ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The St. Louis area and points north escaped the worst of this spring’s flooding along the Mississippi River, which devastated towns from Memphis down to the Gulf Coast.
But now all eyes are turning to the north and west as a new threat continues to grow: “significant flooding” along the Missouri River.
That’s according to new information released by National Weather Service Hydrologist Mark Fuchs, who says the problem started hundreds of miles from here but is now stream-rolling downriver.
“All these lakes up in the Dakotas and Montana have been filling up all spring long, and now they’re filled up and they have no place else to put the water,” Fuchs tells KMOX News. “And there’s still run-off coming down out of the mountains.”
The normal method for dealing with an excess of rainfall and snow-melt up north is to release water stored in reservoirs, but Fuchs says that option is closing fast.
The additional storage capacity of nearly every reservoir has been completely used up, with releases from five of the six dams on the upper Missouri exceeding 100,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), higher than any of them have ever experienced.
Now much depends on rainfall both here and up-river, according to Fuchs.
He likens the current set of conditions to those that existed just prior to another, historic flood.
“The rain doesn’t have to be a 1993 rain to get 1993 results,” Fuchs warns. “That’s the basic message here.”
Figures show the Upper Missouri basin has received an entire year’s worth of rain in just the past month.
And Fuchs adds that the Mississippi River still factors into the potential for flooding along the Missouri.
Due to the combined high flow of both rivers anticipated later this month, it won’t take a lot of rainfall to generate what he describes as “historic” flood levels over the next few months.
Even with typical or “normal” rainfall across the area generating median inflows from the Missouri River tributaries this summer, Fuchs notes in his report, the water level could rise a minimum of three-to-four feet, and remain that way for many weeks.
Now it’s simply a waiting game, Fuchs says, to see how much rain falls between now and the end of June.
“We’re going to be walking on eggshells here for the next couple of months,” he concludes.
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