Droughts to Floods

April 26, 2013 09:34 PM
Droughts to Floods

NOAA predicts "mixed bag" of spring weather

Farmers, get ready for wild weather—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a little of everything this spring in its three-month U.S. Spring Outlook.

The drought-stricken areas of Texas, the Southwest and the Great Plains are expected to experience more of the same. Meanwhile, the eastern Corn Belt can anticipate minor to moderate flood risks, with severe flooding possible in the Red River Valley. Overall, river flooding is likely to be worse than it was in 2012. Multiple weather factors, including snowpack, drought, soil moisture, streamflow, precipitation, Pacific Ocean temperatures and consensus among climate forecast models, are considered in the NOAA report.

"This outlook reminds us of the climate diversity and weather extremes we experience in North America, where one state prepares for flooding while neighboring states are parched, with no drought relief in sight," says Laura Furgione, deputy director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. "We produce this outlook to help communities prepare for what’s to come."

Wet and dry. Flooding potential will be greatest in eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota. Late-season snowmelt will affect areas in the Upper Mississippi River basin, including southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and northern Missouri. Areas along the middle Mississippi, lower Missouri and Ohio river basins have already experienced some minor flooding this spring, a threat that will continue. Minor flooding is also possible in the Lower Mississippi River
basin and in the Southeast.

Above-normal temperatures later this spring are expected for most of the continental U.S. Also, 51% of the country is still suffering from moderate to exceptional drought. New drought development is expected in California, the Southwest, the southern Rockies, Texas and Florida. Drought relief is expected for the Midwest, the northern and central Great Plains, Georgia and the Carolinas.

Potentially hazardous weather such as spring flash floods, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes often develop quickly, Furgione says.

"Weather can turn on a dime, so it’s important to stay tuned to the daily weather forecast," she says.

You can e-mail Ben Potter at bpotter@farmjournal.com

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