NOAA – NWS on continuing midwest flood risks

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Rachel Hoch  301-713-0622 July 6, 2011

Widespread flood threat to continue through summer

2011 could rival Great Flood of 1993

Many rivers in the upper Midwest and northern Plains remain above flood stage, and the threat for more flooding will continue through the summer, forecasters at NOAA’s National Weather Service said today.

With rivers running high and soils completely saturated, just a small amount of rain could trigger more flooding, including areas that have already seen major to record flooding. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above-normal rain in most of these vulnerable areas in the next two weeks, and above-normal rainfall in much of the region in the one- and three-month outlooks. Adding to the flood threat will be the rising temperatures over the Rockies, which will release the water from the remaining snowpack.

“The sponge is fully saturated – there is nowhere for any additional water to go,” said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “While unusual for this time of year, all signs point to the flood threat continuing through summer.”

Forecasters say this season could rival the Great Flood of 1993, when the upper Midwest endured persistent, record-breaking floods from April through August, impacting nine states and causing more than $25 billion in damages (adjusted for inflation).

As flood threats continue in these areas, NOAA’s partners at the Federal Emergency Management Agency are continuing to support the response efforts in all of the impacted states. And they continue to urge all residents to take steps now to get ready for severe flooding and other hazards.

“The flooding that many Americans have already experienced this spring is a crucial reminder of just how devastating floods can be,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “As this forecast tells us, the response to this year’s flooding is going to be a long effort – but we will be standing with all of the affected states, communities and families every step of the way. And this will continue to be a team effort – with the government working hand in hand with all of our partners, including states, tribal and local governments, non-profits, the private sector and most importantly, the public. If you haven’t already, visit to learn more about how you can protect your loved ones, homes and other properties from flooding, including by purchasing flood insurance.”

Throughout the rest of the summer, the highest flood risk areas include:

  • North Central U.S. including Souris River (North Dakota) and Red River of the North (border of North Dakota and Minnesota), Minnesota River (Minnesota), Upper Mississippi River (Minnesota and Iowa), and Des Moines River (Iowa)
  • Lower Missouri River from Gavin’s Point (Nebraska and South Dakota border) downstream along the border of Nebraska and Iowa, continuing through the borders of Kansas and Missouri then through Missouri to the Mississippi River
  • Tributaries to the Lower Missouri including the James and Big Sioux Rivers in North Dakota
  • Lower Ohio River Valley including the White, Wabash and lower Ohio River
  • East of Rockies: North Platte River in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska and Yellowstone River in Wyoming and Montana
  • West of Rockies: Utah and Colorado

Many factors set the stage for this year’s ongoing flood threat, including persistent rainfall last summer and fall, a large winter snowpack across much of the upper Midwest, an unusually cool and wet spring adding additional snowpack in the higher elevations of the Rockies and further saturated soil in lower elevations and in the northern Plains, and above-normal to record river levels for this time of year in the at-risk areas.

In anticipation of these threats, FEMA has been working proactively with these states for months to prepare for and respond to flooding. Through its regional offices in Colorado, Missouri and Illinois, FEMA is continuing to closely monitor ongoing and potential flooding in these states, and is also working closely with our numerous federal partners, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Weather Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, among others.

To support to states currently dealing with flooding, under the leadership of President Obama, FEMA is providing approved federal disaster assistance for Missouri, North Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Montana and South Dakota. FEMA also currently has staff embedded in state emergency operations centers in Wyoming, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri to coordinate federal support efforts as needed. In addition, FEMA has field offices set up in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri to respond to ongoing and potential flooding, and has deployed commodities to North and South Dakota, in case they become needed. In preparation for this flooding season, FEMA also pre-staged commodities, including water, meals, and blankets, in strategic locations close to the flooding in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, that may be requested for use by states. To learn more about FEMA’s efforts, visit

NOAA offers the following flood safety tips:

  • Determine whether your community is in a flood-risk area and continue monitoring local flood conditions at
  • Visit for flood preparedness advice to safeguard your family, home and possessions and for more information about the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio receiver with battery power option to stay apprised of quickly changing weather information.
  • Study evacuation routes in advance and heed evacuation orders.
  • Turn Around, Don’t Drown – never cross flooded roads, no matter how well you know the area or how shallow you believe the water to be.

NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA’s National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy. Visit us online at and on Facebook.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.

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Contact:          Rachel Hoch                                       FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

                        301-713-0622                                      July 6, 2011

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July 6, 2011 3:44 pm

Any relationship between the flooding and the campaign to “return the earth to its natural terrain”, with gradual removal of flood mitigation dam policies and other means? Anyone asked the Corps of Engineers about that?

James Sexton
July 6, 2011 4:10 pm

sigh….. I’m glad they got around to telling us what we already knew. lol, gee, record snowfall combined with a wet spring……risk for flooding? Thank goodness we had NOAA’s NWS to give us the heads up ……… on 6 July.

July 6, 2011 4:14 pm

mrmethane (and others I’m sure)… you may enjoy this article about the Missouri River flooding this spring and the bureaucratic nature of the Army Corp handling of the situation.
This year bares no resemblance to me to 1993. I forecasted that year in the upper midwest and I’m still forecasting in that same area. Looks like the rest of the summer will see enough of an overall shift to bring a lessening of the heavy rain events to the upper midwest (already this shifting is occurring). Granted, the area is saturated and lower amounts of moisture will be needed, plus all summers (well, most) see flooding and this year will have its moments, but this press release seems to hint toward an Armageddon of flooding for the next 3 months which seems to be very much over kill.

July 6, 2011 4:40 pm

Interesting but I’d say its just vague CYA by NOAA

July 6, 2011 4:42 pm

“mrmethane says:
July 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm
Any relationship between the flooding and the campaign to “return the earth to its natural terrain”, with gradual removal of flood mitigation dam policies and other means? Anyone asked the Corps of Engineers about that?”

James Sexton
July 6, 2011 4:48 pm

Daryl Ritchison says:
July 6, 2011 at 4:14 pm
mrmethane (and others I’m sure)… you may enjoy this article about the Missouri River flooding this spring and the bureaucratic nature of the Army Corp handling of the situation.
In this particular case, I think it incompetence rather than malfeasance, but I remain open to both. As the article states, myself, and you allude to, anyone with half of an awareness of the moisture situation would know there is a high risk of flooding with these river systems. In my area,(SE Kansas) in my estimation, we’ve been extremely lucky in that regard, but we’re not out of the woods, yet. A couple of wet weeks up river and we’ll have problems.

July 6, 2011 5:04 pm

No, it can’t be that simple. A stuck Solar Cycle and stuck weather patterns occuring simultaneously?
Impossible. Why, the odds are simply Astronomical.
From Mr. Boffo on the castle wall, as the barbarian hordes are pulverizing the defenses: “It’s Sunday, can they do that?”.

July 6, 2011 5:36 pm

Record snowpack melts. I do hope it’s not blamed on global warming.

July 6, 2011 5:38 pm

Seems to be great similarities to what happened with the Wivenhoe dam and the south-east Queensland floods in January this year. Some government officials put pressure on the dam operators to keep dam levels high because climate alarmists (particularly Tim flannery & Will Steffen) were saying drought was a continuing concern with increased CO2 inspite of records showing no change in precipitation cycles for the last 120years and models expecting some increase of precipition for Queensland. At the beginning of January which is the start of the rainy season ( about 1m rain Jan, Feb, Mar) the dams were 100% full for drinking water capacity after an all time record December rainfall which saturated the ground. It is hoped that the enquiry will lead to charges under the Professional Engineers Act (Qld) which a) requiries anyone providing an engineering service to be registered and b) to be competent. Evidence was given that one of the dam operators was not registered but he should not be the scapegoat. The AGW alarmists in government and their advisors should be the ones charged and prosecuted.

July 6, 2011 5:52 pm

To support to states currently dealing with flooding, under the leadership of President Obama, FEMA is providing approved federal disaster assistance for Missouri, North Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Montana and South Dakota.
I’m glad they remembered the obligatory Obama plug…

Rhoda Ramirez
July 6, 2011 6:13 pm

This warning might have been useful 2-3 months ago. Now it smells of the barn door after the horse has be taken.

July 6, 2011 6:39 pm

If they were planning for the flooding for so long, why, oh why, didn’t they draw down the reservoirs at that time to prevent the extent of the loss and suffering?
If an enemy did this on purpose, it would be a major act of war. And they are conservative States being damaged. Just as the Corps decided to flood farms to save liberal Cairo.
Dunno, but worthy of investigation, and if justified, a multi-State lawsuit against the Corps and the administration.

July 6, 2011 6:56 pm

Gee guys, I don’t know…all of the extra snow pack is one thing. But with all of the rain that has fallen in the short period of time across Montana & the upper plains combined with the rains on the lower Missouri basin, I think, even if the entire river system had been bone-dry, you’d still have flooding because, especially with all that fell over Montana, all that water combines in a very small space in a short period of time & it has to flow through the entire river system to get to the Gulf of Mexico…just too much to handle.
Remember, due to their design, you cannot completely empty a reservoir quickly…especially if it is below the spillway level.
Just some thoughts

Romeo Delta Delta 3
July 6, 2011 7:36 pm

Don’t worry! Barak is in charge. Remain calm. This isn’t really happening. All is well. It’s George Bush’s fault! Brownies doin’ a heck of a job. Oh, FEMA’s there, but Brownie isn’t? Barak is in charge!

July 6, 2011 7:57 pm

freeing up some of the water when warnings came thick and fast in february would have LESSENED the impact. no-one is suggesting it would have prevented ANY flooding. i’ve been posting on this topic for months, including in Tips&Notes, because it is so similar to the australian flood in brisbane which was due – partly at least – to the failure to reduce the level of water in wivenhoe dam.
what chance any real accountability in australia for this multi-billion dollar partly manmade disaster, do you think? we have a long wait yet for the final report!
6 July: News Ltd: Michael Madigan: Wivenhoe Dam operator slammed in interim flood report
THE long-awaited interim report into the epic floods that devastated Queensland is expected to heavily criticise Wivenhoe Dam operator Seqwater and under-prepared local councils.
The Courier-Mail understands Seqwater will be slammed over inadequate flood control processes…
The inquiry has been told dam operators were able to largely ignore weather forecasts when making decisions about releasing water from the dam, and that in the days before the Ipswich and Brisbane floods in January, the dam was so full that emergency releases had to made.
Whether the dam releases contributed to flooding downstream and whether more water should have been released earlier was one of the most hotly debated issues at the inquiry and one the interim report is expected to address…
The interim report is due by August 1. Stakeholders such as councils have been sent summaries of issues raised in the public hearings and have been invited to respond…
Established on January 17, the inquiry has been allocated $15 million to seek answers on the January floods and recommend better ways of dealing with a repeat event. In its first round of public hearings it sat for 31 days in Brisbane, Toowoomba, Dalby, Goondiwindi, St George, Ipswich, Rockhampton and Emerald.
The inquiry is expected to publish its final report on February 24, 2012.
with Sir John Houghton in mind, he who clarified what he had actually said about disasters:
Sir John Houghton: What I said, in reference to the reactive nature of policymaking, was: “If we want a good environmental policy in the future, we’ll have to have a disaster. It’s like safety on public transport. The only way humans will act is if there’s been an accident.”
by accident or design, you have one now in the Midwest.

Brian H
July 6, 2011 8:33 pm

I’d be a bit dubious about deliberate exacerbation of the floods, except for this outright acknowledgment:

To support to states currently dealing with flooding, under the leadership of President Obama, FEMA is providing approved federal disaster assistance for Missouri, North Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Montana and South Dakota.

James Sexton
July 6, 2011 8:40 pm

Jkrob says:
July 6, 2011 at 6:56 pm
Gee guys, I don’t know…all of the extra snow pack is one thing. But with all of the rain that has fallen in the short period of time across Montana ……………………
Exactly. They weren’t evil. They were stupid. Yes, it would be trick and probably impossible to completely mitigate the moisture, given the past year. However, it’s easy to discern how it could have been managed a bit better. I know this seems a bit as a ‘Monday morning quarterback’, but this stuff should have been expected and mitigated prior to blowing up levees to save towns at the expense of prime food stuffs and homeland of legacy. I’m wondering, are all of our decision makers just people that know someone or do some of them actually know something? I fear the system is beyond repair.

Bill Illis
July 6, 2011 8:43 pm

Between July 2010 and March 2011, water vapour in the atmosphere dropped by 5.0%. As the atmosphere was cooling down due to the La Nina, it released water vapour as rain and snow. This is the third largest decline in such a short time-frame since 1948.
The areas which got hit are the typical areas which are affected by a La Nina (which are exaggerated when it follows an El Nino) – the monsoon areas in India and Pakistan at the early stages and, in the later stages, North East Australia, Indonesia, the upper Mid-West US, the northwest US coast, and the Canadian Prairies up to Alaska.
The impact was a little stronger than normal but this is the pattern. I think both Australia and the US got caught up in the global warming hype and forgot about this typical response pattern. In Canada, they were just measuring the snowpack and knew something big was coming – the areas affected in Canada are still at flood stage 3 months after the spring melt and this last happened in the strongest water vapour decline La Nina year since 1948.

July 6, 2011 9:10 pm

Is the current flooding caused by global warming? Oh, the irony of the question! The Hansen-GW congressional testimony happened when the Mississippi River and others were LOW.
New Scientist 30 June 1988 (See, a contemporary article a few days after the Wirth committee hearing.
Scientists at NASA sparked a controversy among climatologists last week by declaring that the drought now devastating much of the American Midwest and the prairies of Canada may be an early manifestation of the greenhouse effect….
.. Last week [June 28, 1988] Hansen said, “It is not possible to blame a specific heatwave or drought on the greenhouse effect.” But, according to climate models developed at Goddard, the greenhouse effect is now large enough to make such events much more likely. Droughts and heatwaves will increase in the American midwest and southeast over the next decade the scientists said. ..
..But others are not convinced. Stan Changnon, a meteorologist at the Illinois State Water Survey, said that the greenhouse effect could not explain the cool, wet, periods that existed in the Midwest for about 40 years up until two years ago.
“Ten years ago we had the worst winters in 200 years,” he said. “My 50 years of scientific training and intuition would say that this drought is part of a pattern on extreme climatic variability.”
Data derived from tree rings show extreme droughts in the past, lasting for as long as 30 years (see p 45).
Hansen was accused of doing a disservice to science by declaring that the greenhouse effect ad arrived. Michael Schesinger, from the Climatic Research Institute at Oregon State University at Corvallis said: “We can lose our scientific credibility if we say things too strongly too early. If you look back to 1940, following the drought of the 1930s, people were making similar statements to what Jim is saying now, but we ended up having 35 years of cooling. We cannot afford to cry wolf again.”
Hundreds of barges are grounded in rivers because water levels are low. Some 1800 barges have piled up on the Mississippi River waiting for dredges to cut channels. The lack of water in streams and rivers is also concentrating agricultural and industrial wastes and treated sewage. …

This is confirmed in a 2007 history of the Birth of the IPCC:
Heat waves and droughts were already flaring up when NASA scientist James Hansen made his famous appearance before a Congressional committee chaired by Senator Tim Wirth as, outside the building, temperatures reached an all-time high. Hansen said to journalists afterwards that it was time to “stop waffling, and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here”. As the summer wore on – with Hurricane Gilbert, the worst forest fires in a century and the Mississippi River falling so low that barge traffic was halted – the media leapt on climate change as never before.
From: Alex Evans and David Steven, 2007
The London Accord and Centre of International Cooperation,
Climate change: the state of the debate
Gilbert was one of the strongest storms ever in the Atlantic Basin. It had winds and a storm track that rivaled Hurricane Allen back in 1980, and it ended up having the lowest central pressure ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin at 888 mb. It still falls short of the strongest storm ever recorded on the planet, which was Typhoon Tip in October, 1979 with 870 mb. from a 2003 15-year lookback.
Gilbert is the second most intense hurricane ever observed in the Atlantic basin behind only Hurricane Wilma of the very active 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. — Wikipedia
1988 was also the year of the great Yellowstone fires, which had commenced before the Hansen hearing, but peaked in September.

July 6, 2011 10:51 pm

I’m in Rapid City, SD, just on the edge of the Black Hills. We’ve been having thunderstorms, humidity and rain nearly every day. Things are a bit soggy and The Black Hills and the surrounding areas are very green yet.

July 7, 2011 12:26 am

One other little problem anyone else remember “Knee high by the fouth of july” ? with 40% of the corn crop going to ethanol and the new requirement being 15% ethanol in gasoline instead of 10%.The question I have is what will happen to the price of corn and corn related products i.e. corn oil, corn syrup etc Anyone know what will happen to corn futures and other cereal grains if planting/harvests are disrupted by more flooding ???
John G

July 7, 2011 12:48 am

Steve says:
July 6, 2011 at 6:39 pm
They used to draw down the reservoirs in time to accept the spring or summer deluges.
Now they sit on thier thumbs until it’s too late and blow up levees.

July 7, 2011 7:57 am

Why don’t they start pumping excess water into the depleted aquifers?

P Walker
July 7, 2011 9:57 am

Medic1532 ,
Last week , the USDA reported that a record amount ( some 93 million acres ) of land had been planted in corn this year . The price of corn plummeted . However , I didn’t see any reference to how they arrived at that figure , ie , whether or not they had included acreage that had been planted late due to adverse spring conditions or land that had been innudated . No predictions for yield that I know of . Considering how this Administration operates , this might have been a ploy to drive down corn prices in the short run . Just my opinion – someone out ther probably has a better handle on this .

July 7, 2011 1:21 pm

They based it on the amount of seed purchased(according to rumors in Ohio), not any survey of the acerage planted.

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