Metro-East News

Storms challenge rainfall record, push Mississippi near major flood stage

Overnight storms have pushed the St. Louis area to the brink of its all-time record for rain in the month of June.

National Weather Service meteorologist Melissa Byrd said 12.08 inches of rain had fallen in June at Lambert International Airport as of 10 a.m. Monday. That’s the closest spot to the metro-east where official monthly rainfall records are kept.

According to National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration records, the all-time high amount of rain for the month of June is 12.35 inches, which fell in 1874. The area has already surpassed the number two total on the list, 10.84 inches which fell in 1875.

The latest round of rain is expected to further push already swelled local rivers beyond their banks.

The Mississippi River was at 36.94 feet Sunday at the St. Louis riverfront, which is nearly two feet into moderate flood stage. It dropped slightly to 36.18 feet during a mostly dry week. But the rain received Thursday night and Friday is expected to push the Mississippi to 38.8 feet at St. Louis by Monday.

Major flood stage is 40 feet. The river has only reached that depth at the St. Louis riverfront nine times since 1875, according to the weather service. The most recent time it cracked 40 feet was June 4, 2003.

Whenever enough rain falls to cause flooding, St. Clair County Health Department director of environmental program Jennifer Meyer said, mosquitoes are sure to follow.

“About two weeks after a flood event is when we start to see an increase in the number of mosquitoes,” Meyer said. “But the good news is that they’re very different from the mosquitoes that we see the rest of the time.”

While they’ll still bite and cause itchy bumps on their victims, the flood mosquitoes usually are free of infection from the West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne diseases, according to Meyer.

Last month the health department sent out a warning to residents of St. Clair County that West Nile had arrived in the area.

According to the Center for Disease Control, most people who are infected with West Nile show no symptoms. But about 20 percent develop a fever and about 1 percent suffer a serious, neurological illness that can sometimes be fatal.

According to the CDC, West Nile can be prevented by using insect repellant consistently. Meyer said the health department is calling on local communities to spray larvaecide where there is standing water because that is where mosquitoes breed.

Another problem with the massive amounts of rain the area has received this month is the appearance of a grass fungus that is destroying lawns across the metro-east.

Sandy Richter, owner of Sandy’s Back Porch Garden Center in Belleville, said in a newsletter sent to her customers that wet weather and high temperatures caused the fungus to activate. It’s causing lawns across the area to go brown, because the fungus is eating the roots of grass.

Richter said fungicide is available at lawn and garden centers.

“If the fungus goes untreated, it will kill the grass,” Richter wrote. “It is much costlier to plant new grass than to spray a fungicide now.”

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at swuerz@bnd.com or 618-239-2626. Follow him on Twitter: @scottwuerzBND.

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