Nebraska Prepares for Potential Historic Flooding

Governor Pete Ricketts has issued an emergency declaration effective March 12 in anticipation of severe weather issues set to impact the state. The emergency declaration will allow NEMA and other state agencies to address potential impacts from the impending severe winter storm expected to affect the Panhandle area, as well as anticipated flooding across other areas of the state. 

“Nebraskans should watch the forecast closely in the coming days, and be prepared for severe weather events in conjunction with potential historic flooding. As Nebraskans know, conditions can change quickly, and everyone needs to be prepared.”

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for the Panhandle region in anticipation of a major winter weather system entering the state. This storm will be dangerous and life-threatening with significant impact on transportation, utilities and agricultural producers. Snowfall amounts in excess of 18 to 24 inches are possible and 50-60 miles per hour winds will make travel difficult to impossible. 

Motorists are urged to exercise care and travel is not recommended as the winter storm system enters the state. Residents should anticipate rapidly changing winter conditions with this storm system. The Governor’s Office urges Nebraska residents and agricultural producers to take precautionary measures to protect life and property. 

In addition, flooding will be a primary concern in many areas of the state due to warmer temperatures generating runoff from snowmelt. While this storm system is expected to deliver record levels of snow in the Panhandle it is expected to generate 1-3 inches of rainfall in the eastern portions of Nebraska. Frozen ground and high soil saturation levels will allow snowmelt and precipitation to runoff into rivers and streams which are currently frozen. Significant flooding is possible along the Loup, Platte, Elkhorn, and Missouri Rivers. Ice jams in several locations may likely exacerbate flooding. 

Ricketts has authorized NEMA to implement ice dusting operations on the Loup and Platte Rivers when conditions permit. The Nebraska State Patrol, the Nebraska Department of Transportation, and the Nebraska National Guard will be coordinating personnel and equipment needed to address these situations. 

NEMA strongly encourages individuals or families with functional needs to reach out to their local officials in advance of the storm system reaching their area. This will permit local officials to plan appropriately and identify the resources needed to provide assistance. 

(Photo: Papio NRD)

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