2002 Annual

Wednesday, 16 January 2002: 5:00 PM
A Review of the Summer 2000 Flooding in South Central Nebraska
Michael L. Moritz, NOAA/NWS, Hastings, NE
Forecasters will often anticipate flooding events when a long term “wet spell” has taken place. However, during extended dry periods, flooding may not be foremost in their thought process. In the early summer of 2000, south central Nebraska was in the firm grip of a severe drought. Rainfall from September 1999 through mid-June 2000 averaged about 10 inches across the region, or approximately 50 percent of normal. For Grand Island, Nebraska, only 8.61 inches of precipitation was recorded for the 10 month period, which was the driest in 60 years.

Despite such dry antecedent conditions, a series of localized heavy rain events during the early summer of 2000 in the Little Blue and Republican River basins, led to extensive flooding along those rivers and their tributaries. Ironically, such welcome rains turned into one of the most costly flood related events in recent history in south central Nebraska. Across rural areas of a six county region, damage to public and private structures was estimated at 2.7 million dollars, while erosion and crop losses were estimated to be over 16 million dollars.

This study will center on the meteorological and hydrologic scenario which led to the flooding, in an attempt to alert the forecaster to these types of situations, and increase their operational awareness in regards to potential flooding events, even during drought-like conditions. This paper will summarize the public information products issued by the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Hastings, Nebraska. Finally, I will look back at some of the socioeconomic impact the flooding had on this rural and mainly agricultural area.

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