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article imageWaterlogged central U.S. to get more rain as rivers rise higher

By Karen Graham     May 22, 2019 in Environment
Waterlogged parts of the central U.S. braced Wednesday for more rain, following days of severe storms that have battered Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma and caused at least four deaths.
It has been an unending recipe of heavy rains, flash floods, hail, downed trees, and power lines and reports of at least 130 tornadoes in the last five days in the central U.S. states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma, reports the Associated Press.
To make matters worse, the US Storm Prediction Center on Wednesday has taken the rare step of issuing a tornado watch, with a warning that this event is a "particularly dangerous situation."
One of the major problems facing homeowners is rising waters, with residents of a number of small towns in Oklahoma and Kansas being urged to leave their homes by officials. The Arkansas River was approaching historic highs, while the already high Missouri and Mississippi Rivers were again rising after a multi-day stretch of storms that produced dozens of tornadoes.
“The biggest concern is more rain,” Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said during a news conference following an aerial tour with Tulsa Mayor G.W. Bynum and other officials Wednesday morning.
Officials have encouraged residents of the Tulsa suburbs of Sand Springs and Bixby; in Fort Gibson, and in Webbers Falls to leave. All four communities are along the Arkansas River. Residents living in low-lying areas along creeks north and south of Okmulgee were also advised to leave their homes.
North of Oklahoma City, near Crescent, several homes were left hanging over the Cimarron River after flooding eroded the soil away. One unoccupied home has already slipped into the rushing water. The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for northeastern Oklahoma through the weekend and in southeastern Kansas and southwestern Missouri through Thursday afternoon.
More than 9 inches (23 centimeters) of rain has fallen since Sunday in parts of Oklahoma after an already rainy spring. “Any rainfall we get just continues to saturate the soils that are already saturated. Especially rivers and streams” said Oklahoma State Climatologist Gary McManus. “There is simply nowhere for this water to go” as it flows downstream from Kansas, according to McManus.
The Mississippi River is at or approaching major flood stage from Iowa through southern Missouri and Illinois. It is expected to crest at St. Louis on Monday, at nearly 12 feet (3.7 meters) above flood stage. If this comes to pass, the Coast Guard will likely close the river to navigation for the second time this month.
Deaths due to this latest round of storms include a 74-year-old woman found early Wednesday morning in Iowa, possibly killed by a tornado. Two people were killed in a traffic accident Tuesday near Springfield, Missouri, related to the storms. At least one person drowned in Oklahoma after driving around a barricade on a road in Perkins, the city's Emergency Management office announced.
More about central us, third round of flooding, Tornadoes, river flooding, Deaths
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