Last update: August 23rd, 2019 at 5:00 pm
More than a week after heavy rains swamped parts of Missouri and Illinois in December 2015, communities along the Mississippi River are facing severe flooding. The rainfall between December 26-28 dropped at least 6 inches on many communities in an area 50 to 70 miles (80 to 120 kilometers) wide. Some areas saw more than 10 inches (25 centimeters).
On January 1, 2016, the Mississippi River valley crested at its third highest level on record for St. Louis. By January 2 the surge of water caused the highest flood on record at Cape Girardeau and Thebes, south of St. Louis. At Cape Girardeau, water levels peaked at 48.86 feet (14.89 meters). Above 32 feet is considered flood stage; above 42 feet major flooding. The previous record was 48.50 feet. The floodwaters have breached levees in several locations. The most notable breach occurred near Miller City, Illinois, near the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. The flood threatened the homes of about 500 people in Olive Branch, Hodges Park, and Unity – nearby towns in Illinois.
On January 3, 2016, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this false-color image of flooding along the Mississippi River. The image is composed using a combination of infrared and visible light (MODIS bands 7-2-1). Flood waters appear blue, vegetation is green, and bare ground is brown.
In the upper half of the image, the Mississippi River lies in the west, bordering Missouri and Illinois. Along the eastern border of Illinois, bordering Indiana, is the Wabash River which is also at flood stage. The Ohio River forms a border between southern Indiana and Kentucky, and the Wabash flows into the Ohio River. Further downstream, the Ohio River joins the Mississippi near Miller City, Illinois. Further south, the flooded Mississippi flows between Tennessee (east) and Arkansas (west).