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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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
talking about a place in the trees i checked out the cams they look good nice and clear 7 out of eight are working

by the way u need an underwater cam so i can watch the water freeze from below:)


7 out of 8?
Did you have it set to display the full range (9 cam setting)
Boy did they ever change our week long forecast... went from Spring back to Darkest Winter in a hurry:(
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Here's the loop again for those who missed it:


make avatar
Make avatar
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
models indicate march roars in like a lion looks like a biggie coming up

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Quoting AussieStorm:

I have been around long enough to know they will amount to zilch. Never said or thought they would become cat 5's. lol

Yea, sorry, I edited that part to say, "What did you think I thought they would turn into cat 5 hurricanes?"

I too, know they amount to nothing...they will dissipate in a few hours. I was only showing people that seasons are changing.

Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
Quoting Orcasystems:


Pottery said something about building a water slide to get into town, he got a new place on the mountain in the trees.
talking about a place in the trees i checked out the cams they look good nice and clear 7 out of eight are working

by the way u need an underwater cam so i can watch the water freeze from below:)
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553. DDR
There's no water slide but there's a ferry lol
Seriously,sounds like my kind of place!
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Quoting TomTaylor:

What did you think they would turn into cat 5 hurricanes?

LOL, you must be kidding yourself.

I was just pointing out that the season's are changing and thunderstorms are starting to form off west africa again.

I know the real wave train that actually forms hurricanes doesn't start until around July/August time.

I have been around long enough to know they will amount to zilch. Never said or thought they would become cat 5's. lol
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
Quoting AussieStorm:

come on, it's still winter there yet your saying it's looking better, wait till they get over water and see what happens, they'll disapate. Just afternoon storms.

What did you think I thought they would turn into cat 5 hurricanes?

LOL, you must be kidding yourself.

I was just pointing out that the season's are changing and thunderstorms are starting to form off west africa again. It's significant because there haven't been any significant thunderstorms in that area for about the last 3 months.

I know the real wave train that actually forms hurricanes doesn't start until around July/August time.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
Quoting TomTaylor:

Yea, whatever, this same loop showed nothing over west africa two weeks ago...were making progress

come on, it's still winter there yet your saying it's looking better, wait till they get over water and see what happens, they'll disapate. Just afternoon storms.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
Quoting DDR:
lol!
I'd give that to pottery,i live on hill.


Pottery said something about building a water slide to get into town, he got a new place on the mountain in the trees.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting AussieStorm:
the ITCZ is still south of the EQ

Yea, whatever, this same loop showed nothing over west africa two weeks ago...were making progress
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
Quoting TomTaylor:
For those of you looking forward to the Atlantic hurricane season...

1 hr IR Loop over Africa

make avatar
Make avatar


...that wave train be a-comin
the ITCZ is still south of the EQ
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
Quoting Neapolitan:


I just read a "confirmed" toll of 114.

According to JPMorgan Chase & Co, yesterday's quake is expected to be the world's costliest insured disaster since 2008's Hurricane Ike.

New Zealand Prime Minister has just held a press conference, He said only 75 deaths, I would go with his figures and not a news paper. Don't know where that news report got 114 from.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
545. DDR
lol!
I'd give that to pottery,i live on hill.
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For those of you looking forward to the Atlantic hurricane season...

1 hr IR Loop over Africa

make avatar
Make avatar


...that wave train be a-comin
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
Quoting DDR:
Picked up another inch of rain today,now 4 inches have fallen in 24 hours,won't be surprised to see some degree of flooding by tomorrow.I got double the monthly average in one day for the second time for the month.

Trinidad and Tobago radar
Link


You might want to read up on this
Plans
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
542. DDR
Picked up another inch of rain today,now 4 inches have fallen in 24 hours,won't be surprised to see some degree of flooding by tomorrow.I got double the monthly average in one day for the second time for the month.

Trinidad and Tobago radar
Link
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Quoting AussieStorm:

Don't forget, the more solid the ground is, the less movement there will be, Christchurch is build not far from the Pacific and has a sandy base. The September quake was situated in solid rock and was 10km's below. Yesterdays quake was on sandy ground and only 4km's down.

Currently there is 75 people dead, 300 missing, there is a group of 15 people trapped in the CTV(Canterbury Television)Building, they have been seen on CTV and they are alive.
There is specialist rescue units 2 from NSW, 1 Qld, a crews from Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, UK, USA. Aftershocks are still shaking the city.


I just read a "confirmed" toll of 114.

According to JPMorgan Chase & Co, yesterday's quake is expected to be the world's costliest insured disaster since 2008's Hurricane Ike.
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Quoting Grothar:


It is a little more complex than that. It is possible that a 6.5 could be more destructive in the Midwest or East than a 7.5 in the West. The reason being the amount of energy which passes through the underlying terrain. In the West, as in California, the underground is much more fractured, due to much more seismic activity. In the Midwest and East, much less fracturing. Therefore, an earthquake is usually felt over a greater distance and also leading to more damage. Thankfully, in the West, there are many more cracks to break up the energy from the epicenter and the effects are confined to a smaller area.

Don't forget, the more solid the ground is, the less movement there will be, Christchurch is build not far from the Pacific and has a sandy base. The September quake was situated in solid rock and was 10km's below. Yesterdays quake was on sandy ground and only 4km's down.

Currently there is 75 people dead, 300 missing, there is a group of 15 people trapped in the CTV(Canterbury Television)Building, they have been seen on CTV and they are alive.
There is specialist rescue units 2 from NSW, 1 Qld, a crews from Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, UK, USA. Aftershocks are still shaking the city.

If anyone want's me to set up my stream again let me know. the ABC NEws stream is still available.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
Yo Gro!!!!!

:)

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Quoting NRAamy:
back from Juno Beach.... weather included a lot of SQUAWK!!!!!!!


YO!
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back from Juno Beach.... weather included a lot of SQUAWK!!!!!!!
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Quoting Grothar:



You sure those graphs are reliable? I think they may be done by meteorologists or climatologists. You can't always trust those lines.


Nothing in the world can be 100% trusted. Some degree of trust exists for every parcel of information. Here, I trust that the ECMWF is presenting their model runs for ENSO prediction as the actual output that the models gave.

Mistrust is usually generated by a potential motive for delivering misinformation that comes to light. In terms of climate debate, it is unlikely that there is any motive to fabricate anything regarding ENSO model predictions, as that would go against the current thinking that ENSO cycles have little to do with century-scale climate variability.
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Quoting Orcasystems:
GW my butt... its snowing again :(
hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahhahahahahaha
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Quoting Levi32:
New ECMWF February seasonal forecasts are out. The ENSO ensembles still show a tendency to flatten out this summer and not shoot up into an El Nino, stalling out in the cool neutral zone by the peak of the hurricane season, hinting at a return to La Nina conditions next winter, but it's hard to tell yet.




You sure those graphs are reliable? I think they may be done by meteorologists or climatologists. You can't always trust those lines.
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
Wow snow in Canada in February - who'd thought.

Oh I know climatologists.



Must be your butt.


ahaha
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
HUh?

He is looking for similarly shaped features on the sea floor that match the Solar Coronal plasma features to predict earthquakes?
It seems a bit like palmistry or phrenology.
The proximity and magnitude to New Zeland looked good, then he went on to list numerous other active faults across the globe that are misses. hummm.
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Quoting alfabob:
Earth's magnetic field is disturbed due to the highly energetic charged particles which are a solar storm. Either way technology isn't to the level where the core of large objects can be correctly modeled. So there really is no way to say something such as a stream of incoming charged particles can cause massive disturbances of the Earth's core.


Yea, it really doesn't make much sense how it would work, but it's the only thing that makes most sense.

Right now, I'm convinced solar activity does play some role on our tectonic activity. How significant of an effect? Who knows, but here has obviously been shown to be a correlation, now we just need the causation.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
Quoting JFLORIDA:
Wow snow in Canada in February - who'd thought.

Oh I know climatologists.



Must be your butt.


Victoria is different.. can't you tell .. I am from here :)

Total annual precipitation is just 608 mm (23.9 in) at the Gonzales weather station in Victoria, contrasted to nearby Seattle, (137 km/85 mi away to the southeast), with 970 mm (38.2 in) of rainfall, or Vancouver, 100 km (62 mi) away, with 1,219 mm (48 in) of rainfall. Perhaps even more dramatic is the difference in rainfalls on Vancouver Island. Port Renfrew, just 80 km from Victoria on the wet southwest coast of Vancouver Island receives 3,671 mm (144.5 in). Even the Victoria Airport, 25 km (16 mi) north of the city, receives about 45 per cent more precipitation than the city proper. One of the most striking features of Victoria's climate is the distinct dry and rainy seasons. Nearly two thirds of the annual precipitation falls during the four wettest months, November to February. Precipitation in December, the wettest month (109 mm/4.3 in) is nearly eight times as high as in July, the driest month (14 mm/0.55 in). During the summer months, Victoria is the driest major city in Canada.

Victoria averages just 26 cm (10.2 in) of snow annually, or about half that of Vancouver. Every few decades, Victoria receives very large snowfalls, including the more than 100 cm (39.4 in) of snow that fell in December 1996. On the other hand, roughly one third of winters will see virtually no snow, with less than 5 cm (1.97 in) falling during the entire season. When snow does fall, it rarely lasts long on the ground. Victoria averages just 2–3 days per year with at least 5 cm (1.97 in) of snow on the ground.

The rain shadow effect of the Washington Olympic Mountains to the south also means that Victoria gets more sunshine than surrounding areas.[citation needed] With 2,223 hours of sun annually, Victoria is one of the sunniest places in British Columbia, and gets more sunshine than most other cities in Canada except those in the southern Prairies.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting TomTaylor:

That's what I was thinking too. Solar storms definitely effect our magnetic field. And our magnetic field is caused by the molten iron under the crust and mantle.

So that was the only thing that made sense to me.
Ah yes, great minds think alike...;)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20548
New ECMWF February seasonal forecasts are out. The ENSO ensembles still show a tendency to flatten out this summer and not shoot up into an El Nino, stalling out in the cool neutral zone by the peak of the hurricane season, hinting at a return to La Nina conditions next winter, but it's hard to tell yet.

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Quoting Orcasystems:
GW my butt... its snowing again :(
79 degrees here in the Keys. Maybe if you moved south????
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GW my butt... its snowing again :(
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting JFLORIDA:
I still guess its going to go to strong El Nino - just by my prejudice of watching trends in the nino 1 and 2.

The models favor it slightly more but officially its weak la Nina or neutral like you say.


I thought it looked like a spike right into another El Nino too, which is why I looked back to see what happened before when Nino 1+2 warmed. It turns out La Nina doesn't always fall completely apart when the warm tongue shows itself in the east. My video from a few days ago investigates the matter.
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
507 thats interesting. I dont know though because statistically it seems to occur in low activity they are claiming.


Anyway ENSO conditions look to be optimal for hurricane occurrence by a few of the models and projections this coming season. Correct??


The most optimal ENSO for Atlantic hurricanes is falling off of an El Nino from the prior winter and crashing into neutral or weak La Nina during the summer. A weak La Nina throughout the summer this year would be the most favorable for hurricane activity, with a neutral signal being a step less favorable than that.

Here we are coming up out of a strong La Nina, and one thing to keep in mind is that 2nd-year La Nina seasons tend to see more U.S. landfalls than 1st-year seasons, even though 2nd-year La Ninas see less total numbers overall.
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Thankfully, in the West, there are many more cracks to break up the energy from the epicenter and the effects are confined to a smaller area.

oooo- thanks- that helped ME!
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25782
Quoting Grothar:


It is a little more complex than that. It is possible that a 6.5 could be more destructive in the Midwest or East than a 7.5 in the West. The reason being the amount of energy which passes through the underlying terrain. In the West, as in California, the underground is much more fractured, due to much more seismic activity. In the Midwest and East, much less fracturing. Therefore, an earthquake is usually felt over a greater distance and also leading to more damage. Thankfully, in the West, there are many more cracks to break up the energy from the epicenter and the effects are confined to a smaller area.


A good explanation there Groathar....always so helpful :} You Get home soon and safely...
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swelling due to microwave energy?

I just thought my clothes were shrinking!

you visit my blog gro? awwww....
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25782
Quoting hydrus:
I was thinking maybe a solar storm could affect the Earths magnetic field, which might cause the molten iron under the crust and mantle to move or shift, causing a seismic disturbance of some kind. Just a thought..

That's what I was thinking too. Solar storms definitely effect our magnetic field. And our magnetic field is caused by the molten iron under the crust and mantle.

So that was the only thing that made sense to me.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
Quoting JFLORIDA:
507 thats interesting. I dont know though because statistically it seems to occur in low activity they are claiming.


Anyway ENSO conditions look to be optimal for hurricane occurrence by a few of the models and projections this coming season. Correct??
Well they did say during a solar flare. But after reading back I did see where more earthquakes are likely on a minimum. I guess if we knew why the sun has it's highs and lows, then we would probably extract what happens to the earth. I just read toooooo much sci-fi.LOL BTW, spring has sprung in the keys. Hope it lasts.
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9737
Quoting alfabob:


I read the first paper, it talks about a correlation between solar activity and an increased seismic activity 1 year afterward. I highly doubt though that an influx of particles from the sun would do much to the plates of the Earth after such a time period; and the magnetic fields decay quickly with distance so it has nothing to do with the core of the Earth and the suns EM field.

What would seem more likely is that the suns cycle is dependent upon a similar cycle as earthquakes (most likely caused by tension from orbiting bodies).
I was thinking maybe a solar storm could affect the Earths magnetic field, which might cause the molten iron under the crust and mantle to move or shift, causing a seismic disturbance of some kind. Just a thought..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20548
Quoting EYEStoSEA:
A 6.5 earthquake is 10x greater than a 5.5...correct?


It is a little more complex than that. It is possible that a 6.5 could be more destructive in the Midwest or East than a 7.5 in the West. The reason being the amount of energy which passes through the underlying terrain. In the West, as in California, the underground is much more fractured, due to much more seismic activity. In the Midwest and East, much less fracturing. Therefore, an earthquake is usually felt over a greater distance and also leading to more damage. Thankfully, in the West, there are many more cracks to break up the energy from the epicenter and the effects are confined to a smaller area.
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Quoting aquak9:
grothar (and I do respect you very much) God forbid I ever hafta see the effect of a 6.5 in new madrid.

I think we are starting to realize that the depth may play a greater role than the mag in some cases.


Yes, you are correct. This past horrible event in New Zealand is evident of that. A 6.5 would be catastrophic in that area. (And you know how I much I enjoy your blogs.)
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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.