May 06, 2019

Mississippi River Levels Make History

St. Louis residents and officials eye forecast ahead as the Mississippi River levels make records

St. Louis residents and officials eye forecast ahead as the Mississippi River levels make records
St. Louis residents and officials eye forecast ahead as the Mississippi River levels make records.

In downtown St. Louis, Mo., the Mississippi River reached 41 ft, which is 11 ft above the flood stage, and was projected to crest at 41.2 ft May 6. The rank has been confirmed as the eighth highest crest in history at this location, going as far back as the 1700s. The levels have threatened communities and landowners already affected by a season of prolonged flooding.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the flooding risk is expected to continue with this week’s rainy forecasts for St. Louis and regions upstream. The Mississippi River’s main stem has been above flood stage since March and the precipitation joined a watershed that was already saturated.

“It was set up in March, of course, by snowmelt and rain, but now that snow is pretty much all in the system and getting flushed downstream,” said Mark Fuchs, a senior service hydrologist for the St. Louis forecast office of the National Weather Service, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “What we’re seeing now is rain getting added to that base.”

Flood levels in Winfield crested on Sunday. Fuchs said it came within 3 ft of those seen in the Great Flood of 1993. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, an unknown number of residents were evacuated.

“Those folks had some notice on that and had been either sandbagging their individual homes or moving their possessions out,” said John Osterhage, chief of emergency management for the St. Louis District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to the Post-Dispatch.

According to Fuchs, flood levels in other areas are not as close to the record heights experience in 1993. That is mainly because the Missouri River is not as high as it was that year, he said.

“[When the river is high] for weeks and weeks, your earthen levees are going to be at risk and we’ve seen that in the Flood of ‘93,” Fuchs told the Post-Dispatch.

On Twitter, St. Charles County said that one levee breach has displaced approximately 150 people.

 

 

According to the National Climate Assessment, climate change contributes to the rising flood risk with precipitation becoming more common.

expand_less