Another round of astonishing rains have fallen, this time in eastern Kansas where the National Weather Service says 8-plus inches caused flooding Thursday.
Heaviest hit were the Ottawa and Lawrence areas. As has happened this year in Nebraska and Iowa, roads closed, homes and businesses flooded, cars stalled out and emergency officials undertook water rescues.
“The problem was that it all came in a short amount of time — about six hours or less,” said Brandon Drake, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Topeka.
As more storms moved across southern Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri Thursday night into Friday, the weather service warned that the threat of flash flooding could last through Friday morning in south-central Nebraska and into the weekend farther south.
In Nebraska, the area at highest risk generally is between Kearney and Lincoln south to the Kansas border. About 3 to 6 inches of rain is possible in that area, according to the weather service.
Rain chances in Omaha had diminished, with about a 20 % chance of rain Friday. The weekend was expected to be rain-free.
A separate system was bringing rain to the Nebraska Panhandle Thursday night, and that region, too, was under a flash flood watch.
Portions of the southern Panhandle had received about an inch of rain by early evening. Storms were dancing round Scotts Bluff County, where farmers have been eager for rain after a collapsed irrigation tunnel shut off the flow of irrigated water to the semi-arid region.
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“We’re hoping they get some rain,” said Brandon Wills, meteorologist with the weather service in Cheyenne. “There are going to be showers in the area.”
For the past three months, the lower 48 states have set and then broken records for wettest 12 consecutive months on record.
Historic, widespread flooding in March has been described as the costliest disaster in Nebraska’s history.
That was followed by another round of heavy rains in late May that triggered renewed flooding along the Missouri River and then a more isolated but severe bout of flooding in July in central Nebraska.
Flooding has caused more than $1 billion in damage to federally sanctioned levees in the Missouri River basin, and repairs are expected to take a couple of years.
While it’s too soon to parse out any effects of global warming on this year’s rainfall, scientists have said the planet is getting wetter as it warms.
In general, Nebraska and Iowa are in an area of the country that has seen a 35 % to 40 % increase in heavy downpours from 1901 to 2016, according to the National Climate Assessment.
The U.S. Climate Prediction Center says the odds favor a wetter-than-average August in Nebraska and southwest Iowa.
Additionally, the long-range outlook hints at the possibility of a rainy fall, but the indications are too faint to project with any confidence, according to the CPC.