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Vital Lessons From the Midwest Bomb Cyclone and Flooding of 2019

The floodwaters still haven't subsided in parts of the Midwest, and lessons about climate change, extreme weather and proactive planning are badly needed to avoid similar catastrophes in the future.
March 23, 2019, 1pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Bomb Cyclone 2019
An aerial view of flooding at Camp Ashland, Nebraska on March 17, 2019.
The National Guard

Marshall Shepherd convened a panel of experts to examine lessons from the flooding that has ravaged the Midwest over the past week. Here's the lineup of experts:

  • Brian Bledsoe, University of Georgia Athletic Association Professor of Resilient Infrastructure.
  • Barb Mayes-Boustead, National Weather Service Meteorologist Instructor.
  • Forbes Tompkins, Officer, Flood Prepared Communities, The Pew Charitable Trusts.
  • Witold F. Krajewski, Rose & Joseph Summers Chair in Water Resources Engineering and Director, Iowa Flood Center.
  • Mike Chesterfield, Director of Weather Presentation, The Weather Channel.
  • Ken Dewey, Regional Climatologist, University of Nebraska.
  • Steve Bowen, Director and Meteorologist, Aon.

Among the big points made in the analysis reported by Shepherd: the bomb cyclone was a "perfect storm" in its confluence of tragic events; other environmental factors played a role, like snowpack; and infrastructure played a role:

Most of the panel agreed that a combination of weather, water, climate, and infrastructure failure led to the disaster. Mayes-Bousted paraphrased a message from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers that "all of the engineering around the Missouri River and its tributaries is designed to keep the majority of floods at bay, but not the most extreme of events."

In addition to discussion on other aspects of the disaster, the panel also made recommendations for how to move forward and better prepare for future extreme weather events. The state of Iowa's response to floods in 2008 is offered as one example to emulate.

A separate article by Gabriel H. Sanchez provides a photo series to illustrate the extent of the devastation.

Full Story:
Published on Monday, March 18, 2019 in Forbes
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