Is Another Wet Spring in Store?

Spring Flooding Concerns 022020

The National Weather Service is warning that there’s a high risk for flooding again this spring. The ground is already saturated in several states including the northern plains and southern delta regions.  

"The Pearl River in Jackson, Mississippi crested over Presidents Day weekend at the highest level since May of 1983,” said USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey. We've also seen flooding elsewhere in the state comparable with what we saw back in the early 80s or late 70s." 

Rippey says even though 2020 is just beginning the wetness and flooding is already on par with 2019. Last year, in the contiguous U.S., it was the second wettest on record with nearly 4.5” more rain than the long-term average according to scientists from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information. 

"The areas of greatest concern would be the Red River Valley of the North, the upper Mississippi Valley, and then parts of the Missouri Valley," said Rippey.  "All three of those basins have historic wetness for this point in the season and if we were to experience a wet spring or major spring storms in any of those basins or all of them that could lead to historic flooding." 

South Dakota saw its worst natural disaster in the state’s history last season with some 4 million acres going unplanted.  

“It hit our farmers and ranchers hard which in turn hit a lot of our small towns, our bigger cities and is now impacting our economy and our state budget,” said South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem 

According to Meteorologist Mike Hoffman, the Root Zone Moisture map from NASA is telling. It looks at the moisture content in the top three feet of soil and compares it to the historical average. Blue is wetter than normal while red is considered dryer.  

“Most of the middle of the country, which contains a lot of the major growing regions, is extremely wet,” Hoffman says. “We are actually wetter than last year at this time however, I’m not convinced we’ll have the same type of spring as we had last year. 

Although according to long-range forecast from the National Weather Service, farmers in the Midwest and eastern U.S. can expect above-normal precipitation in March, April and May. The Southwest and West are expected to see below-normal precipitation.  

I've already appointed hazard mitigation teams to handle whatever comes our way here in a month or two,” said Governor Noem. “Those 11 state agencies will work with other organizations to make sure that we're equipping people to prepare for a wet year.”