Record rainfall triggered flash floods in parts of St. Louis and other areas of Missouri early Tuesday, with reports of rescues from residences and submerged vehicles on swamped roadways, officials said.
Jim Sieveking, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in St. Louis, described the rainfall as “historic,” adding that the city’s daily rainfall record, set in August 1915, was broken in five hours.
“St. Louis received over seven inches of rain,” he said. “We’ll probably end up with over eight inches of rain by the time the rain tapers off this morning.” Up to 10 inches of rain had been reported in areas northwest of St. Louis, he said.
Mr. Sieveking said that heavy rain had caused “catastrophic flash flooding,” with neighborhoods submerged, cars stranded and portions of interstates 70, 64 and 55 closed. He estimated there had been upward of 100 water rescues across the area.
The city’s fire department said on Twitter that it was responding to multiple reports of vehicles and people trapped in high water.
The flooding inundated roadways, shutting down more than two dozen sections of major roads that crisscross the St. Louis area. including Interstate 170, a beltway that runs north and south, and Interstate 70, which runs east and west across the country, the state Department of Transportation said.
At least four state highways and several other major roads were also closed by the flooding, it said.
In a residential area on the city’s western edge, rescuers used inflatable boats to reach homes where occupants were trapped, evacuating half a dozen people, while others sheltered in place, in at least 18 homes during one operation, the St. Louis Fire Department said.
St. Louis was one of more than a dozen residential areas in Missouri and in neighboring counties in south-central Illinois that were inundated with heavy rainfall overnight.
Residents in St. Charles County, in Missouri’s central eastern region, were told to stay home. A county official told News 4, a St. Louis TV station, that emergency dispatchers were overwhelmed with water rescue calls, mostly from the St. Peters and O’Fallon areas.
Flash flood warnings remained in effect for much of the region into early Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.
The rain was expected to move out of the region by lunchtime, Mr. Sieveking said, adding that the water is then expected to recede into the larger creeks and the rivers in the area.