The St. Louis region struggled with flooding Monday as weekend rains overflowed rivers and streams — and as forecasters called for more rain to begin Tuesday night, experts were unsure of what the means as far as flooding in the region.
National Weather Service forecasters are calling for showers midweek extending into Thursday, but the extended forecast calls for a clear and sunny weekend. The metro-east region saw 3 to 6 inches of rain from Friday to Sunday, while portions of southern Missouri saw six to 12 inches.
Mark Fuchs, a service hydrologist with the National Weather Service in St. Louis, said the organization is expecting rain in regions south of Hillsboro, IL; Troy, MO; and Jefferson City, MO Tuesday night into Wednesday.
“Essentially, south of that line we are expecting at least 2.5 inches of rain and potentially higher amounts,” Fuchs said. “That rain obviously is falling on already soaked soil. The potential for rapid runoff is high. I think we will see some pretty high potential for area flooding … In all likelihood, with the flooding that is already taking place, this will create a second round of flooding or prolong the overflowing waters.”
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Fuchs said the smaller streams will be the first ones to rise and flood again while rivers like the Meramec, Mississippi and Kaskaskia will experience prolonged flooding because of the forecasted rains.
This weekend’s flooding caused over 300 road closures in Missouri, as well as additional road closings in Illinois.
Continuing and added road closures were expected Tuesday in St. Louis, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation:
▪ I-44 between Rolla and Lebanon
▪ I-44 in St. Louis County will close overnight
▪ Route 141 at I-44 in St. Louis County
▪ Route 30/Gravois in St. Louis County at Meramec River will close overnight
▪ Route 21/Tesson Ferry in St. Louis County at Meramec River will close overnight
▪ Route 109 in Eureka in St. Louis County will close overnight
▪ Route 63 near Vienna, between Rolla and Jefferson City
▪ Route 50 at Mount Sterling in Gasconade County
“Most of the major routes are not expected to reopen until late in the week due to rising waters on the major rivers,” a release from MODOT stated. “Updates will be provided to the public as major routes continue to close.”
In Illinois, O’Fallon and Lebanon fire departments responded to a vehicle stranded in water Monday morning on Old Lebanon Troy Road despite a “road closed” sign, according to the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency. No one was injured.
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, a few roads were expected to remain closed in Southern Illinois on Tuesday:
▪ Illinois 100 from Illinois 3 to Illinois 16 in Grafton
▪ Illinois 155 from Laurent Road to Fish Lake Road in Prairie Du Rocher
▪ Illinois 3 from Water Street in Chester to Cora
Lebanon Community Unit School District No. 9 closed junior and highs schools because of flooding damage, but remained open that night for an art show.
While Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens issued a state of emergency in the state Saturday, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield on Monday to prepare state personnel and equipment for deployment if needed to help local emergency responders with flooding.
Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director James Joseph said his agency is preparing for rivers to swell in the coming days.
“While the heavy rainfall and flash flood risks have subsided, we’re now focusing on river flooding that will increase in several areas throughout the week,” Joseph said in a news release. “We have been in close contact with our county emergency management partners for the past several days in order to best support their needs.”
At 6:00 p.m. Monday, the Mississippi River at St. Louis was at 35.61 feet, according to the National Weather Service. Flood stage is 30 feet. The weather service predicts major flooding this week, including the Cuivre, Big, Bourbeuse, Gasconade, Meramec, Illinois and Kaskaskia rivers.
Here’s a list of flood levels at locations along the Mississippi River as of 6:00 p.m. Monday:
▪ Grafton: 25.9 feet. Flood stage is 18 feet. Moderate flooding is expected.
▪ Mel Price Lock and Dam in East Alton: 29.5 feet. Flood stage is 21 feet. Moderate flooding is expected.
▪ Chester: 36.29 feet. Flood stage is 27 feet. Major flooding expected.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released information Monday regarding the crest of Carlyle Lake — expected to happen Friday when the lake peaks at 451.5 feet, National Geodetic Vertical Datum. At 11 a.m. Monday, the lake measured 446.7 feet.
“Carlyle Lake Dam is operating as designed, helping reduce flood stages on the Lower Kaskaskia and Mississippi Rivers,” the release stated. “Due to the rising water level, some breakwaters and facilities will be overtopped and caution should be used when boating near these and other submerged structures.”
The release reminded boaters to used caution and watch for floating debris.
St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency Director Herb Simmons said there was no major flooding in the county Monday,, but he said the agency continues to monitor the situation.
“There’s been nothing real major, but we are waiting for the rivers to crest and we will see what happens after that,” Simmons said Monday evening.