Outlook shows potential for significant flooding in months ahead

Missouri
Data pix.

ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Arch grounds sit empty, crippled by the impact of the coronavirus.

A little less than a year ago, the same spot was affected by historic flooding. As we move ahead another flooding situation may set up.

“The potential for a repeat performance of last year is certainly on the table," said Mark Fuchs, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service.

The significant flood outlook shows the possibility of another significant flood event in 2020.

“The first spring flood outlook we put out in early February was really ominous," Fuchs said. “This was the worst spring flood outlook we ever put out.”

From February’s forecast to March, the change is in the right direction.

“Those numbers have come down by about a foot and a half to two feet in some places over the past month and a half and that’s a fair amount," Fuchs said. "But when you’re coming down off of near major, most of those levels are still in the moderate levels.”

Three things determine the outlook: soil moisture, current river levels, and snowpack. Reduced snow packed up north helped drop the severity of flooding. however, soil moisture and current levels are working against us.

“That’s part of the problem right now. We have rivers that are way up there," Fuchs said. "They’ve been way up there all winter long. Currently, the Missouri and the Mississippi rivers are both around the 95 percentiles of historical flows for this time of the year.”

With moderate levels forecasted, businesses and residences wouldn’t likely be affected.

It’s important to remember, forecasts can change in an instant. One heavy rain can switch the forecast back to a major flood stage.

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