Flooding triggered by last week's so-called "bomb cyclone" storm has already inflicted damage estimated at almost $1.5 billion in Nebraska, killed at least four people in Nebraska and Iowa and left a man missing below Nebraska's collapsed Spencer Dam. If the snow melts at the same time as spring rains come, there could be widespread flooding across much of the USA and Canada. At least 13 million people could face major flooding, he said.
Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say flooding could reach unprecedented levels in parts of the US later this spring, as winter snow melts and swollen rivers rise.
The major flooding already experienced in Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and elsewhere is "a preview of what we expect throughout the rest of the spring", she said. The town of 220 began flooding after a levee breach.
In addition to the year-to-year natural variability of weather, there is a long-term, climate change-driven trend that is making extreme rainfalls even more intense, said Texas A&M University climate scientist Andrew Dessler.
The Missouri River continues to rise north of Kansas City, where several towns are bracing for a near-record crest late Friday into Saturday morning.
US President Donald Trump declared a disaster in Nebraska on Thursday [March 21] and ordered federal aid to supplement state efforts. The flooding has destroyed homes and businesses, and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Cole County Emergency Management Director Bill Farr says we've seen it before ...
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That deluge - combined with rapid snowmelt in early March, frozen ground, heavy rain and ice jams - is expected to raise river levels for weeks.
Ed Clark, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, said the flooding of the past two weeks 'will continue through May and become more dire and may be exacerbated in the coming weeks as the water flows downstream.
Clark said about two-thirds of the Lower 48 is likely to experience some sort of flooding this spring.
Vice President Mike Pence travels to Nebraska today (Tuesday) to get a first-hand view of the unsafe flooding.
The swollen Mississippi River has been flooding some unprotected western communities in Mississippi since last month. The water eventually invaded some homes in that community, about 40 miles (65km) north of Vicksburg.