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Mississippi River crests near record at Memphis


MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Reuters) - The Mississippi River was cresting at Memphis on Tuesday just inches below the all-time record as the swollen wall of water moved south toward the Gulf of Mexico.

The level of the largest river in North America may have reached its peak at 47.87 feet on Tuesday morning in Memphis, and it has dropped since then, according to Andy Sniezak, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

"The river is in the cresting phase, which is good news," said Steve Shular, spokesman for the Shelby County Office of Preparedness. "But we're still going to have problems for the next several days because the water is so high and it will keep the creeks and tributaries high as well."

Downstream, the U.S. government was preparing to open a second Louisiana spillway to ease the flooding threat to New Orleans and Baton Rouge. A spillway near New Orleans was opened on Monday for the first time since 2008.

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