Chances of Morganza Spillway opening are increasing

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is warning stakeholders along the Morganza Spillway that it could be forced to open some of the structure’s gates early next month because, based on current forecasts, the Mississippi River would overtop the spillway structure on June 5 and render it unsafe.

Just a week ago, Corps officials said those with interests along the spillway should keep going to church and praying, but that they then had “no intention” of opening the spillway.

That has changed.

The Mississippi has been above flood stage for four months and heavy rains have fallen recently in the Midwest. Now, “there’s a likelihood that we would have to open Morganza, but it depends on the rain,” Corps spokesman Ricky Boyett said Wednesday night. Corps officials plan to meet today to discuss updated forecasts. Based on current readings, the Corps would likely open the spillway June 2, Boyett said.

If the spillway opens, it would be only the third time since it was completed in 1954. The spillway was previously opened for 56 days in 1973 and 55 days in 2011.

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By Steve Hardy, The Advocate