The government's spring weather outlook raises concerns for flooding in the Midwest and continued drought in the Southwest.
The outlook for April through June includes potential flooding in the Ohio Valley and as far west as Colorado, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.
"The soil moisture is high, due to the melting of an above normal snowpack, which resulted from record snowfall in December and January," said David Johnson, director of NOAA's National Weather Service.
According to the forecast, warmer than normal temperatures in recent weeks have increased the risk of flooding due to ice jams over portions of eastern South Dakota, eastern Iowa, southeastern Minnesota, southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
In addition, high soil moisture over northeastern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania and extreme southwestern New York state could lead to flooding if additional heavy precipitation occurs, the agency said. Snow and rainfall in December through February were above average in much of the center of the nation, while large sections of the East, Southeast and West were drier than average.
Much of Southern California just experienced its driest fall and winter in more than a century, the report said.
"With the dry season fast approaching, there are major concerns that drought conditions will not only fail to improve but actually worsen in coming months," said Doug Lecomte, drought specialist for the NOAA Climate Prediction Center. "The outlook for any significant drought improvement from now through spring looks grim for not only southern California but for much of the Southwest as well."
Florida also is approaching its dry season and dry winter weather over the southern half of the peninsula has brought fire danger indices to abnormally high conditions.
"The National Interagency Fire Center's Seasonal Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for February through June 2007 calls for the potential for significant wildfire activity to be higher than normal this spring over portions of the southern tier of states and northern Minnesota," said Tom Wordell, Wildland National Interagency Fire Center fire analyst.
The outlook calls for drought to continue or worsen through June over much of the Southwest, potentially spreading into portions of Utah and western Colorado.
Drought also is expected to persist across Florida, while improvement is predicted over the extreme northern Plains as well as portions of Texas and Oklahoma.