Walking over soggy lifeless crops, Brett Adams, a fifth generation Nebraska farmer, paused to catch his breath. Under the dark grey clouds of the Midwestern spring, he was forced to come to terms with an alarming reality: 80% of his farmland was under freezing floodwater.
In March 2019, record-breaking floods inundated America’s breadbasket, a region that’s also a key exporter of corn and soybeans to the world. Much of the Midwest was overwhelmed with floods as a result of torrential rains, frozen ground unable to absorb more water, heavy snowmelt, and a series of extreme weather events that culminated in a major winter storm—described by meteorologists as a “bomb cyclone.”
“Winter was colder than normal, overall. We also had a wetter-than-normal winter as well as fall, so the soils were at or near saturation,” Nebraska State Climatologist Martha Shulski said.
The floods damaged public infrastructure and led to the loss of crops, livestock and the evacuation of thousands of people from their homes.