Journal of Earth Science

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 117–122 | Cite as

River management and flooding: The lesson of December 2015–January 2016, central USA

  • Robert E. Criss
  • Mingming Luo


The huge winter storm of December 23–29, 2015 delivered heavy rainfall in a broad swath across the USA, deluging East-Central Missouri. Record high river levels were set at many sites, but damages were most pronounced in developed floodplain areas, particularly where high levees were built or river channels greatly narrowed. An average of 20 cm of rain that mostly fell in three days impacted the entire 10 300 km2 Meramec Basin. Compared to the prior record flood of 1982, the highest relative stage (+1.3 m) on Meramec River occurred at Valley Park proximal to (1) a new levee, (2) a landfill in the floodway, (3) large floodplain construction fills, and (4) tributary creek basins impacted by suburban sprawl. Even though only a small fraction of the 1.8 million km2 Mississippi River watershed above St. Louis received extraordinary rainfall during this event, the huge channelized river near and below St. Louis rapidly rose to set the 3rd-highest to the highest stages ever, exhibiting the flashy response typical of a much smaller river.

Key Words

floods Mississippi River levees floodplain development 


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Copyright information

© China University of Geosciences and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth and Planetary SciencesWashington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.School of Environmental StudiesChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina

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