People living in the nearby areas are expecting rare but serious floods on Mississippi River after the last days of heavy rain and storms.
The river water has already reached record levels in some areas. Winter flooding is a rare phenomenon which could cause problems even in the spring. Usually during this time of the year the river and precipitation levels are below normal. But the unusual amount of rain water might cause record crests along the river.
This year was already atypical because of the warm and humid weather so the water levels on Mississippi were already higher than normal. That’s because warmer air keeps more humidity and may cause rainfall. But the torrential rains in Missouri and Illinois raised the river’s waters to unprecedented levels.
The highest levels are expected on the first day of 2017 at Chester, Illinois, where the water levels might reach 49.9 feet. That would exceed the all-time record reached on August 7, 1993 by two-tenths of a foot. The river is also expected to reach record levels at Cape Girardeau, Missouri on Saturday.
Francis Slay, the mayor of St. Louis declared flood emergency as major flooding is expected from the north to the south of St. Louis.
Although anti-flooding measures have been taken in recent years along the Mississippi River, many homes are still in danger. West Alton’s mayor ordered the town’s 520 residents to evacuate.
Besides houses, everything along the river is in danger of ending up under the waters. Ports and casinos could as well be affected.
The unusual high levels are expected to last in the first part of January, cresting in Memphis on the 9th and travel to Natchez, Mississippi by the 18th.
However, according to Marty pope, hydrologist at the National Weather Service, there is still raining in some parts of the basin so the future is not that easy to predict.
Even if winter flooding is a rare phenomenon it has happened during history. One of the worst was on the Ohio River in January and February 1937 which killed hundreds of persons and caused billions of dollars in damage, adjusted to today’s money.
The extreme humid weather during the winter will also have farming implications as the soil saturated with water might freeze and kill the crops already planted while also slowing down the planting of soybeans and corn. Seeds planted in wet soil are at high risk of rotting.
However the winter is still young and anything can happen before March so now people should keep focused on the floods on the Mississippi River and stay safe.
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