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Health, Science, Environment

Latest Forecast Predicts Only 'Moderate' Flooding In St. Louis Region This Spring

Fishermen who have left their vehicles on Route B to boat out to deeper waters will find the Missouri River has covered the roadway in St. Charles County, Missouri on April 2, 2019. The Missouri River is expected to crest in St. Charles as a minor flood
Bill Greenblatt | UPI
Fishermen who left their vehicles on Route B to go boating on the Missouri River in St. Charles County in April 2019 returned to find exceedingly high water levels.

This spring, the National Weather Service is predicting moderate, not major, flooding.

Every two weeks, a new flooding outlook is published, which takes into account water levels, soil moisture and snow melting. 

Since February, the dire predictions for major flooding along the Mississippi River have waned. Now the flooding forecast predicts some state roads and buildings could become flooded, but not major highways or entire neighborhoods.

Mark Fuchs, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service, said all river systems, including the Meramec, Missouri and Mississippi, have seen general improvements in flooding outcomes. For areas along the Missouri River — such as Hermann, St. Charles and Washington — there are predictions for only minor flooding. 

“If we ended up with moderate flooding, I think emergency management responders up and down the Mississippi and even Missouri rivers will be very happy with that,” Fuchs said. “But that’s a big if.”

It all depends on the next 90 days of rainfall. Since the streams and soil moisture are still high, Fuchs said these new predictions could change. 

The Climate Prediction Center said there will be above-average rainfall for April through June, which is prime flooding season in the St. Louis region. 

A wet January and March have already made the average rainfall more than five inches higher than average near Lambert Airport. 

While Fuchs said major flooding is unlikely, he won’t rule it out. He said these early reports are dependent on the snowpack from Minnesota and Wisconsin melting into the Mississippi River. 

In the past five years, the St. Louis region has endured three record floods. 

Flooding has caused severe damage to the communities that line rivers in the St. Louis region, including last year’s historic flood that caused more than $33 million in damage to the Metro East. 

In December, an advisory group gave a report to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson in response to the frequent flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi. The report included the recommendation that the Army Corps of Engineers strengthen and repair levees, but some environmentalists say that is not enough

Whether the region gets more rainfall or not, a spokesperson for the Federal Emergency Emergency Management agency said insurance is the best line of defense against flooding damage. 

The Red Cross, which annually sets up shelters for people displaced by flooding, has needed to adjust how it will respond during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Sharon Watson, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross, said how shelters are set up will depend on the number of people displaced by flooding, because of social distancing.

“It’s really going to depend on where the flooding hits and when it hits, and so it depends on the guidelines that are in place from local government and local public health at that particular time,” Watson said. 

The Red Cross is considering placing people in hotels, instead of traditional shelters.

Watson promised the Red Cross’ response will still be there, it just might look different.

Follow Kayla on Twitter: @_kayladrake

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