Aerial view of Grafton, Illinois flooding
Just when you thought the rivers were receding, heavy rain forecast for this weekend could slow their descent.
The National Weather Service has forecast 1-3 inches of rain to fall from Friday to Monday over the already flooded areas of the St. Louis region. This will keep the Mississippi, Missouri and smaller rivers in flood stage longer, despite crests that were hit this past weekend.
The weather service said that water will fall in the lower areas of the Missouri River and over the Mississippi River and areas south of the confluence and will be paired with strong thunderstorms.
National Weather Service hydrologist Mark Fuchs said the descent of the river already is expected to be slow, but the forecast rain could play a part in slowing it down further. He said the bulk of the rainfall is expected to happen over the weekend.
As of Tuesday morning, the Mississippi at St. Louis had dropped to 45.2 feet, down from its 46.02 feet crest Saturday night. It was the second highest crest on record.
The Mississippi River at Alton fell to 38.1 feet and is expected to drop back to a moderate flood stage over the weekend, according to the weather service. In Grafton, the river is at 34.1 feet and is predicting it will return to moderate flood stage early next week.
However, the river forecasts only take the next 24 hours of precipitation into account.
Fuchs said more rainfall in the coming weeks could continue to slow down the river’s descent. He said there is the possibility of above average rainfall for the weeks and months to come.
“There are chances that above normal rainfall will continue for the next few weeks and probably throughout the summer,” Fuchs said. “That’s not what people want to hear and that’s not going to bring the river down but that’s the reality right now.”
May was already the second wettest month in the United States since January 1895, according to the National Center for Environmental Information.
Fuchs noted that the National Weather Service currently does not see a situation where the river could rise again, however. But he said its something that is monitored daily.
Meanwhile, as floodwaters slowly recede, agencies such as the St. Clair Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard continue monitoring levees and sandbagging areas that are still seeing seepage and sand boils.
All area levees remain off limits, and all area rivers have been closed to the public and restricted to most traffic. The Illinois Department of Transportation also has released a list of closed roads.
Local agencies are stressing that no one goes on the levees due to the extended period of saturation they have been under. As of Tuesday, almost every levee in the metro-east had floodwater on it for more than 90 days.