Flood Risk Continues With Rain in the Forecast


March 19th, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. – Last week saw widespread flooding throughout Nebraska and Iowa, as well as other Midwestern states, as several major rivers rose far above normal levels.

Currently, these levels are beginning to go down, although the Missouri River, in particular, remains well above flood stage.

But additional rainfall in the forecast for Tuesday and this weekend could easily add to still-swollen waterways, said National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Fajman.

Areas south of the Omaha metro, which already were impacted by levee failures over last weekend, are forecast to receive the bulk of this precipitation.

“It isn’t going to take a whole lot to raise the river levels again because they’re already high and the ground is already saturated, so even a little bit of rain later this week could push some areas back in flood status,” said Fajman.

And looking forward into late spring and early summer, further snowmelt in the Dakotas will add to river flows, although reservoirs located there are still below capacity and able to hold more water.

Where rainfall hits, explained Fajman, will be a major factor in potential future flooding this year.

“Where things will be vulnerable is where some of the precipitation happens this spring—if it happens around the Gavins Point area or south of that. Gavins Point isn’t really a storage reservoir; it’s more water flows in, water flows out.”

Over the past several days, this historic wave of flooding has caused the deaths of at least three people, displaced residents of many communities, and damaged hundreds of properties.

It all started with a “perfect set of circumstances,” including higher than average snowfall in February and a powerful storm system that ripped through the area mid-week.

“A lot of these factors alone might not have caused the level of flooding,” said Fajman. “But because we had the melting of all the snow, we had the frozen ground so the water couldn’t go into the ground. . .all of those factors combined just led to a one-off event.”

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