National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Conditions as of:  March 1, 2018  

 

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 generally around average for most of central and western Nebraska. The potential for flooding in southwestern Nebraska, including Frenchman and Stinking Water Creeks, is 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 Liquid Water Content

As of March 1st, much of western and north central Nebraska was snow free. One to two inches of snowpack lingered across portions of the Pine Ridge and also eastern portions of north central Nebraska. 

Snow Depth Snow Water Equivalent
Map of Modeled Snow Depth Map of Modeled Snow Depth
Modeled Snow Analyses from National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center

 

Reservoir and Mountain Snowpack 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.

As of early March, the snowpack in the North Platte and South Platte River Basins in Colorado and Wyoming were below average, ranging from 75 to 90 percent of average. These values are much lower than 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.

Soil Conditions and Frost Depths

Soil moisture across the central Sandhills is above average with near average soil moisture elsewhere. Soil temperature sensors indicate most areas have a 4 inch soil temperatures in the lower 30s. Therefore, the frost depth is minimal and runoff will be able to be easily absorbed into the ground.

Calculated Soil Moisture Anomaly
Modeled Snow Moisture from Climate Prediction Center

 

Lastest 1 Day
Soil Temperature
Lastest 7 Day
Average Soil Temperature
Thumbnail image of Soil Temperature (F at 4 inches) Thumbnail image of Soil Temperature (F at 4 inches)
Soil Temperatures Data from University of Nebraska Lincoln Crop Watch

 

River and Lake Ice Conditions

Most of the ice on the larger lakes remains, with only a minimal amount of open water reported. Most of the ice on rivers and streams has melted, with a minimal  amount of shore ice remaining. River flows are mostly in the normal range.

Monthly Average Streamflow
Streamflow Mapping provided by the USGS

 

Seasonal Precipitation

Precipitation so far this water year, since October 1, 2017, has been from two to five inches, with higher amounts near 7 inches in parts of central Nebraska. This is about one to two inches, to as much as 3 inches above normal for this time of year.

Central Plains
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 are slightly below average, indicating La Niña conditions. The outlook for the spring and summer is for the waters to slightly warm to near average which would allow La Niña to trend toward El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) neutral conditions. ENSO neutral conditions generally bring a warmer and wetter pattern to the southern half of the United States, with Nebraska being in the transition zone between the air masses and the polar and subtropical jet streams.

According to the Climate Prediction Center, the latest 8 to 14 day outlook for March 9 through March 15 calls for below average temperatures with near normal to below average precipitation.

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

 

According to the Climate Prediction Center, the latest 30 day outlook for March indicates below average temperatures. There are equal chances for above average, below average, and average precipitation.

Temperature Outlook Precipitation Outlook
Monthly Temperature Outlook Monthly Precipitation Outlook

 

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

Three Month Temperature Outlook Three Month Precipitation Outlook
Three Monthly Temperature Outlook Three Monthly 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