|Dec. 14, 2005 — Flood and flash flood warnings were issued in Missouri today by the NOAA National Weather Service office in St. Louis, Mo., following the failure of the Upper Tom Sauk Lake Dam near Lesterville, Mo. The dam is in the Ozark foothills about 120 miles southwest of St. Louis. (Click on NOAA image for larger view of flood and flash flood warnings issued by the NOAA National Weather Service office in St. Louis, Mo., at 1:47 p.m. CT on Oct. 14, 2005, following the failure of the Upper Tom Sauk Lake Dam near Lesterville, Mo. Please credit “NOAA.)|
“Everyone along the Black River and tributaries downstream of the Tom Sauk Lake Dam is encouraged to pay heed to future warnings and statements from the NOAA National Weather Service to keep themselves safe from potential flood waters,” said Noreen Schwein, water program meteorologist at National Weather Service Central Region headquarters in Kansas City, Mo.
The St. Louis Weather Forecast office issued the flood and flash flood warnings following failure of the dam at about 6:24 a.m. CT, emphasizing that small creeks and streams, country roads and farmland would be flooded. Forecasters said water would rise rapidly to as much as 20 feet deep along the Black River, well above flood stage. The flood warning stressed the presence of a “dangerous and life-threatening situation,” urging residents to “move to high ground immediately.” Warnings stated the flood crest would move downstream on the Black River at about 3 mph.
The Upper Tom Sauk Lake Dam is part of the Taum Sauk Hydroelectric Storage Plant owned by St. Louis-based the AmerenUE utility company. The company said the breach occurred at the northwest corner of the dam that retains about 1.5 billion gallons of water from the Black River.
Neither the NOAA National Weather Service nor AmerenUE were able to report the cause of the dam failure. NOAA National Weather Service reports show the area received light rain (up to .15 inch) overnight. AmerenUE officials reported no obvious equipment failures, but planned to examine possible impacts of an Earth tremor of less than a magnitude 2.0 to the southeast of the dam.
Officials reported at least one home and a mobile home and a tractor-trailer washed away on Highway N near Lesterville. Cars were reported swept off the road and other vehicles trapped in the flood waters.