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NOAA Forecasts Warmer Temperatures, No Flooding for US this Spring

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is forecasting a warmer-than-normal spring this year for most of the US, along with the likelihood of no significant spring flooding 

Released Thursday, the seasonal outlook suggests above-average temperatures are likely to persist across much of the US for the April through June period (see map below), with the greatest chance for above normal warmth in the Great Lakes region, the Pacific Northwest, as well as northwest Alaska. 

The precipitation outlook (map below) is more mixed. Rain is slightly favoured to be above average in portions of the southeast and the central Plains – including much of Nebraska and northeastern Kansas - but below the seasonal average for parts of the Pacific Northwest and southwest. 

An equal chance of above or below normal precipitation is forecast for the more northern Corn Belt, with slightly elevated chances of a wetter spring for the more southern areas, including the southern portions of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. The southwestern corner of Iowa, the top corn production state, may also see above average precipitation this spring. 

The NOAA outlook said drought conditions are likely to continue improving in the southeastern US. However, the drought is likely to persist or even expand through portions of the Rocky Mountains and the Plains. Moderate to exceptional drought conditions currently exist across less than 20% of the US, a marked improvement from last year, as El Nino-fueled rain fell this winter across the Gulf Coast region. 

A seasonal drought outlook from the US Climate Prediction Center, also released today, shows the likelihood of drought persisting through the end of June for northeastern Iowa, northern Wisconsin and the eastern two-thirds of Minnesota. 

Meanwhile, the overall threat of significant flooding this spring is low due to above-normal temperatures and historically low snowpack. In fact, NOAA warned the lack of snowpack and significant winter precipitation, coupled with the current outlook, could portend the return of low flow conditions to main stem rivers in the Greater Mississippi River Basin later this year – bad news for the movement of US crops from the interior of the country to export positions on the Gulf of Mexico. 

“Of growing concern will be the potentially low flows on the Mississippi River this summer into fall due to well-below snowpack and precipitation in most of the Northern Plains and Midwest,” said Ed Clark, director, NOAA’s National Water Center. “This could have potential impacts on those navigation and commercial interests that depend on water from the Mississippi River.” 

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