Despite all the flood warnings and predictions, Missouri continues to experience significant flooding. Recent floods have broken records set in 2015, causing multiple towns to be cut off from their major highways. The cause of these flooding events is still unknown, but the recent trends point to a looming catastrophe. Read on to learn more about flooding in Missouri and the efforts underway to address the problem. In the meantime, here are some facts about recent flooding in Missouri.
Climate change causes flooding in Missouri
Scientists are concerned that climate change is causing the state’s flooding. Rising temperatures and sea levels have increased the frequency of severe weather events. More rainfall and drought are also contributing to the risk of more flooding in the state, and increasing population will make flooding worse. In Missouri, more than half of the years between 1981 and 2011 saw more rainfall than normal. With this increased precipitation, flooding could occur more frequently and affect the city’s sewer system and other critical infrastructure. KC Water, the city’s water utility, will begin to implement green infrastructure, which guides stormwater into areas that are covered in plants and soil. These green infrastructures absorb stormwater naturally and help control flooding.
The topography of the state is affected by the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in heavy rains and snowmelt. As the Earth warms, moist, warm air masses sway northward and produce copious amounts of rain, either through convection or fronts. These conditions can cause drought spells that last for months at a time. When the snow melts quickly, it leads to flooding, and rising streams can erode critical infrastructure.
The state’s temperatures have increased more than half a degree in the past century, and flooding is an inevitable part of this increase. In addition, the Midwest has experienced five to 10 percent more flooding in the past half century. With more people living in the state, flooding is likely to get worse. Scientists have already identified the relationship between increasing temperatures and increased flooding. They say that if flooding continues, Missouri’s population will continue to face serious consequences.
Jefferson City, which sits on the south bank of the Missouri River, is at a critical crossroads for ground and water transportation. With more heavy rains coming more frequently, this city has become even more vulnerable to floods. Missouri has already experienced two record-breaking floods in the past two decades. Climate change has already caused two major disasters in the state. The state is trying to mitigate the damage, but the future is still uncertain.
Sources of flooding in Missouri
Flooding is a common occurrence in Missouri. The floodwaters from recent storms caused flash flooding across the state, stranding cars and forcing evacuations. In one case, a person drowned when his vehicle was submerged in floodwaters in Clinton County. The Pew Charitable Trusts has commissioned a television series about the flooding issues in Missouri. The series explores floodplain development and the costs associated with flooding.
Before regulation of river discharge, the Missouri River was known as the Big Muddy, and it carried large amounts of sediment. When floodwaters rose, erosion was greatest, while substantial deposition took place as flood waters receded. The river was in a state of dynamic equilibrium with the floodplain, regularly redistributing sediment between the floodplain and the river channel. Despite the ramifications of flood regulation, the Missouri River continues to be an important source of flooding in the state.
In 1944, Congress approved a combined plan to dam the Missouri River, involving the Army Corps of Engineers and the irrigation-focused Bureau of Reclamation. This plan included the construction of five massive dams in the Dakotas. One of these dams, the Gavins Point Dam near the South-Nebraska state line, drowned the best parts of several Indian reservations. The combined plan created the country’s largest reservoir system, with 72.4 million acre-feet of water storage – more than twice the amount of California’s cities and farms can store in a year.
The Missouri River flooded in January 2015, following heavy rainfall that spread through western and eastern Nebraska. Heavy rains melted the snow that had accumulated on frozen ground and swollen the rivers and creeks. The Meramec River crested at a record high, and nearly 900 buildings were damaged in the flood. As a result, several hundred million dollars was lost in damage and millions of tons of debris were left behind.
While the Corps says the purpose of floodwaters is to help replenish the soil, some say this is not the case. Ultimately, the Corps has to find a balance between flood control and land restoration, while the insurance industry calls it an “act of God.”
Efforts to mitigate flooding in Missouri
Efforts to mitigate flooding in the Missouri River basin are on the rise, and many communities and officials have vowed to do more to protect their waterways and prevent floods. In fact, Missouri’s river is narrower than it once was, and the Army Corps of Engineers maintains a designated channel for barges to navigate. Still, there are limits to the Corps’ ability to reduce floodwaters along the Missouri.
In addition to federal aid, local communities in the region are building resilience to floods and other natural disasters. The federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has helped make communities more resilient to natural disasters. In 2008, Missouri’s hazard mitigation efforts saved over $100 million and produced a 212 percent return on investment. Floodplain conservation, such as the restoration of riverine wetlands, can also reduce flooding and provide a variety of community benefits.
Floods can be devastating, and Missouri is no exception. With climate change, floods are likely to become more frequent and intense, and floods in Missouri can become even worse. As the world’s climate continues to change, there is a pressing need for mitigation efforts in the state. In addition to building resilient infrastructure and improving water supply systems, flood mitigation and buyout programs can help protect residents from damaging flooding.
A new study is being conducted by the states of Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas to better understand the effects of wetter weather on Missouri River floods. The state has pooled resources to pay for half the $400,000 study. It will analyze how best to manage the river’s reservoirs. By pooling resources, they hope to present a united front to federal officials. The state’s officials will meet next month to determine how to proceed.
The federal government, state and local officials, and landowners along the Missouri River are working to find solutions to the problems caused by flooding. One Northwest Missouri community, For example, wants to move its levee further from the river bank so it can swell during rainy seasons. In the meantime, a bipartisan group of state and federal lawmakers is looking for solutions to reduce flooding along the lower Missouri River. The solution remains elusive.
Recent trends in flooding in Missouri
Regardless of the cause, flooding is costly, and the effects of climate change are increasingly apparent. Scientists have linked increased temperatures and flooding to increased risks for farmers and homeowners. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the effects of climate change and make floodplain conservation a priority in the state. The following article discusses ways floodplain conservation in Missouri can help reduce the risks of riverine flooding and provide significant quality of life benefits.
Scientists are still studying the effects of climate change on spring floods, but they do know that warm temperatures increase the amount of moisture in the air, which turns even a minor flood into a disaster. In December, for example, floodwaters in St. Louis exceeded six feet, triggering massive sewage overflows. As the Midwest continues to see increased rainfall, flooding is likely to become more frequent and more severe.
The current flood season in Missouri has caused devastating flooding and has created many new problems. In March, a combination of melting snow and excess rain resulted in floodwaters. As a result, floods in Missouri have created challenges for farmers and destroyed communities in floodplains. The current drought in the region has also contributed to the problem. A number of river basins have become too low to control the flooding. However, there are ways to reduce the risk of flooding by modifying levee setbacks.
Despite the fact that Missouri does not have coastlines, forest fires, or oceans, the state has endured frequent riverine flooding for decades. In fact, six out of the last 10 years, the state saw above-average precipitation. This means that increased floodwater could wreak havoc on Kansas City’s sewer system and other critical infrastructure. As a result, the water utility, KC Water, will start implementing green infrastructure – a process known as “green stormwater management.” This process will direct stormwater into areas with soil and plants, soaking up the excess water naturally.
Since 1915, there have been eight great floods on the Meramec River. In addition to the recent flood in Missouri, these two watersheds also experienced record-breaking rainfall in the past decade. During that time, the Meramec River reached historic flood levels, including one of the highest on record. During the same period, two of the river’s main stem was swamped by sewage.