Wide-spread flooding along the Mississippi River and the surge from its tributaries won’t quickly dissipate. That’s the latest word from AccuWeather Global Weather Center. The surge will complicate life from Illinois and Missouri all the way to Louisiana and Mississippi well through mid-May.
The larger the stream, the longer it takes for flooding to cycle through, explains AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok. Small creeks in mountainous or hilly areas can flood in a matter of minutes and hours. Large rivers in nearly flat terrain sometimes take days and a week or more for water to drop below flood stage.
During late April and early May, record flooding occurred at some locations, including along the Black river at Pocahontas, Arkansas; Current River at Doniphan, Arkansas; Meramec at Sullivan, Steelville and Eureka, Missouri; and the Gasconade at Hazelgreen and Jerome, Missouri. Levees in some communities were breached or topped by high water.
The second surge
Rainfall during last week brought a second surge and crest along small streams and tributaries of the major rivers. That’ll also prolong the rise and recession of the Mississippi River and lower portions of the Missouri, Illinois, Ohio and White rivers.
The high water levels will continue to impact river navigation and port operations. Over the weekend, the Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau, Missouri, will crest near or just shy of the record of 48.9 feet set on Jan. 2, 2016, according to data compiled by National Weather Service hydrologists and the United States Geological Survey.
Farther downstream, a crest at major flood stage is forecast at Osceola, Arkansas, this week. At Memphis, Tennessee, while only minor flooding is forecast, the Mississippi River may remain above flood stage from this week to beyond the middle of the month, says Pastelok. A portion of the Black River in northern Arkansas may remain above flood stage into early next week.
Areas farther south along the Mississippi River in Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana may not experience a crest until the third week in May. River levels in some portions of these states will reach moderate flood stage and may not drop below flood stage until nearly the end of the month.
Waters along the White River may not drop below flood stage until the third or fourth week in May.
It may take many weeks until flooded farmland is workable, concludes Pastelok.