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Missouri River Flooding Results from High Amount of Rainfall During Short Period of Time, says MU Professor

May 10, 2007

Story Contact:  Bryan Daniels, 573-882-9144,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — An exceptional amount of rain in recent days is to blame for anticipated flooding along the Missouri River. In a two-day period, a significant portion of the lower Missouri River Basin received more rainfall than normal during May.

“What really triggered this was heavy rainfall on Sunday and Monday across a large part of northwestern Missouri and northeast Kansas,” said Pat Guinan, assistant professor of climatology at the University of Missouri-Columbia and MU climatologist with the Extension Commercial Agriculture Program. “It was a widespread and heavy rainfall event over a short period of time. The magnitude and intensity during the two-day period, in combination with antecedent moist conditions across the Missouri River Basin, led to a lot of runoff and rapid flooding conditions.”

Guinan said the area typically gets about 4 to 5 inches of rain for the entire month and that the two-day total for May 6-7 was between 4 and 8 inches. He said precipitation levels along the basin were already above normal from winter and spring.

Weather service reports have indicated the river will crest Sunday anywhere from 8 to 13 feet above flood stage in central Missouri. Several communities, businesses and homes are at risk.

Guinan said conditions are becoming more favorable over the next few days with drier weather, warm temperatures and more sunshine anticipated.

“Conditions are encouraging,” he said. “Areas affected by the rainfall will have drying opportunities during the weekend. These weather conditions will hasten the receding of river levels.”

Since 1996, Guinan has been employed by MU Extension as a climatologist. In 2004, he received his doctorate from MU in soil, environmental and atmospheric sciences. In addition to his MU Extension duties, Guinan serves as the state climatologist for Missouri and director of the Missouri Climate Center. His specialties include agricultural meteorology and climatology.