NOAA: 'Historic, Widespread' Flooding Continuing Through May

"The extensive flooding we've seen in the past two weeks will continue through May and become more dire and may be exacerbated in the coming weeks as the water flows downstream," said Ed Clark, director of NOAA's National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala. "This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities."

NOAA's U.S. Spring Outlook indicates nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states face an elevated risk for flooding through May, with the potential for major or moderate flooding in 25 states. Most of the country is favored to experience above-average precipitation this spring, increasing the flood risk, with some parts of the country – especially in the upper Mississippi and Missouri River basins, including Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa – already experiencing record flooding this year because of snow melt combined with heavy spring rain and late season snowfall in areas where soil moisture is high. In some areas, ice jams are exacerbating the flooding.

Additional spring rain and melting snow will prolong and expand flooding, especially in the central and southern United States, and as this excess water flows downstream, the flood threat will become worse and geographically more widespread, NOAA reported March 21.

"This outlook will help emergency managers and community decision-makers all along the nation's major waterways prepare people and businesses for the flood threat," said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., NOAA's acting administrator. "In addition to the safety aspects, our rivers are critical to the economic vitality of the nation, supporting commerce, recreation, and transportation. NOAA forecasts and outlooks help people navigate extreme seasonal weather and water events to keep the country safe and moving forward."

The outlook says the upper Mississippi and Red River of the North basins have received rain and snow this spring up to 200 percent above normal. Areas of greatest risk for moderate to major flooding include the upper, middle, and lower Mississippi River basins, including the mainstem Mississippi River, Red River of the North, the Great Lakes, eastern Missouri River, lower Ohio, lower Cumberland, and Tennessee River basins. Much of the United States east of the Mississippi River and portions of California and Nevada are at risk for minor flooding. "The extensive flooding we've seen in the past two weeks will continue through May and become more dire and may be exacerbated in the coming weeks as the water flows downstream," said Ed Clark, director of NOAA's National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala. "This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities."

"Severe weather and flooding can strike anywhere, whether or not you are in a high-risk area," said Daniel Kaniewski, Ph.D., deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "Insurance is the first and best line of defense. Act now to make sure you have the right coverage for a flood by visiting floodsmart.gov, and don't forget to download the FEMA mobile app to get real-time weather alerts in your area."

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