After some of the most extreme flooding in the region in over 100 years, Missouri and its neighboring states await the next deluge, which threatens further damage.
A slow-moving area of low pressure is predicted to dump up to four inches of new rain between Tuesday night and Thursday following the 6 to 12 inches that fell over the weekend.
The weekend flooding was blamed for three deaths, the inundation of homes and businesses, and scores of evacuations and water rescues.
The Missouri Department of Transportation said 272 roads remained closed in the state Tuesday morning from the flooding, including a section of Interstate 44, which connects St. Louis to Tulsa
Weather.com documented record river crests in 12 locations in Missouri, some of which had stood for more than 100 years.
Water levels had begun to recede on some small rivers in the region early this week but were still rising on larger rivers. With more rain in the forecast, officials feared the fall of recently crested rivers would slow or reverse, while rising rivers would crest even higher.
The heaviest amounts of additional rain are forecast from central Missouri to south central Illinois, including St. Louis. The National Weather Service declared a moderate risk of “excessive flooding” in this area.
The Meramec River, which runs south of St. Louis, is still rising due to the rain over the weekend; the additional rain will only aggravate the flooding.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a section of Interstate 55, which connects St. Louis to Memphis, will shut down tonight due to the rising water. All of the bridges crossing the Meramec allowing access to the city from the south will be closed.
“So you all are going to have to decide what side of the river you want to be on before you go to bed tonight, because you’re not going to be able to go back and forth,” Greg Horn, St. Louis district engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation, told the Post-Dispatch.
He added: “This is a huge event, probably the biggest we’ve ever had.”
Forecasts call for the Meramec in suburban St. Louis to near all-time-high levels. “This rain event could make for a new flood of record,” National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Fuchs told the Associated Press.
Over the weekend, St. Louis received 6.02 inches of rain. If it receives 4.19 inches more Wednesday and Thursday, it would be the city’s most rain over a seven-day period in recorded history.
This is the second historic flood event for the Meramec River in the past three years. In 2015, it also crested at record levels:
Farther to the south, in Cape Girardeau, the Mississippi River was forecast to crest just four inches below its all-time-high mark:
Flood concerns extended beyond Missouri. Ahead of the next round of rain, the Weather Service also issued flood watches in northeast Oklahoma, southeast Kansas, northern Arkansas and west central Illinois.
This is the same region in which the Weather Service logged 267 reports of flooding or flash flooding April 29 and 30 according to Weather.com.