Southern U.S. States Face Floods As Midwest Rivers Recede

Jan 1 (Reuters) – Overflowing rivers receded in Missouri and Illinois on Friday after flooding swamped communities and forced towns to evacuate, but forecasters warned rain-swollen waterways could menace Southern states downstream.

Rare winter floods have killed at least 28 people in the U.S. Midwest since last weekend, most of them when they drove into flooded areas after days of downpours. Midwest floods typically occur in the spring as snowmelt swells rivers.

Dozens have died in U.S. storms, which also brought unusual winter tornadoes and were part of a wild worldwide weather system over the Christmas holiday period that also saw severe flooding in Britain.

More than 100,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes in areas bordering Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina after floods due to heavy summer rains caused by El Niño, authorities have said.

Weather is dominating conversation on social media over the holiday season after the international climate deal in Paris.

Particularly hard hit in the United States in recent days has been Missouri, which has suffered historic flooding.

Close to St. Louis on Friday, the Mississippi River, the second-longest river in the United States, was falling after reaching near-record heights, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

The Meramec River, which meanders near St. Louis and empties into the Mississippi River, broke height records on Thursday, sending a deluge of water over its banks and forcing the closure of two major highways.

Both interstates 55 and 44 reopened on Friday, but many other roads remained closed in the St. Louis area, state officials said, causing extreme traffic congestion.

Thousands of people evacuated from their homes earlier in the week were waiting to return to their communities and begin the process of cleaning up. Hundreds of structures have been damaged or destroyed, local officials said.

The Mississippi River is expected to crest at Thebes, —> Read More