Flood warnings in effect as heavy rain expected over much of West-Central Illinois, Northeast Missouri

Posted: Sep. 7, 2018 6:10 pm Updated: Sep. 7, 2018 10:03 pm

QUINCY -- The remnants of Tropical Depression Gordon are expected to drop heavy rain across much of West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri through the weekend, creating a risk of flooding and flash-flooding.

"We're looking at the potential storm total in many spots," said Mike Cole, chief meteorologist with our news-gathering partners at WGEM.

Cole said that WGEM's viewing area will see an estimated 3 to 6 inches of rain due to Tropical Storm Gordon, and some areas could see up to 8 to 10 inches.

With a flash flood watch covering the eastern three-quarters of the state, rivers are rising, too. The Mississippi River is above flood stage at Canton, Hannibal and Louisiana, Mo. The river is expected to crest in the coming days about 4 to 6 feet above flood stage. No major damage is expected, but Hannibal has installed its flood wall to protect its downtown, including the Mark Twain sites.

Portions of the Missouri River also are near or at technical flood stage, though only partially due to rain. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday that higher-than-normal water releases from dams northwest of Missouri will continue through the fall season.

The Corps said the water release is necessary because high amounts of runoff caused a large amount of water to be stored in reservoirs.

However, the Mississippi River isn't the only river of concern.

"We're expecting moderate flooding on many of the area rivers," Cole said, adding that the entire WGEM coverage area has been under flash flood watches. If those flash floods would happen, the water would flow into smaller rivers throughout the area within a day or two. In the meantime, Cole said WGEM's concern is flash flooding, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol urged drivers to avoid flooded roadways, noting that even one foot of water can move swiftly and prove deadly.

"As we have a lot of folks that will be at ball games, do not drive into flooded roadways," Cole said. "That is not a wise move."

The patrol also encouraged boaters to take extra precautions because rain-swollen waterways can make for faster currents and unpredictable conditions.

It's unclear how much of the water will help farmers severely impacted by the summer-long drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor map shows that conditions have eased across much of the state due to rain over the past couple of weeks. Twenty-one percent of Missouri is now listed in severe drought or worse, compared with 37 percent a week earlier.

The wet weather is bringing relief from hot, steamy weather. Cole said that things are expected to calm down by midday Sunday, saying that the weather should be sunny and temperatures should be in the 70s and 80s by midweek.


Wet weather cancels events

Wet conditions, with more rain expected Saturday, forced organizers to cancel two area events.

Quanada Executive Director Megan Duesterhaus said the weekend's heavy rains canceled the Aim to Stop Domestic violence 3-D archery shoot planned for Saturday and Sunday.

While prepared for some rain, the amount of rain has raised questions about the volunteers' ability to safety set up the course, which involves climbing bluffs and crossing creeks while carrying heavy targets.

Duesterhaus said Quanada looks forward to planning next year's archery shoots to support the agency's services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Wet conditions also canceled Saturday's Ribfest planned at the Mark Twain Cave Complex in Hannibal, Mo.

The ribs and wings grilling competition, featuring live music, was a benefit for Hannibal Free Clinic. Organizers hope for better weather for next year's event.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.