Firefighters and sheriff's deputies made a pair of water rescues Tuesday morning from flooded roads north of Grain Valley, helping a FedEx truck driver and a family of five in a minivan.
Those incidents are among many across the region as flash flooding arises quickly, as rivers and streams rise, and as the forecast calls for yet more rain on saturated ground.
The two rescues happened close to each other about 10 a.m.
In one, firefighters from the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District used a boat to rescue the truck driver from Duncan Road, where he had become stranded before Howell Road in a couple feet of water.
Less than a mile away, a mother and her children became stranded in a minivan on Sweeney Road just north of Duncan. Sheriff’s deputies helped that family walk to safety.
Small, unnamed creeks run near those roads. Neither incident caused any injuries, the sheriff's office said.
“We always tell people not to” drive through water over the roads, CJC Assistant Chief Eddie Saffel said, “but sometimes they do.”
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday declared a state of emergency, citing flash flooding in urban areas, water rescues in southwest Missouri and other incidents – and authorities stressed the “turn around, don’t drown” slogan.
The Kansas City was under a flood warning Tuesday, with most of the concern being flash flooding. That was set to expire overnight. But more heavy rain could come late today, according to the National Weather Service, and overall there’s a chance of rain and thunderstorms every day right through the Memorial Day weekend.
The Little Blue River in eastern Independence, among many other rivers across much of the region, remains under a flood warning. Its flood stage at Lake City in 18 feet. Late Tuesday afternoon, it was measured at 20.6 feet, and it was projected to crest at 20.9 Tuesday evening. The river also was at 21.4 feet, just above the flood stage of 21 feet, at Lee’s Summit Road. The flood warning for the river runs through this evening.
The effects are felt in many ways and many places:
• Jackson County was forced to close the Little Blue Trace and Longview hiking and biking trails.
• U.S. 24 was closed Tuesday from Sterling Avenue to Willow in Independence and Sugar Creek, a continuing trouble spot for floods because of a damaged culvert and responsibility for that culvert now a matter of litigation.
• Amtrak announced that Missouri River Runner service, with stops in Independence and Lee’s Summit, will be switched to bus service Wednesday and Thursday. That’s due to the Union Pacific having to shift much freight from elsewhere in the middle part of the country, areas hard hit by wind and water. River Runner trains ran hours late on Tuesday.
The Missouri River at Sibley was at 27.08 feet Tuesday morning and headed to a crest of 29.7 feet overnight – well into “moderate” flood stage. It’s not expected to fall below the minor flood stage, 22 feet, for another 10 days. Downriver, the Missouri was already into moderate flood stage this afternoon at Napoleon, with a reading of 25.59 feet and an expected crest overnight of 26.9 feet.
All along the area where the Missouri River touches or flows across the state of Missouri – from the northwest corner of the state downriver to north of St. Louis – the river is generally at minor or moderate flood stage, except in the immediate Kansas City area. In the coming days, it’s expected to hit major flood stage in mid-Missouri in places such as Glasgow and Jefferson City, as well as on downstream. Nothing that severe is forecast for this area.
Worse to the east
A dangerous storm system in the middle of the country produced dozens of tornadoes for the second consecutive day Tuesday, demolishing a racetrack grandstand and damaging buildings in a wild animal park in Missouri but sparing St. Louis, the biggest city in its path.
Two deaths, both in Missouri, were blamed on the severe weather that started in the Southern Plains Monday night and moved to the northeast. Missouri and parts of Illinois and Arkansas were in the crosshairs Tuesday. By today, the storm will move into the Great Lakes region, where it will weaken. But another storm system was gathering steam for later this week, potentially covering an area from Texas to Chicago, according to the National Weather Service.
The skies grew dark over St. Louis before nightfall Tuesday and a tornado warning was issued for the city and surrounding suburbs, but the storm passed overhead without producing the rotation that often spawns tornadoes and the city was mostly spared except for heavy rain.
The storm forced Lambert Airport in St. Louis to halt all flights for about an hour, before resuming Tuesday evening. There were no immediate reports of major damage in the region.
The NWS Storm Prediction Center website listed 37 reports of tornadoes on Tuesday in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.
A tornado early Tuesday near Tulsa International Airport injured one person and damaged about a dozen homes. The airport was unscathed, but passengers were moved into shelters for about 30 minutes and several flights were delayed.
Storms Monday evening flipped campers at Lucas Oil Speedway in Hickory County, Missouri, injuring seven people, four of whom were taken to hospitals. The speedway's grandstand also was destroyed, forcing cancellation of racing this weekend that was expected to draw about 3,000 campers.
Another twister Tuesday afternoon hit a hit a drive-thru wild animal park in southern Missouri. Webster County Emergency Management Director Tom Simmons said buildings were damaged at the Wild Animal Safari near Strafford, but there were no reports that people or animals were injured. All of the animals were accounted for.
Heavy rain was called a contributing factor in the deaths of two people in a traffic accident Tuesday near Springfield, Missouri. The Missouri State Highway Patrol said an SUV skidded across the center of U.S. 160 and struck a tractor-trailer, killing both people in the SUV, Brandon Beasley, 23, and his 24-year-old wife, Christin, of Willard, Missouri.