The spring flood outlook is not good news for those already devastated by flooding in the Midwest and down the Mississippi River, according to an outlook released Thursday by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
"This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities," said Ed Clark, director of NOAA's National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
NOAA's outlook calls for nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states to face an elevated risk of flooding through May, with the potential for major to moderate flooding in 25 states across the Great Plains, Midwest and down through the Mississippi River valley.
"The flooding this year could be worse than what we have seen in previous years ... even worse than the historic floods we saw in 1993 and 2011," said Mary Erickson, deputy director of the National Weather Service.
The warning comes amid record flooding triggered by a sudden warm-up and heavy rains earlier this month brought on by the "bomb cyclone." Combined with rapid snowmelt, the factors in recent weeks have put many places in the Great Plains and Midwest underwater.
As this excess water flows downstream through river basins, the flood threat will impact more regions and could get worse, NOAA said in its outlook.
"The extensive flooding we've seen in 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.
Eastern third of US due to see above-average temps
Along with the flood outlook, NOAA issued its prediction for spring weather conditions, which also outlines temperature and precipitation, as well as drought potential for April through June.
NOAA calls for above-average precipitation during the period for most of the continental United States, heightening flood concerns in many locations.
The only portion of the country expected to see below-average precipitation is the Pacific Northwestern states of Washington and Oregon.
Precipitation in California is expected to be around average through the spring, after far-above-average rain and snow this winter have pulled the state out of a seven-year drought.
As for temperature outlook, the eastern third of the country is expected to see above-average temperatures, while most of the Great Plains is due for below-average temperatures.
The outlook is not a day-to-day "forecast," per se, but rather a general expectation of average weather patterns -- and this year's outlook takes into account the presence of El Niño, which can influence the weather patterns over the United States, NOAA said.
NOAA intends for the information to help communities make timely preparations for floods, droughts and extreme temperatures.