Heavy rains have caused widespread flooding along the Mississippi River from Illinois to Louisiana [AFP]

As the flood waters slowly ease across the swollen Mississippi and Ohio river valleys, some of the states further north and west are also bracing themselves for a spell of prolonged flooding.

Montana has been struggling to cope with heavy rain for over a week now. That along with the heavy mountain snowpack has prompted states downstream to also prepare for floodwaters from higher elevations and releases from their own bulging dams.

Last week ended with parts of Montana getting around 200mm of rain in just a few days. Although there was a break in the rain over the weekend, allowing a brief clear up operation to get underway, the rain has now returned.

That rain is coming down as snow over the higher ground. As much as 45cm of snow is forecast over the Beartooth Mountains in just 24 hours.

The National Weather Service predicted that some parts will have had over 75mm of rain by the end of Monday night.

To make matters worse, it is also expected to warm up significantly by the end of the week. In Billings, Montana on Monday afternoon the maximum temperature was forecast to be around 7C.

By Thursday we could be looking at highs of around 23C. 

There will naturally be a rapid snowmelt, which will inevitably swell the rivers further and for even longer.
As a result, authorities have already started releasing massive volumes of water from overburdened reservoirs onto the spillway.

In a scene that echoes the situation across the lower Mississippi Valley, we are now likely to see this flooding moving downstream, possibly into the Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.

Once again, thousands of people look set to be adversely affected. Residents in these areas have been urged to plan immediately for evacuation and to take steps to protect themselves and their property.

Source: Al Jazeera