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Cole County not expecting major flood issues

Record crest predicted on Gasconade River today

Area residents check out the rising Maries River water after U.S. 63 just north of the Maries River bridge was closed in Westphalia Wednesday afternoon.

Area residents check out the rising Maries River water after U.S. 63 just north of the Maries River bridge was closed in Westphalia Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Julie Smith.

Editor's Note: Click on the various links in the story to access up-to-the-minute flood stages and forecasts from the National Weather Service. Also, see the links below the story for additional flood-related resources.

The serious flooding was predicted further south and east. Cole County Public Works Director Larry Benz said Wednesday he and his staff were watching developments, but were not expecting flooding to be a major issue north and west of the Osage River.

“Right now, everything’s pretty well the normal, day-to-day business,” Benz explained. “We’re monitoring the low-water crossings and keeping an eye on them.”

But in Osage County, the flood prediction for the Maries River at Westphalia changed almost hourly, from a 6-foot deep flood prediction at noon to an 11.1-foot flood by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Flood stage at Westphalia is 10 feet.

At noon Wednesday, the Maries River was at 10.2 feet, with a 15.9-foot crest predicted overnight. By 4 p.m. the river had reached 18.41 feet, and appeared to be starting to drop.

But, just one hour later, the Maries had surged to 19.31 feet, with a predicted crest of 21.1 feet before it should begin falling today.

And obviously, officials said, more rain could change that.

The surging Maries River forced transportation officials to close U.S. 63 at Westphalia Wednesday afternoon, just hours after the highway was closed south of Vienna. The surging floodwaters covered a low-lying section of the highway just south of its bridge over the Gasconade River.

At Rich Fountain on the Gasconade River, the Weather Service was predicting a record crest of 33.4 feet by 5 p.m. today — one-tenth of a foot higher than the old record set in 1982.

The flood stage at Rich Fountain is 20 feet, and the river was nearly a foot above that by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Benz was watching the Osage River at St. Thomas. The Weather Service issued a flood “warning” through 7 p.m. today, but predicted only “minor” flooding because of the heavy rains further south and water releases from Bagnell Dam.

Downstream from St. Thomas, past Taos and Osage City, Benz didn’t think there was much concern, even as the Maries continued rising.

The Maries River empties into the Osage at Mari-Osa-Delta, just north of the U.S. 50/63 bridges between Cole and Osage counties.

“I don’t think it’s going to cause a whole lot of problems (downstream) because the Missouri is down,” Benz explained. “It’s really not that far between there and the Missouri River.”

At Jefferson City, where flood stage is 23 feet, the Missouri River was expected to crest at 10.2 feet — its level at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

At Chamois — east of the Osage River’s mouth — the Missouri’s flood stage is 17 feet, and the Weather Service predicted a crest of 14.5 feet by 3 p.m. Thursday.

Minor Missouri River flooding was predicted for Hermann, which is east of both the Osage and Gasconade river mouths.

There, flood stage is 21 feet, and the Weather Service predicted a 21.6-foot crest by 3 p.m. today, but holding at least through Saturday.

View August 2013 area flooding photo gallery

Online resources:

Lake operational data from Ameren Missouri

Area river and stream stages and forecasts

Weather and flood advisories, watches and warnings

MoDOT Traveler Information Map (road closings)

Earlier coverage:

Bagnell Dam floodgates opened; city of Bagnell evacuated

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