April 03– Apr. 3–ST. LOUIS — The swollen Mississippi River crested Tuesday below major flood stage at St. Louis, but will rain in the forecast Thursday change things?
The river crested at 38.4 feet Tuesday and stood at 38.3 feet Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. Major flooding begins at 40 feet; flood stage is at 30 feet.
North of St. Louis, the Mississippi River crested on Monday. Lock and Dam 24 at Clarksville, Missouri, has been closed since March 29, along with Lock and Dam 25 at Winfield, Missouri.
At the Mel Price Lock and Dam 26 near Alton, “We are at 31.9 almost 32 feet. We’re still in flood stage. The Melvin Price Lock and Dam helps to control the flow of the Mississippi and is the way barges go up and down the river,” said Sue Casseau, public affairs specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in St. Louis.
“There is no traffic.moving north or south of Louisiana, Missouri, because there is a railroad bridge that goes over the Mississippi River. Once the water goes so high, nobody can get under it. It’s at 22.1 and falling, but traffic has to stop when it hits 15 feet,” Casseau said.
Right now, the expected rain amount on Thursday is one-quarter of an inch. Spread out that’s not a lot, but Casseau said, “It will basically slow the fall of the Mississippi.”
The St. Louis Cardinals postponed their home opener Thursday because of the rain in the forecast.
So, to keep safe, Casseau said motorists should avoid driving on flooded roadways. “It does not take a lot of water to wash a car away,” she said.
“”It’s springtime so there is more rain on the forecasts. It’s about four or five days out. It could bring another half inch of water in. That will keep us up,” said Liz Norrenberns, water manager with the Corps of Engineers. And with all of the snow that is still melting, the river will stay high for a while. “We had quite a build up and there is still a little left in the headwaters in Minnesota,” Norrenberns said.
Workers in St. Clair County and elsewhere have pre-filled sandbags, just in case they’re needed in usual low spots such as East Carondelet. But Herb Simmons, director of the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency, said so far, they have not been needed and everything is OK.
Carolyn P. Smith has worked for the Belleville News-Democrat for 18 years and currently covers breaking news in the Metro-East. She graduated from the Journalism School at the University of Missouri at Columbia and says news is in her DNA.