Some flooding along Mississippi, Missouri rivers in Midwest

Thursday, March 25, 2010 | 6:02 p.m. CDT; updated 9:34 p.m. CDT, Thursday, March 25, 2010

ST. LOUIS — Minor to moderate flooding was reported Thursday along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and their tributaries, and more rain wasn't helping.

The National Weather Service for weeks has been issuing flood warnings because of heavy snow melt to the north, saturated ground and rivers that have remained higher than normal through the winter. Parts of the Midwest were expected to get an inch or more of rain Thursday, and another batch of precipitation was forecast for the weekend.

But barring an unforeseen downpour, major flooding was not in the forecast, weather service hydrologist Mark Fuchs said. Mostly minor flooding was occurring from southern Iowa through southern Missouri along the Mississippi River, and few homes or businesses were affected.

"The Mississippi's going to go up maybe a foot — some places a foot and a half — but that's about the worst of it we see in the near term," Fuchs said.

Still, the added rainfall wasn't good news for northwest Missouri towns including St. Joseph, where water was at or near about six homes, said city spokeswoman Mary Robertson. City officials thought the Missouri River had crested Thursday until rain pushed it to nearly 22 feet by afternoon — only 2 feet shy of levels that can cause significant flooding downtown and in industrial areas.

"Who knows what kind of spring rain we'll have, and who knows what will happen north of us," Robertson said. "We do have to be concerned about now and the next couple of months."

The Missouri Department of Transportation closed sections of a few state highways in western Missouri as floodwaters crept up to the roadways.

The Mississippi River was still rising from St. Louis south to Cape Girardeau. No problems were expected in St. Louis, where the river was expected to crest Monday about 1.2 feet above flood stage. But the river was expected to crest at 37.5 feet — 5.5 feet above flood stage — in Cape Girardeau, though its downtown is protected by a flood wall and buyouts have removed virtually all homes from the flood plain.

Meanwhile, other states already hit hard by spring flooding were getting a reprieve.

In North Dakota, officials in Grand Forks on Thursday were reopening one of the two closed Red River bridges, which connect the city to East Grand Forks, Minn. The Mississippi River was dropping in St. Paul, Minn., after cresting Wednesday at the eighth-highest level ever recorded there. City crews built temporary levees, though no damage to homes or businesses had been reported.

The Mississippi has also crested over the past few days in Burlington, Iowa; Quincy, Ill.; and Hannibal, Mo.

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