Long-term flooding remains a concern in central US as rivers continue to rise

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
April 06, 2019, 4:20:38 PM EDT


While some rivers have crested, others continue to rise and may not crest until the middle to latter part of April over the central United States.

Snow from the winter has melted across much of the Plains and Midwest. However, there still remains 1-2 feet of snow on the ground over the northern tier of the Midwest. Within this snow, there is as much as 6 inches of water locked up.

Snow Water Equivalent 4/6

This map shows remaining snow cover and the amount of water locked up in the snow in inches. (Office of Water Prediction / NOAA)


Rivers such as the Red River of the North and portions of the James and Mississippi have not yet crested with major flooding still to come over the next one to four weeks.


At Huron, South Dakota, the James River is forecast to hold at a major flood stage of around 16.3 feet through at least mid-April.

(DroneBase via AP)

This Wednesday, March 20, 2019 aerial photo shows flooding near the Platte River in Plattsmouth, Neb., south of Omaha.

(DroneBase via AP)

This Wednesday, March 20, 2019 aerial photo shows flooding near the Platte River in Plattsmouth, Neb., south of Omaha.

(Twitter/Missouri State Highway Patrol)

Water Patrol Troopers assisting a utility company shutting off natural gas lines in flood waters at Craig, Missouri, on Wednesday, March 20.

(Twitter/Missouri State Highway Patrol)

Missouri 111 on the south side of Craig, Missouri, in Holt County. Water being held back by a man-made berm on Wednesday, March 20.

(Twitter/Missouri State Highway Patrol)

Water Patrol Troopers assisting residents of Watson, Missouri, as water comes over levees in the area on Monday, March 18.

(Facebook/Illinois Department of Transportation)

Flooding in Miller City, Illinois, on Tuesday, March 19.

(Facebook/Illinois Department of Transportation)

The Mississippi River is seen overtopping a levee in Miller City, Illinois, on Tuesday, March 19.

(Facebook/Illinois Department of Transportation)

Flooding in Gulfport, Illinois.

(Facebook/Illinois Department of Transportation)

Flooding in Barstow, Illinois.

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Freedom Park, the naval museum featuring aircraft, the USS Marlin SST-2 Submarine and the USS Hazard AM-240 Minesweeper, is flooded by the waters of the Missouri River, in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, March 19, 2019.

(Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management via AP)

This Monday, March 18, 2019 photo taken by the South Dakota Civil Air Patrol and provided by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, shows flooding along the Missouri River in rural Iowa north of Omaha, Neb.

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

A neighborhood in Bellevue, Neb., is flooded by waters from the Missouri River, Tuesday, March 19, 2019, with the flooded runway of Offutt AFB seen top left.

(Twitter/ VP Mike Pence)

Vice President Mike Pence touched down in Omaha, Nebraska to survey flood damage, and thank volunteers and emergency personnel.

(Twitter/ VP Mike Pence)

Vice President Mike Pence surveying flood damage in Omaha, Nebraska.

(Twitter/ VP Mike Pence)

Vice President Mike Pence surveying flood damage in Omaha, Nebraska.

(Twitter/ VP Mike Pence)

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits the relief shelter at Elkhorn Middle School in Elkhorn, Nebraska, on March 20, 2019.

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Gabe Schmidt, owner of Liquid Trucking, top right, travels by airboat with Glenn Wyles, Mitch Snyder, and Juan Jacobo, as they survey damage from the flood waters of the Platte River, in Plattsmouth, Neb., Sunday, March 17.

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Trino Nuno and his dog Tyson navigate flooded streets in Fremont, Neb., Monday, March 18, 2019. Authorities say flooding from the Platte River and other waterways is so bad that just one highway lane into Fremont remains uncovered, and access to that road is severely restricted.

(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

A barge is moored along the Missouri River as floodwaters begin to creep into a dredge operation in St Joseph, Mo., Monday, March 18, 2019.

(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Volunteers move and cover sandbags in preparation of flooding along the Missouri River in St Joseph, Mo., Monday, March 18, 2019.

(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Volunteers fill sandbags in preparation for flooding along the Missouri River in St Joseph, Mo., Monday, March 18, 2019.

(U.S. Senator Ben Sasse)

Residents in Nebraska worked together to set up sandbags amid the historic flooding.

(AP Photo/Holbrook Mohr)

Backwater flooding covers stretches of farm lands near Yazoo City, Miss., Sunday, March 17, 2019, as seen in this aerial photograph.

(Bellevue Police Department)

Floodwaters inundated an intersection in Bellevue, Nebraska.

(Twitter / Offutt AFB)

Much of Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska, where the US Strategic Command and the 557th Weather Wing and 55th Wing are located, was underwater amid the rising floodwaters.

(Twitter/Offutt AFB)

Much of Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska, where the US Strategic Command and the 557th Weather Wing and 55th Wing are located, was underwater amid the rising floodwaters.

(Mike Bossman / Omaha Police Department)

Historic flooding in Nebraska left some roads completely washed out and scenes of widespread devastation, dramatic aerial photo showed.

(U.S. Senator Ben Sasse)

Massive chunks of ice and rising floodwaters wreaked havoc in Nebraska over the weekend.

(NASA)

NASA photos taken a year apart show the dramatic extent of the historic flooding devastating parts of Nebraska.

NASA satellite imagery here showing extent of Mississippi River flooding between Mississippi and Lousiana. (NASA.gov)


In Fargo, North Dakota, the Red River is forecast to crest near 35 feet on April 8.


Meanwhile, the Mississippi River at Rock Island, Illinois, is forecast to gradually crest at major flood stage early this week.

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As of April 6, every point on the Mississippi River along the borders of Iowa and Illinois was either at major flood stage or expected to reach major flood stage over the next week.

The crests assume no significant rainfall. Without any additional rain, these rivers may remain above major flood stage through the middle of April and may not fall below flood stage in some cases until the middle to latter part of May.

Farther south along the Mississippi River, at and below the confluence of the Missouri River to the confluence of the Ohio River, water levels have already crested or will crest at moderate flood stage this weekend.

River X


Light to moderate rain has fallen on the Ohio River basin and the Arkansas River basin in recent weeks.

This has had a positive effect against flooding on the lower Mississippi River and should help to mitigate an anticipated secondary rise due to melting snow over the northern tier over the next month or two.

However, rivers and streams remain elevated, and the ground is still wet. Should heavy rain frequent any parts of the Plains and Midwest in the coming weeks, then new flooding problems may quickly return on any of the rivers over the central and northern Plains and into parts of the Midwest.

On one hand, rising temperatures, sunshine and lengthening daylight will help to increase evaporation rates.

On the other hand, warmth and higher humidity levels will bring an increasing chance of thunderstorm downpours that can cause localized flooding. Large clusters of thunderstorms can produce torrential rainfall and raise the risk of flooding over a large area.

What is the outlook for rain?

"We think the heaviest thunderstorms will tend to focus over the southern Plains in the coming weeks," according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

"This should rob some of the moisture for storms farther to the north for the majority of the rainfall events, but perhaps not all of the events," Pastelok said.

One such exception will come around midweek as a potent storm slams the nation's midsection with blizzard conditions, heavy rain and strong winds.

"Well after the storm passes, runoff from the rain or melting snow can prolong or worsen the ongoing river flooding in the Dakotas and along the Mississippi River," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Alyson Hoegg.

Ahead of this storm, downpours and severe thunderstorms will track across the southern United States into Monday.

The storm will also bring lighter rain and hit-or-miss storms to parts of the Central states.

NC Sunday April 6


Some rain is likely to extend to the Canada border with the weekend storm.

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