While we’ve already heard plenty about record flooding of the Mississippi River the past few weeks, more floods may be coming across the region, including on Iowa’s opposite border, the Missouri River. Climatologist Al Dutcher says record snowfall in the Rocky Mountains will keep many Midwestern rivers running high well into the summer.
“The big problem is, there’s just a tremendous snowpack,” Dutcher says. “We’ve seen a real delay in the onset of the snowmelt season in the inter-mountain region and we keep getting upper air lows that sink into the central Rockies and then slowly drift onto the Plains. It’s caused a lot of problems across the Midwest in terms of planting delays and very heavy precipitation.”
Dutcher says all of those factors coupled with a continued rainy pattern could mean more swollen waterways soon.
He says, “All of these in combination really increases our liklihood that we will continue to see this as a problematic situation all the way through probably June if not into July.” Dutcher says the mountain snowpack contains record amounts of water, which all has to flow downstream.
“We’ve seen a stepped-up increase in the projections for snowmelt from one-and-a-half million acre feet a month ago up to two-million acre feet now,” he says. “There’s less than 50% of that right now in available storage, so we’ve gotta’ pass this water through.”
While record snowpacks in Minnesota and Wisconsin melted weeks ago, bringing the flooding problems on the Mississippi, the snowpacks in the Rocky Mountains will take much longer to melt. Dutcher notes, it’s going to be pretty hard for the region to avoid more significant flooding.
“We’ve gotta’ dodge all these heavy rain events, plus we have to dodge a very sharp warm-up over the inter-mountain region that would cause the stream flows to increase rapidly,” he says. “It’s going to be a very, very touchy situation unfortunately for the first half of the growing season.”