A pattern of wet weather has swelled the once drought-stricken rivers of Southern Illinois, causing minor flooding.
Army Corps of Engineers Spokesman Mike Petersen said snow melt in the north and a number of rain systems falling in the Mississippi water shed caused a 10-foot rise in the Mississippi River at St. Louis last week. The gauge at St. Louis was around 20-feet Tuesday, flood stage is around 30-feet, said Petersen.
“This is really good news,” he said. “Even though we’re seeing a pretty severe jump… it seems pretty alarming, but that’s actually just getting us back up to where we should be this time of year. This is normal spring flooding that we see somewhere in our area every year.”
Robin Smith, forecaster with the NWS Paducah, said with rivers in Southern Illinois climbing, flood warnings have been posted for the Big Muddy River at Plumfield and Murphysboro. Smith said minor flooding was forecasted to begin Tuesday at both locations.
“Southern Illinois got between two and three inches of rain overnight Sunday into Monday, and that’s what popped everything up,” he said.
But a steady accumulation of rain and snow throughout the winter helped reduce drought conditions.
Despite the rising river levels, Smith said forecasters are not expecting a season like the region experienced in spring 2011 that brought record flooding.
Joseph Miller, Massac County EMA directors, said flooding in Metropolis is not a major concern at this point.
“Obviously we are watching the situation, if we have two or three weeks of rain every day, then it’s going to develop into more of a problem,” he said.
Derek Misener, Jackson County EMA director, said his department has a number of years experience dealing with flooding along the Big Muddy and Mississippi, and they’re prepared to react appropriately if the time comes.
The department is monitoring the situation, and is prepared for any unexpected extreme weather – if there is such a thing.
“I think that we’re seeing a lot of extremes in weather, it’s almost come to be expected, especially after the Derecho and flooding in 2008 and 2011,” Misener said. “I don’t know that I’d be genuinely surprised by anything at this point with respect to what the weather has in store for us. But we are fully prepared for anything that might be.”
Petersen said the Corps has conducted preparation meetings in case of moderate or severe flooding.
“We don’t have flood fight teams mobilized because we’re not seeing the kind of flooding where we’re going to have to go out and start walking the levees yet, but we’re prepared to if that comes.”