AccuWeather estimates Midwest flooding damages have mounted to $12.5 billion in economic losses. As farmers and landowners in Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, South Dakota and Missouri come to grips with the devastation they face an unfortunate reality: more is on the way.
“These losses occurred in farm states that contribute significantly to the nation’s gross domestic product,” according to Joel Myers, AccuWeather founder and CEO. “With the ground already saturated and more flooding rain expected in the weeks to come, our independent forecast shows the aggregate economic toll of these floods will be far greater than official estimates initially suggests.”
If damages reach the $12.5 billion estimate, the flood of 2019 rivals Hurricanes Matthew in 2016 and Irene in 2011. The estimate includes losses to homes, possessions, cars, businesses and farms, drinking water contamination, infrastructure damage and long-term impacts from flooding that could exacerbate health issues, according to AccuWeather.
In Nebraska, the Missouri River crested between 30' and 47.5' in different areas, breaking previous records by 1' to 4', according to the state’s Emergency Management Agency.
“Where we’re at, it was higher than 1993,” says Travis Matthews, a Carroll County, Mo., farmer. “Our biggest concern is what’s coming. With all this snowmelt coming from the north, we’ve got two more months of this I’m afraid.”
In fact, estimates from Planalytics, a weather intelligence firm, put 55% of corn and 60% of soybean acres at risk of major to moderate flooding this spring.
“Predictions for the spring are more heavily weighted on prior weather than El Nino,” according to Han Schmitz, Purdue Extension’s Posey County director. It’s a weak El Nino with the greatest effects on the West Coast and in the Southeast.
In addition, Schmitz says the active weather pattern since January, with weekly low-pressure systems and frontal boundaries traveling across the U.S., suggests slightly higher temperatures and wet conditions through June.
“I don’t see [the land that was under water] getting planted,” says Ken McCauley, a White Cloud, Kan., farmer. “In 1993 and 2011, those guys spent all summer repairing fields, spending millions of dollars.”