Current Major Flooding in U.S. a Sign of Things to Come

NOAA Urges Communities to Prepare During Flood Safety Awareness Week

March 20, 2008

Turn Around, don't Drown poster.

+ High Resolution (Credit: NOAA)

Major floods striking America’s heartland this week offer a preview of the spring seasonal outlook, according to NOAA’s National Weather Service. Several factors will contribute to above-average flood conditions, including record rainfall in some states and snow packs, which are melting and causing rivers and streams to crest over their banks. This week, more than 250 communities in a dozen states are experiencing flood conditions.

The science supporting NOAA’s short-term forecasts allows for a high level of certainty. National Weather Service forecasters highlighted potential for the current major flood event a week in advance and began working with emergency managers to prepare local communities for the impending danger. 

“We expect rains and melting snow to bring more flooding this spring,” said Vickie Nadolski, deputy director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Americans should be on high alert to flood conditions in your communities. Arm yourselves with information about how to stay safe during a flood and do not attempt to drive on flooded roadways – remember to always turn around, don’t drown.”

Nadolski called on local emergency management officials to continue preparations for a wet spring and focus on public education to ensure heightened awareness of the potential for dangerous local conditions. 

Spring Flood Outlook

Flood risk map.

+ High Resolution (Credit: NOAA)

Above-normal flood potential is evident in much of the Mississippi River basin, the Ohio River basin, the lower Missouri River basin, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, most of New York, all of New England, and portions of the West, including Colorado and Idaho:

Snowfall has been normal or above normal across most of the West this winter; however, preexisting dryness in many areas will prevent most flooding in this region. Runoff from snow pack is expected to significantly improve stream flows compared to last year for the West.

Spring Drought Outlook

U.S. Seasonal drought outlook map.

+ High Resolution (Credit: NOAA)

The drought outlook indicates continued general improvement in the Southeast, although some reservoirs are unlikely to recover before summer.  Winter precipitation chipped away at both the western and southeastern drought. On the U.S. Drought Monitor, extreme drought coverage dropped from nearly 50 percent in mid-December to less than 20 percent in the Southeast for March.

During the spring season, weather can change quickly – from drought to flooding to severe weather, including outbreaks of tornadoes. People can stay abreast of day-to-day weather fluctuations, as well as lifesaving advisories, watches and warnings, by purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards receiver and visiting

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.