Spring flooding forecast: Will we see a repeat of last year?

News
  • Middle Tennessee may feel the impact of too much water into spring.
  • River levels already running high with a wet start to 2020.
  • Last year’s historic flooding along the Missouri, Mississippi and Arkansas River Basins led to $20 billion in damage.
  • This spring may bring more flooding to the same areas that were hit hard last spring and Summer.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — February of 2019 brought disastrous flooding to Middle Tennessee and for much of the country, too much water was a problem well into the spring and summer months. Last spring brought historic flooding to portions of the Missouri, Mississippi and Arkansas River Basins.

The damage is estimated to be around $20 billion. But, will this spring bring more billion-dollar flooding disasters? It’s a possibility throughout much of the country.

There are a few troubling signs that indicate more flooding is on the way. A healthy snow-pack, saturated soil, and the likelihood of more rain through April mean that flooding may be on the way.

Estimated water content of the snow-pack as of February 18, 2020

Snow-melt in the spring is a major contributor to flooding. This year’s snow-pack is on par with what we had last year. When this snow-pack melts, it will equate to inches of water flowing into already full river basins.

The green areas are where the soil is unusually wet.

Another thing we are seeing this year is very saturated soil. The green areas in the graphic above show where the soil is very wet. Notice that it’s unusually wet in the Southeast, in the Midwest, and also here in Middle Tennessee. With wet soil, rainwater and snow-melt can’t sink into the ground. It has nowhere to go but into river basins.

Three month precipitation outlook. The areas in green have a higher than average chance for rainfall.

Of course, rain is another thing that will play a role in whether or not we see a repeat of last year’s flooding. The precipitation outlook through April is showing above-average chances of rain. Wet weather into April could increase the risk of flooding. Here in Middle Tennessee, we are expecting above-average rainfall into the spring.

River gauges in Middle Tennessee that have an over 50% chance of flooding over the next three months.

Current predictions have a 50 percent chance of moderate flooding along the Duck River this spring and minor flooding along other local waterways. When you take a look at the bigger picture, major flooding in the Upper Midwest and along the Mississippi looks to be a major threat this spring.

River gauges in the US where there is a 50% or more chance of flooding over the next three months.

The Three Month Flood Risk highlights the river gauges where is there is a 50 percent chance or greater of flooding.

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