When longtime Greenwood resident Tommy Gregory first noticed the Yazoo River flowing backwards Friday morning, he called his father to tell him all about it.
Gregory recalled his father's reaction. “Dad's 85. He said, ‘You must be crazy,'” Gregory said with a laugh.
If that's the case, it's catching. The Commonwealth received numerous calls about the Yazoo flowing backwards on Friday.
Wayland Hill, a civil engineering technician in the U.S. Army's Corps of Engineers Water Control Management Division in Vicksburg, said such a reversal of flow isn't uncommon given the Yazoo's low water level and Thursday's drenching rain that came courtesy of Hurricane Humberto.
“We've had some pretty good rains in the area. The Big Sand Creek, which is north of Greenwood, it got a big dose of rain n about 3 to 5 inches,” Hill said.
With the large influx of rain water runoff, the river's flow could be reversed - temporarily, he said.
The same situation existed at Pelucia Creek, located south of the city. The creek handles storm runoff from the Greenwood-Leflore Airport area.
Hill, who tracks trends with the aid of a series of satellite monitoring stations, said the airport received 5.31 inches of rain in less than 24 hours.
During the same time period, downtown Greenwood received 3.61 inches of rain.
William Carpenter, an office engineer with the Corps in Greenwood, said the Fort Pemberton flood control structure, which if opened could have caused a flow reversal, has been closed during the recent rains.
Henry McCabe, who has spent a good deal of time on the river, said the only time he's known of the river to actually reverse its flow was when the Fort Pemberton structure was open.
He said the river was flowing normally by Friday afternoon.
Since then, the Yalobusha River flow rate has steadily increased, and that likely caused the flow to resume its normal course, Hill said.
The Yalobusha and the Tallahatchie rivers converge and form the Yazoo River above Greenwood.
Carpenter said he was sorry he missed the river's reversal of direction since it happens so rarely.
“I would have liked to have seen that,” he said.