Ag Weather Forum

Delta Flood Risk Through Spring

By Bryce Anderson , DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst
The south-central and southeastern U.S. could labor with flooding throughout the 2016 spring season. (NOAA Graphic)

Mid-March was a big time for updated spring forecast commentary from NOAA -- the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Here's how the spring 2016 flood outlook is evolving, and a good-size portion of the Midwest and the Delta are right in the middle of the scene. -- Bryce

According to NOAA's U.S. Spring Outlook, areas of the country still under water from torrential rainfall last week have an elevated risk of moderate flooding through the rest of the season. Parts of Louisiana, Arkansas and eastern Texas have an elevated risk of moderate flooding, along with communities along the Mississippi and Missouri River basins and the southeastern United States, from Alabama to North Carolina. Surrounding areas are at risk of minor flooding this spring.

NOAA hydrologists determine the spring flood risk based on environmental intelligence collected across the country, including late summer and fall precipitation, frost depth, soil saturation levels, stream flows, snowpack, temperatures and rate of snowmelt. This national assessment is a compilation of local threats evaluated by the National Weather Service's 122 weather forecast offices and 13 river forecast centers. Contributing to the risk of flooding this spring, December 2015 was the wettest December on record for the contiguous United States, according to NOAA climate data.

"Our assessment of spring flood risk is based in large part on saturated soils and elevated streamflows from the Gulf Coast northward along the Mississippi River, although heavy rainfall at any time can cause local or regional flooding, even in places where the risk is currently considered low," said Tom Graziano, Ph.D., acting director of NOAA's National Water Center. "We encourage people to be prepared for the range of spring weather threats, including flooding, and tune into local forecasts to monitor their personal risk."

Meanwhile, snowmelt and rain continue to improve drought conditions in northern California, while the rest of the state saw only a small benefit from recent precipitation fueled by a near-record El Nino, and remains in a persistent drought condition.



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