Flooding possible from continuing rains this week

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The rain that began pelting Southeast Missouri late last week is expected to continue through most of this week, with periods of strong rain and the danger of flooding possible.

Monday morning's rains didn't cause flooding problems in Cape Girardeau, Scott City or Jackson, public officials said, despite a National Weather Service flood advisory issued that morning as a line of strong rain swept through the area.

Sheriff's departments in Cape Girardeau, Scott, Stoddard, Perry and Bollinger counties reported no calls of flooding Monday morning.

The National Weather Service office in Paducah Ky., had "reports of high water, but nothing major," said meteorologist Dave Purdy.

Kent Peetz, a Jackson city engineer, said the only flooding reported in Jackson was at the low-water bridge over Hubble Creek in Jackson City Park.

Cape Girardeau's assistant public works director Steve Cook and Scott City public works director Jack Rasnic also said their cities reported no major flooding.

But public works crews in area cities are out making sure drainage systems are ready to handle the extra load by cleaning grates and culverts in anticipation of ongoing rain.

The National Weather Service is forecasting rain to continue into Thursday morning, with some periods of heavy rain. Purdy said rain could become heavy at times. But as of Monday afternoon the flooding danger had stopped, and only one river in the Paducah office's service area, Kentucky's Green River, was forecast to go above flood stage.

Locally, rain has been steady, not the quick downpours that typically cause flooding. But flood risk could increase because the ground and waterways are already saturated, resulting in "minor flooding problems," service forecasts said.

Between 8 a.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. Monday, 1.73 inches of rain fell on downtown Cape Girardeau, according to a National Weather Service observation station maintained by the Southeast Missourian. Of that total, .93 inches fell after 9 p.m. Sunday night.

The mid-December rains are being caused by a front stalled over the area colliding with moist air from the south and west. The system hit central, southwest and northeast Missouri as a large ice storm Sunday.

Purdy said the long stretch of sustained rain "is a little unusual" for the area, but not out of the normal range of weather expected in mid-December.

Last January, sustained rains caused swollen creeks and headaches for drivers.

In early December 1982, a series of heavy thunderstorms caused severe flash flooding in Cape Girardeau and Bollinger counties and destroyed a century-old bridge at Old Appleton. Tornadoes also hit Southeast Missouri.

In the days following those storms, the Mississippi River flooded and several local counties were declared disaster areas. Storms continued throughout the month, with one after another hitting areas devastated by previous storms.

As of Monday afternoon, the service forecast between 2 and 2.5 inches of rain to fall between Monday morning and the end of the rain Thursday morning.

Today's forecast shows the daytime high spiking into the 60s, bringing the chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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