The Great Flood of 1993 resulted in $36.3 billion dollars in losses and 48 deaths. It was considered the 8th worst natural disaster in US history in terms of dollars. The top six were hurricanes, followed by the 1988 drought/heat wave. Large regions of the Missouri and Upper Mississippi River basins were impacted by heavy rains from June through August of 1993. The rains were widespread with the largest totals concentrated in Iowa.
I will share some climatic factors of the event. However, the most important thing to remember is that this was a large, slow-moving human disaster. I had friends and family in the affected area and it was indeed tough times. The St. Louis Post Dispatch recently did a story on the 25th Anniversary, showing the extent of the disaster.
In the end, I will try to answer the question – can it happen again?
From the study by Kunkel, Changnon, and Angel (1994), other features of the 1993 Flood that made it so severe include:
- above-normal soil moisture at the beginning of June 1993
- large-sized areas of moderate to heavy rains
- the occurrence of rain areas orientated along the main stems of major rivers
- a large number of localized extreme daily rainfall total greater than 6 inches
- below-normal evaporation due to cooler temperatures and increased cloudiness