National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

A Below Average Flood Potential From Spring Snowmelt


Conditions as of:  March 14, 2024  


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 is expected from spring snowmelt. No snow cover currently exists across western and north central Nebraska. Rivers are currently ice free. Temperatures have remained above normal the first two weeks of March. 

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 14th, no snow cover existed across western and north central Nebraska. March and April are typically snowy months, so additional snowfall is possible.

The snowpack in the North Platte and South Platte River Basins in Colorado and Wyoming is currently above average, with snow water equivalent ranging near 105 percent of average for the North Platte Basin and 110 percent of average for the South Platte Basin. A below average flood potential is expected from mountain snowmelt runoff.

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 ranged from near normal to below normal across the southeast panhandle and southwest Nebraska to above to much above normal across north central Nebraska. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, abnormally dry conditions remained across far southwest Nebraska, which includes the Frenchman Creek Basin. Otherwise, no drought conditions currently exist. As of March 14th, soil temperature sensors indicate 4 inch soil temperatures range from 42 to 52 degrees. 

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, including the Niobrara, Elkhorn and Loup River Basins. Average to much below average streamflow was indicated across the southeast panhandle and southwest Nebraska, including the Platte River Basin, and Frenchman Creek Basin. Lakes and rivers were currently ice free. 

Monthly Average Streamflow



Streamflow Mapping provided by the USGS


Seasonal Precipitation

Precipitation so far this water year, since October 1, 2023, has ranged from near normal to below normal across the southeast panhandle into west central and southwest Nebraska to much above normal across Custer County northward across the eastern half of north central Nebraska. These areas which received from 5 to 11 inches, were from 130 to over 200 percent of normal.

Percent of Normal Precipitation since October 1
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 remain above average, with weak El Nino conditions. The outlook indicates weak El Nino conditions will persist into March an April. For the late winter and spring months, this weather pattern will typically favor near normal temperatures with above normal precipitation across the Central Plains.

According to the Climate Prediction Center, as of March 14th, the latest 8 to 14 day outlook calls for slightly below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation. 

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


The latest 30 day outlook for March calls for equal chances for above, below, or average temperatures and above normal precipitation.

Temperature Outlook Precipitation Outlook


According to the Climate Prediction Center, the latest 90 day outlook for March, April and May indicates near average temperatures with near average precipitation going into 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 Drive
North Platte, NE 6910
Telephone 308-532-4936
Melissa Smith
Service Hydrologist
National Weather Service
300 East Signal Drive
Rapid City South Dakota 57701
Telephone 605-341-9271