline, the gates come out. To be honest with you if it’s satisfactory with my leadership above me, if at all possible, even if we’re a shade bit high, if I can pull them before the Fourth (of July) I will,” he said.

Barring additional heavy rain to the north, the National Weather Service is forecasting the river in Hannibal will fall below 18 feet on Friday evening, July 3.

At this point the Mississippi River is behaving.

“It looks to me like the river has crested and is slowly at this point starting to ease down,” said Hark. “From all the reports I’ve gotten so far I’m comfortable that we’re in better shape right now than we’ve been in for a while.”

Since cresting on Sunday morning the river has dropped 2.5 feet in Hannibal. When the river level slipped below 22 feet, which happened late Monday night, it no longer was categorized as a moderate flood. As of 2:15 p.m. Tuesday the river level was 20.93 feet.

The most recent river crest was 23.67 feet, which occurred at 11:45 a.m. on Sunday, June 28. That level put the 2015 flood at No. 12 all-time, slipping between the 23.90 crest of April 5, 1983, and the 23.59 peak reached on June 17, 2011. Hannibal’s No.1 crest in recorded history remains 31.80 feet achieved on July 15, 1993.

The flood gates were set in Hannibal last week following a flood crest forecast of 21.7 feet. A crest prediction of 20.5 feet or more requires the gates on Hill and Center streets be set. The remaining three gates — two on Broadway and one on South Main — are placed when the crest is forecast at 21.5 or more.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com .