By Chris Shaffer

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This week, Minnesota, Iowa and other parts of the Midwest are dealing with historic floods. Officials say it will likely be weeks or even months before the water fully recedes.

And if the news from NOAA is accurate, it could get much worse before getting better. The new spring flood outlook predicts a potentially unprecedented flood season, especially in the Midwest and along the Mississippi River.

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“This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities,” Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, said.

It’s been a tough few weeks in the heartland. The flooding so far has already cost billions of dollars in damage in Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri.

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But NOAA’s outlook calls for nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states to face an elevated risk of flooding through May.

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Locally, volunteers and public works crews are pooling forces to protect what rising rivers threaten. Several state parks and trails are temporarily closed from the floods. In many places, the ground just isn’t safe for people or cars and trucks. The Minnesota DNR hopes to reopen the trails in May, or sooner if things dry up.

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The three river basins at risk for major flooding nationwide are the Mississippi, the Red River of the North, and the Missouri River. All three river basins touch parts of Minnesota.

Chris Shaffer