PEORIA — Illinois River levels after recent rains are expected to crest Monday at 27.5 feet in Peoria, just less than two feet shy of the record set in 2013.
National Weather Service projections issued late Wednesday morning suggested the crest could occur late Monday morning and remain at or near that level throughout the remainder of the day.
And with all hands on deck, waiting for the water, the forecast called for a quarter-inch of rain to fall in the overnight hours with up to a half-inch on Thursday, said Heather Stanley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln. She said some areas could see thunderstorms and higher rain locally.
But despite all the rain, this April doesn't even rank in the top 10. April saw 4.35 inches of precipitation and that includes the water content of the 5-inch snowstorm that fell earlier in the month. Peoria would have needed at least 7 inches of precipitation to make the rankings. And the wettest April? That was in 1947, when 8.66 inches of rain fell, almost double our total this year, Stanley noted.
Monday's expected crest would see low-lying areas in Peoria and East Peoria bordering the river inundated by water, including Riverfront Park and Liberty Park in Peoria. Some homes in the Chillicothe and Rome areas also could be affected, especially along River Beach Drive.
Pekin was already seeing flooding at its riverfront.
"Due to excessive amount of rainfall and the rapidly rising river levels, the Pekin riverfront area, also known as Water Street, will be shutdown for the foreseeable future," said Pekin's City Manager Mark Rothert. "The city will also be taking flood prevention measures at its wastewater treatment facility located on the river as well."
Their colleagues in Peoria were beginning to plan for what is called moderate flooding by closing the parking lot to the north of Martini’s, which is located in the River Station building. Sandbagging should begin Thursday in the area near the River Station. The road that connects Liberty Street to the parking lot to the north, along the riverfront walk, will also be closed.
In addition, the promenade along the river in this area will be closed. People are asked to avoid this area to allow for room for crews to work.
Bill Lewis, the city's interim public works director, said Peoria has experienced 27.5 feet before. It's "definitely not unheard of," he said.
This week's flooding is also the first since the demolition of Riverfront Village. Where a concrete platform with a parking lot once was now sits a large grassy field. Lewis says the grass will not likely affect how much water floods the area. Right now, their main focus is on the River Station building, which is owned by the city.
"It's an asset of the city and it is on the historic register. It's important to keep that in good condition. The other buildings down there, we don't have any issues with flooding as they are at a higher elevation," he said.
In far western Peoria County, Spoon River Road, between Elmore Road and Walnut Creek Road, was closed Wednesday afternoon because of water from the Spoon River coming onto the road. Also in the county, near Mossville, State Street is experiencing some flooding.