Heavy rain drenches Missouri, Kansas

Saturday, September 13, 2008 | 5:39 p.m. CDT

KANSAS CITY - Steady heavy rain was causing widespread flooding of roads and low-lying areas across Missouri and Kansas on Saturday, while at least one death is being attributed to floodwaters in Kansas.

Meteorologists said rainfall from 2 to 9 inches fell across much of the two states in a short period of time, spawning a few tornadoes in eastern Kansas and western Missouri that caused only minor damage.

Most of the flooding occured as small creeks and streams overran their banks, causing water to cross rural roads and fill farm fields, especially in the Kirksville area in northeast Missouri.

"I can't even count the number of road closures in that area," said meteorologist Mark O'Malley at the Pleasant Hill office of the National Weather Service. "There is a lot of standing water right now. I haven't heard of any larger cities significantly impacted by high water. It's mostly rural areas, gravel roads and farmsteads."

The weather service and law enforcement agencies were urging motorists to avoid driving through high water on roads and highways. In Wichita, Kan., a 65-year-old man was found dead in a flooded area after driving his sport utility vehicle into high water.

A Sedgwick County sheriff's spokesman said the man got out of his Chevrolet Blazer and was found on the road at about 8:45 a.m. Saturday.

Mark O'Malley, a meteorologist at the weather service office in Pleasant Hill, said tropical storm Lowell brought in moisture from the Pacific Ocean that mixed with moisture coming up from the Gulf of Mexico. The heaviest rain was along a line from Wichita, Kan., through southeast Iowa.

O'Malley said much of Missouri will see drier conditions starting Sunday, though the lower part of the state could get large amounts of rainfall as remnants of Hurricane Ike make their way through Arkansas and into southwest Missouri.

"That could dump upwards of 3 to 6 inches from Joplin through St. Louis," he said. "Kansas City will be on the northern edge and might receive only a tenth to a quarter inch out of it."


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