April 16, 2014

Corps: Repeat of 2011 Missouri River flooding “highly unlikely”

Missouri River near Council Bluffs in 2011

Missouri River near Council Bluffs in 2011

The experts say major flooding on the Missouri River is not likely this year, but the runoff forecast in the basin above Sioux City has risen to 121% of normal, according to the U-S Army Corps of Engineers.

Jody Farhat, chief of the Corps’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Division in Omaha, says while mountain snowpack is above average, they don’t expect a repeat of the widespread flooding of 2011.

“Runoff in the Missouri basin comes from three sources: plains snowpack, mountain snowpack and rainfall,” Farhat says. “It’s important to remember that the 2011 flood was the result of high runoff from all three of these sources. Currently, only one of those three conditions exists today, the above-normal mountain snowpack, so a repeat of the 2011 flood is highly unlikely.”

Farhat says there is better communication now compared to three years ago.

“We do a lot more coordination now with the other federal agencies, the state climatologists and local folks on developing our runoff forecast and that’s a pretty significant change,” Farhat says. “We’re working with all of the folks that are gathering data and making sure that we’re all singing of the same sheet of music.”

Dennis Todey, the South Dakota state climatologist who works with the Corps on forecasting, says the heavy rain storms that kicked off the massive 2011 flooding were very unusual.

“We can’t give any kind of a long-range outlook to say that something like that kind of storm in Montana in 2011 could or couldn’t happen again, but from a climatological perspective, that was a freakishly large storm where you had 50% of your annual rainfall in one event,” Todey says. “People need to understand that about how bizarre that precipitation event really was.”

Farhat says the only areas that may see some minor flooding this year are downstream in Kansas and Missouri.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton


Drop in temperature might be more to worry about than falling snow

State Climatologist Ken Dewey at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says forecasts of the snowfall to expect this weekend vary widely for a reason.

“It’s a difficult system to handle, because it’s not coming out as one storm. It’s coming out in three to four pieces of one big storm,” Dewey tells the Jack and Dave in the Morning Show on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.

Dewey expects the big snowfall to start Saturday afternoon and to continue into Sunday afternoon.

“Our saving grace is the snow is not all going to come in a three hour period. It’s going to be spread over several days; light and fluffy,” Dewey says. “So, hopefully easy to remove from the sidewalks and streets.”

Dewey says some in the media were a bit too quick to report the high-end extreme snowfall forecasts for the weekend.

“There is a potential it’s just going to be a few inches to maybe four or five inches and because it’s spread out over such a long period, really beginning tomorrow (Sat) around noon and lasting until Sunday afternoon, it isn’t going to be concentrated enough to put out any warnings,” according to Dewey. “And it should be able to be plowed off the streets and sidewalks and stuff like that pretty easily.”

Dewey says the snow shouldn’t pose as much a problem as the drastic drop in temperatures. He says to expect temperatures in the single-digits on Sunday, when the normal for this time of year is in the 40s.

March is coming in like a lion

March is going to come in like a lion in eastern Nebraska. National Weather Service in Valley Meteorologist Dave Fobert says Friday’s warmer temperatures will allow the moisture to fall as rain in the eastern part of the state in the afternoon. However, by evening temperatures will drop and then comes the snow.

Fobert says the cold front now is moving through the northeast pat of the state and as it slides to the south very cold air follows. The snow will be a prolonged period that will develop by late Saturday morning into the evening hours. As you get into Saturday night and Sunday morning there will be some lingering snowfall with some areas seeing about 6″.

This is going to be a light, fluffy snowfall due to extremely cold temperatures. By Saturday morning temperatures will range from 5-below to 10 degrees and they won’t budge much during the day. The wind will be out of the north up to 15-mph and that will bring those wind chill values down to about 25-below.

I-80 open out west, but road conditions remain treacherous

Nebraska Department of Roads highway camera I-80 near Sidney

Nebraska Department of Roads highway camera I-80 near Sidney

Westbound Interstate 80, closed in the Panhandle for much of Sunday, has re-opened from Big Springs to the Wyoming border.

But, highways out west remain icy.

Roads remain snow-packed and slick in spots across the southern Nebraska Panhandle after a quick-moving storm slammed through the area over the weekend.

All major highways and I-80 were listed under “extreme caution” Monday.

The National Weather Service reported 17 inches of snow fell in Kimball. I-80 westbound was closed for several hours Sunday from Big Springs to the Wyoming line because of multiple accidents. The Nebraska Department of Roads closed Highway 30 from Big Springs to the Wyoming border as well. Road conditions turned extremely poor late Saturday night when the State Patrol says about 65 vehicles were stopped on I-80 between Dix and Kimball because of snow and ice.

The Weather Service says at one point trooper were working eight accidents at the same time along a 35-mile stretch between Sidney and Kimball on I-80.

Other snow totals reported by the Weather Service: 9 inches a few miles outside Big Springs, 8 inches in Sidney and Dalton, 6 inches in Ogallala, 5.5 inches in Bridgeport and just under 4 inches in Scottsbluff.

Click here for road conditons from the Nebraska Department of Roads.

By Dave Collins, KSID




Westbound I-80 in Nebraska Panhandle re-opens (UPDATED)

Nebraska Dept. of Roads traffic camera on I-80

Nebraska Dept. of Roads traffic camera on I-80

A blast of winter weather closed westbound Interstate 80 in the Nebraska Panhandle as well as Highway 30 for much of Sunday.

The Nebraska State Patrol Troop E headquarters in Scottsbluff reports the state closed the two westbound lanes of I-80 this morning after western Nebraska got hit with rain that turned into snow, making driving conditions slick and dangerous.

The slick conditions caused numerous accidents, including one injury accident. No serious injuries have been reported.

The Nebraska Department of Roads closed the westbound lanes of I-80 from Big Springs to the Wyoming border. It closed Highway 30 from Big Springs to the Wyoming border as well. The roadways have now been re-opened to traffic. The Department of Roads cautions drivers to allow for extra times, to turn off the cruise, and to avoid all distractions while traveling western Nebraska.

Click here for Nebraska Department of Roads travel information.