There are two things that we can see long term that help indicate whether or not flooding is in the future. Is there a lot of snowpack ready to melt? This year, that was a firm yes. Second, is there flooding upstream? For places from Missouri south to the Gulf of Mexico, the answer is also yes. Residents are already preparing, especially on the banks of the Missouri River.
A short term impact on flooding, as in one that can arrive with much less advance warning, is rain. Flash flooding is the result of more local rains, but river flooding can be exasperated by fresh rain fall. It can also be advanced by a rapid warm up, especially if coupled with rain. This was the problem in South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska earlier this month.
Fortunately for millions of residents, the thaw at the headwaters of the Mississippi was methodical, with refreezing overnight, and a more tempered warm up. The Mississippi and many of it’s tributaries are high, but municipalities in Minnesota and Iowa were able to anticipate the rising waters, for the most part, and have been able to stave off major issues.
And although the CPC continues to have a wetter than average beginning to April and spring season in the forecast, the ground is beginning to thaw and most of the melting above ground is complete. The Mississippi is cresting in Minnesota and starting to recede, with a major crisis averted. The good news in Nebraska, Iowa Kansas and Missouri is that any potential catastrophes aren’t going to loom more ominous than they already do.
The water was so high upstream in Nebraska and South Dakota that downstream flooding through Kansas City couldn’t be averted (though it wasn’t as bad as feared) and communities between Kansas City and St. Louis will need to be aware too, however the graciousness of Mother Nature, allaying the melting process and keeping the Midwest dry for several days, and the lower Mississippi Valley can breathe a sigh of relief.