Joe’s Weather Blog: Why isn’t KC flooding like other parts of MO? (TUE-3/19)

Good morning…sort of damp out there to start the day with some light showers moving through parts of the area…but overall it won’t be a bad day…as a matter of fact we could see temperatures pop this afternoon before some additional rains come into the region later today/tonight. From there though we turn a corner to spring as the new season starts tomorrow just before 5PM.

  • Forecast:

Today: Variable clouds and potentially warmer with highs approaching 60° possible…maybe higher on the southside. Rain moves back in this evening.

Tonight: Rain chances through early Wednesday…then cloudy and seasonable with lows in the 30s

Wednesday: Not too bad of a day after some morning clouds…highs 55-60°…good start to Spring!

Thursday: Pretty nice day overall with highs into the 50s again.

  • Discussion:

Let’s start with radar…

and the HRRR model…showing forecast radar through tonight…a 2nd batch is likely sometime towards or after sunset.

There could be an isolated rumble somewhere out there tonight…

I had concerns yesterday that this system might overperform…and while the bulk of this will come tonight…the latest HRRR model shows that the heaviest will be north of the KC area…

There may be a small bump in the MO River stage in Brownsville, NE (towards far NW MO) from that rain up there. No significant effects are expected though for the other gauges.

I will be the 1st to tell you that I’m not a hydrology expert. The NWS has very capable people and very good model data that helps forecast specific river stages and heights that help in the planning of impacts from flooding. One of the issues that I banged hard on, over the weekend, that I felt wasn’t getting ANY play at all…was the fact that the MO River in the Downtown area was going to see minor effects from all this water coming down our way. If you remember I kept mentioning that the river heights in Downtown KC wouldn’t even be in the top 65 of crests of the river.

That was surprising to me when we see what’s happening upstream towards NE, SD, IA and NW MO. How can ALL that water, which is mostly flowing into the MO River Basin NOT be a bigger player in the crest in Downtown KC specifically? So when I don’t know something I ask the experts…in this case the hydrologists at the NWS

I asked that question…why isn’t this a BIGGER deal for KC proper?

1st some basics though…

The gauge itself is located across the river opposite the Downtown Airport.

Back in 1993 so much of this area was under water…


So with all the talk about the high to record breaking MO River crests in NW MO…why isn’t this a bigger deal downtown at least?

Take a look at the river forecast…again for Downtown.

Notice the river is expected to crest later this week…just BELOW minor flood stage.

To get an idea of the importance of the stages…here is some additional information.

49.6 Major levees in the Kansas City Missouri area begin to overtop.
48.5 The levee in the Birmingham Unit begins to be overtopped.
43.7 Gaps in the levees and floodwalls of the East Bottoms area must be closed.
40 Gaps in the levees and floodwalls at North Kansas City must be closed.
39 Gaps in levees and floodwalls in the Central Industrial District must be closed.
35 Farm levees are overtopped. Flooding of cropland, homesteads, and secondary roads behind the levees occurs.
32 Minor flooding outside of levees occurs.

We still have about a 3 foot cushion before we see some of the levees overtopped…and unless something unexpected happens…that won’t happen this week.

So why?

I didn’t know…so I asked. Here was the response I got from my colleagues at the NWS…

“a few things are going on…the channel gets a lot bigger as it reaches KC (much of this mitigation was done after 1993). You can note this in the CFS upstream being 240,000-250,000cfs vs 215000cfs in KC. The flooding upstream was a conglomerate of a bunch of high rivers (i.e. Nishnabotna, Big Horn) all coming together. Also, the Kansas River is still low and not adding to the flooding in KC where in many other instances it was running high.”

So now you have an idea…some of the work down after 1993 on the River has helped the cause. Although I saw that in some cases in Nebraska that some of levee work down up there to contain potential flooding that was promised to hold back these waters were failures…it goes to an old adage I remember…water eventually goes to where it wants to. We try to hold back these large rivers…and often we can’t. Millions to billions of dollars have been spent since 1993 to improve the MO River flood prospects around KC proper.

Anyway…now you know…and I know too!

Our feature photo comes from ‎McDaniel Photography‎ of the MO River up in Atchison



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


  • Randy

    I’d also heard that, just as we saw, in 93, levees are failing, upstream from places like Omaha. Each time one does, the river now has a pretty large expanse to fill. That’s like having a tank almost full, being rapidly filled, and opening a valve, near the center, to another large tank. This, plus the fact that some levees were relocated, to give the river more of this expanse, seems to be preventing a replay of 1993. Also, I’d ask if the precipitation levels are as bad? Seemed like we were getting rain through Central Missouri, for a good bit of that year, then, it moved into Iowa and Nebraska.

    • Joe Lauria

      Randy…there are a ton of differences between 93 and now…River wise and precip wise…other rives closer to us aren’t nearly as bad as they were back then (at this point). Other differences too. The failure of the levees though will be an interesting story to track. jl

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.