ST. LOUIS — A line of steady thunderstorms is dropping torrential rains across the St. Louis area early Tuesday morning, swelling rivers and creeks and stranding drivers across several roads in the region, including shutting down a major interstate.
A Flash Flood Emergency was issued for St. Louis as some storm rainfall totals have reached 6-10 inches just Tuesday morning alone, according to the National Weather Service, with rainfall rates of 1-5 inches per hour.
“This is a PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION. SEEK HIGHER GROUND NOW!” the National Weather Service wrote in their warning.
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A spotter in O’Fallon on the outskirts of St. Louis reported a storm total rainfall of 10.05 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Saint Paul, Missouri, reported an even 9 inches so far as of 4:10 a.m. CT. That same spotter had reported a total of 4.88 inches at 2:15 a.m, according to the NWS. A report from St. Peters recorded 9.50 inches.
St. Louis has shattered their record for wettest day on record with 7.57 inches of rain just five hours since midnight with rain still falling. The old record was 6.85 inches in 1915.
“Historic rainfall event causing widespread flash flooding this morning,” the National Weather Service in St. Louis tweeted.
Flash Flood Warnings spread across 250 miles
In western St. Louis, law enforcement officials reported water was endangering homes in the Ladue area, with water rescues underway. Spotters reported several cars were stranded along Lindbergh Blvd. just north of Interstate 64. More cars were stranded by floodwaters in the Maryland Heights neighborhood.
St. Louis Fire rescue crews were using small boats to rescue drivers trapped along Skinker Parkway where several vehicles were submerged in water.
Both Fee Fee Creek and Deer Creek exceeded major flood stage, the NWS reported.
Interstate 70 was flooded and closed near Mid Rivers Mall Drive in St. Charles County near St. Peters due to flooding, while the eastbound lanes were flooded and closed at Lucas and Hunt Road near St. Louis.
In Flint Hill, Highway 61 between Wentzville and Troy is closed due to water over the highway, according to the Missouri Dept. of Transportation.
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So far, there are no reports of any injuries.
Flooding spreads into Illinois
Widespread rainfall rates of 1-2 inches an hour have fallen during the thunderstorms, and an additional 1-3 inches are likely before the storms abate later Tuesday morning, and the Flash Flood Emergency remains in effect until 9:30 a.m. CT.
Flash Flood Warnings expanded into east central Missouri. Highway 19 was flooded just south of Wellsville where 3-8 inches of rain fell.
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The flooding spread into southwestern Illinois, where Flash Flood Warnings were in effect until 8:45 a.m. after 2-5 inches of rain fell. The warnings covered parts of Interstates 64, 55 and 70 in the Monroe and St. Clair areas.
How did it get so wet?
The historic rainfall is the combination of abundant atmospheric moisture and a frontal boundary that stalled over a major populated area.
“A warm front lifted (Monday) night, but then the boundary stalled out across the region,” says FOX Weather Meteorologist Jane Minar. “The winds out from the south out ahead of the boundary increased the moisture out ahead of (the front).”
Meanwhile, the atmosphere in that area already had a copious amount of moisture available.
“It’s really setting up right above that boundary, and we are seeing this aid in the development of downpours over the next several hours,” Minar said.
The storms followed along that boundary, which veered a bit toward St. Louis.
“And that’s what allowed this band of rain to continue to filter in over St. Louis and drop in rainfall rates of 2-4 inches per hour – which has led to the incredible rain reports we’ve seen; anywhere from 5-10 inches since midnight,” Minar said. “And because this boundary is not moving, these storms are going to continue to dive down and run into these same areas over the next several hours.”
Activity is likely to continue through the mid-morning hours and then begin to wane later in the morning. Another round of heavy rains is possible on Wednesday.
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