Don't let my fiancé drown!
April 30, 2011 3:19 PM   Subscribe

My fiancé had plans to drive from Houston to Saint Louis over the next two days. Now it's looking like there is a lot of flooding in the Memphis area and Southeast Missouri. Should she worry, or re-route her drive? What's the best route to take given current conditions?

She was originally planning on leaving Houston at 9am tomorrow and arriving in Saint Louis on Monday afternoon, with an overnight stop in Memphis. She is going to be meeting me at the Saint Louis Airport that evening, so it's kind of important that she get there in one piece and on time.

Now we are seeing a lot of flood warnings along what was her original intended route. She had been planning on taking Interstate 40 East to Memphis and then 55 North to Saint Louis.

If it's relevant, she will be driving a big minivan loaded down with furniture and other heavy items.
posted by raygan to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total)
Best answer: That's still the best route because those interstate highways are not likely to be flooded. There are storms predicted for Sunday. I would not advise going into Memphis but rather would plan to stop somewhere like Forrest City, West Memphis, or Blytheville, Arkansas. There will be adequate facilities in those towns and I wouldn't want to cross the river twice and spend all that extra time just to go into Memphis. Get a list of local radio weather channels and have her tune in as she passes through Arkansas and Missouri. It's still stormy weather season. Tell her to be brave; make (lawful) good time while the sun is shining and get off the road when it gets bad. Make some back up plans. Good luck to you both.
posted by Anitanola at 4:04 PM on April 30, 2011

Best answer: She could take I-40 to I-540 in west Arkansas, then east on I-44. That may actually be shorter. She'll stay away from te Mississippi.
posted by PhillC at 4:16 PM on April 30, 2011

If she took that route, Fort Smith would probably a reasonable stopping point.
posted by PhillC at 4:20 PM on April 30, 2011

As long as she stays on the interstate, the river will not be a problem. The only problem I see with going the Fort Smith route is that northwestern Arkansas and Southwestern Missouri are full of mountains. Smallish mountains, to be sure, the Ozarks, Ouachitas and Boston Mountains, but they're nothing to sneeze at when driving a heavy minivan in a thunderstorm. I've driven those states most of my life and I'll take straight interstate in lowlands near the river (outside the levee which is where they are built) over curvy highways in the hills anytime. Depends on what you're used to, perhaps.
posted by Anitanola at 4:40 PM on April 30, 2011

As a Memphian I can say that flooding will not be an issue for her on the interstates here. The problems with flooding were around rivers, but these won't cause her problems.
posted by Deflagro at 4:54 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

However, I dunno how it'll be once in Southeast Missouri.
posted by Deflagro at 4:55 PM on April 30, 2011

My sister in Memphis says it's mostly the smaller rivers that are flooding, and here in St. Louis, the Mississippi is definitely up, but not over any major roads. So the I-55 part of the journey should be just fine.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 5:00 PM on April 30, 2011

Her route will be fine. The river is high in Memphis, but no chance of flooding the interstates. I like the idea of staying overnight in Forrest City, AR, there's a Holiday Inn there if she's just looking for a bed and a quiet night. But it's a small southern town and there would be very little to do outside of dinner and crashing in her room. However, Memphis will be just the opposite and very busy tomorrow night as our big music festival winds up with a great lineup. She could encounter quite a bit of traffic if she hits us at the wrong time.
posted by raisingsand at 5:32 PM on April 30, 2011

I can vouch for that Holiday Inn in Forrest City. And for the fact that there's not much to do there. I second the idea, though of 1-40 to I-540 to I-44. It's a beautiful drive (I've made the I-540 to I-44 drive a million times), as well as the other (I-40 to Memphis and then up). Fort Smith will offer slightly more to do if you stay there AND it was the place they started out from in Lonesome Dove.. She can pretend she's waiting for Gus. I know I do.
posted by mrfuga0 at 5:47 PM on April 30, 2011

Yeah, at least in Missouri all of the interstates are open - whether she goes I-55 or I-44 she'll be fine. I echo a previous poster that the route that comes in from western Arkansas up I-40 to I-540 to I-44 has quite a few big hills. It's a much nicer and prettier drive - but if I were doing the drive in a minivan loaded with furniture, I'd consider taking the I-55 route.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation isn't showing any of the relevant highways closed, either, so I don't think she needs to worry about road closures no matter what road she takes, unless she gets off the interstates. There are a couple of side roads and exits closed - only one that I saw that was an exit off of I-55 in Missouri.
posted by Chanther at 8:27 PM on April 30, 2011

Best answer: I live in SE Missouri and drive I-55 to I-40 all the time to go to Little Rock. The interstate is elevated enough to be fine. my parents drove it Friday and had no problems. She will need to watch out for ponding on some exit ramps if it's raining at the time, but no flooding. I suggest stopping in Forrest City for the night because I-40 connects with I-55 before you get into Memphis. Plus, there is construction on 40 after the 55 interchange, so it's just not worth it to go past that. If she gasses up in Forrest City then she can stop again in Blytheville at a Shell/McDonalds on the second Blytheville exit. It's easy to get on and off. Her flooding concerns will be from Sikeston (forgot the exit number but its 30 min south of Cape) to Cape Girardeau (exit 96) in Missouri...that's where she'll be closest to the river. She will get to see lots of flooded farmland though. Exit 96 (Cape Girardeau) is 1.5 hours from Blytheville and is a good place to stop. Lots of things there. St Louis is 2 hours north of Cape.

Safest places to stop is (on I-40) Fort Smith or Alma, Russellville, Conway, (don't mess with stopping in North Little Rock unless there is something specific to see...DEFINITELY not Prothro Junction!) Hazen, Brinkley (I think there's a Wal Mart on this exit), Forrest City, Earle (right before West Memphis and the I-55 connection...there is a TA truck stop with food and BP gas). On I-55 the best places are Blytheville, Caruthersville (Truck stop with food....either Loves or Pilot), Sikeston, Cape Girardeau (exit 96), then into St Louis.

Memail me if you want some more specific info...I drive that route every 4 to 6 weeks.
posted by MultiFaceted at 9:43 PM on April 30, 2011

I don't know anything about the 40 to 540 to 44 route though so I can't comment on it. I can say 40 to 55 is pretty damn flat until you get about an hour away from St Louis.
posted by MultiFaceted at 9:45 PM on April 30, 2011

hi from memphis - no flooding on interstates here at the present moment, and none predicted for 55 from what i can tell.
posted by woodvine at 7:54 AM on May 1, 2011

So far today it's raining on I-55. Flooded roads are all off the interstate but watch for ponding in some places on the usual when it's raining. I-40 looks good too but there are thinderstorms in the Little Rock area. Just beware of standing puddles. Travel safe!
posted by MultiFaceted at 12:46 PM on May 1, 2011

When she runs into the storms that are predicted for tonight and driving becomes difficult, I hope she will stop for the night even if she has not reached Forrest City. Tomorrow is not supposed to be as stormy as tonight and LR is near the half-way point, anyway.

(It looks like I'm not the only Mefite checking back here so please keep us posted when you can; I would think we could put together a help team, if needed. Memail me; I have relatives in the area.)
posted by Anitanola at 2:52 PM on May 1, 2011

Take care around Sikeston mile marker 59 on I-55. Water is being pumped away from the interstate. Story here. Should be OK, just keep eyes open. Also be careful on exit ramps and scan the nearby highways before exiting to see if they are blocked.
posted by MultiFaceted at 4:10 PM on May 1, 2011

If she is still traveling/staying overnight in Memphis, here is some more information on possible flooding.
Shelby County Office of Preparedness
Map of possible flooding
posted by Deflagro at 6:05 PM on May 1, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the help guys! She ended up bypassing Arkansas altogether, and went up through Oklahoma and took I-44 East all the way to Saint Louis. It was rainy but fine.
posted by raygan at 6:11 PM on May 4, 2011

« Older Does your body go into starvation mode?   |   Lull Me To Sleep Without Using Enya Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.