Heavy rains add new flood threat along Missouri River

Thunderstorms and heavy rains dumped several more incheas of water into the Missouri River in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas communities early Monday.

It’s shortly after 3:00 a.m. Monday. The rain is still skidding off my roof in Lincoln, Neb., after the second deluge of this night. I’m worried for areas east of us along the Missouri River where flooding is already at record stage in many places.

These heavy rains could quickly add several more inches to the swollen river which has already topped levees and flooded thousands of residents out of their homes in the four state region.

When a second line of thunderstorms rolled through around 1:30 this morning my wife and I were awakened by a huge clap of thunder. That was followed by a half hour of rain so heavy the neighborhood flash flooded, causing a steady leak from our basement corner window well.

A Lincoln, Neb., webcam captures the downtown area after storms passed through early Monday that dumped several inches of rain on the area. Photo: Star City WebCam

All this sent us scurrying for the wet vacuum and a mad round of furniture reshuffling to make sure all was dry. Oh well, at least we found the window screen we’ve been searching for over the past two years. It was hidden  behind the furniture we hastily moved.

Curious to see what more precisely was causing our leak, I slapped on my sandals, grabbed a flashlight and journeyed into the backyard. There I found a four foot wide miniature flash flood steam.  Fortunately, the stream was running around and away from our house, but the neighbors backyard had been turned into an impromptu swimming pool, fed by the falling sheets of rain.

Eventually, all this water gushed across the neighbor’s front yard, sliding into the street-side storm sewer, which rushes into the Platte River, which flows into the Missouri River 60 miles east of our house.

The illustration below comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts the impact of the latest rains on the Missouri River as it passes by Rulo, Neb., in the coming days.
As you can see, between now and this time tomorrow, another elevation foot of water will be added to the Missouri River as it crests at a predicted 27.12 feet, a new all time flood record and 10 feet above flood stage.

What makes this flooding so dangerous on the Missouri River is that the river moves fast and it’s pushing historic volumes of water. Through the end of this week the Missouri River is predicted to move more than 211,000 cubic feet of water a second past Rulo.

The record flow of the flood prone Missouri River this week could fill Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., in about one minute. Photo: Bobak Ha'Eri

Try visualizing it this way: That’s more than 1.5-million gallons of water a second, or enough to fill our beloved Memorial Stadium at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from top to bottom in about 63 seconds.

With  these water volumes, The Missouri River’s ability to erode or top levees and cause new flooding rises exponentially.  The river is predicted to top the 27 foot mark in the Rulo, Neb, in the next 24 hours and NOAA predicts:

” Widespread flooding will encompass a very large area as some of the federal levees are nearly overtopped. If overtopped, this flooding will impact Highway 159 and several county roads west of I-29.”

Nebraska City, Plattsmouth, Omaha and Blair, Neb, also line the Missouri River face similar flood concerns. What a mess. Reminds me of that Creedence Clearwater Revival song “Who’ll Stop the Rain.”

Long as I remember The rain been comin’ down.
Clouds of myst’ry pourin’ Confusion on the ground.
Good men through the ages, Tryin’ to find the sun;
And I wonder, Still I wonder, Who’ll stop the rain.

About Bernard McCoy

My views are my own and not a reflection of my employer. I'm a professor of Journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I've also been a working journalist for the past 29 years. I have covered news stories in war zones, reported on human and natural disasters, presidential conventions, a presidential inauguration and the September 11th, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. My career experiences include work as an award-winning documentary producer, television news reporter, photographer, producer, and anchor. I worked at WIBW-TV, Topeka, KS., KCTV, Kansas City, MO, WKBD-TV, Detroit, MI., WILX-TV, Lansing, MI. and WBNS-TV, Columbus, OH. I have also worked as a contributing reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, Associated Press, CBS, CNN, the Ohio News Network and lecture at the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communications. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in telecommunications management from Michigan State University.
This entry was posted in broadcasting, education, Environment, nebraska, The United States, University of Nebraska and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Heavy rains add new flood threat along Missouri River

  1. www.giftspersonalized.us says:

    I can’t imagine that amount of water flowing past you. I pray that you all will be ok and that this tragedy ends for everyone along the Missouri river.

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