Persistent heavy rains soaked the Mississippi River watershed in the first two months of 2020. The result was bulging rivers from Missouri to the Gulf of Mexico. Near-record flooding brought two weeks of misery to the states of Mississippi and Tennessee by March 1, 2020.
On Feb. 27, 2020, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the NOAA-NASA Suomi NPP satellite acquired an image showing high water along the lower Mississippi, Pearl, and Pascagoula rivers, among others. The second image shows more typical river conditions as they appeared on March 3, 2017. Both images use a combination of near-infrared and visible light to make it easier to see where rivers are out of their banks and spread across the floodplains.
On Feb. 17, the Pearl River near Jackson, Mississippi, crested at 36.8 feet (11.2 meters), the third highest level on record for the city and the highest since 1983. At least 1,000 homes in the area were inundated. The flood misery then spread downstream into Copiah, Marion, Hancock, and Lawrence counties. On Feb. 29, the Pearl River stood at 17.86 feet (5.44 meters) near the town of the same name; the water level had dropped from major to moderate flooding the previous day.