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Chicago logs wettest April on record, Midwest rivers swell

Heavy rains have drenched the Windy City this month, leading to its soggiest April on record. Through yesterday, 8.54 inches had fallen at O’Hare International passing the 8.33 inches recorded in 1933.

Chicago has received frequent deluges in the last  two weeks, but a good chunk of the month’s rain occurred on April 18, when 3.54 inches flooded the city – the most measured so early in the calendar year in a single day.

The heavy rains both in Chicago and surrounding regions of the Midwest have led to rising rivers and widespread flooding.

Rainfall totals over last 14 days (NOAA)

The National Weather Service has active flood warnings in Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi and Michigan.

Check out the transformation of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers between April 20 and April 5 in the imagery below (obtained from the MODIS instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite):

April 20


April 5


NASA, which produced these images, offers this commentary:

In early April, some stretches of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers were confined to braided river channels. But by April 20, the water rose high enough to merge some channels and spill onto floodplains in multiple locations. Water generally appears lighter in color in the April 20 image, likely because of heavier loads of mud and sediment.

For more on the Midwest flooding, see:

More rain looms for already swollen Midwest rivers; communities toil to hold back flooding (AP)

Flooding threatens already drenched Midwest, South (CNN)

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.
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Jason Samenow · April 24, 2013

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