Deep thoughts

This is a great visual for how deep the Mississippi has been running since January. What you’re looking at is the Port Allen lock, located just south of the I-10 Mississppi River Bridge on the west bank of the Mississippi River.

That dark line approximates the water height on the Mississippi since January. For those who have never seen a lock and don’t know how it works, here’s a simple explanation:


The dark line is from the lock being filled to the river level shortly before I took the pictures. How high is it? Well, the stream gage on the lock side is at about 4 feet above sea level (the water depth should be around 10 to 12 feet).

The water elevation on the river side is about 40 feet. That means the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge is running about 35 feet higher than normal.


It’s hard to imagine how much water is flowing through Baton Rouge right now. The river is flowing at 1.28 million cubic feet per second. One cubic foot of water is roughly 7.48 gallons. That translates up to 9,575,065 gallons of water flowing past the stream gage every second.

That’s enough to fill 14.5 olympic-sized swimming pools every second.

Normally, the water level is around 4 feet elevation at the lock. Don’t get confused - the river is still around 50 feet deep in the middle of the channel. Under normal conditions, it’s flowing around 600k cubic feet per second, or roughly half what it’s flowing right now.


I’ve lived in Baton Rouge for nearly 12 years now. I still have a hard time grasping how much water is flowing down that river. It’s amazing.

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