Melting Snow, Rainfall Raise Missouri Flood Likelihood

March 10, 2010

Higher-than-average stream flow into the Mississippi, Missouri and other rivers in the Midwest has led the National Weather Service to predict a strong chance of significant flooding this spring in eastern Missouri.

Melting snow in the upper Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois river basins, as well as more rainfall than normal over the next three months, are expected to worsen the flood threat, the National Weather Service said.

A Mar. 5 report by NWS hydrologist Mark Fuchs predicted a good chance for flooding in eastern Missouri over the next 90 days, with a likelihood of “significant flooding” from Quincy, Ill., to Winfield, Mo., worse than the major floods of the summer of 2008.

Storms in Iowa and Minnesota that year swelled the Mississippi River and its tributaries in eastern Missouri, threatening levees in Canton and Clarksville and flooding Foley and Winfield, north of St. Louis. More than 120 homes were damaged.

Fuchs said the stream flows are higher than usual because of above-average precipitation the last three months, melting snowpack and thawing ground releasing water into the rivers.

Last year was the fifth wettest on record in St. Louis with 51 inches of rain – a foot more than usual.

St. Louis’ and the state’s wettest year? It was 2008, with 57.96 inches.

State Climatologist Pat Guinan has said the last two years of wet weather in St. Louis and the rest of the state were unprecedented. Missouri’s average annual rainfall is 41 inches.

“The stage is set for significant flooding across the region,” Guinan said Monday.

This past October was the state’s second-wettest on record with 10 inches of precipitation, and the wettest October ever in St. Louis. It was followed by a wet, cold winter that locked the moisture into place. Missouri’s wettest season is March through May.

He said all rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs in the state are at capacity or running above normal.

“We’ve been enveloped in wetness since 2008,” Guinan said. “We haven’t dried down.”

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