Historic Mississippi River Flooding Could Extend Into June

City of Davenport workers ferry sandbags across Mississippi River floodwaters 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)
City of Davenport workers ferry sandbags across Mississippi River floodwaters 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)

Flooding along the Mississippi river could persist through the end of the month and even into June as relentless rains continue to saturate the Midwest, forecasters say.

“We have points in Iowa and Illinois that have been in flood stage for over 30 days, which hasn’t occurred since we started keeping records — and some of them go back 150 years,” said Patrick Burke a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

At least four people have died in the flooding, which has closed hundreds of roads, stopped vessel traffic along parts of the Mississippi River and inundated multiple towns, including major flooding in Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois.

The problem is that heavy snows over the winter melted,  drenching the ground and filling the rivers with runoff. Then there’s usually a lull during which the soils can dry out before the spring rains begin.

Not this year.

“There hasn’t really been a chance for the soils to dry out, they’re still saturated from the snow melt and the rains,” said Corey Loveland, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s River Forecast Center in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

The Mississippi River crested at higher levels than it ever had in the past. That was at 22.7 feet in Davenport, Iowa, on Thursday, a record that hadn’t been matched since records began to be kept in 1862, said Loveland. That is almost eight feet above flood stage.

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SOURCE: Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY