Publication Date February 17, 2020

'A long weekend for Mississippi.' The flooding Pearl River has crested. Here's what's next.

United States

Climate Signals Summary: Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events, and these events increase the risk of flooding. 

Article Excerpt: The Pearl River crested Monday at a lower level than experts had initially expected, marking the beginning of the end to a days-long flood that has directly impacted thousands of residents in the Jackson area.

Hundreds of homes — possibly 1,000 or more — were flooded, but it appears the worst never came.


"After days of rising flood waters we do have some positive news to report this morning," Reeves said. "Just like yesterday when we had relatively good news, this morning we have even better news."

Still, the Pearl River swelled to about 36.8 feet Monday, according to the National Weather Service, and some areas, such as parts of northeast Jackson, saw even higher levels.

It was the third-highest crest on record, behind only 1979 and 1983.


Heavy rain and storms are expected to dump more water on saturated ground in central Mississippi this week, which could lead to flash floods.

It will be days and weeks before the full extent of damage is known.


Based on conversations with local authorities and officials at the Ross Barnett Reservoir, there was significant flooding in parts of northeast Jackson that could have reached as high as 38 feet, Fenner said.

That was because water from the Pearl River "bottlenecked" in areas north of Lakeland Drive, Fenner said, and it traveled more slowly downstream than expected.

In his press briefing, Reeves thanked the state employees and local officials who worked during the flooding. He also thanked Mississippians for heeding warnings and staying safe.