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February 24, 2011 | 12:00 a.m. CST
This year’s flood forecast could be bad news for Columbia’s roads. The National Weather Service’s St. Louis office recently announced that moderate to major flooding is probable in the next three months.
“We’re already at a higher risk for flooding this spring before spring is even here,” says Sharon Ray, chief meteorologist for ABC17 News. “Our high snowpack, snowmelt and moisture content are setting the stage for high rain events causing flooding here.”
Freezing conditions in December held moisture in the soil after a rainy autumn, so after thawing, the ground will already contain water. Additional moisture from snowmelt in the North could bring flooding to mid-Missouri earlier than normal. Typically, flood season’s peak is April or May, but Ray predicts flooding could be a problem as early as March.
Although snowmelt might cause flooding this year, most of Columbia’s roads will flood because of significant rain events, says Brian Maydwell, systems support analyst for Columbia’s Public Safety/Joint Communications Center.
Maydwell stresses for people to, “Turn around, don’t drown” and never to cross a flooded roadway. “People don’t realize how powerful moving water is,” he says. “They might say, ‘Oh, it’s not even up to the top of my tires,’ but only a couple of inches could pick up an SUV.”
Still, using a roundabout way to a destination can be frustrating, especially if time is limited. “When you cut off a major artery, it’s really hard to get around,” Maydwell says. But when faced with the possibility of getting swept away, he says taking extra time will be worth it.
Here’s Vox’s guide to which local roadways most commonly flood and how to get around them. For real-time information on road closures and conditions during flood season, visit http://maps.modot.mo.gov/timi/ or http://www.showmeboone.com/oem/closures/.