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

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

Most of the major waterways in the St. Louis region have crested or are near their crests following the wettest June on record.  More than 13.1 inches of rain fell last month, nearly an inch more than the previous record set in 2003.

High water levels on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers are declining and the Missouri River at St. Charles is forecast to crest at about four feet above flood stage Saturday afternoon.

(via Flickr/clip works)

Updated at 6 p.m., Friday, June 19:

More than a week's worth of persistent rainfall is testing the region's system of levees and reservoirs

Photograph courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / St. Louis District

Two years after the Great Flood of 1927 devastated the lower Mississippi River Valley, blues singers Kansas Joe McCoy and Lizzie “Memphis Minnie” Douglas shared the pain in their classic “When The Levee Breaks:”

If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break

If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break

And the water gonna come in, have no place to stay ...

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

Clarksville, Mo., has barely begun to set itself to rights after the latest deluge from the Mississippi River.  But city officials are already worried about the next flood.

"It just seems like the flood comes more and more often now," said Clarksville Emergency Manager Kathy Weiss. "Twenty years ago we didn’t have a flood every year, but seems like now every year or two years we’re having a flood. So we have to think of something more permanent.”

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

Weather forecasters are predicting slow relief for Missouri and Illinois towns battling floods. 

A number of towns situated along the Mississippi River have been dealing with rising waters over the past few days. The northeast Missouri town of Clarksville is experiencing its sixth flood in the past decade, while roads around Grafton, Illinois, are also under water.

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

Flooding along the upper Mississippi River is affecting navigation, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"High river levels have forced us to close two of our locks and dams. Lock and Dam 24 and 25 are both closed right now," said Mike Peterson, chief of public affairs.

"But there’s not a lot of river navigation going on along the upper river right now because upstream of us there is a whole lot of closed locks and dams."

Flood crests on the Mississippi are expected over the next week, but Peterson is not expecting much higher levels.

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

Flooding on the Mississippi River continues to make its way south from Iowa, putting towns from Quincy to Grafton on alert.

With historic buildings, a post office and a dozen homes all in the path of the flood, Clarksville, Mo., 75 miles north of St. Louis, has more to lose than most.

Flooding near Clarksville in 2008
St. Louis Beacon file photo

The National Weather Service is forecasting major flooding along stretches of the Mississippi River north of St. Louis early next week. A map on its site is regularly updated with river stages.

As Chris Webber checked the 40 acres of muddy field he wanted to plant on a recent morning, he worried about getting more rain, even as he worried about the lack of it.

"The drought is over at the moment," he says. "But in Missouri, we tend to say that in 10 days or two weeks, we can be in a drought again. That's how fast it can get back to dry."

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

Governor Jay Nixon received a briefing Friday on the flooding situation in West Alton, Mo. Although the small town is still battling floods, a big question now is how to cope with the cleanup costs.

Local officials stressed that the flooding is still at a critical stage, and that the Mississippi is still well over flood level.

But the question of how to handle the costs will have to be answered in the coming weeks. St. Charles County has spent about $1.4 million, but said keeping track of receipts has not been a priority for the past few days.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Tourist towns up and down the Mississippi River are feeling the economic pinch of high water, with the swollen waterway overrunning main routes to popular destinations and traffic dwindling.

That’s bad news for places like Clarksville, Mo., which relies heavily on sales tax revenue.  

They’ve stayed mostly dry thanks to efforts to keep the river at bay when it flooded in April, but Mayor Jo Anne Smiley says getting rid of temporary defenses that include 7,000 tons of rock and 500,000 sandbags won’t be cheap.

(Chris McDaniel/St. Louis Public Radio)

Developing Story, will be updated

Updated at 10:35 a.m. Thursday, June 6:

MSD says the Mississippi River has dropped enough to turn the pumps back on at Watkins Creek, ending the discharge of untreated wastewater into the river. The agency is asking that residents continue to avoid floodwaters in the area of the station, which is in the 11000 block of Riverview in Spanish Lake.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. with information from MSD:

(via Flickr/USACE HQ)

Reporting by Chris Slaby of WUIS.

Governor Pat Quinn has asked for federal help in the recovery after this spring’s flooding.

Quinn says the application is for 11 counties, mostly located in the northern part of the state.
He says with more than 3,000 homes affected in those counties alone, there’s more than enough evidence for the president to approve his request.

Andrew Wamboldt/KOMU News - via Flickr

A storm system that's dropping snow on the western half of the state will bring up to four inches of rain to the St. Louis area by Sunday.

But don't expect much in the way of flash flooding, says National Weather Service hydrologist Mark Fuchs.

"We're not necessarily expecting flash flooding in the classic sense - where you see a very quick rising water coming down the stream," Fuchs said. "But with that being said, there will be some roads in poor drainage areas that could go underwater."

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The Coast Guard is assessing the environmental impact of roughly 300 gallons of crude oil it says spilled into the Mississippi River after more than a dozen barges briefly broke free near Alton, Ill.

The Coast Guard says a vessel hit an area where barges are docked on the river about 1 a.m. this morning, causing 14 to break away from their moorings. Those barges then hit another barge loading crude oil, which caused the spill of about seven barrels (300gallons) worth of oil.

(Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District)

Updated April 29, 7:30 p.m.

With the Mississippi River below 33 feet, MSD says it no longer has to use the pumps, and the flow of untreated wastewater into the river has stopped. The temporary pumps will remain in place.

Updated April 29, 4 p.m.

MSD officials say that with the Mississippi River dropping, the flow of untreated sewage has slowed to 16 million gallons a day. Crews continue to work on installing two temporary pumps to replace the ones that failed. The cause of the failure is still under investigation.

Copyright 2014 KWMU-FM. To see more, visit http://www.stlpublicradio.org.



Screenshot from the National Weather Service.

Just north of St. Louis, the city of Alton is bracing for the flooded Mississippi River to crest soon.

According to the National Weather Service, the river is expected to crest at about 30 feet on Tuesday -- nine feet above flood stage -- and remain near that level until Thursday.

Matt Asselmeier from Alton Mayor Tom Hoescht's office says they've filled more than 2,000 sand bags in preparation.

The good news is that "the big river didn't get too big," The St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes this morning.

"Sandbags held back the cresting Mississippi River from several towns north of St. Louis on Sunday," it adds, "while the forecast for the immediate vicinity remained high but manageable."