Record rain in June, but no fear of 1993 flood levels | St. Louis Public Radio

Record rain in June, but no fear of 1993 flood levels

Jul 9, 2015

Water levels on the Mississippi River rise to flood stages underneath Eads Bridge.
Credit Sarah Kellogg

On Thursday, “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh led a discussion on the threat of flooding in the St. Louis area due to this year’s rainfall. Joining Marsh were Mark Fuchs, a service hydrologist for the National Weather Service, and Matthew Hunn, chief of emergency management for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in St. Louis.

“The month of June was the wettest month that we’ve ever had in St. Louis recorded history,” Fuchs said. “The month of July as a whole, we’re looking at above average rainfall for St. Louis southward and into western Kentucky, and across all of southern Illinois.”

Fuchs told Marsh that more rain is on the way for the area, with chances lingering for the next several days. The area could see a break from the rain sometime in August, though predictions are favorable for rain in the coming weeks.

Hunn said that officials with the Army Corps of Engineers are working to improve public safety awareness, monitoring levees, and inspecting drain structures to make sure they are working properly.

“We’ve got about 100 people in the St. Louis district going out into the community providing technical and direct support if necessary to keep people safe,” Hunn said. “We’re doing a pretty good job to make sure that we’re trying to take all this water and figure out where it can go with the least amount of impacts.”

Overall, levees in the St. Louis area are holding up to current conditions, says Hunn.

Although rain totals are above average so far, conditions are not quite the same as during the Flood of 1993. Fuchs said the significant difference in 1993 was that meteorologists saw above average precipitation during the winter of 1992. In recent years, St. Louis area winters have been drier.

Fuchs also rules out the possibility of climate change as a factor in the recent weather.

“When you look at the individual event, you really can’t say that this or that event is due to climate change,” he said. “[However], when you take them as a whole and you see (consistent) drought or excessive rainfall over a period of years and decades, maybe you can start saying there’s a trend there. But, when taken in the near term, no, you really can’t point to this particular month or even this particular year and say this is climate change.”

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St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.