By Ian Simpson
Heavy rain will drench the sodden U.S. Midwest on Thursday but then ease in coming days, forecasters said, in a sign of relief from high waters that have killed at least five people and closed part of the Mississippi River to traffic.Eastern Illinois and much of Indiana could see rainfall of 2 inches (5 cm) to up to 4 inches (10 cm) through Friday afternoon, with lesser amounts in the rest of the middle Mississippi and Ohio valleys, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.Bob Oravec, an agency forecaster, said the heaviest rain should end on Thursday after about a week of drenching precipitation, even as downpours fed already flooded rivers."The problem is that the rivers are already so high it's exacerbating the runoff," Oravec said by telephone.The heaviest rainfall is expected to have moved east through Friday, bringing downpours to an area from Washington to New York, Oravec said.
A roughly 5-mile (8-km) stretch of the Mississippi River near St. Louis was closed on Tuesday because high water was keeping boats and barges from passing beneath the historic Eads Bridge, said Sean Haley, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman.The stretch of the Mississippi was expected to remain closed through the weekend, he said.The Eads Bridge river gauge was expected to crest at 41.2 feet (12.6 m), which would be the seventh-highest crest in National Weather Service records dating back to 1844.
The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings and watches along waterways from eastern Texas north through Indiana and into northwestern Ohio.Two dozen river gauges show major flooding, mostly in Missouri, where the Meramec River is at 21 feet (6.4 meters) over flood stage, according to the NWS.
High water had closed about 250 roads in the state, including 20 miles (32 km) of Interstate 44 near St. Louis, the state transportation department said.At least five people have been killed in flooding in Missouri, the last two of them swept from their cars on Monday and Tuesday.Hundreds of people in places like Eureka, Missouri, and Pocahontas, Arkansas, have heeded evacuation orders after building walls of sandbags to protect their homes and businesses from the rising waters.Schools throughout the Midwest canceled classes on Thursday. Amtrak suspended service in Missouri until at least Saturday, it said in a statement. (Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington, Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee, and Michael Hirtzer in Chicago; Editing by Toby Chopra and Phil Berlowitz)
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Updated Date: May 04, 2017 23:47 PM