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Spring snowstorm, floods blanket US midwest

by Staff Writers
Chicago (AFP) March 21, 2008
Thick, heavy snow blanketing parts of the central United States could worsen flood conditions along the Mississippi River basin, the National Weather Service warned Friday.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled and traffic was snarled as a spring snowstorm dumped as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) of wet snow in a wide swath ranging from North Dakota to Michigan.

Just a few hours drive to the south, hundreds and homes and business were still under water as soggy towns waited for floodwaters to recede and rivers to crest.

"Around St. Louis they are still looking at major flooding because of the water feeding in from the Ohio River to the Mississippi (River,)" said Pat Slattery, a spokesman for the National Weather Service.

"It's going to take a while for these things to go down."

Slattery said it's difficult to predict when the floodwaters will finally recede because it all depends on whether the skies stay clear and when and where the rivers crest.

"The snow will slow it down a bit because it will freeze (some of the water collected on the ground) but when it melts it's got to go somewhere and the ground is saturated," he told AFP.

The problem is that the snow is falling in areas that drain into the Mississippi River basin.

While it will take time for the snow to melt and flow downriver, a heavy rainfall is all it will take for some "pretty serious possibilities," he said.

More than 250 communities in 12 states were hit by flooding this week as steady spring rains melted snow and soaked saturated ground. At least 15 people died as a result of the storms and floods.

The weather service warned that a heavy winter snowfall has led to "above-normal flood potential... in much of the Mississippi River basin, the Ohio River basin, the lower Missouri River basin, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, most of New York, all of New England, and portions of the West, including Colorado and Idaho."

"God help us," said Jim Seward, as he rested on his pickup truck before hauling the final few pieces out of his house in Pacific, Missouri. "We just have to hope the river goes back down as fast it comes up."

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Thirty-three hurt in Czech motorway pile-up
Prague (AFP) March 20, 2008
At least 33 people were hurt in a motorway pile-up involving some 115 vehicles in a heavy snowstorm in the Czech Republic on Thursday, emergency services said.







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