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Flooding to endanger lives and property in central US into early May

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
April 30, 2017, 6:56:58 AM EDT

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During and after a severe thunderstorm threat, flooding will be a major threat to lives and property over thousands of square miles from Oklahoma and Arkansas to Missouri and Indiana into early May.

A general 3-6 inches of rain will fall from parts of the southern Plains to the middle Mississippi Valley through Sunday.

"There is the potential for a foot of rain to fall in some areas, including parts of the Ozark Mountains in northwestern Arkansas, southern Missouri and eastern Oklahoma," according to AccuWeather Lead Storm Warning Meteorologist Eddie Walker.

The number of flash, urban and small stream flooding incidents will continue to increase in this swath through the weekend.

Flooding rivers April 29

Prior recent heavy rainfall in much of this swath has the ground saturated and stream and river levels elevated going into the new heavy rain event.

"Heavy rain and thunderstorms will frequent the St. Louis area this weekend, increasing the threat of flooding," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Dean DeVore.

The flood threat spans other major cities Little Rock, Arkansas; Springfield, Missouri; Indianapolis and Evansville, Indiana; and Chicago and Peoria, Illinois.

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Sporadic, isolated flash flooding will also progress farther to the southeast as thunderstorms pivot across the lower Mississippi and Tennessee valleys late this weekend.

As the water works its way downstream, levels will rise on the secondary rivers then the major rivers in the region. Moderate to major river flooding is possible.

On Saturday night, the North Fork White River near Tecumseh, Missouri, reached a record crest of 35.51 feet, with the river still rising rapidly. The previous record crest was 35 feet set on August 1, 1915.

Major rivers at risk for flooding in unprotected areas include the Red, Ouachita, Arkansas, White, Black, Missouri, Illinois and Wabash. Portions of these rivers may not experience a crest until the middle and latter part of the week.

A surge of water is also likely on the middle and lower Mississippi River and the lower part of the Ohio River this week.

Residents and officials in the region should closely monitor the flooding situation and be prepared to take action as waters rise.

Motorists should never attempt to drive through flooded areas. Doing so puts not only you and your occupants at risk but also your would-be rescuers.

The road beneath your vehicle may be compromised. Only a couple of feet of flowing water can cause your vehicle to become buoyant, lose traction and be carried downstream into deep water.

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