Many points on Kansas and Missouri rivers primed for dangerous flooding in next weeks

After the drenching of recent torrential rains and with more looming in the forecast, the Kansas City region could see prolonged river flooding for weeks, according to the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill.

Many points along the Missouri and Kansas rivers are at risk of flooding well into June, according to projections by the weather service.

The Missouri River at Glasgow, Missouri, reached major flood stage Wednesday. The river at Waverly and Miami was expected to reach major flood stage by Thursday.

Between 5 and 7 inches of rain could fall over the Kansas City area the next 7 days, which some areas receiving higher amounts, according to the weather service.

Already, moderate flooding was reported along the Missouri River at St. Joseph, Sibley, Napoleon and Boonville, while minor flooding was occurring at Atchison, Leavenworth, Parkville

The Missouri River was near flood stage in Kansas City Wednesday.

Along the Kansas River, minor flooding was occurring at 23rd Street in Kansas City, Kansas and in Lawrence. The river was near flood stage at Lecompton and Topeka.

And the flooding is far from over.

Robert A. Cronkleton and Neil Nakahodo The Kansas City Star

The rivers at most of those locations have at least a 50 percent chance of being in moderate flood stage into early June, according to the weather service.

“It looks like Kansas City and surrounding areas are probably going to be bouncing in and out (of flood) with this pattern that we are stuck in,” said Sarah Atkins, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill.

The ground in the Kansas City area is very saturated from rain that has already fallen. Storms this week have dumped around 3 inches of rain. Some areas saw higher amounts. Between 4 and 5 inches of rain fell on areas south of Kansas City.

With nearly 9 inches of rain falling at Kansas City International Airport so far this month, Kansas City is experiencing its 12th wettest May, Atkins said. The most rain Kansas City has had in May was in 1995 when 12.75 of precipitation fell. The normal amount for this time of the month is 3.72 inches.

Since Oct 1, the Kansas City area has had 35.81 inches of precipitation, making this year the wettest in its history. The previously wettest year was 32.12 inches in 1999.

More storms were on the way starting Wednesday.

Storms were expected to start developing as early as 4 p.m. Some of the thunderstorms could become severe.

“There is a lot of moisture in the atmosphere, so any storm that moves over will likely have moderate to heavy rainfall,” Atkins said.

Storms will initially be isolated and scattered before eventually converging more into a line of storms after sunset. The line of storms will affect mainly the southern part of the Kansas City metro area.

Large hail and wind gusts as high as 60 mph are the primary threat from the strongest storms. However, a tornado or two cannot be ruled out, Atkins said.

The greatest threat for severe weather will be south of the Kansas City metro area, including Linn County, Kansas, and Bates, Henry and Pettis counties in Missouri.

The moderate to heavy rains could cause flash flooding across the region. A flash flood watch has been issued for Linn, Bates, Henry and Pettis counties, which could see 2 to 3 inches of rain. The south side of the Kansas City metro area could see as much as 1 inch of rain.

The Kansas City area will remain in an active weather pattern, with several rounds of rain and thunderstorms expected to move through the area the Memorial Day holiday weekend and into next week.

“We are still expecting definitely more rain than we probably really want at this time,” Atkins said. “We will be keeping an eye out for severe weather chances with each round as it comes in.”

There will be breaks in the storms, so the holiday weekend won’t be a wash.

“We are going to see a fair amount of rain chances throughout the weekend,” Atkins said. “It’s not going to be whole lot of dry time.”

With the likelihood of people spending a lot of time outdoors this weekend, people will need to be aware of the weather and make sure they are not caught in areas that can flood easily.

“We do have very saturated ground already and areas are going to get more rain,” Atkins said.

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Robert A. Cronkleton gets up very early in the morning to bring readers breaking news about crime, transportation and weather at the crack of dawn. He’s been at The Star since 1987 and now contributes data reporting and video editing.