Devastating and Historic Flooding Slams the Midwest after "Bomb Cyclone"
by Brett Borchardt, Newsletter Assistant Editor
During the second full week of March, a "bomb cyclone" brought periods of high winds, blizzard conditions, heavy rain, and severe thunderstorms to parts of the central United States.
As the storm system intensified across the Southern Great Plains, non-thunderstorm wind gusts topped 80 mph in Texas and Colorado, with crippling blizzard conditions from Denver to Grand Forks.
Tornadoes touched down in Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, and Michigan. And, according to the Colorado Climate Center, a new all-time state record low sea level pressure of 970.4 mb was measured in Lamar on March 13.
Perhaps the most impactful weather caused by the storm is the continued and catastrophic areal and river flooding brought on by rapid snowmelt and heavy rain, especially in portions of Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa.
The impacts from the flooding are considerable and hard to fathom. Several dams and levee systems have been breached or overtopped, with bridges and roads destroyed across the worst-impacted areas.
Thousands of homes and businesses have flooded, with mandatory and voluntary evacuations across multiple states. Initial estimates are that over 40 rivers across the Midwest have broken record crests with agricultural losses exceeding $1 billion dollars in Nebraska alone.
State-level disaster and emergency declarations have been made in Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Michigan, with a presidential disaster declaration in Nebraska. The magnitude of the economic, agricultural, and infrastructural damage from the flooding will likely translate to years of recovery.
While the storm system responsible for the slew of bad weather is long gone, the flooding threat is far from over especially in portions of the Red River Valley in the Upper Great Lakes.
Ominously, over 10 inches of water remain in the snowpack in parts of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Additionally, the National Weather Service office in Grand Forks, North Dakota, is forecasting a 95% (5%) chance that the Red River in Fargo will reach major (record) flood stage this spring.
Indeed, the U.S. Spring Flooding Outlook from NOAA is calling for historic and widespread flooding to continue through May.
Read more articles from our NWA April Newsletter.