Hannibal flood gates to be installed Saturday

After dealing with drought conditions much of the summer, Northeast Missouri is now faced with potential flooding into the weekend, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

The NWS issued a flash flood watch through Sunday morning due to the likelihood of additional heavy rains. Among the Missouri counties included in the watch are Marion, Ralls, Monroe and Pike.

The heavy rainfall will occur when the remnants of Tropical Depression Gordon interact with a cold front that is stalled across Missouri and Illinois. Rainfall amounts of 3-6 inches are likely, with locally higher amounts possible, according to the NWS. The heaviest rain is anticipated Saturday and that night when the tropical moisture from Gordon passes through the region.

John Hark, emergency management director for the city of Hannibal and Marion County, said the impact of a tropical weather system on Northeast Missouri "is not an everyday occurrence, that is for sure. 

"But a lot of people don't understand that some of the hurricanes that come into the Gulf (of Mexico) down there can have an effect on us here in the Midwest,” Hark said. “That is what is happening to us now.”

The NWS advises that the heavy rain could result in flooding on tributaries of the Mississippi River including the Salt and Fabius rivers.

Additional rainfall expected through this weekend could eventually result in moderate or even major flood levels on the Mississippi River as a result of heavy rains that have fallen across the Upper Mississippi River Basin during the last 7-10 days.

"I'm keeping a very watchful eye on the Mississippi," Hark said. "We are all prepared to respond if it becomes necessary."

As of Thursday, the NWS' Advanced Hydraulic Prediction Service was calling for the Mississippi River in Hannibal to crest on Monday at 21.7 feet. Early Thursday afternoon,Hark announced all five of the city's flood gates will be installed Saturday, Sept. 8, beginning at 1 p.m. Moderate flooding begins in Hannibal when the river reaches 22 feet. 

While concerned about what the Mississippi River might do in the week ahead, Hark is also focused on smaller waterways in Hannibal.

"The inner-city flash flooding of creeks and small tributaries such as Mills Creek, Minnow Creek and Bear Creek, that's where my big concern lies especially along the Bear Creek Basin in the lower lying areas," Hark said. 

Hark offered advice to anyone living in or close to flood-prone areas. 

"Be vigilant now through Sunday because anything can happen," Hark said.

The first-round of heavy rain hit Northeast Missouri overnight Wednesday. While the water filter plant in Hannibal reported 2.55 inches of rain, the NWS reported a trained spotter in the city recorded 3.5 inches.

danny.henley@courierpost.com