NOAA spring forecast adjustment raises drought concerns

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has significantly adjusted its spring weather outlook this year, notably removing the word ‘flood’ from its forecast.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has significantly adjusted its spring weather outlook this year, notably removing the word ‘flood’ from its forecast. While the absence of spring flooding may seem like a relief, it raises new concerns over ongoing drought conditions, particularly along the Mississippi River system.

According to U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Meteorologist Brad Rippey, this departure starkly contrasts with expectations for the upcoming season.

In a recent address to the media, Rippey highlighted the notable shift in this year’s spring flood outlook, emphasizing the absence of significant flooding across the northern plains and upper Midwest. Such deviations from typical seasonal patterns prompt attention, particularly when considering the implications for agricultural operations and regional ecosystems. Rippey underscored the limited areas expecting moderate flooding, primarily concentrated in the mid-South and southeastern regions of the United States.

The conspicuous lack of spring flooding is juxtaposed against persistent drought conditions, eliciting concerns for the Mississippi River system. Rippey underscores the potential ramifications, hinting at the possibility of a third consecutive year marked by low river flows, especially in the Missouri, Mississippi, and Ohio valleys. These conditions, coupled with long-term drought trends, raise alarms regarding the resilience of key watershed areas. Of particular concern are the implications for agricultural stakeholders reliant on navigable waterways for transporting vital commodities such as fertilizer and grain crops.

Despite the overall reduction in spring flood expectations, certain regions remain susceptible to minor flooding. The eastern plains and mid-South are identified as areas where such occurrences may still occur, underscoring the need for continued vigilance and preparedness measures.

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