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Below Average Flood Potential From Ice Jams And Spring Snowmelt

 

Conditions as of:  March 9, 2022  

 

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

A below average flood potential from ice jams. A few ice jams will remain possible until the ice is off the rivers, streams and lakes. Temperatures have recently remained much below normal with considerable ice on lakes, rivers and streams. Once the frost is out of the ground and the ice is off the rivers, the spring flood potential for March through May will also be below average.

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 9, snow cover ranged from a 2 to 4 inches across western and north central Nebraska.  Snow water equivalent for snowpack in the North Platte River Basin in Wyoming was near 90-100 percent of average. The South Platte River Basin in Colorado was near 95-105 percent of average. These values are above last year. Flooding from snowmelt runoff is low at this time.

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 below average for this time of the year.

Soil Conditions

Soil moisture across western and north central Nebraska is much below average, with moderate to severe drought conditions encompassing nearly all of the HSA. Soil temperature sensors indicate most areas have a 4 inch soil temperature in the lower to mid 30s, with the coldest soil temperature readings across northern Nebraska. Frost depths were generally 6 inches or less.

Calculated Soil Moisture Anomaly
Modeled Snow Moisture from Climate Prediction Center

 

Latest 1 Day
Soil Temperature
Latest 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 average to above average across the central and northern Sandhills, and average to below average across the southeast panhandle and southwest Nebraska. Ice remains on all  lakes, rivers, and streams, but significant break up is occurring. 

Monthly Average Streamflow

 

 

Streamflow Mapping provided by the USGS

 

Seasonal Precipitation

Precipitation so far this water year, since October 1, 2021, remains much below normal across much of the hydrologic service area. Amounts ranged mainly from 1 to 3 inches, with the lowest amounts across southwest Nebraska. These amounts ranged from only 25 percent to 70 percent of normal across much of the hydrologic service area.

Nebraska
Percent of Normal Precipitation since October 1
Nebraska
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 below average, with weak La Nina conditions. The outlook indicates La Nina conditions are likely to continue through May, transitioning to neutral conditions by June. For the spring months, this weather pattern will typically bring warmer and drier conditions to the southwestern portions of the United States, with warmer and wetter conditions across the Great Lakes Region. Normal to above normal temperatures and normal to below normal precipitation are predicted across the Northern and Central Plains.  


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

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

 

The latest 30 day outlook for March is leaning towards above normal temperatures and near normal to below normal precipitation.

Temperature Outlook Precipitation Outlook

 

According to the Climate Prediction Center, the latest 90 day outlook for March, April, and May is leaning towards above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation.

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 Drive
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