According to WBGZ Radio and local news, the director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Jonathon Monken, today warned that with snowpack at twice the normal amount, further “spring floods” in the state, especially in parts of northern Illinois, were expected and residents should be prepared.
Rain and melting snow are likely to cause localized flooding and increased river levels. Parts of Illinois have already seen some flooding (see below). With many many storm drains and catch basins are iced over or clogged with snow, flood water has little place to go. Since much of the ground is still frozen or icy, the flood water gets trapped, unable to drain into the soil.
Flood water and ice make for treacherous driving conditions, and Illinois Department of Transport have issued warnings about driving safety, urging drivers to remember “Turn around, don’t drown“.
— IDOT (@IDOT_Illinois) February 20, 2014
Bernadotte, Fulton County, Illinois, saw some flooding over the last few days as a result of rises in the levels of the Spoon River. The recent warmer temperatures, rain and snow melt all combined to increase the levels of the river. According to a local news report, the flooding has meant the road into the town had to be closed.
Clear Lake Township in Sangamon County, Illinois, has been flooded after the Sangamon River burst its banks there yesterday, Tuesday 25 February 2014.
Many roads have been flooded and the authorities have closed the worst affected. Driving conditions are thought to be dangerous – parts of the road could be washed out – and local officials have warned drivers to “turn around, don’t drown.” According to local news, high river levels and the flood water are expected to remain for at another day.
High levels of the Sangamon River could well be in part due to the release of water from Lake Decatur, in Decatur, Macon County, earlier this week (see report below).
Earlier Flooding Incidents in Illinois
Last week’s higher temperatures gave some Illinois residents an early taste of spring floods and snow melt.
On Thursday 21 February 2014, CNN said that:
John Dwyer, the emergency management coordinator for Champaign County, reported some road flooding and standing water in farm fields. A portion of State Route 150 between Mohamet and the county line was shut down.
Also during Thursday last week, Effingham saw 3 to 4 inches of rain, which in turn meldte snow and caused some localized flooding. A storm also brought down power lines in the area, leaving 24,000 without power.
Geneva in Kane County, Illinois, saw some localized flooding on 20 February 2014. After a period of rainfall, the water wasn’t able to drain properly since storm drains were still iced over. a public parking garage was flooded and 6 cars had to be retrieved by the authorities.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Kevin Stahr, communications director for the city, said:
“The water wasn’t able to drain properly on 2nd Street and started to accumulate in a section on the lower parking deck. The water had nowhere else to go.”
On Monday 24 February 2014, Decatur in Macon County, Illinois, saw some flooding as a result of rain and snow melt. There are also grave concerns over the levels of Lake Decatur, which threaten to inundate the town. As reported by WICS, Decatur’s Director of Water Management, Keith Alexander said:
“We had a lot of rain and snowfall this winter that is starting to melt this week, and Lake Decatur’s
Sluice gates were eventually opened and water was released from the lake and eventually into the Sangamon River, causing a flood threat for any communities downstream.
According to the same WICS report:
Overflow flooding from the Sangamon River will most likely affect areas to the west of Decatur. That includes parts of Macon, Christian, and Sangamon Counties. Eventually, the water deposits into the Illinois River, which is having some flooding problems of its own.
On Saturday 22 February 2014, 16 people had to be rescued from flooding from the Embarras River in Charleston, Coles County, Illinois.
Talking to local media, Charleston Fire Chief Pat Goodwin said that ice broke loose at the Embarras River causing flooding at the East Harrison Bridge.
The rescues were made by the Charleston Fire Department, assisted by Ashmore Fire Protection District and the Lincoln Fire Protection District dive team.