Flood warnings continue on Mississippi River in Missouri

Sunday, April 24, 2011 | 4:16 p.m. CDT; updated 6:48 p.m. CDT, Sunday, April 24, 2011

ST. LOUIS — Flood warnings continued throughout much of central and eastern Missouri on Sunday, and the National Weather Service warned that more heavy rain could bring additional flash flooding.

The Mississippi River is expected to crest at nearly 6 feet above flood stage in St. Louis by midweek, and nearly 10 feet above flood stage in Cape Girardeau on Thursday.

Crest predictions could rise even higher, the weather service said, as parts of eastern Missouri south of St. Louis could get up to 9 additional inches of rain through Wednesday.

"We kind of remain locked in this wet weather pattern with no big change in sight through early next week," meteorologist Scott Truett said. "The concern is kind of becoming that with additional heavy rainfall, flash flooding is going to occur more rapidly because of the saturated ground conditions."

Rivers and creeks have already flooded. The Mississippi was at or approaching major flood stage in several communities Sunday. The Missouri River also was flooding, and many tributaries were rising.

Among the hardest hit areas so far is St. Francois County, about 70 miles southwest of St. Louis. Farmington fire crews have had to rescue several people from homes and cars over the past few days due to flash flooding. High water damaged a couple of apartment complexes, forcing residents to temporarily relocate.

The weather service also was concerned about flash flooding in southern Missouri, where the heaviest rainfall is expected through mid-week.

The Missouri Department of Transportation reported dozens of road and highway closures in eastern and southern Missouri. U.S. 61 has been shut down due to flooding near the Iowa border, and U.S. 160 was closed in several spots in far south-central Missouri.

State highway closures included sections of Highway 79 in Pike County, Route 125 near Branson, and Route 142 and Route 162 in southern Missouri.

Mark Twain's hometown of Hannibal in northeast Missouri has a levee that protects the downtown, but low-lying areas outside of the levee were under water as the Mississippi reached more than 23 feet Sunday, more than 7 feet above technical flood stage. The river is expected to remain high for several days at Hannibal.

Sandbagging efforts continued in Clarksville, and water was pushing against a small levee at Winfield. So far, there have been no reports of levee breaks or water going over the top in Missouri.

Flood buyouts since 1993 have removed most homes and businesses from the Mississippi River flood plain.

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