While some areas of the country are still suffering under drought conditions, unusually heavy rains in other regions are causing deadly flooding that just won’t stop. Over the holiday weekend, extreme weather plagued much of the South, Southwest, and Midwest, with a concentration of flood-related deaths and damage in Missouri. Currently, some 17 million Americans are living under flood warnings, and weather experts warn this could be just the beginning. Unseasonably warm temperatures and a strong El Niño will continue to bring severe weather throughout the season.

flood watch, flood warning, mississippi river flood, flooding in missouri, missouri december 2015 flood, deaths due to floods, flooding rivers, el nino

The National Weather Service reports a number of major rivers are nearing record crest levels. Across the middle of the country, 400 river gauges are over flood stage with around 45 showing major flooding. Some rivers and streams have already crested, while others – like the mighty Mississippi near St. Louis – are expected to reach maximum crest late Wednesday or early Thursday in Missouri, as tributaries flow into the river. NWS says Missouri will see “major to historic river flooding through early next week.”

Related: Christmas 2015 brought a wave of wild winter weather around the world

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon told CNN the Mississippi River should be at its highest level ever at its peak, beating the highest level of the great flood of 1993. Nixon declared a state of emergency on Sunday, after widespread flooding resulted in a number of deaths and forced thousands to evacuate their homes.

In addition to insane floodwaters, El Niño is also causing tornadoes in record numbers. In the past week, 69 tornadoes have touched down in the U.S., according to CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. Typically, there would be “about 24 for the entire month of December,” he said.


Images via Shutterstock and NOAA