Dakotas blizzard adds to extreme spring flooding risk

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:13 AM GMT on February 21, 2011

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Heavy snows in excess of six inches have piled up over much of South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota today, with a storm maximum of 16 inches reported at Midland, South Dakota. This is bad news for residents in flood-prone areas of the Upper Midwest, as the new storm has added more than another half inch of melted rainfall equivalent to a snowpack that already had a record water content. When all that snow melts in late March, we can expect another spring of major and possibly record flooding for North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, or the Upper Mississippi River north of St. Louis, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Their February Spring Flood Outlook released last week warned: "Heavy autumn rains and above average water content in the snow pack throughout the North Central U.S. have produced a high risk of moderate and major flooding for the Spring of 2011. Areas of greatest concern include the Red River of the North in North Dakota and Minnesota, Devils Lake in North Dakota, the James River and Big Sioux River in South Dakota, and areas along the Upper Mississippi River including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.

Heavy late summer and autumn precipitation (twice the normal amount since October in parts of North Dakota and Minnesota) have soils saturated and streams running high before the winter freeze-up. Another winter of above average snowfall has added water to the snow pack on top of the frozen saturated soils in the North Central US. NWS models show this snowpack containing a water content ranked in the 90 to 100 percentile when compared to a 60 year average. These factors have combined to create some of the highest soil moisture contents of the last century. "



Figure 1. North Central U.S. flood risk. Image credit: NWS. The outlook will be updated on February 24, and a final outlook issued March 17.

There is a huge amount of snow on the ground in North Dakota along the tributaries of the Red River, thanks to fall precipitation that was 150% - 300% of normal, and winter snows that have dumped up to 400% more precipitation than usual. If one were to melt this snow, it would amount to 4 - 5 inches of rain. If heavy rains occur at the same time that the snow melts, there is the potential for the greatest flood in history to affect the cities of Fargo and Grand Forks, the largest and third largest cities in North Dakota. NWS is giving a 20% chance that Fargo will see its greatest flood in history, and a 10% chance for Grand Forks.

The situation is similar in Minnesota, which has received about double its normal precipitation over the past 3 to 4 months. Snow depths are generally around 18 inches in the Upper Mississippi watershed, with a high water content. If one were to melt this snow, it would amount to 3.5 - 5.5 inches of rain, which ranks among the wettest snow packs in the 60-year record. NWS is giving a 15% chance that St. Paul will see its highest flood in history this spring.

In South Dakota, heavy snows this winter have also left a snowpack with a high water content, and NWS is predicting a 30% chance that the the James River at Huron, SD and the Big Sioux River at Brookings, SD will reach their highest flood heights in history.


Figure 2. The snow water equivalent of the Upper Midwest's snowpack as of February 18, 2011. Large sections of Minnesota and North Dakota have the equivalent of 3.9 - 5.9 inches of rain (purple colors) stored in their snowpack. Image credit: NWS/NOHRSC.

When will all this flooding occur? Generally, late March through mid-April is the time when the big spring melt occurs. The record 2009 Red River flood peaked on March 28 in Fargo. The great 1997 Red River flood that devastated Grand Forks, causing $3.5 billion in damage, crested on April 18. St. Paul's greatest flood in history crested on April 19, 1965.

I'll have a new post Tuesday or Wednesday.

Jeff Masters

Blinding snowstorm hits Detroit area (MichiganSnowLvr)
The Detroit area was hit with a blinding snowstorm this afternoon and evening, with near zero visibility and thunder/lightning, as the snowfall piles up quickly and deeply.
Blinding snowstorm hits Detroit area

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Schwinn Bicycle is up 5.6% though..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
ZCZC SPCSWOD48 ALL
ACUS48 KWNS 210953
SPC AC 210953

DAY 4-8 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0353 AM CST MON FEB 21 2011

VALID 241200Z - 011200Z

...DISCUSSION...
AN OUTBREAK OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS APPEARS LIKELY ON THU/D4 FROM
ERN OK/NERN TX EWD ACROSS MUCH OF AR...SRN MO...NRN MS...CNTRL AND
WRN KY AND TN...AND POSSIBLY CONTINUING INTO FRI/D5 ACROSS PORTIONS
OF THE MID ATLANTIC STATES.

MODELS ARE IN GOOD AGREEMENT IN DEPICTING A POTENT UPPER SHORTWAVE
TROUGH MOVING EWD ACROSS THE SRN PLAINS DURING THE DAY THU WITH A
SURFACE LOW DEEPENING FROM ROUGHLY OK AT 12Z TO MO/AR BY 00Z. AHEAD
OF THE DEEPENING LOW...A RELATIVELY WIDE MOIST/WARM SECTOR WILL BE
IN PLACE WITH BOUNDARY LAYER DEWPOINTS IN THE 60S F. STRONG FORCING
WITH THE UPPER TROUGH...COOLING MID LEVEL TEMPERATURES AND THE
PRESENCE OF VERY STRONG WIND PROFILES SUGGEST SIGNIFICANT SEVERE
WEATHER WILL BE POSSIBLE...INCLUDING TORNADOES AND VERY STRONG WINDS
IN ADDITION TO HAIL.

THE GREATEST THREAT AREA ON THU WILL LIKELY BE NEAR AND JUST S OF
THE SURFACE LOW TRACK DURING THE LATE AFTERNOON AND EVENING HOURS.
LATEST ITERATION OF NUMERICAL GUIDANCE SUGGESTS THAT THIS WOULD
INCLUDE MUCH OF AR...SRN MO...FAR NRN MS...AND MUCH OF WRN KY AND
TN.

SOME SEVERE THREAT WILL LIKELY PERSIST OVERNIGHT AND CONTINUE INTO
FRI/D5...ALTHOUGH INSTABILITY AND MOISTURE WILL BE LESS. AS
SUCH...THE EXPECTED SEVERE THREAT FRI WILL LIKELY BE COMPRISED OF
DAMAGING WIND GUSTS ASSOCIATED WITH AN INTENSE COLD FRONT AND A
STRONGLY FORCED LINE OF STORMS...FROM THE DELMARVA SWD ACROSS VA.
THESE STORMS WOULD LIKELY HAVE LITTLE INSTABILITY TO WORK WITH...AND
WOULD BE RELATIVELY LOW TOPPED...BUT A STRONG SURFACE PRESSURE
FALL/RISE COUPLET WOULD ENHANCE WIND POTENTIAL WITH THE LINE.

AFTER THE D4 TO D5 TIME FRAME...MODEL SOLUTIONS DIVERGE RAPIDLY.

..JEWELL.. 02/21/2011
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OIL prices spiking, and not even hurricane in the gulf, I think the economy is gonna be just fine.... when it implodes


Energy & Oil Prices
OIL ($/bbl)
Nymex Crude Future $91.42 up $5.22
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
..."He shoulda looked left and he shoulda looked right"..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
153. beell
Quoting Cochise000:


Do you actually believe that? The publishers of those ridiculous articles don't include one middle-of-the-road publication.


You may have to look a little harder for the tongue-in-the-cheek. Add whatever spin you like, lol.
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Auroras in Kiruna/Sweden All-Sky Camera and updated every minute! It's beautiful! Link
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Quoting Xyrus2000:


I hope you're not being serious.
It was for fun..I am confident that we will be here( and some of us posting) when that day arrives...:)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22694
Quoting RitaEvac:
Libya having their own revolution now




STAND STRONG
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Quoting hydrus:
12/21/12 is coming...No one will be here to give a shot anyway...:0


I hope you're not being serious.
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146. beell
Here ya go, Neap. This should last you a while.
;-]

Top 100 effects of Global Warming
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Dat's the way, mamma told me,



..at least its Mardi Gras season here.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
Ol George Carlin was right
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
Because hurricane season is just 14 weeks away?

WHAT???!!!

(swoons, hyperventilates, passes out)
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 178 Comments: 26675
Quoting aquak9:
hi Nea

too depressed to swoon...

Oh, why? Just because the planet's warming up, yet some refuse to believe that thermometers measure temperature? Because the Middle East is set to implode (or explode), with the Libyan government using military aircraft against its own people today? Because here at home some state governments are acting against the best interests of their own people? b\Because hurricane season is just 14 weeks away?

Don't let that bother you; swoon away. ;-)
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Wisconsin
Crowds topped 50,000 people this weekend as demonstrators continue to express their frustration with the state's budget bill. Gov. Scott Walker, however, is not retreating. The bill is vital and complaints that it is union-busting are a "red herring," he said.

Tom Morello, formerly Rage Against the Machine's guitarist, has called Walker "the Mubarak of the Midwest," likening the governor to the recently toppled Egyptian leader. Morello will perform solo for protesters Monday. The budget repair bill was proposed by Walker to address a $137 million shortfall through June 30. It increases state workers' contributions to their pensions and health insurance benefits, requires collective bargaining units to conduct annual votes to maintain certification and eliminates the right of unions to have dues deducted from worker paychecks. Fourteen Democratic state senators essentially boycotted the Legislature and went to Illinois to prevent a quorum from passing the bill. Walker has said powerful public employee unions are behind the blocking of the bill.

Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
hi Nea

too depressed to swoon...
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 178 Comments: 26675
Libya having their own revolution now
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
Quoting TomTaylor:


Yea exactly. Climate change is an issue, but when you look at all the other problems heading our way if our population keeps growing, we are in for much more serious problems.

Global warming and population growth go hand in hand, with the latter exacerbating the former, thereby making things harder for the latter.
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A few bits of news from today ranging from the mundane to the catastrophic:

Climate Change Extends Allergy Season in North America

"Bad news for%u2014achoo!%u2014those who sniffle, er suffer their way through ragweed%u2014sniff, snort, itch%u2014season: A team of researchers has found that increased warming, particularly in the northern half of North America, has added weeks to the fall pollen season. It's enough to make you grab a tissue: Minneapolis has tacked 16 days to the ragweed pollen season since 1995; LaCrosse, Wisc. has added 13 days, Winnipeg and Saskatoon in Canada have added 25 and 27 days, respectively. The new research, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds the longer pollen seasons correlate with the disproportionate warming happening around the planet and attributed to greenhouse gas emissions."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Scientists warn that Earth could be "unrecognizable" by 2050

"As the global population surpasses 7 billion this year -- experts expect that figure will surge to 9 billion by 2050 -- and standard of living rises, natural resources continue to diminish. All of this conspires to put additional pressures on a global ecosystem already buckling under the weight of human consumption. According to scientists at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the confluence of precipitous demographic and environmental factors"--among them global warming--"amount to a massive ecological bubble; one that, should it burst, could lead to catastrophe."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

But then this piece o' happy news:

House votes to block EPA's global warming power

"The House has voted to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases that scientists say cause global warming. Texas Representative Ted Poe pressed the anti%u2013EPA measure. His Texas district is home to many oil refineries"

Shocking...
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Two Libyan air force pilots defected to Malta today after being asked to bomb citizens, a Maltese government source said.


Major uprising against government
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
135. xcool
brb
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134. xcool
*hey*
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Quoting TomTaylor:


thats a bold statement...there have been some pretty stupid comments in the history if this blog haha

Indeed. In fact, I thought RE's statement had a certain joie de vivre.
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Quoting TomTaylor:


Yea exactly. Climate change is an issue, but when you look at all the other problems heading our way if our population keeps growing, we are in for much more serious problems.


There are some mighty big problems out there for which no one seems to have a workable answer. I know I am not smart enough to fix it.
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Quoting SQUAWK:


That is just part of it. Impending food shortages and crop failures, transportation services going belly-up, infrastructure crumbling and no oil to fuel the tractors, create the fertilizer, make the containers, it all spells genocide at some point in time. I do not think technology will bail us out. Too many don't trust it and it may not have an answer anyhow. Technology takes big money to create and everyone wants to destroy the mechanism that creates the money to do the job. I hope they can get used to eating grass.


Yea exactly. Climate change is an issue, but when you look at all the other problems heading our way if our population keeps growing, we are in for much more serious problems.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
Quoting aquak9:


if we would quit BREEDING so many, the CO2 problem would improve, too.


That is just part of it. Impending food shortages and crop failures, transportation services going belly-up, infrastructure crumbling and no oil to fuel the tractors, create the fertilizer, make the containers, it all spells genocide at some point in time. I do not think technology will bail us out. Too many don't trust it and it may not have an answer anyhow. Technology takes big money to create and everyone wants to destroy the mechanism that creates the money to do the job. I hope they can get used to eating grass.
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Quoting SQUAWK:


The way things are going, that may be the only answer. We'll see. :)
12/21/12 is coming...No one will be here to give a shot anyway...:0
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22694
Quoting twincomanche:


That is the all time stupid remark I have ever seen on here. Shame on you. We can settle our differences without that sort of thing.


thats a bold statement...there have been some pretty stupid comments in the history if this blog haha
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
Quoting SQUAWK:


If enough people die, our CO2 problem will solve itself.


if we would quit BREEDING so many, the CO2 problem would improve, too.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 178 Comments: 26675
Hi WU's. I usually make my few comments during hurricane season. However, living in MN I must say, the weather here during the winter season....SUCKS.
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Quoting hydrus:
Such an uplifting post...:)


The way things are going, that may be the only answer. We'll see. :)
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.."crying wont help you, prayer wont do you no good"...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
Quoting SQUAWK:


If enough people die, our CO2 problem will solve itself.
Such an uplifting post...:)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22694
Quoting DocBen:
Mother Nature is getting her revenge for Man's continued assault on the environment. Perhaps if enough people die the denialists will have to admit that something is going wrong.


If enough people die, our CO2 problem will solve itself.
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Looks like the storm chasers are going to have a ball chasing server weather,and tropical weather.
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Mother Nature is getting her revenge for Man's continued assault on the environment. Perhaps if enough people die the denialists will have to admit that something is going wrong.
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117. DEKRE
Quoting RecordSeason:


A "Ute" is an Isuzu truck model, and a "Caravan" is either an RV or a camper trailer.



A Ute is a pick-up truck, most often a Holden
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Lots of troublesome issues rearing their heads going into 2011 at social/political levels worldwide and many of those issues (food production/crop yields/food prices/flooding, etc.) are directly impacted by weather related issues.....I am always hoping for the best but it is going to be quite a year on all fronts if Mother Nature throws us some more curveballs this year in terms of natural disaters to add to the list of concerns....... :)
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The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30cSean Hannity's Liberty Treewww.colbertnation.comColbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive


anyone with a sense of humor should laugh at this :)
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Removed monetary correction since others already pointed it out.
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Private schools are going to be the new school system, at some point, public schools are a joke
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
BPOilSpillStillScrewingUptheGulf

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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