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Officials have no major concerns about flooding as Illinois River waters rise

Illinois Department of Transportation
The river should reach a peak of 22 feet Thursday. Officials do not forecast any threats to property.

Peoria could see some minor flooding as warmer temperatures melt ice and snow, but officials say they don’t have any major concerns.

Mike Albano, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln, said flooding in Peoria should be minor to moderate for the coming week.

“We're not expecting any unusual impacts from typical springtime flooding, so that's a good thing,” he said.

The National Weather Service is predicting the river will reach a peak of 22 feet Thursday. Albano said it shouldn’t have an impact on homes or businesses in Peoria.

Nick McMillion, communications specialist with the City of Peoria Department of Public Works, said they’re monitoring the river but aren’t concerned.

He said 22.7 feet is the “magic number” where water can go past the flood walls on the riverfront. At that point, the city would have to close areas of the riverwalk as a safety precaution.

But the river has to get even higher before there’s a threat to property.

“When we start looking at going full blown flood preparation stage and getting sandbagging operations going, that's when we're looking at the crest to be over 26 feet,” he said.

Original projections showed the river could reach 22.5 feet, prompting the department to begin preparations. McMillion said that’s less urgent now, but they’re still prepared in case the forecast changes.

“We could just look at some potential sidewalk closures and parking lot closures later this week,” he said. “But other than that there should be no real impact.”

Ice jams caused some flooding and flash floods in Northern Illinois, but they’re not expected to cause major issues downstate.

We believe now that the warmer temperatures are here and a lot of that ice is starting to break up,” Albano said. “We're not actually in that big of a threat for any ice jam type flooding or flash flooding for that matter.”

The National Weather Service recommends those who live close to the river stay up to date on forecasts, especially flash flood warnings and watches.

Though it’s not expected to happen, McMillion said there are some safety measures to know when the river does rise above 26 feet.

The most important thing is to avoid walking or driving through flooded areas.

“With any water that is outside of a waterway, you don't really know what is underneath the water,” he said. “What hazards are potentially there or if the water conditions change, if it rises or lowers or if currents begin to move fast.”

McMillion said flooding in Peoria usually comes from a gradual rise of the river. He says flash floods happen less frequently, but they do still happen.

“If you're in an impacted area where you may experience a flash flood, obviously get out of the area as quickly as possible,” he said. “Do not try to travel through a flash flood area.”

Peoria is under a flood warning until further notice.

Camryn Cutinello is a reporter at WCBU. You can reach Camryn at cncutin@ilstu.edu.