Midwest rains swelling rivers

April 21, 2013 at 3:20 PM

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., April 21 (UPI) -- Torrential rains throughout much of the Midwest United States last week is causing rivers to crest to record-breaking heights, weather officials said.

The storm that dropped 5.38 inches of rain within two days in Chicago and other areas of the Midwest has caused several rivers to swell, Accuweather.com reported Sunday.

The National Weather Service in Chicago said the Des Plains River at Des Plains, Ill., crested to 10.92 feet, breaking a record from Oct. 1, 1986.

The same river crested to 11.42 feet in Riverside, Ill., breaking a record from Aug. 15, 1987.

Flooding in the Illinois River was at its highest in Morris, Ottawa and La Salle, Ill., since September 2008, Accuweather.com said. Even though the rain has abated, runoffs from the other rivers will cause the Illinois to swell through much of next week.

The Mississippi River is at a moderate to major flood level across Missouri. It is expected to peak in St. Louis, Mo., Thursday before falling.

The Wabash River is at a major flood stage across much of the western portion of Indiana and is expected to crest Sunday, Accuweather.com reported.

Meanwhile, officials in Grand Rapids, Mich., have closed down three bridges over the Grand River due to rising water levels, Mlive.com reported Sunday.

The Fulton Street bridge was shut down due to concerns about a utility line strapped to the underside of the bridge. Rising waters were only 6 inches from the utility lines, and debris floating down the river could snag it.

"If a log snags the cable and breaks it, you could have widespread power outage," warned Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, who has ordered power to be diverted and the utility lines to be shut down so that workers can clear possible debris.

No rain was expect for most of the Midwest through Monday, though some precipitation Monday night into Tuesday could cause problems for already swollen rivers, Accuweather.com reported.

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