The Mississippi River reached a record height of 22.64 feet and flowed over Davenport, Iowa.
Floods along the Mississippi River can continue at the end of the month and even into June, as relentless rains continue to saturate the Midwest, predictors say.
"We have points in Iowa and Illinois that have been in a flood phase for more than 30 days, which hasn't happened since we started keeping records – and some of them go back 150 years," said Patrick Burke, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service & # 39; s weather forecast center in College Park, Maryland.
At least four people died in the flood, blocking hundreds of roads, stopping shipping traffic along parts of the Mississippi River, and engulfing several cities, including major floods in Davenport, Iowa and Rock Island, Illinois.
The problem is that heavy snow in the winter melts, soaks the soil and fills the rivers with runoff. Then there is usually a silence in which the soil can dry out before spring rains.
Not this year.
"There has not really been a chance that the soil will dry out, they are still saturated with snow and rain," said Corey Loveland, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's River Forecast Center in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
The Mississippi River is combed at higher levels than in the past. That was at 22.7 feet in Davenport, Iowa, on Thursday, a record that had not been matched since the records began to be preserved in 1862, Loveland said. That is almost eight feet above the flood stage.
City of Davenport employees sail sandbags across the Mississippi flood dams to the Rivers Edge building in Iowa, May 2, 2019. The Mississippi River is expected to reach a record level of 22.7 feet Thursday night. (Photo: Kevin E. Schmidt, AP)
In Rock Island, Illinois, the Mississippi set a record level of 22.7 feet, exceeding the record on July 9, 1993, during the Great Flood of 1993.
There will be more rain, Burke said.
"It's going to start picking up. We're watching a pretty decent storm system that will stay on between Tuesday and Thursday. Where the bull's eye collides is where there are floods," Burke said.
Currently, the National Weather Service predicts the heaviest strip of rain, as much as three inches, around Kansas City. However, one to two inches of rain could fall as far north as southern Minnesota, he said.
"We can expect to see additional rises, even if the rivers begin to fall earlier in the week," Burke said.
It will not rain much to influence the rivers because the soil remains so saturated, Loveland said. "If you get less than an inch of rain, it goes into the river."
Even if things dry out, river flows will stay high until May to June, Loveland said. But it can also last for another month.
"The wildcard is really the rain in the forecast. If it stays cool and wet, we can have high currents at the end of June. It really depends on what the spring rains," he said.
The continuous floods take a toll because many of the temporary structures that are being built to hold back the water are not designed to last for months.
"The longer you have the river at these high levels, the more these structures are tested," Loveland said.
In the West, the Missouri River is also a concern, said meteorologist Sarah Atkins with the Kansas City office of the National Weather Service.
"We'll start seeing multiple rounds of thunderstorms and showers that start so much on Thursday evenings all over Missouri, a good deal of Kansas, to Nebraska, Iowa and much of Illinois," she said.
The Missouri River has so far had to deal with minor floods and is expected to remain around these levels. But with the possibility that between two and four centimeters of rain falls on the saturated soil, she warned the residents to be careful.
"If there are barricades, turn around, don't go through them. If you see a flooded roadway, turn around. It's just not worth it," she said.
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