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River Expected To Reach 30.4 Feet

JULY 1, 2011 -- The Missouri River could be on the verge of topping the primary levees in eastern Jackson County. The National Weather Service (NWS) is now projecting that the river will crest near Sibley and Levasy at 30.4 feet early Saturday, July 2, bringing the water level up to -- if not over -- the brim of the 30-foot levees.

"Minor flooding is occurring, and moderate flooding is [in the] forecast," the NWS noted in the flood warning update it issued at 4:23 a.m. today. "The river will continue rising to near 30.4 feet by early Saturday morning, then begin falling to near 29.0 feet by Tuesday [July 5].

"At 30.0 feet, flooding is likely at the parking lot near Homers Landing, located below the Fort Osage Historical Site. At 22.0 feet low-lying rural areas along the river and outside levee protection flood."

When measured Thursday at 7:08 p.m., the river level at Sibley was at 29.65 feet -- up from exactly 28 feet at 1:09 a.m. Wednesday -- according to the NWS.   

"These Weather Service projections are just that -- projections," stated Jackson County Emergency Preparedness Director Mike Curry. "With a 30.4-foot projection, we're literally going to be on the edge. An inch or two could make all the difference."

Over-The-Top Not The Only Risk 

Curry reiterated that the threat of flooding does not come only from the river topping levees. The earthen levees are becoming saturated and are also under constant strain from holding back so much water.

"This is a really unique situation," Curry said. "Normally, you have a water surge, then the river retreats. The levees are designed to provide protection when that happens. That's a short-term situation. Under these circumstances, the river has been on the rise for the last few weeks, and it's going to remain high practically all summer.

"The Missouri River is flowing with a lot of velocity right now, too. The current is strong and will cause levees to erode." 

A pump was being used Wednesday in an effort to keep water from flooding the rail line near Levasy.

Record Release Rate Continues

The Missouri River began to rapidly swell this spring. First, the April run-off from snow melting in the Rocky Mountains proved to be unusually high, according to the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Then historic amounts of rain fell on the Dakotas throughout May and into June.

Those wet conditions prompted the Corps of Engineers to gradually begin releasing water from the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, South Dakota. After another five inches of rain in parts of South Dakota early last week, the Corps increased the rate of water release to a record 160,000 cubic feet per second.

Three other South Dakota dams on the Missouri River -- the Oahe, Big Bend and Fort Randall -- have each been releasing water this spring, further necessitating the need for the highest ever rate of release from Gavins Point.

Water filled a field near Levasy on Wednesday as the Missouri River continued to rise along levees in eastern Jackson County.


Missouri River Timeline

Tuesday, June 28, 2011
A levee breach near Atchison, Kansas was suspected of causing inaccurate measurements in gages at Atchison and Leavenworth, Kansas. Once more data could be reviewed, the National Weather Service anticipated that river-level projections for the Missouri River and the Kansas River would be revised "upward."   

Monday, June 27, 2011
Thunderstorms that swept through the area Sunday night into Monday morning (June 26-27) had little impact on the Missouri River as it flows through eastern Jackson County. At 7:02 Monday morning, the water level near the Sibley and Levasy levees was at 26.8 feet, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Friday, June 24, 2011
The National Weather Service (NWS) did not anticipate the Missouri River's water level near Levasy and Sibley to rise Saturday, June 25. Due to levee breaches Thursday, June 23 in two northwest Missouri counties, river levels fell between Brownville, Nebraska and St. Joseph, Missouri, prompting the NWS to reduce its previous river level projections for June 25. However, the NWS noted any relief down stream from Atchison and Holt counties would only be temporary.

Monday, June 20, 2011
Jackson County officials have been anxiously monitoring conditions along the swollen Missouri River for weeks. Volunteers filled 6,000 sandbags in preparation for potential flooding. On the morning of June 20, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a flood warning that included parts of Jackson County (near Sibley), as well as parts of Platte and Clay counties.


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