NOAA forecasters predict widespread flooding this spring, but do not expect it to be as severe or prolonged overall as the historic floods in 2019. Major to moderate flooding is likely in 23 states from the Northern Plains south to the Gulf Coast, with the most significant flood potential in parts of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above-average temperatures across the country this spring, as well as above-average precipitation in the central and eastern U.S. Significant rainfall events could trigger flood conditions on top of already saturated soils.
Ongoing rainfall, highly saturated soil and an enhanced likelihood for above-normal precipitation this spring contribute to the increased chances for flooding across the central and southeastern U.S. A risk of minor flooding exists across one-third of the country.
The greatest risk for major and moderate flood conditions includes the upper and middle Mississippi River basins, the Missouri River basin and the Red River of the North. Moderate flooding is anticipated in the Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, and Missouri River basins, as well as the lower Mississippi River basin and its tributaries.
“Nearly every day, dangerous flooding occurs somewhere in the United States and widespread flooding is in the forecast for many states in the months ahead,” said Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
With soil moisture already at high levels across much of the central U.S., and many rivers running high in the central and eastern U.S., any heavy local rainfall could trigger flooding in these high-risk areas. The flood risk outlook is based on an integrated evaluation of a number of factors, including current conditions of snowpack, drought, soil moisture, frost depth, stream flow and precipitation.
Above-average precipitation is favored from the Northern Plains, southward through the lower Mississippi Valley across to the East Coast. Large parts of Alaska also are likely to experience above-average precipitation in the months ahead.
Warmer-than-average temperatures are most likely from coast to coast with the greatest chances in northern Alaska, across the central Great Basin southward into the Gulf States, and into the Southeast and portions of the Mid-Atlantic. No part of the country is favored to experience below-average temperatures this spring.
Drought conditions are expected to persist and expand throughout California in the months ahead, and drought is likely to persist in the central and southern Rocky Mountains, the southern Plains, southern Texas, and portions of the Pacific Northwest.
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