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James River, ‘big drain’ for everything upstream, crests at 15.2 feet

RICHMOND, Va. -- A river flood warning continues for the James River in Richmond as well as Chesterfield, Henrico, Buckingham and Fluvanna counties.

“It’s a pretty impressive sight. The water flowing very rapidly," CBS 6 Chief Meteorologist Zach Daniel said from the banks of the James on Friday evening. "This is an area of flat water where you typically don’t have much stream velocity.”

Daniel said rain totals from Tropical Storm Michael were 5 to 8 inches in some places north and east as well as south and west of Richmond. Additionally, the Charlottesville area received about 3 to 5-plus inches, Daniel said.

“All that rain flows into the James River watershed,” Daniel pointed out. “Right now, it’s rushing down with all the drainage from all the rain that we had. You can see huge chunks of limbs, whole trees in some cases continue to flow down the river... It’s basically like a big drain for everything that happens up stream.”

The James River remains above flood stage and crested at 15.2 feet Saturday morning.

Flood stage is at 12 feet and the river was at just over 14 feet Saturday evening.

James River Levels

James River Levels

The river is not forecast to fall below flood stage until Sunday afternoon.

When water levels are at nine feet or above, no one is allowed on the James River without a high water permit.

Additionally,  when water levels reach five feet and above at the Westham gauge (on the river left just upstream of the Huguenot Bridge) everyone on the river is required to wear a lifejacket.

Emergency officials and river experts advised Richmonders to avoid the water  because of dangerous runoff and debris in the raging river.

Here's a look at the river Saturday evening:

And you can see the difference in the river in this stream from Friday afternoon:

Click here for the latest James River levels forecast from the National Weather Service.