River flooding is expected to be worse this spring compared to last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says in its three-month flood outlook released today.
North Dakota has the greatest risk of flooding, says NOAA, whose outlook covers April to June and comes during its Flood Safety Awareness Week.
North Dakota ranked as the eighth-highest state for National Flood Insurance Program claims at 1,532 in 2011, the latest year for which data is available, according to the NFIP. That year, it also had the fifth-greatest number of NFIP claim payouts at $93.1 million.
Homeowners insurance policies typically exclude flood protection. With a 30-day waiting period for flood policies to take effect, now is the time for individuals and businesses to review their insurance coverage, says Karen Marsh, deputy director of the individual and community preparedness division for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
NOAA predicts moderate and major flooding for the Red River of the North between eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, as well as the Souris River in North Dakota. In addition, 20,000 acres of farms and roads are at risk for flooding in northeast North Dakota, where there is a 50% chance that the Devils and Stumps lakes will rise 2 feet.
In addition, this year’s late-winter snowfall may cause minor to moderate flooding in the upper Mississippi River basin and upper Missouri River basin, depending on rainfall and the speed of snowmelt, NOAA says. The upper Mississippi River basin covers southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and northern Missouri; and the upper Missouri River basin, includes the Milk River in eastern Montana, the Big Sioux River in South Dakota and the Little Sioux River in Iowa.
Parts of several other states in the Southeast and along the lower Mississippi, middle Mississippi, lower Missouri and Ohio river basins may experience minor flooding this year, NOAA says. They are:
- Eastern Iowa
Temperatures and Precipitation
Most areas of the country are expected to have warmer temperatures than usual, while cooler temperatures are anticipated for the Pacific Northwest and extreme northern Great Plains, according to NOAA.
In addition, rainier conditions are likely in the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley area, while drier-than-normal conditions are expected for parts of the West, Rockies, Southwest, Texas, Gulf Coast and Florida, NOAA says.
Despite flood risks for many U.S. areas, 51% of the continental United States—comprised largely of central and western regions—is in a moderate-to-worse drought, according to NOAA.
Ed O’Lenic, chief of the operations branch for NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, notes that the continuation of last year's drought in several areas is due, in part, to previous conditions.
“The drought that we accumulated over the last five or six years in the middle part of the country and also the Southwest is going to take a long time to remove,” he says.
In addition, NOAA says the Florida panhandle and areas of Texas, California, the southern Rockies and Southwest are at risk of developing new drought conditions.
But NOAA also expects drought conditions to improve—though not be eliminated—in several areas, including parts of northern Alaska, the Carolinas, Georgia, the northern and central Great Plains, and the Midwest.
Victoria Goff is IA online editor.
For more information on resources for independent insurance agents selling flood insurance, read today’s story from Big “I” Flood or visit the Big “I” Flood website.