National Weather Service predicts strong flooding threat in 2020

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JEFFERSON CITY - The National Weather Service has predicted higher temperatures and more precipitation in the Missouri River Basin to close out 2019.

The news means there could be a heightened risk for flooding next spring which could be just as significant as the flooding from earlier this year.

"It could be worse or it could rival what we had last year - it's hard to say," Senior Service Hydrologist with the National Weather Service in St. Louis Mark Fuchs said. "But I think the potential for significant flooding next year is a real threat."

Fuchs explained there are three factors on which the National Weather Service bases each spring's flooding outlook: the current levels of the Missouri River, soil moisture and precipitation.  

He said the Missouri River, although below flood stage, is above its normal level average.

This, combined with high soil saturation levels in the Missouri River Basin and a 90-day forecast from the National Weather Service made on Oct. 1 which says there could be more precipitation in the Missouri River Basin.

50% of the upper Missouri River Basin's runoff comes from mountain snowpack. 25% of the runoff comes from the plains snowpack and another 25% comes from rainfall.

The average Oct. 1 forecast of million acre feet (MAF) of runoff is 25.3. The National Weather Service has forecasted a number 2 and a half times larger than the average at 61 million MAF.

Due to the nature of last year's flooding, the National Weather Service has also indicated it is going to release its official Missouri River Basin spring flood outlook a few weeks earlier than the last week of February 2020.  

"The best thing to do is to understand the potential is there and be ready to deploy any resources we need to deploy come spring time," Fuchs said. "Right now the best we can do is understand the potential is there and account for that possibility with available resources."

"We've had a really wet fall last year. We've had really a wet year in the basin," John Remus, Chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division, said. "If you look at the last 12 months almost every state the rainfall has been at a near record amount for the last year and the last six months."  

The meeting marked the first time the Army Corps of Engineers held a meeting in Jefferson City since 2011 when floods were equally as bad.