NEWS

When it rains, it pours

John Hacker

More than 2 inches of rain across most of Southwest Missouri caused area rivers to swell, but not as much as feared on Monday.

The National Weather Service weather station at the Joplin Regional Airport reported 2.63 inches of rainfall Sunday night into Monday afternoon.

Rainfall at the Carthage Water and Electric Plant on River Street was measured at 2.14 inches.

The National Weather Service office in Springfield had predicted that the Spring River in Carthage could reach flood stage, but that was based on an average of three inches of rain falling in the Spring River basin.

According to the National Weather Service Web site, the Spring River in Carthage peaked after 8 a.m. Tuesday at 7.76 feet, more than two and a quarter feet below flood stage.

The river is predicted to fall steadily for the rest of this week back to normal levels, but Jim Taggert, hydrologist with the NWS office in Springfield, said that prediction doesn't take into account the thunderstorms that might hit the area Thursday night and Friday.

"This prediction only takes into account the possibility of rain in the next 12 hours, and we're not supposed to get any rain in the next 12 hours," Taggert said. "It looks like we could get another inch to inch and a half of rain Thursday and Friday, but there are so many different scenarios as to what could happen, it's hard to say how that will affect the rivers."

Taggert said this week, much of the rain fell on Carthage and at the Carthage gauge site, meaning places downstream from Carthage will be affected by the rising river.

According to the gauges, the Spring River at Waco in western Jasper County was at 18.73 feet at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday and inching closer to flood stage of 19 feet.

At Baxter Springs, Kan., the U.S. Geological Service predicted that the river had crested at 12.67 feet, but Taggert said he was concerned that the river there could keep rising because of water from a number of different tributaries that is not measured flowing into the Spring River.

He said the rainfall has to be widespread, like in the case of Monday's storm to have a real impact on a river like the Spring River.

"The whole basin has to get heavy rains," Taggert said. "Three inches of rain won't really affect a river if it falls in one spot and the rest of the basin got a quarter of an inch. The rains have to be over a wide area of the basin."

Carthage Press