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More rain to target flood-weary US Heartland this week, further delaying planting

By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
May 07, 2019, 3:43:49 AM EDT

Rounds of rain will spread across the Heartland of the United States through Thursday as many rivers remain out of their banks and farmers are eager to plant crops.

The severe weather risk will focus mainly on the South Central states for multiple days this week, while primarily rain plagues areas farther to the north from South Dakota and Nebraska to Michigan.

Rain across this corridor will become heavier and steadier at midweek as a storm emerges from the Rockies.

Flood X

"Ample amounts of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico will be drawn northward into portions of the Plains and Midwest," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said.

Rainfall totals can average 1-3 inches from Nebraska to Michigan through Thursday.

"In the area of the central Plains from southeastern Nebraska to northern Missouri and western Illinois, an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 6 inches is expected," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

Farther south, even heavier rain is likely from northeastern Texas to northwestern Louisiana and southwestern Arkansas through this week.

"This portion of the southern Plains is likely to receive a general 4-8 inches of rain with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 10 inches from repeating thunderstorms," Sosnowski said.

"Rainfall of this magnitude can lead to stream and river flooding where none has occurred thus far this spring or cause a new surge of flooding where it has already occurred."

In the hardest-hit areas that endure repeating rounds of downpours, flash flooding can occur along streams and poor drainage areas. That is especially true where the ground remains saturated from recent soaking rain.

Above-normal rainfall has soaked many communities across the north-central U.S. during the last 14 days.

More than 5 inches of rain has inundated Davenport, Iowa.

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Rainfall totals in Omaha, Nebraska, and Des Moines, Iowa, have been held to 55 and 65 percent, respectively, of normal since April 20. However, rainy days have been frequent from the end of the month to the start of May.

"Some area farmers have struggled to get crops in the ground this season as spring flooding has waterlogged the soil," Buckingham said. "The continued rain and flood threat this week will prolong these issues across portions of the Heartland, leading to more troubles for farmers."

Corn planting was significantly behind schedule in South Dakota, Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana (four of the top six states for corn production), when last Monday's Crop Progress report was issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Iowa and Nebraska, the other two states among the top six corn producers, were only slightly behind.

The bouts of rain this week can also hinder gardeners and residents with sporting events or other outdoor activities planned.

Rivers May 5

Jackets will also be needed amid rain gear as the wet weather at midweek will hold high temperatures 10 to 20 degrees below normal.

Motorists should prepare for slower travel and reduced visibility on stretches of interstates 29, 35, 80, 90 and 94. Use caution when encountering standing water on roads as that will increase the risk of vehicles hydroplaning when traveling at highway speeds.

The upcoming rain may not lead to significant rises on the already flooded larger rivers across the region, but AccuWeather meteorologists will be monitoring the potential for slight rises. At the very least, the rain can prolong the time when the rivers finally return to their banks.

"Many large rivers in the Midwest, including the Missouri River, will stay above flood stage through the week," Buckingham said.

Major flooding continues along most of the James River in South Dakota and at nearly every location along the Mississippi River from Fulton, Illinois, to Cape Girardeau, Missouri. This includes Davenport, Iowa.

Davenport IA flooding May 4

Flooding continued in Davenport, Iowa, on Saturday, May 4, 2019. When this photo was taken, the Mississippi River had receded about one foot below the new record set a couple of days ago. (Photo/Ashley Sosnowski)

The Illinois River was approaching or further exceeding major flood stage from Henry and Peoria, Illinois, and points southward.

"There is concern with the anticipated rain this week, combined with the surge of water already working down the Illinois River and the high level of the Mississippi River that near-record flooding may occur along portions of the Mississippi River along the Missouri and Illinois borders," Sosnowski said.

This includes areas around St. Louis.

On Monday, there were levee breaches in St. Charles and Pike counties in Missouri, as well as levees being overtopped in other areas along the Mississippi River in the area where it flows between Missouri and Illinois, according to the Associated Press.

"Actual water levels may trend above current government hydrologic forecasts, depending on the amount of rain that falls over the region," Sosnowski said. "There could be a double crest at some locations this week and the rate of recession may be slowed following this week's rain."

Drier weather will sweep in by Friday, but additional storms may drop in from central Canada this weekend and into the following week.

Rainfall may not be as heavy or steady as this week with those upcoming storms, but any heavier showers can keep fields damp and be an unwelcome sight for those weary of rain.

Download the free AccuWeather app to stay alert of flood advisories and know when rain is expected in your community. Keep checking back for updates on and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

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