Midwestern flooding is usually associated with the spring or summer, so even officials at the National Weather Service are perplexed about the unusual fall flood that is causing rivers to spill over their banks in parts of Missouri and Illinois.
Heavy rain fell last week over much of the two states, causing flash flooding and rising rivers. In fact, October rainfall was at record amounts at many spots.
The autumn monsoons are hard to figure, said Benjamin Sittrell, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in suburban St. Louis.
"Typically during the late-year period, it's our driest portion of the year," Sittrell said. "To see such astronomically high amounts of precipitation, where we got several inches above the previous record levels, is very abnormal.
"I think there's a lot of uncertainty about how this wet October unfolded."
The flooding is generally pretty minimal compared to events such as the floods of last summer and those in the summers of 1993 and 1995, but some problems exist.
Thousands of acres under water
Sittrell said thousands of acres of farmland are under water, particularly in the flat areas of southern and western Illinois, where the Illinois, Ohio and Kaskaskia rivers are among several that are flooding.
Near St. Louis, the Meramec River was over its banks at Pacific, Eureka and Valley Park. It did not appear that any homes were in jeopardy but several roads were closed. Busy Route 141 in southwestern St. Louis County was threatened by flood waters, near the Intersection of Interstate 44. The interstate itself is elevated enough to be out of harm's way.
The Meramec was expected to crest about 11 feet above flood stage on Monday at Valley Park and Eureka.
The Mississippi River is expected to crest at more than 7 feet above flood stage on Tuesday in St. Louis. The President Casino, which sits near the Gateway Arch, closed on Sunday for the sixth time in the past 18 months due to high water. General Manager Chris Strobbe did not say when it would reopen.
The most significant flooding along the Mississippi was expected to be at Cape Girardeau in the southern part of Missouri. The weather service expects the river to crest 9 feet above flood stage on Wednesday. The community is protected by a flood wall, and no significant problems are expected.
The Missouri River has already crested a few feet above flood stage at Gasconade, Hermann, St. Charles and other towns in eastern Missouri.