2015/2016 Winter Floods

Science Center Objects

Learn more about USGS flood activities related to the 2015/2016 Winter Floods. In late Dec. 2015, persistent precipitation accompanied by strong winds and tornadoes blanketed two large bands of area from Texas to Ohio and Mississippi to North Carolina, causing localized flash flooding and then major flooding along the Missouri, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers.

December Rainfall

December 29, 2015: 14-Day Observed Precipitation - Continental United States (Credit: NOAA National Weather Service)

December Rainfall: Warmer-than-usual winter temperatures and an infusion of warm tropical moisture in late December, 2015 created conditions for heavy, sustained rainfall across large sections of the central and southern United States, with many areas experiencing 12 inches of rain or more.

Click the image above to see a larger version, or visit the National Weather Service AHPS website for more precipitation maps and river forecasts.

Widespread Flooding: Flash floods that are normally confined to smaller regions were spread throughout large portions of the central and eastern United States. Runoff from these floods collected in the nation's tributaries and then concentrated into larger mainstem rivers. The USGS collected data from hundreds of special measurements and thousands of streamgaging stations, helping the National Weather Service to forecast river flooding and assisting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with reservoir management and water control.

Flood conditions map for December 29, 2015

USGS WaterWatch flood conditions map for December 29, 2015.

Click the image above to see a larger version, or visit USGS WaterWatch for current flood conditions and other tools to explore flood and drought.


Water Quality Monitoring: While flood levels are a primary concern, flooding also impacts water quality in ways that have short- and long-term impacts on drinking water and aquatic ecosystems. USGS collected water-quality samples from many sites to characterize changes in water quality.

Water quality sampler, December 30, 2015

Water quality sampler, December 30, 2015 (Credit: Todd Koenig, USGS)


USGS Activities in the News: