More rain to fall today; cold drops in Friday

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Mississippi River continued to fall Tuesday, much to the relief of levee watchers. But more rain is forecast to fall today and particularly tonight before temperatures turn sharply colder.

Temperatures, which reached the high 60s Tuesday, were expected to drop to highs of only 26 degrees on Friday and 33 degrees on Saturday. Low temperatures are expected in the teens, forecasters said.

"It will really be a jolt to a lot of people," said meteorologist Michael York at the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky.

The National Weather Service and local emergency preparedness officials say they don't expect the thunderstorms preceding the cold weather to create serious flooding in Cape Girardeau and Southeast Missouri despite rain-saturated ground. One to 2 inches of rain is predicted to fall over a 6-to-12-hour period Wednesday night.

Some of the storms could be severe, York said. "Some isolated storms might contain damaging winds and large hail."

It would take more than 2 inches of rain overnight to cause flash flooding, said Cape Girardeau assistant fire chief Mark Hasheider, who heads emergency operations for the city.

The drop in the river level will help keep area creeks from flooding, he said.

The river at Cape Girardeau stood at 31.5 feet Tuesday afternoon after cresting over the weekend at 35.8 feet, or nearly 4 feet above flood stage.

Jim Pogue, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Memphis, Tenn., said the Mississippi River dropped a foot and a half at Cape Girardeau on Monday.

Downstream at Cairo, Ill., corps officials kept a watchful eye on levees along the flood-swollen Ohio River. The river is expected to crest at 51 feet next Tuesday or 11 feet above flood stage. The river stood at 48.9 feet on the gauge Tuesday evening.

In Cape Girardeau, the river is expected to continue to fall, although at a slow rate, said Andy Juden, president of the Main Street Levee District.

Juden said he expects to shut down the pumping station today now that the river has dropped below flood stage.

335-6611, extension 123

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