Heavy rain could worsen Missouri flooding

Thursday, April 30, 2009 | 4:30 p.m. CDT; updated 8:32 p.m. CDT, Thursday, April 30, 2009

ST. LOUIS — Heavy rain in parts of Missouri caused flooding Thursday along many of the state's rivers, and with more rain forecast, flood watchers were crossing their fingers that things don't get worse.

Parts of northeast and central Missouri received up to 3 inches of rain Wednesday night and Thursday morning, causing rivers ranging from small tributaries to the big ones — the Missouri and the Mississippi — to overtop their banks.

Mark Fuchs, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service in suburban St. Louis, said the forecast for the next five days calls for even more rain. For now, the forecast is for only minor to moderate flooding — nothing comparable to last summer's near-record events — but Fuchs is watching the rainfall amounts closely.

"I'm a little bit nervous about what's going to happen in the next week or so," Fuchs said. "The rivers are up, so if we get any decent rainfall event, we could see some substantial flooding if everything comes together the wrong way."

For now, the worst of it appeared to be along the Missouri River in mid-Missouri. In Jefferson City, the Missouri was at 9.1 feet on Monday. By Thursday morning, it was at 26 feet, 3 feet above flood stage, and causing problems.

A big section of a state employee parking lot near the state Capitol was closed. Flooding closed part of a state highway that traces the river west of town.

The emergency management office for Columbia and Boone County warned residents of potential flooding dangers. A low-water crossing was closed near the area known as Cooper's Landing.

Near Glasgow, a ferry that crosses the Missouri was forced out of service due to the high water. Small agricultural levees were being threatened near Glasgow and Boonville. Some portions of the Katy Trail, the hiking-biking path that runs parallel to the Missouri River, were closed in the middle of the state.

Small rivers were proving troublesome, too. The Platte River was nearly 9 feet above flood stage in western Missouri's Platte City, though city administrator Jason Metten said no significant problems were reported. The Grand River at Chillicothe was more than 8 feet above flood stage. And the North River at Palmyra in northeast Missouri was high enough to close some county roads.

The Mississippi was inching above flood stage from Clarksville south. The National Weather Service was predicting only minor flooding in towns like Winfield and Cape Girardeau. The Mississippi was expected to crest just inches below flood stage at St. Louis.

Associated Press reporter Chris Blank in Jefferson City contributed to this report.


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