Many of the counties along the Missouri River were issued a flood warning on Tuesday morning, May 28, as a result of the heavy rainfall upstream within the past 48 hours.
The National Weather Service announced a series of warnings earlier this week that will last until Sunday afternoon. The worst of the flooding is expected to peak on Friday evening.
Minor-flood-severity warnings are issued for west-central Missouri counties near the Missouri River basin. The updated forecasts suggest that the river will rise above the flood plain on Wednesday and digress by Sunday. Low-lying areas will begin to flood once the river reaches the flood plain. In some areas, the river is expected to reach over 4 feet above the flood plain until Friday afternoon.
While flooding is never good news, there is a silver lining to the current weather situation. "From an agricultural point of view, the increased rains have been largely welcomed," says Jay O’Neil senior agricultural economist at the International Grains Program at Kansas State University.
He adds that the better moisture levels have helped alleviate the past drought impact in parts of Kansas and the Midwest. "Though it has delayed corn and soybean plantings, it has also improved our prospects for better crops this year verses last."
For most of these areas, the National Weather Service states that the river will begin to flood low-lying farm fields when it reaches the flood plain height. The Big Blue River near Topeka, Kan., was reportedly 2.5 feet from reaching the 26-foot flood plain as of this morning. It is expected to reach 27.5 feet by Wednesday afternoon and fall back below the flood stage by Thursday morning.
A tributary to the Missouri, the Vermillion River near Davis in South Dakota, is likely to top out at almost 2.5 feet over the flood plain. This warning will stay in effect until next Monday, June 3.
The Mississippi will cause problems for the St Louis area, where severity warnings were updated from "minor" to "moderate" or "major" on Monday night. There are places where the river is expected to rise up nearly 8 feet above the flood plain.
Kansas State Climatologist Mary Knapp points out that it is not surprising that there are multiple flood warnings along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. "May has seen both the runoff from the snow melt and substantial rains over areas of the watershed."
Both Knapp and O’Neil also point out that these flood events are not seen throughout the entire Midwest. O’Neil says southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle and parts of Texas are still under severe drought conditions and in serious need of rain to produce any type of a crop."
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