Following a year of historic flooding, a wet winter could bring even more flooding this spring.
“It does look like the conditions are setting up for flooding again,” said Scott Watson, staff hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill.
Those conditions include an above-average stretch of precipitation over the last couple of months, mainly north of St. Joseph.
“It’s a little too far out to say what the magnitude of the flooding will be based on those conditions,” Watson said. “But if we continue to have wet conditions up there to the north, it looks like we could have more flooding in the spring.”
In addition to the already wet conditions in the upper Missouri basin, Watson said the winter outlook is calling for above-average moisture to fall over the same area.
“Looking at the precipitation outlook through February, it looks like a continuation of likely above-normal precipitation north of the St. Joseph area in the upper part of the Missouri basin,” he said. “If that does continue, we could be looking at more flooding.”
A major unknown factor is the snow pack to the north and just how quickly it turns into liquid runoff.
“Right now some of that above-average precipitation is locked up in snow pack to the north,” Watson said. “So we will have to see how that snow pack continues to develop and how fast it melts during the spring.”
The 2019 year brought unprecedented flooding up and down the Missouri River, something Watson said he had never seen.
“It was very devastating for people who lived along the river,” he said. “And the length of the flood just added to the impact.”
A historic crest of 32.12 feet was set in March in St. Joseph, and the river slowly receded into the summer and fall. The Missouri River is now below the action stage of 14 feet and sits just above 10 feet.