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WEATHER CONCERNS CHANGE FROM STORMS, TORNADOES TO FLOODING

NOAA image of USA river conditions as of 12:10 p.m. EDT on May 26, 2004.May 26, 2004 — Central states residents turned their attention from the skies to saturated ground Wednesday as flooding concerns overrode cares about severe weather. As skies cleared of rain clouds, residents in parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin contended with swollen rivers and streams. (Click NOAA image for larger view of USA river conditions as of 12:10 p.m. EDT on May 26, 2004. Click here to view latest conditions. Please credit “NOAA.”)

While some residents clean up from almost 200 reported tornadoes that have wreaked havoc since last weekend, others living along streams in several states are being forced to evacuate their homes.

Flood watches are in effect Wednesday for parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia and Virginia, according to the NOAA Hydrologic Information Center, which also called for isolated flooding in parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

NOAA National Weather Service officials are emphasizing the safety message of the Turn Around, Don’t Drown program, now celebrating its second year. “Flooding continues to kill more people each year than most major weather-related events,” said retired Air Force Brig. General David L. Johnson, director of the NOAA Weather Service. “The tragic irony is that the vast majority of these deaths are easily preventable.”

“For the most part, the storms that dumped all the rain in the Midwest since last weekend are over,” Mike Looney, chief of services at the NOAA National Weather Service Central Region headquarters said. “Much of Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois that has been getting drenched can expect dry, sunny weather into the holiday weekend. Serious flooding is going to continue in many areas that were really drenched by the recent storms.”

Wednesday’s Hydrologic Prediction Center flood summary noted major flooding continues on the Des Plaines River in Illinois, the Cedar and Wapsipinicon rivers in Iowa and the Grand River in Michigan. Tuesday night, urban and small stream flooding impacted areas of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. Serious flooding impacted residential areas of Spencer County, Ind., overnight; and urban flooding in the St. Louis area closed portions of Interstate 64.

For Wednesday, the NOAA National Weather Service has issued flood warnings and/or statements for numerous locations, including 42 counties in Kentucky, 17 in Indiana, 16 in Illinois, six in Pennsylvania, five counties each in Missouri and Texas, two in New York and Ohio, and one county each in Maryland, Oregon and West Virginia.

Major river flooding continues on the Des Plaines River in Des Plaines, Ill., with a crest of 11.4 feet predicted for Thursday night. Flooding is also occurring in Illinois on the Illinois, Kiswaukee, La Moine, Pecatonica and Rock rivers.

In Iowa, 21 rivers and streams remain above flood stage, several in the Des Moines area, including the Des Moines, Raccoon and Skunk rivers.

In Missouri, flooding continues on the Blackwater, Grand, Meramec, Petite Saline, Platte and 102 rivers.

Rivers flooding in Michigan include the Cass, Flat, Grand, Huron, Kalamazoo, Maple, Muskegon, Saginaw, Shiawassee, Thornapple and Tittawabassee.

In Wisconsin, the Baraboo, Beaverdam, Crawfish, Fox, Kickappoo, Milwaukee, Pecatonica, Rock, Sugar and Wisconsin rivers are flooding. Flooding also continues in portions of Arkansas, Louisiana, New York and Ohio.

Storm systems that stalled over Iowa since last weekend evoked memories of 1993 for some flood victims, but Looney noted little similarity between the two years.

“Anyone living along those rivers right now, might have some memories stirred, but weather patterns aren’t anywhere near what they were in ’93,” Looney said. “The flooded areas are experiencing the effects of storm systems stalling over an area for several days. In ’93, those storm systems stalled out over the central part of the country for the entire summer and we had major river flooding from March into October.”

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nationís coastal and marine resources. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Tornadoes Page

NOAA Storm Watch

NOAA Storm Prediction Center

NOAA Floods Page

NOAA National Weather Service Flood Summary

Media Contacts:
Patrick Slattery, NOAA National Weather Service Central Region, (816) 891-7734 ext. 621