Flooding concerns lingering across the Ozarks

After moderate to heavy rainfall Thursday through Friday
Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 7:39 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The First Alert Weather Team was busy tracking our last storm system that came through the Ozarks. While no severe weather came into the Ozarks, the system did leave behind 1 to 3 inches of rain on average with isolated spots seeing 3.5″ to almost 4 inches.

This system was also one that Kyle Perez, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Springfield, and other meteorologists were keeping an eye on.

“The greatest rainfall totals fell along and southeast of the Interstate 44 corridor,” Perez says. “To go along with that, with it being wintertime still and vegetation still being dormant, it made for a flooding event across the area.”

This led the National Weather Service to prompt aerial flood warnings and some river flood warnings for the parts of the far southern Missouri Ozarks. For those wondering why flash flood warnings weren’t issued, Perez explained the process behind that.

“We differentiate between the flash flooding and the aerial flood warning based on the timing of how quickly the rising rate of water will occur,” Perez says. “What we saw overnight was more of a moderate rainfall. That allowed for slower rises of water that don’t necessarily qualify as flash flooding.”

Perez does mention that the slower rates of rising water are still concerning and have similar impacts to flash flooding. The rain caused area roads in parts of the Missouri Ozarks to close until the water can be cleared away. In fact, we had at least 30 reports of road closures from MoDOT due to flooding Friday afternoon.

Some water coming out of the banks of James River in eastern Greene County caused Farm Road 134 to close. We also saw barricades up on Highway 125 north of US 60 in Rogersville near Logan-Rogersville High School in the afternoon when the water did cover the roadway. Even with the barricades still, up, we saw drivers go around to get past.

It was a different story for Highway Z south of US 60 in Fordland. 4 miles south of the intersection, excess water from Finley Creek is still running over the road. Until the water recedes and MoDOT can make sure the road is safe and clear of debris, that will remain closed. As for how long, Perez says don’t expect a quick drop over the weekend.

“People need to be mindful of the residual flooding threat that will continue through the weekend,” Perez says. “We typically see the residual flooding last several days after. What’s in the smaller streams and riverbeds will work into the major river systems and run their course. While the water rises will eventually peak, the flooding threat will continue across the region this weekend.”

That’s leads to a very important saying when it comes to flooding. Turn Around. Don’t Drown. Perez really ponts out the importance of that as we get into the active spring months once again.

“It only takes a small amount of water to sweep a vehicle off of a particular roadway,” he says. “When we’re also talking about flooded roadways and potentially driving into them, you don’t know what’s actually underneath the water. When water rushes through, there’s a chance the pavement could be washed away. It’s important to keep that in mind when approaching flooded roadways and find an alternate route.”

Given how the flooding issues will still be around through the weekend, drivers are urged to check their route to make sure they won’t encounter any flooded road closures. That can be done by checking MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map and the IDrive Arkansas map from ArDOT if you’ll be traveling this weekend.

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