Cape registered 20.5 inches of rain in April, more to come

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It comes as no surprise to washed out Southeast Missourians, but it appears April now ranks as the wettest month on record in Cape Girardeau, Paducah, Ky., and many points in between, according to the National Weather Service.

And May begins where late April left off -- with heavy rains putting pressure on surging rivers and tributaries throughout Southeast Missouri, Southern Illinois and western Kentucky.

Cape Girardeau's rainfall total for April was 20.52 inches, according to Pat Spoden, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Paducah. While he couldn't confirm the mark was a record for the month, he said it's difficult to imagine a wetter month in the city.

Paducah recorded 15.91 inches of rain in April, a clear record amount, Spoden said.

La Nina is to blame for the constant precipitation, producing one storm system after the other, Spoden said. La Nina weather patterns push cold air into the northern side of the jet stream, while the southern side maintains warm, humid air. The atmospheric battle, meteorologists say, has created system after system of heavy rains and severe storms in the South and southern Midwest and has produced one of the deadliest storm seasons on record throughout much of the South.

"La Ninas typically bring a lot of moisture into the Ohio River Valley, and the fronts just sit here," Spoden said. "It's one system after another, and then one or two days clear."

That's the weather pattern for this week. Following torrential rainfall from Sunday into Monday night and early today, the area is expected to briefly clear out today and Wednesday, with more rain on the way beginning Thursday. The next system, predicted to last into the weekend, will have spottier rain, not the deluge-style that has saturated the region for weeks.

There doesn't appear to be much long-term relief.

Spoden said the outlook for May, June and July calls for above-normal precipitation from northern Missouri through northern Illinois, the basin that feeds Southeast Missouri and its flood-swollen rivers and tributaries.

"This is a dangerous situation," Spoden said. "People need to pay attention to what's going on." He noted at least two water rescues in the Paducah area Sunday night and Monday.

mkittle@semissourian.com

388-3627

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