Flooded Mississippi a threat as hurricane season heats up

The Mississippi River in downtown Baton Rouge in mid-March (Source: WAFB)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The river that drains much of the flood-soaked United States has been running far higher than normal this hurricane season, menacing New Orleans in multiple ways.

One continuing concern is the massive volume of water that for months has been pushing against levees protecting a city that's mostly below sea level.

The Mississippi River remains above average this week at more than 10 feet (3 meters), just as the hurricane season heats up. If a major hurricane strikes, weather experts say it could set up a nasty collision between surging ocean water and the swollen river.

Right before Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans from another direction, the river was more than six feet (1.8 meters) lower than it is today.