It’s way too early to get excited about anything.
However, with all the rain we’ve been seeing lately and with all the 500-year floods we’ve had in recent years, don’t be surprised if folks in the river bottoms start getting a little edgy.
Heavy rain the past few days, including up to four inches in parts of Northeast Missouri over one 24-hour stretch, caused flash flooding along many small creeks and rivers. It also caused the Mississippi River to rise within a foot of Quincy’s 17-foot technical flood stage by late afternoon Thursday.
Then the National Weather Service issued a flood warning Thursday, predicting the Mississippi could reach 20.3 feet at Quincy by Monday. At 20 feet, Clat Adams Bicentennial Park, just north of Memorial Bridge, starts to go under water.
Also, as a precaution, the city of Hannibal planned to put in flood gates at Hill and at Center streets Friday. The Mississippi River stood at 16.7 feet Thursday, but was expected to rise to 20.8 feet by Monday. Flood stage is 16 feet.
While that in itself isn’t too worrisome, consider what’s been happening so far this year with precipitation. Weather statistics released Thursday by Lock and Dam 21 show 6.65 inches of rain were logged in Quincy during April. That put the cumulative total for the first four months of 2009 at 13.61 inches. That’s already higher than the 12.01 inches logged during the first four months of 2008 — the year of the second-worst flood on record. In 1993, the year of the worst flood, 9.96 inches of precipitation fell during the first four months.
With more rain and thunderstorms in the forecast for Dogwood Festival weekend, people all over the region are going to be watching, and talking about, the weather and what it might bring.
People with short memories might have forgotten it was on June 12 of last year when Mayor John Spring declared a state of emergency, and the city began making plans to launch a sandbagging operation at the Oakley-Lindsay Center. This came after the National Weather Service warned the river might reach 30 feet by the middle of that month. The river finally crested at 30.8 feet on June 18, well shy of the record 32.2 feet set on July 13, 1993.
No worries. There’s still plenty of time for the river to go down. Or up. Or sideways. Only Mother Nature knows the cards this flood-weary region will be dealt.