In addition to the heavy rain and snow in northern Nebraska, much of South Dakota has seen rain and snow, too. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to increase releases from its dams to keep water moving along as runoff pours in.
The corps says that 2 to 5 inches of rain has fallen across the two states since Friday. Releases from Gavins Point will be increased to 60,000 cubic feet per second on Thursday, according to the corps.
Mountain snow pack is normal, but the snow still contains the equivalent of more than 8 inches of water, so the corps wants to keep the rain runoff moving through so that there is enough room behind the dams for the snowmelt, said John Remus, Chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division.
Record rains lead to road closings in northern Nebraska
Record rains have led to road closures in Cherry and Holt Counties.
Ranch and county roads are closed, as is Nebraska Highway 97 south of Merritt Reservoir. Standing water covers some meadows and has ranchers worried about their ability to harvest hay.
Three to five inches of rain have fallen since Sunday, according to local rain gauges and National Weather Service records.
In Valentine, 3.15 inches of rain fell from Sunday through Wednesday. While that’s not a lot of rain over three days on the more humid eastern side of Nebraska, it is for semiarid western Nebraska.
In the midst of that was a record 2.17 inches of rain on Tuesday. The old record of 1.75 inches was set in 1977. Precipitation records for Valentine date to 1889.
In the Ainsworth area, more rain fell from Friday through Tuesday than typically falls in the entire month of May.
Gerry Osborn, a volunteer weather observer for the National Weather Service for more than 70 years, said his records show 4.3 inches of rain over those five days. Typically, about 3.4 inches of rain falls at his home near Ainsworth in May.
The weather service has issued a flood advisory for the White River in Dawes County because of the potential for flooding in Crawford, at the Chadron Airport and in Whitney.
Heavy snow slows opening of Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center
While north-central Nebraska received flooding rains this week, farther west, the precipitation fell as snow.
In some areas of the Pine Ridge, 9 to 18 inches of snow has fallen since Monday, said Aviva Braun, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. It was a messy, wet snow, she said. In Chadron, the weather changed back and forth several times between rain and snow.
The Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center, north of Fort Robinson State Park, won’t open until Wednesday.
Twelve inches of snow made it impossible to get the site ready, according to a press release from park officials.
“We need a few more days to clear brush, mow and get everything in place,” said Center Director Ryan Means.
Major flooding possible in Missouri; state of emergency declared
The National Weather Service is warning of the potential for major flooding in Missouri, especially along the Missouri River. At risk are communities such as Boonville, Jefferson City, Hermann and Washington.
On Tuesday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson declared a state of emergency because of flooding and storm damage.
On Wednesday, the Missouri Department of Transportation urged travelers to plan their Memorial Day holiday travel with the weather in mind. People should check road conditions for closures and changes.
As has been repeated countless times since the March flooding, roads officials warn that people shouldn’t drive around barriers or through floodwater.
More storms coming Thursday night into Memorial Day weekend
The National Weather Service said there’s a chance for severe weather from Thursday night into Monday across the region.
For the Omaha metro area, Thursday night could bring a round of severe storms, especially after dark, according to the National Weather Service. The chance of severe weather diminishes in the Omaha area on Friday, but could return over the weekend.