FLASH: Weather forecasters say stage is set for unprecedented major flooding this Spring for most of the nation, US officials said Thursday.
More than 200-M Americans are at risk for some kind of flooding, with 13-M of them at risk of major inundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in its Spring weather outlook . About 41-M people are at risk of moderate flooding.
Major flooding now occurring in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri and other Midwestern states is a preview of an all-too-wet and dangerousSpring, said the deputy director of the National Weather Service (NWS). “In fact, we expect the flooding to get worse and more widespread,” she said.
This year’s flooding “could be worse than anything we’ve seen in recent years, even worse than the historic floods of Y’s 1993 and 2011 ,” she said. Those floods caused billions of dollars in damage, and officials said this year’s damage in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota has already passed the billion-dollar mark.
Forecasters said the biggest risks include all three Mississippi River basins, the Red River of the North, the Great Lakes, plus the basins of the eastern Missouri River, lower Ohio River, lower Cumberland River and the Tennessee River.
The Missouri River has already set records with historic flood marks measured in 30 places in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota, Kansas City according to forecasters,
The river “remains vulnerable to moderate flooding for the remainder of the spring and early summer. People should be prepared for major flooding along the Missouri River … going into the future.”
Several factors will likely combine to create a pulse of flooding that will eventually head South along the Mississippi: above average rainfall this Winte including 10 to 15 ins earlier this year in a drenching along the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys; the 3rd wettest year in US history; and rapidly melting snow in the Upper Midwest.
It’s too early for scientists to make the complex calculations to see if human-caused climate change played a role in the flooding.
Major flooding is already occurring this week on the Mississippi River near several Southern cities including Arkansas City, Arkansas; Natchez, Mississippi; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, according to river gauges and data from NOAA.
Since 8 February about 100 Army Corps of Engineers personnel have been monitoring levees and other flood protection in Memphis; Clarksdale, Mississippi; and Helena, Arkansas.
One Mississippi region protected by levees is also flooding. The smaller rivers there cannot drain into the Mississippi River as normal, because a floodgate that protects the region from even worse flooding by the big river has been closed since 15 February.