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Major flooding forecast for a third of U.S.

This post is part of a special National Geographic news series on global water issues.

Major flooding has begun and is forecast to continue through spring in parts of the U.S. Midwest, NOAA’s National Weather Service warned today.

“Overall, more than a third of the contiguous United States has an above average flood risk–with the highest threat in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa, including along the Red River Valley where crests could approach the record levels set just last year,” NOAA said in a news release.

The U.S. South and East are also more susceptible to flooding as an El Niño influenced winter left the area soggier than usual, the agency added.

flood-risk-map.jpg

Map courtesy of NOAA

Supporting the forecast of imminent Midwest flooding is a snowpack more extensive than in 2009 and containing in excess of 10 inches of liquid water in some locations, NOAA explained.

Until early March, consistently cold temperatures limited snow melt and runoff, the agency added.

These conditions exist on top of: above normal streamflows; December precipitation that was up to four times above average; and the ground which is frozen to a depth as much as three feet below the surface.

“It’s a terrible case of déjà vu, but this time the flooding will likely be more widespread. As the spring thaw melts the snowpack, saturated and frozen ground in the Midwest will exacerbate the flooding of the flat terrain and feed rising rivers and streams,” said Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We will continue to refine forecasts to account for additional precipitation and rising temperatures, which affect the rate and severity of flooding.”

“In the South and East, where an El Niño-driven winter was very wet and white, spring flooding is more of a possibility than a certainty and will largely be dependent upon the severity and duration of additional precipitation and how fast existing snow cover melts,” said Jack Hayes, director of the National Weather Service. “Though El Niño is forecast to continue at least through spring, its influence on day-to-day weather should lessen considerably.”

Without a strong El Niño influence, climate forecasting for spring (April through June) is more challenging, but NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says odds currently favor wetter-than-average conditions in coastal sections of the Southeast. “Warmer-than-average temperatures across the western third of the nation and Alaska; and below-average temperatures in the extreme north-central and south-central U.S.,” NOAA said.

Comments

  1. Husker
    June 22, 2010, 12:02 am

    In the South and East, where an El Niño-driven winter was very wet and white, spring flooding is more of a possibility than a certainty and will largely be dependent upon the severity and duration of additional precipitation and how fast existing snow cover melts,” said Jack Hayes, director of the National Weather Service. “Though El Niño is forecast to continue at least through spring, its influence on day-to-day weather should lessen considerably.”
    auto transport
    Without a strong El Niño influence, climate forecasting for spring (April through June) is more challenging, but NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says odds currently favor wetter-than-average conditions in coastal sections of the Southeast. “Warmer-than-average temperatures across the western third of the nation and Alaska; and below-average temperatures in the extreme north-central and south-central U.S.,” NOAA said.

  2. grimrepp
    June 21, 2010, 7:50 am

    Intimately, the article is really the best on this worth while topic. I fit in with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your next updates. Saying thanks will not just be adequate, for the exceptional clarity in your writing.

  3. alex
    June 18, 2010, 6:26 am

    Major flooding has begun & is forecast to continue through spring in parts of the Midwest according to NOAA’s National Weather Service. The South & East are also more susceptible to flooding as an El Niño influenced winter left the area soggier than usual. Overall, over a third of the contiguous United States has an above average floodwater risk –– with the highest threat in the Dakotas, Minnesota & Iowa, including along the Red River Valley where crests could approach the record levels set last year.

  4. fedo
    June 18, 2010, 3:32 am

    Definitely seems that natural disasters keep getting worse and worse. It’s all we ever hear about.

  5. euromillions
    June 16, 2010, 4:47 pm

    Now the mother earth is showing it’s cruelty. There is still time we can make it happen.

  6. euromillions
    June 16, 2010, 3:41 pm

    I’m not sure what to make of all this. Are these weather patterns truly out of the ordinary? Are we just watching weather closer these days? Improved communication and global connectivity just raises awareness? I mean, extreme weather patterns and events have been happening on this planet forever. The US was under ice on several occasions. Surely, some is probably man made.. just not sure how much to attribute to such. Definitely not an easy question.

  7. euromillions
    June 16, 2010, 3:32 pm

    Then again.. if we don’t do something now, it could get worse.. but we don’t know exactly what to correct.. oh, the troubles we’ve seen.. and will see 🙁

  8. freakout
    June 15, 2010, 5:03 pm

    question is if any of those theories about global warming realy work.
    just take a look at the world cup.
    ok it’s their winter time, but it is simply to cold right now.
    same thing here in europe!
    greetz,

  9. Abram
    June 14, 2010, 1:43 pm

    we need to work more about the global warming.Very good blog.
    Thanks NG

  10. karin79
    June 14, 2010, 12:14 pm

    Unfortunately it always seems that we need an emergency to get things moving. People don’t get off their high horse and fork over money until it’s clear that it’s needed.. the unfortunate thing is at that point they need 10 times more than it would have cost to be preventative.. I don’t know how to fix human nature.

  11. Richardstop
    June 14, 2010, 11:53 am

    I still think we have much to learn from the devestating effects of Hurricane Katrina. Minnesota needs much more in the way of flood defences and only an emergency will highlight this. NOAA keep up the good work.

  12. BOB Hershal
    June 8, 2010, 4:01 am

    i am looking for the objects of these disasters. and getting some information from different ways. but now i need some information about 70-291 and 70-270 exams. so can you help me out..?

  13. lachs12
    June 5, 2010, 1:32 pm

    Major flooding will ruin the States soon, many people will die in this floods.
    Rürup Vergleich

  14. Peter Armenti
    June 4, 2010, 12:02 pm

    Then again.. if we don’t do something now, it could get worse.. but we don’t know exactly what to correct.. oh, the troubles we’ve seen.. and will see 🙁
    Peter Armenti

  15. lachs12
    June 4, 2010, 10:53 am

    We have to stop polluting our nature, because it is ALL WE HUMANS HAVE.
    Lebensversicherung Rechner

  16. mpbennett47
    June 4, 2010, 3:10 am

    We really can’t avoid nor stop any calamities that might come. Maybe can can prevent this things happen again by start loving our mother nature.rid lice

  17. Albu
    June 3, 2010, 11:11 pm

    If you track the changes over the years you can see this is going to be the norm from now on. We’re just visitors to the circuit of life and we’re on track to numbered days. The earth is fighting back!

  18. indusa
    June 3, 2010, 6:35 am

    These floods are obviously climate change-induced. And, we can expect more unprecedented floods and severe droughts. The moral of this story is that we each need to do our bit to reduce our carbon footprint.

  19. abound1
    June 2, 2010, 1:16 pm

    I lived in Atlanta the last few years and we had severe droughts, to see that we’re in a flood warning area scares me a little. Hope it doesn’t hit too bad. I’ve seen similar posts on different Adventure Travel blogs but this one seems legit.

  20. vero216
    June 2, 2010, 12:18 pm

    I have been living in Texas for the last 20 years and in the last 5 years I have noticed a big change in the severity of flooding, but in the flip side of that our summers are also now more extreme.

  21. Emanprinting
    June 2, 2010, 8:35 am

    This time the flooding will likely be more widespread in South ans East U.S. But this article is really informative and helpful thanks for share this information with us.

  22. lucy43
    June 2, 2010, 6:14 am

    Now the mother earth is showing it’s cruelty. There is still time we can make it happen.

  23. lucy43
    June 2, 2010, 6:11 am

    Intimately, the article is really the best on this worth while topic. I fit in with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your next updates. Saying thanks will not just be adequate, for the exceptional clarity in your writing.

  24. lucy43
    June 2, 2010, 5:51 am

    Intimately, the article is really the best on this worth while topic. I fit in with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your next updates. Saying thanks will not just be adequate, for the exceptional clarity in your writing.

  25. caruso12065
    June 1, 2010, 11:10 am

    The Northeast is finally getting some rain after 2 months of almost nothing. The rain totals were going down almost even with refinance rates if you could believe that. I guess it all evens out though in the end, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the East coast now has to battle flooding issues.

  26. Colin
    June 1, 2010, 10:51 am

    Nowadays,natural disasters keep getting worse not only in U.S. but also in China. Heavy rain causes flood in South China in recent days.

  27. LisaV
    May 31, 2010, 8:39 pm

    yeah, I have been living in Texas for the last 20 years and in the last 5 years I have noticed a big change in the severity of flooding, but in the flip side of that our summers are also now more extreme. 2 years ago we had a very, very bad drought.

  28. bradr
    May 31, 2010, 3:23 pm

    If you track the changes over the years you can see this is going to be the norm from now on. We’re just visitors to the circuit of life and we’re on track to numbered days.

  29. Greg
    May 31, 2010, 11:27 am

    I’m not sure what to make of all this. Are these weather patterns truly out of the ordinary? Are we just watching weather closer these days? Improved communication and global connectivity just raises awareness? I mean, extreme weather patterns and events have been happening on this planet forever. The US was under ice on several occasions. Surely, some is probably man made.. just not sure how much to attribute to such. Definitely not an easy question.

  30. Sussib
    May 31, 2010, 10:03 am

    Definitely seems that natural disasters keep getting worse and worse. It’s all we ever hear about.

  31. Michael Roy
    May 31, 2010, 9:42 am

    There are nearly 5 states of US under the high risk of Flood pressure and rest of the states don’t have such problems. Lets see how US govt. will plan to face it. I am gathering data of commercial landscaping companies in New Jersey.
    Thanks

  32. adam
    May 31, 2010, 7:46 am

    Even in india , this is the case , So USA is not only the country facing the problem.i hope this will get solved soon

  33. arwansp
    May 31, 2010, 2:59 am

    It’s not only happen in US but most all over the world including my county Indonesia. It should now a dry season here but raining has just begun and flooding the city. The climate really has changed and unpredictable.

  34. arwansp
    May 31, 2010, 2:56 am

    It’s not only happen in US but most all over the world including my county Indonesia. It should now a dry season here but raining has just begun and flooding the city. The climate really has changed and unpredictable.

  35. yemek tarifleri asure
    May 30, 2010, 3:26 pm

    I don’t want to imagine the results of ignoring global warming. This is what the “world leaders” do today. We can feel the impacts of this problem even in our daily lives. Global regulations are needed.

  36. Graham
    May 30, 2010, 10:50 am

    The flooding has started already and I believe they are right we’ll be seeing flooding all through Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa.

  37. sksean
    May 30, 2010, 9:34 am

    I’m so surprised to see that florida has, for the most part, a minimal flood risk. Especially in its southern most parts.

  38. lone
    May 30, 2010, 8:07 am

    Why is it always a surprise that the weather can strike? If you track the changes over the years you can see this is going to be the norm from now on. We’re just visitors to the circuit of life and we’re on track to numbered days. The earth is fighting back!
    trackdays don’t help, so i wont preach anymore.

  39. lone
    May 30, 2010, 8:01 am

    Why is it always a surprise that the weather can strike? If you track the changes over the years you can see this is going to be the norm from now on. We’re just visitors to the circuit of life and we’re on track to numbered days. The earth is fighting back!

  40. susuanlulu
    May 30, 2010, 7:31 am

    Absolutely, the weather become more erratic, there are more earthquakes and more floods than before, hoping it does not deteriorate too strong before humans find a way.

  41. justlivin
    May 29, 2010, 3:39 pm

    In seems like natural and now man made disasters keep getting worse. With respect to natural disasters I’ve read they are in line with normal numbers. But now with the oil spill things are getting very scary and hopefully floods and hurricanes do not mix with the oil.

  42. chrise
    May 29, 2010, 2:19 pm

    We too in Kenya are experiencing the worst floods in decades. Even the deserts and semi-arid areas are flooded. So, that 2 countries on that are worlds apart are experiencing unusual flooding this is further testament that climate change is real.

  43. Munnu
    May 29, 2010, 1:38 pm

    With Hurricane Katrina doing the damage it did, we don’t see another disaster of that magnitude again! I hope we have learnt our lesson and every protection is in place for such natural disasters! As the areas prone to be flooded have been earmarked, it will be easier for the authorities to start taking precautions at the earliest and not wait for the worst to happen!!

  44. dazzie
    May 29, 2010, 10:21 am

    I still think we have much to learn from the devestating effects of Hurricane Katrina. Minnesota needs much more in the way of flood defences and only an emergency will highlight this. NOAA keep up the good work.

  45. tomcool32
    May 29, 2010, 12:27 am

    The condition is eventually related to global warming. The increasing tempratures are a growing concern. The situation could go out of hand if not controlled soon. A very thought-provoking article. Hats-off to the team. The statistics are very convincing in agreement with analysis carried out here in India.

  46. lisjardine
    March 20, 2010, 1:32 am

    Why should we be surprised when rivers dow what rivers do? All these years the likes of NGF have preached the holy horror of insults against the Amazon River basin, for instance. Yet forgetting what in the 18th/19th centuries we “norte-americanos” did to the river basins of our northern side of the western hemisphere. The Mississippi River basin, including the Red River and its drainage basin, ain’t that much different, en effet, from that of the Amazonian. So why do we direct peoples’ attentions’ other where, when it is here right under their very own feet and houses they ought to be considering the whole matter of what the human impact of humans upon the planet is? Like, what did you do to alter a creek, a river today?