River rising again at Cape

Sunday, June 19, 2011

After staying around 35 feet for weeks now, the Mississippi River is again rising at Cape Girardeau.

Flooding along the Missouri River and rain forecast in the St. Louis area will cause the river to swell again over the next few days, according to Jayson Wilson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky.

In Cape Girardeau, the river is expected to crest Wednesday at 39 feet, pushing it back into the moderate flood stage range. It's been above its 32-foot flood stage in Cape Girardeau for months and doesn't show signs of getting below that mark anytime soon. The river is in moderate flood stage at 37 feet and major flood stage at 42 feet.

"It's going to stay in moderate flood stage through next week and if we continue to get showers in the northern tiers of Missouri, it could go beyond that," Wilson said.

The city closes its Themis Street floodgate when the river gets to 36 feet and closes the Broadway gate at 38 feet.

The rise in waters is expected only at the Cape Girardeau and Thebes, Ill., gauges, Wilson said.

That is partly because the river is narrower here than it is downstream.

"The river becomes much wider at New Madrid and it can better handle all that water," Wilson said.

He expects the Mississippi at Cape Girardeau to continue to rise.

While flooding along the Missouri River is affecting levels here in Cape Girardeau, Jim Pogue, spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said it's not expected to have much of an effect on the Mississippi south of where it joins the Ohio River.

"When the upper river empties, it's kind of like a garden hose emptying into a bathtub. The lower river is able to take so much more water in," Pogue said.

The rise at Cape Girardeau isn't expected to have an effect on the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway, he said.

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