NOAA: Michigan at risk for flooding through May

The Detroit News
NOAA flood map

Michigan is the among the states facing an elevated risk for flooding through May, weather experts say.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a spring outlook Thursday that shows nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states could have at least a 50 percent chance of major, moderate or minor flooding thanks to above-average precipitation.

"Record winter precipitation across a large swath of the country has set the stage for the elevated flood risk," NOAA said in a statement."

Most of Michigan is in the category for "minor" flooding, along with much of the United States east of the Mississippi River and portions of California and Nevada, the outlook shows.

The outlook will help emergency managers and community leaders prepare residents and businesses for flood threats, NOAA said. 

“In addition to the safety aspects, our rivers are critical to the economic vitality of the nation, supporting commerce, recreation and transportation," the agency said. "NOAA forecasts and outlooks help people navigate extreme seasonal weather and water events to keep the country safe and moving forward.”  

The areas of greatest risk for moderate to major flooding include the upper, middle and lower Mississippi River basins.

NOAA notes that some areas, including Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa, have already experienced record flooding this year following rainfall amounts far above normal.

“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,” said Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. “This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities.”

The flood-risk outlook is based on factors including current conditions of snowpack, drought, soil moisture, frost depth, streamflow and precipitation, NOAA said.

The release comes after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently declared a state of emergency for Newaygo County in western Michigan following heavy rains and melting snow that caused flooding.

The declaration announced Tuesday makes available all state resources in cooperation with local efforts.

Rain is expected in Metro Detroit in the next several days.

The National Weather Service said a slight chance exists of rain and snow between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday as highs reach the upper 30s — nearly 10 degrees below average. Winds could gust as high as 33 mph.

After dipping into the 20s, the thermometer could rebound into the mid-40s on Saturday, then the low 50s on Sunday. There's a chance of rain and snow overnight into Monday as temperatures drop around freezing