Thursday, April 25, 2013

Record Setting Rains In Chicago

We're running pretty close to normal in terms of rain this month, with our total rainfall just over a couple of inches so far, less than an inch below normal.  In the Midwest, it's a different story.  Rainfall totals across Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana range between six and eleven inches so far this month, with Chicago's 8.58" of rain through yesterday at O'Hare Airport setting a record for soggiest April (beating out 1933).  This soggy picture extended northwest into Minnesota and the Dakotas, with both Duluth and Rapid City picking up records for snowiest months on record, irregardless of month.

Rainfall since April 1st in the Midwest. The purple shaded areas feature ten inches of rain since 4/1. Credit: NOAA

This soggy scenario has lead to flooding issues in the Midwest, with the Mississippi and other minor streams through Illinois and Indiana dealing with various levels of flooding.  These flood waters have turned the Mississippi into a raging river less than a year after it was approaching record low water levels, with the river's crest in St. Louis between four and five feet above flood stage.  These aren't record floods for the river basin but in Grafton (just above St. Louis), it is a top ten flood.

The Mississippi and other streams in the Midwest are at major flood levels, with some historic crests being set. Credit: NOAA

Flooding is a bigger issue along the Illinois River, which flows into the Mississippi near St. Louis.  Peoria set a record for highest river level on record and flood waters crept into neighborhoods and impacted businesses along the river basin.

The next flooding stories probably come out of Northern Minnesota and along the Red River basin between Minnesota and North Dakota, where snow melt over the next few days will help push streams and the larger Red River over their banks.  There's concern that Fargo, which dealt with top five flood levels in 2009 and 2011, could see another near top five flood crest next week.