National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Conditions as of:  March 12th, 2020  

 

Area Covered

This Spring Flood and Water Resource Outlook is for the North Platte Hydrologic Service Area, which covers western and north central Nebraska. The river basins include: the North Platte and South Platte Rivers and the Platte River in western Nebraska, Frenchman Creek and Stinking Water Creek in southwest Nebraska, the Loup and Dismal Rivers in the Sandhills of Nebraska, and portions of the Elkhorn and Niobrara Rivers in north central Nebraska.

Current Flooding

To obtain the latest watches, warnings, statements, and advisories, go to the NWS North Platte Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service

Flood Outlook Summary

At this time, the probability of spring flooding from March through May is above average for portions of north central and central Nebraska with around average flood potential for southwestern Nebraska. 

The potential for rainfall induced flash flooding is not quantifiable. This type of flooding is most likely to occur during the later spring and summer months.

Snow Cover and Mountain Snowpack

As of March 12th, all of western and north central Nebraska was snow free. However, our snow accumulation season will continue through March and April, so additional snowfall is expected before and during the spring flood season.

The snowpack in the North Platte and South Platte River Basins in Colorado and Wyoming were above average, with the snow water equivalent ranging from 120 to 140 percent of average. These values are slightly above last year. Flooding from snowmelt runoff is highly dependent on how quickly it comes out of the low to mid elevations of the mountains, typically 8500 ft and lower.

Snow Depth as of Mar. 12th Snow Water Equivalent as of Mar. 12th

Modeled Snow Analyses from National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center

 

Reservoir Conditions

Normal operations are ongoing at reservoirs along the North Platte River for this time of year. Releases from these dams have been limited through the winter months, with inflows generally coming from melting snow. Because of these operations, reservoir levels have risen through the winter months. The current reservoir storage across Wyoming, as well as Lake McConaughy are slightly above average for this time of the year.

Soil Conditions

Soil moisture across western and north central Nebraska is above average, with the driest conditions across southwest Nebraska. Groundwater levels are very high, with several wells reporting water levels just a few inches below the surface. Soil temperature sensors indicate most areas have 4 inch soil temperatures in the upper 30s and lower 40s. 

 

Calculated Soil Moisture Anomaly
Modeled Snow Moisture from Climate Prediction Center

 

Lastest 1 Day
Soil Temperature
Lastest 7 Day
Average Soil Temperature
One-day average soil temperatures Seven-day average soil temperatures
Soil Temperatures Data from University of Nebraska Lincoln Crop Watch

 

River and Lake Ice Conditions

Monthly average streamflow was around average, except below average across portions of southwest Nebraska. All of the lakes, rivers and streams are currently ice free. 

Monthly Average Streamflow
Streamflow Mapping provided by the USGS

 

Seasonal Precipitation

Precipitation so far this water year, since October 1, 2019, has ranged from below average across southwest Nebraska to above average across north central and central Nebraska. Amounts ranged from around 2 inches in the southeastern panhandle and southwest Nebraska, to over 5 inches in portions of  north central Nebraska. 

Nebraska
Percent of Normal Precipitation since October 1
Nebraska
Departure from Normal Precipitation since October 1
Image of Percent of Normal Precipitation for the Water Year Current Climate Summary Map
Precipitation Maps from the High Plains Climate Center

 

Precipitation and Temperature Outlook

Water temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean continue to be slightly above average, indicating El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) neutral conditions. The outlook indicates neutral conditions will continue through the spring, This weather pattern will typically bring warmer conditions to the southern and western portions of the United States, with wetter conditions over the Central and Northern Plains. For the summer, predictability is low for any type of overall weather pattern.


According to the Climate Prediction Center, the latest 8 to 14 day outlook calls for below average temperatures with above average precipitation.

8 - 14 Day Temperature Outlook 8 - 14 day Precipitation Outlook

 

The latest 30 day outlook for March favors above average temperatures and below average precipitation.

Temperature Outlook Precipitation Outlook

 

According to the Climate Prediction Center, the latest 90 day outlook for March, April, and May indicates there are equal chances for above, below, and average temperature and chances for above normal precipitation this spring.

Three Month Temperature Outlook Three Month Precipitation Outlook

 

More Outlooks are available at the Climate Prediction Center Temperature and Precipitation Outlooks webpage

 

Questions or Comments

If you have any questions or comments about this spring flood and water resource outlook please contact,

Kenneth Roberg
North Platte HSA Focal Point
National Weather Service
5250 East Lee Bird Dr
North Platte, NE 6910
Telephone 308-532-4936
E-mail kenneth.roberg@noaa.gov
 or 
Melissa Smith
Service Hydrologist
National Weather Service
300 East Signal Drive
Rapid City South Dakota 57701
Telephone 605-341-9271
E-mail melissa.smith@noaa.gov