JEFFERSON CITY - Meteorologists predicted Tuesday that the Missouri River will remain well below its seasonal average, limiting the threat of flooding in Central Missouri and the St. Louis area.
The National Weather Service reports the Missouri River will crest Sunday at 16.2 feet, about seven feet below flood stage. The river reached 14.4 feet Tuesday, running at 90,000 cubic feet per second in Boonville, down from 170,000 cubic feet per second this time last year.
"We were fortunate the situation was localized this year," Chris Brescia, president of the Missouri Area River Coalition, said. High water levels on both the Missouri and Mississippi rivers would exacerbate flooding in riverside communities, he said.
Experts said that was because the Missouri River currently accounts for 25 percent of the Mississippi River levels around St. Louis. The rivers, which meet north of St. Louis, crested Saturday at 23.5 feet, 7.5 feet above area flood levels.
"Everything is pretty much at normal," Paul Hansen, a Corps Hydraulic Engineer based in Kansas City, said.
There have not been any larger releases of water from dams in the area, Hansen said, adding that there should be little threat with rivers remaining below flood levels.
Although the Mighty Mississippi neared 26 feet Tuesday, flooding the cobbled streets below the Arch, the river was expected to crest Wednesday without reaching the ravaging levels of 1993.
In St. Louis, the Mississippi River was running at 420,000 cubic feet per second, down about 60,000 from last May.
"In this case the water was low on the Missouri and high on the Mississippi," Brescia said, lauding efforts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to contain early rains and melting ice packs. "It is still high in the St. Louis area, but not as bad as it could be."
Floods account for 200 deaths and more than $2 billion in property damages on average each year, according to the Missouri River Basin Forecast Center, part of the National Weather Service.
Despite closure of shipping routes along the raging Mississippi River -- from Minneapolis, Minn., all the way to Keokuk, Iowa -- St. Louis barge and ferry traffic continued Tuesday.
"The only impact on barge traffic is if the coast guard declared a no wake zone and it has to be pretty high for them to do that," Hansen said.