The Stream, March 11, 2020: Heavy Spring Flooding Likely in Midwest U.S., Forecasters Warn

The Global Rundown

U.S. meteorologists warn that the midwest could experience another round of significant springtime flooding. Drought hurts harvests in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Lawmakers in Nevada debate how water rights fit into the state’s “public trust” values. U.S. Great Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie all set record-high water levels last month. Chronic water shortages in Venezuela could impede hospital response to the coronavirus.

“I am very concerned that in Venezuela there are no supplies, medicines, or even water in hospitals or homes. The prevention measures that everyone is talking about are hard to comply with here.” –Josefina Moreno, a university professor with a history of respiratory disease, in reference to Venezuela’s inadequate ability to respond to the coronavirus. So far, there are no reported cases of coronavirus in the country, but neighboring Colombia recorded its first case last week. Venezuelan officials are attempting to prepare for an outbreak, but chronic shortages of water, medicine, and sewage infrastructure are complicating efforts. Reuters

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By The Numbers

25 percent or less Proportion of normal rainfall that has fallen across northwest Africa in the past three months, creating one of the driest periods in 40 years. The dry conditions, which are accompanied by hot weather, are threatening crops in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Bloomberg 

4 U.S. Great Lakes, including Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie, that reached record-highs for the month of February this year. Lakes Michigan and Huron, which connect at the Straits of Mackinac, held an exceptionally large amount of water, with an estimated 4.8 trillion gallons more in the lakes than in any February since the late 1800s. The Great Lakes are expected to continue setting monthly records throughout the rest of the year. MLive

Science, Studies, and Reports

Intense flooding deluged several parts of the midwestern United States last year, and the phenomenon could repeat itself, forecasters warn. Meteorologists employed special planes with gamma ray detectors to measure current amounts of ice and snow, and concluded that significant flooding is likely across the midwestern United States this spring. NPR

In context: Historic Missouri River Flood Damages Water Infrastructure

On the Radar

The Nevada Supreme Court is weighing the state’s role in protecting water under the Public Trust Doctrine, a legal concept that calls on the government to preserve natural resources for public benefit. The court is hearing arguments over whether the “public trust” values include protection of water resources. Agricultural groups, businesses, and municipalities worry that a change in water protections under a broadened interpretation of the public trust could undermine current water rights. The Nevada Independent


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