Mississippi River Flood Sets New Record

East-bound traffic travels on Interstate 40 by a flooded field near Hazen, Ark., Thursday, May 5, 2011. Eastbound lanes of In an aerial photo, Interstate 40 remains open while 23 miles of westbound lanes from Brinkley to Hazen are closed because of flooding from the rain-swollen White River Thursday, May 5, 2011. Arkansas State Highway Transportation Department spokesman Glenn Bolick said Thursday morning that westbound drivers are being diverted off I-40 at Brinkley for a 120 mile detour to get to Little Rock. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

Flooding along the Mississippi River has set a new water level record, according to the National Weather Service.

The river, which is not expected to reach its climax until May 21, was measured at 58.48 feet in Natchez, Mississippi on Wednesday, coming in just above the previous high of 58.04 feet recorded back in 1973.

"We're continuing to watch and wait and monitor the situation," Jim Pogue, a U.S. Army Corps spokesman, told Reuters. "Everything is performing as we had hoped."

The heavy flooding has been accredited to a large amount of melting snow from an unexpected and harsh winter. The spring weather hasn’t helped either, as excessive amounts of rainfall have only made the situation worse.

In addition to the evacuation of thousands of residents who live along the river, the flooding has also caused damage to millions of acres of farmland in Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee.

The U.S. Army Corps are also considering opening up the Morganza Spillway, a floodway located in Louisiana, in hopes of alleviating flooding threats for New Orleans and Baton Rouge. They estimate that water levels could reach as high as 25 feet in those areas if the floodway is not opened.

"The bottom line is we need to hope for the best and plan for the worst," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said. "The best thing we can do is be overprepared."

Areas along the Mississippi River are also expected to see thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow, which could dump as much as another inch of water into the already swollen river. 

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