Flood projections are rising

Local News

It’s only mid-February, but a lot of people are already looking ahead on the calendar, because there’s the potential for more flooding this spring.

Last year, many areas of eastern KELOLAND were inundated with high water.

A lot of farmers couldn’t plant a single acre of crops, due to standing water and muddy conditions and judging by the long range flood forecast, this year could be another struggle.

Last year’s images of farmland in eastern KELOLAND sitting underwater for weeks on end are unforgettable.

Many areas of eastern South Dakota saw back to back years of record moisture and this year isn’t looking good either.

“The water tables are higher than they’ve been, the rivers are higher than they’ve been, the soil moisture is saturated, we don’t have anywhere to store any water right now, as we head into spring,” State Climatologist with the National Weather Service Mike Gillispie said.

Mike Gillispie has been looking over the numbers for the past few weeks. He says we’ve never been this wet at this time of year.

Hamlin County Emergency Manager David Schaefer watched the flooding unfold last year in his area.

He says Mother Nature’s relentless power of heavy rain last year created a flood of emotions for farmers.

Some couldn’t plant at all and the ones who did, some couldn’t get back in to harvest their crops in the fall, because it was still too wet.

“Agriculture is what drives our economy, agriculture had a really tough tough year in 2019; there’s a lot of guys who are still struggling if you drive around, not just Hamlin County, but Northeastern South Dakota, even North Dakota you see a lot of corn still standing in the fields,” Schaefer said.

“We got to remember, the southeast and Sioux Falls that’s been wet the last couple of years, it’s been the entire Northern Plains, the entire Missouri River Basin, the Mississippi Basin, even the Ohio basin has been 15 to 25 inches above normal for the last 18 months, so it’s been a huge area that’s been wet for a very long time,” Gillispie said.

So, is this the new normal? Only time will tell.

“If we have a late, late spring that is really really going to impact the agriculture and when ag is impacted we’re all impacted,” Schaefer said.

Last year, suicide became a real topic of conversation for a lot of farmers.

If you or someone you know is dealing with stress, Avera Health set up a Farm and Rural stress hotline to call. 1-800-691-4336

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