The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released its spring outlook for the coming months, underlining a lingering threat from the winter season: flooding.
The highest threat of flooding this Spring will be along the Mississippi river and its related basins, including the Tennessee River basin. This is partly due to expected snowmelt over the norther plains, which would flow downstream through the Mississippi river and exacerbate flooding.
On top of a wet winter season, above average rainfall could continue on into Spring. The Climate Prediction Center has favored above average rainfall in their spring outlook for a large portion of the US.
The Local View: It’s important to understand our own risk of spring flooding here in the Tennessee Valley so that we can prepare for the season ahead. Let’s start with how the winter season set us up.
The official winter season (December 21st – March 20th), delivered 27.98 to Huntsville International. That’s about 187% of our normal rainfall; or about 2 inches shy of double our normal rainfall. With that kind of rain, it’s not surprising that our soils are still very moist. Fortunately rivers and streams tend to recover more quickly, with the Tennessee River currently near ‘normal’ levels.
Now, let’s look at our own spring outlook. Winter is our wettest season, but we don’t see a major downturn in rainfall through spring. Climatologically we see pretty steady rainfall totals throughout spring, averaging around 4-5 inches each month. The Climate Prediction Center is currently indicating a 40% chance of us seeing rainfall above those averages.
How To Use This Outlook: This outlook does NOT mean that it’s definitely going to flood this spring, but it does mean that our flooding threat from this winter could follow us into the next few months. The best thing to do now is prepare.
- Check your current insurance policies
- Assemble a weather safety kit
- Gather any supplies you could need in the future, such as sandbags
- Know alternate routes and where you would evacuate to if flooding occurs in your neighborhood.
- Review Flood Safety Advice from the NWS
This outlook is intended to be guidance; we can’t forecast flooding months, or even weeks, in advance.
The best way to stay ahead of the risk is to prepare and regularly check your local forecast here: whnt.com/forecast/