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 JFLORIDA:
No levi I did not say that. What I did say was you better have a good reason for disparaging a group of experts, especially when attributing a motivation to their research that you obviously have.


Unfortunately, some people don't believe in such thing as "a good reason."
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Absolutely and demonstrably untrue.


I agree. Those who are experts have shown themselves to be what they are. JB was a good expert at forecasting, yes, but that's the subject he should have stayed on.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Quoting lahcuts:
Quick question - For area code 44281, Tuesday, 2/22/11, 4 AM, temp/dew point is 16/13 with 91% humidity. At 10 PM same day the temp/dew point is 16/13 but the humidity is 83%. Why is this? Thought that temp/dew point was the same/similar as dry bulb/wet bulb which should equate to the same humidity. Would appreciate some explaination as to how humidity is determined/calculated for this site. I am of the impression that relative humidity is in theory the vapor pressure of water in the atmosphere at a given temperature divided by the vapor pressure of water at that temperature. All other methods are for ease of measurement with correlation to the theoritical value. Would appreciate some clarification. Thank you.


First of all it's not 2/22/11 yet.

Secondly, you almost have it right. The relative humidity is defined as the ratio of vapor pressure of water in the air to the saturation vapor pressure of water at the given temperature.
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Quoting twincomanche:


Not to start a argument on this display of brotherly love but you must give me just one example of settled science from particle theory, to climate, to mass extinctions to the probability of intelligent life out there to...........need I go on?

You didn't say "settled"; you said "there is no agreement with the 'real experts'"--and that is, as I said, a patently and provably false statement.
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On another note well well well just when I thought we would get absoluty nothing from this storm the snow totals have been upped.Well what a surprise.Snow totals could go up again possibly 4-8 inches.I'm very surprised.
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Live Broadcast by Ustream.TV
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
"2.19pm - Regarding reports of fatalities, Prime Minister John Key said "at this stage we can't comment. We simply don't know but we know there's been major buildings have collapsed. We have reports of people in the vicinity at the time."

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_i d=1&objectid=10707997
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JFLORIDA:
221 ABSOLUTELY if you are not an expert you need to be citing as much current research as possible and attempting to understand the science better. Especially in areas of consensus among the real experts.

Glad we all agree.


Oh. So we're not allowed to study or consider the research of anything outside of the "consensus?" I didn't know that. I guess the consensus must always be right. I'll be sure to consult them and only them from now on.
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Maybe Bastardi is Lurking as we blog here now..?

Joe,,come in Joe

Over ?







Bueller?


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
Quick question - For area code 44281, Tuesday, 2/22/11, 4 AM, temp/dew point is 16/13 with 91% humidity. At 10 PM same day the temp/dew point is 16/13 but the humidity is 83%. Why is this? Thought that temp/dew point was the same/similar as dry bulb/wet bulb which should equate to the same humidity. Would appreciate some explaination as to how humidity is determined/calculated for this site. I am of the impression that relative humidity is in theory the vapor pressure of water in the atmosphere at a given temperature divided by the vapor pressure of water at that temperature. All other methods are for ease of measurement with correlation to the theoritical value. Would appreciate some clarification. Thank you.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting RecordSeason:


Actually, I have shown videos which demonstrated the incredible power of somethng as simple as a color change, which is far, FAR more powerful and immediate than anything imaginable from CO2.

Observe the power of black paint, absorbing so much light that it heats the target to 80f above ambient, and heats forced air to 45f above ambient. No insulation involved.

The power of black paint. Skip to 11:00 mark for the good stuff.

The air is being pumped by a vacuum cleaner running reverse cycle, and it gets so hot it burns his hands as he tries to measure the temperature.

This is in open air with no insulation.

Compared to THIS, CO2 is chump change and does not even matter.

You can also check my claims regarding asphault for yourself, especially in a few months as we get into spring and summer.

Thermal camera. Pavement is 23 degrees above ambient. Car dash is 150f with the windows DOWN.


Yes, I have seen them before. But I still didnt see where you calculated the total temperature effect of all the co2 in our atmosphere. Or where you calculated the total temperature effect of the changed surface of the earth...

once again, until you know both you can't go out and claim one is a greater effect than the other.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AussieStorm:
20-30second quake
waterfalls shooting out of ground
big cracks in roads
quake epicenter 5kms from Christchurch
people in streets hugging in fear and shock
next week is 6month from 7.1 quake
4000 aftershocks from the 7.1 quake on 9th september
chuch has collapsed
hospital has been eveacuated
some building have collasped

engineers are assessing shopping center that was slightly damaged in 7.1 fearing it could collapse
alot of structural damage
quake has been felt 50kms away in Paraparaumu
which is nw of wellington
another aftershock right now
slight rumbles can be felt
6 aftershocks in the last 15mins
house have been shaking 250kms from epicenter. plates falling of shelves
reports of cracks appearing infront of peoples eyes
landslides have fallen on houses
and have not looked at the news
6.3 quake... depth 5km... epicenter 5kms from Christchurch
Main chuch has been severely damaged
airport has been damaged
stock on shelves in stores thrown off shelves
building just collapsed live on tv
did you get it
cars have been crushed
no reports of injuries or deaths yet
5.6 aftershock... depth 6km.. epicenter...11kms from christchurch
people are trapped in the Christchurch Cathedral people are trapped
1 man is trapped up to his waist in concrete
live reporter just felt another aftershock
this quake is much worse than 7.1 september quake.
spetember quake was a rumble, this quake was a real thud

1 office building has totally colasped
art ceter and telecom building have taken bit hits
people inside council chamber have been thrown to the ground by some distance from where they were standing
liquifaction is a major problem
New Zealand prime Minister will have press conference soon
Quake struck at 1:30pm New Zealand time
traffic is blocked all around the christchurch area


This is bad, real bad.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting twincomanche:
...there is no agreement with the "real experts".

Absolutely and demonstrably untrue.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
20-30second quake
waterfalls shooting out of ground
big cracks in roads
quake epicenter 5kms from Christchurch
people in streets hugging in fear and shock
next week is 6month from 7.1 quake
4000 aftershocks from the 7.1 quake on 9th september
chuch has collapsed
hospital has been eveacuated
some building have collasped

engineers are assessing shopping center that was slightly damaged in 7.1 fearing it could collapse
alot of structural damage
quake has been felt 50kms away in Paraparaumu
which is nw of wellington
another aftershock right now
slight rumbles can be felt
6 aftershocks in the last 15mins
house have been shaking 250kms from epicenter. plates falling of shelves
reports of cracks appearing infront of peoples eyes
landslides have fallen on houses
and have not looked at the news
6.3 quake... depth 5km... epicenter 5kms from Christchurch
Main chuch has been severely damaged
airport has been damaged
stock on shelves in stores thrown off shelves
building just collapsed live on tv
did you get it
cars have been crushed
no reports of injuries or deaths yet
5.6 aftershock... depth 6km.. epicenter...11kms from christchurch
people are trapped in the Christchurch Cathedral people are trapped
1 man is trapped up to his waist in concrete
live reporter just felt another aftershock
this quake is much worse than 7.1 september quake.
spetember quake was a rumble, this quake was a real thud

1 office building has totally colasped
art ceter and telecom building have taken bit hits
people inside council chamber have been thrown to the ground by some distance from where they were standing
liquifaction is a major problem
New Zealand prime Minister will have press conference soon
Quake struck at 1:30pm New Zealand time
traffic is blocked all around the christchurch area
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
Sad news:

"2.07pm The police have confirmed multiple fatalities from today's quake."

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_i d=1&objectid=10707997
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Quoting twincomanche:


Give me a break. Accuweather mainly wants subscriptions and advertising revenue.


Yea well you won't get either of those when you have a met on your site making ridiculous claims which tarnish your site's reputation.

The only reason he lasted so long is because he's pretty good at forecasting.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Neapolitan:

Many reports of injuries and property damage in Christchurch (3 miles SSE of the epicenter).

Text updates


Pictures starting to show up. Link

Lots of Twitter info Link
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting AussieStorm:
2011-02-21 23:51:42 (M 6.3) SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND -43.5 172.6 (bdfc)%u200F

== PRELIMINARY EARTHQUAKE REPORT ==



Region: SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND
Geographic coordinates: 43.513S, 172.638E
Magnitude: 6.3 M
Depth: 4 km
Universal Time (UTC): 21 Feb 2011 23:51:42
Time near the Epicenter: 22 Feb 2011 12:51:42
Local standard time in your area: 21 Feb 2011 23:51:42

Location with respect to nearby cities:
5 km (3 miles) NNW (330 degrees) of Christchurch, New Zealand
211 km (131 miles) SSE (157 degrees) of Westport, New Zealand
304 km (189 miles) SW (215 degrees) of WELLINGTON, New Zealand

Many reports of injuries and property damage in Christchurch (3 miles SSE of the epicenter).

Text updates
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting RecordSeason:



Don't know what to say. Whole heartedly disagree.

CO2 is an insignificant fraction of any warming that is occurring.

Black asphault and insulated glass play a much larger role than CO2.

If we use round numbers, and the U.S. has 2 million miles of roads, and we use an average width of 22ft, assuming it averages out to standard 2 lane roads, and convert to metric, that comes to:

21.55 billion square meters.

At 1000watts/m^2 and a near-zero albedo, we have:

21.55 terawatts sunlight absorbed, which is actually about 1/3rd more than the rate of "energy use" of the entire world combined.

We have not even considered roads in other nations, but there is more than enough to make up for the fact I am using round numbers. I rounded the amount of roads down, and only used the assumption of 2 lanes. I used only U.S. public paved roads, and did not count private paved roads or parking lots.

WE have not considered our black roof tops yet.

We have not yet considered our insulated glass windows on countless buildings, which we then cool after the fact, all while the light gets in and heats things up and is trapped as heat "somewhere" in molecules in the buildings, etc.


To the bold, HOW? How do you know this. I ask only for evidence. You state these claims, but you have no evidence as to how you know which one has more of an effect than the other.

I agree the urban heat effect/change of the surface of our planet has a big role in our temperatures...but you do not know how much of a role it has in our temperatures. AND, you do not know how much a role CO2 plays in the global temperatures.

Until you know both of these, you can't say which has a greater effect.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AussieStorm:

Yes
But this 1 has been more destructive.
People are trapped under rubble. Office building have collapsed, Christchurch Cathedral has partially colaapsed. Art center and Telecom Building have taken big hit and have major damage


Wow. Really hope that the people aren't seriously harmed or killed in the rubble. Keep us updated on the situation.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
Quoting cchsweatherman:


Is this earthquake close to the location of the magnitude 7.0 that struck in December?

Yes
But this 1 has been more destructive.
People are trapped under rubble. Office building have collapsed, Christchurch Cathedral has partially colaapsed. Art center and Telecom Building have taken big hit and have major damage
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
Quoting AussieStorm:
2011-02-21 23:51:42 (M 6.3) SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND -43.5 172.6 (bdfc)%u200F

== PRELIMINARY EARTHQUAKE REPORT ==



Region: SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND
Geographic coordinates: 43.513S, 172.638E
Magnitude: 6.3 M
Depth: 4 km
Universal Time (UTC): 21 Feb 2011 23:51:42
Time near the Epicenter: 22 Feb 2011 12:51:42
Local standard time in your area: 21 Feb 2011 23:51:42

Location with respect to nearby cities:
5 km (3 miles) NNW (330 degrees) of Christchurch, New Zealand
211 km (131 miles) SSE (157 degrees) of Westport, New Zealand
304 km (189 miles) SW (215 degrees) of WELLINGTON, New Zealand


Is this earthquake close to the location of the magnitude 7.0 that struck in December?
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
2011-02-21 23:51:42 (M 6.3) SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND -43.5 172.6 (bdfc)%u200F

== PRELIMINARY EARTHQUAKE REPORT ==



Region: SOUTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND
Geographic coordinates: 43.513S, 172.638E
Magnitude: 6.3 M
Depth: 4 km
Universal Time (UTC): 21 Feb 2011 23:51:42
Time near the Epicenter: 22 Feb 2011 12:51:42
Local standard time in your area: 21 Feb 2011 23:51:42

Location with respect to nearby cities:
5 km (3 miles) NNW (330 degrees) of Christchurch, New Zealand
211 km (131 miles) SSE (157 degrees) of Westport, New Zealand
304 km (189 miles) SW (215 degrees) of WELLINGTON, New Zealand
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962


!
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
Quoting Levi32:
JB is a brilliant meteorologist. People like him are completely entitled to their opinions on AGW, and that should never be a reason to fire him. His long-range forecasts are forecasts that nobody else dares to make, and he's right a good portion of the time. His main focus in his job has nothing to do with AGW, but weather forecasting for the U.S. and Europe, which he has done a very fine job of. JB is only subjective in some aspects of his AGW beliefs, but as a meteorologist he is one of the best in the business. Tarnishing his name here only tarnishes yours, as many people speaking in this blog have shown tremendous inability to be objective and fair.

I've often stated that JB is a good met, or at least probably above average, at least in the short-term. But I don't think most of those here and elsewhere have a problem with his weather forecasting abilities; it's the way he pretends to have a level of expertise in climatology that he demonstrably doesn't. Yes, he's entitled to his opinions on AGW--but he shouldn't constantly try to use his credibility in meteorology to pass himself off as a climatologist.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
JB is a brilliant meteorologist. People like him are completely entitled to their opinions on AGW, and that should never be a reason to fire him. His long-range forecasts are forecasts that nobody else dares to make, and he's right a good portion of the time. His main focus in his job has nothing to do with AGW, but weather forecasting for the U.S. and Europe, which he has done a very fine job of. JB is only subjective in some aspects of his AGW beliefs, but as a meteorologist he is one of the best in the business. Tarnishing his name here only tarnishes yours, as many people speaking in this blog have shown tremendous inability to be objective and fair.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
#211.


Fascinating.

Wrong,,but still fascinating.


800,000 Year Record of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Concentrations



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457
212. beell
Quoting Neapolitan:

No, they're saying there's no increase in overall snowfall precipitation; the PDF doesn't mention individual snowfall events--which, by the way, have been increasing in frequency and severity.


Just tryin' to stay on topic.


Our analysis of observational records indicates the principal factor resonsible for the record snowfall along the metropolitan corridor of the mid-Atlantic was the comingled impact of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and El Nino, both features of natural climate variability.

(am getting a kick out of the Joe B news fwiw!)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:


Then let me explain a tad what was his downfall,

The World of Meteorology will be crushed as will a few blogger's here as well.

His mouth overrided common sense on a daily basis.

So his departure is welcome by many.

Maybe he can get a gig on FOX.

Ciao ,Joe


From 2 Months ago,

Long wrong Joe Bastardi cooks the books to smear NSIDC. Time for Accuweather to fire him.
National Snow & Ice Data Center explains Bastardi can't read graphs and "is unclear as to how standardized anomalies are derived"
December 5, 2010

UPDATE: Bastardi responded in the comments here. He couldnt bring himself to admit that his accusation of fraud against NSIDC was not merely completely unwarranted but totally inappropriate and in fact based in part on his simple misreading of a graph. Finally, though, on Sunday afternoon, Accuweather took the post down and Bastardi admits in his new Emily Litella post his charge was baseless.




Very well put Patrap. It was bound to happen considering his horrible reputation and obvious lack of objectivity and substantial knowledge.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
Quoting beell:


No, I think they're saying there is no detectable increase in heavy snowstorms in the mid-­Atlantic region.

No, they're saying there's no increase in overall snowfall precipitation; the PDF doesn't mention individual snowfall events--which, by the way, have been increasing in frequency and severity.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting cchsweatherman:
BREAKING NEWS: According to Frank Strait's fan page on Facebook, Joe Bastardi is now gone from Accuweather. Below is the post from Frank's page.

Let me go ahead and say now that I can't really answer any questions about the departure of Joe Bastardi from AccuWeather. Besides, I really don't know anything about it, anyway, except that it's happened.


Then let me explain a tad what was his downfall,

The World of Meteorology will be crushed as will a few blogger's here as well.

His mouth overrided common sense on a daily basis.

So his departure is welcome by many.

Maybe he can get a gig on FOX.

Ciao ,Joe


From 2 Months ago,

Long wrong Joe Bastardi cooks the books to smear NSIDC. Time for Accuweather to fire him.
National Snow & Ice Data Center explains Bastardi can't read graphs and "is unclear as to how standardized anomalies are derived"
December 5, 2010

UPDATE: Bastardi responded in the comments here. He couldnt bring himself to admit that his accusation of fraud against NSIDC was not merely completely unwarranted but totally inappropriate and in fact based in part on his simple misreading of a graph. Finally, though, on Sunday afternoon, Accuweather took the post down and Bastardi admits in his new Emily Litella post his charge was baseless.


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129457

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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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