Heavy rain could cause big rise in the Mississippi River in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri

The Mississippi River, so low for much of the winter that barge traffic was nearly halted, could reach up to 10 feet above flood stage by the middle of next week in parts of Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.

The National Weather Service is predicting 3-4 inches of rain in a swath from Kansas City, Mo., through Chicago by Friday morning. Hydrologists said Wednesday that the result could be significant flooding from the Quad Cities to St. Louis.

Property buyouts, enhanced levees and flood walls will limit damage, but roads, farmland and scattered homes could be affected.

The Mississippi was approaching record low levels all winter following months of drought. Heavy spring rains have pushed the river to near-flooding in several spots.