By John Upton
22 April 2013
(Grist) – The good news: Heavy rainfall across the Midwest has helped ease a widespread drought.
The bad news: Rainfall has been so heavy that drought has been replaced by flooding
The scary news: The cycle of flood-drought-flood that has ravaged the Midwest over the past two years is the type of cycle that climate change is expected to bring to the region, and it could become the new normal.
Heavy river flooding in six Midwestern states that forced evacuations, shut down bridges, swamped homes and caused at least three deaths was at or near crest in some areas Sunday evening.
Rivers surged from the Quad Cities to St. Louis Sunday, with water levels reaching record heights. Hours earlier, National Guardsmen, volunteers, homeowners and jail inmates pitched in with sandbagging to hold back floodwaters that closed roads in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Rain last week started the whole mess, causing the Mississippi and many other rivers to surge in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. Flooding has now been blamed in three deaths — two at the same spot in Indiana and one in Missouri. In all three cases, vehicles were swept off the road in flash floods.
Spots south of St. Louis aren’t expected to crest until late this week, and significant flooding is possible in places like Ste. Genevieve, Mo., Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Cairo, Ill.
Adding to concern is the forecast. National Weather Service meteorologist Julie Phillipson said an inch of rain is likely in many places Monday night into Tuesday, some places could receive more than that.
“That’s not what we want to see when we have this kind of flooding, that’s for sure,” Phillipson said.
The flooding of the Mississippi River is quite the contrast to the situation just a few months back, when low water levels were threatening the barge industry. But it resembles the flood of spring in 2011. [more]