Spring snowstorm adds to flooding potential for the Midwest

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:52 PM GMT on March 24, 2011

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A major spring snowstorm dumped heavy snow in excess of six inches over a wide swath of the Upper Midwest this week, adding to a snowpack that is already near or in excess of record levels over Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. This is bad news for residents in flood-prone areas of the Upper Midwest, as the new storm added more than half an inch of melted rainfall equivalent to the record wet snowpack. When all that snow melts in April, we can expect major and possibly record flooding for North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and the Upper Mississippi River north of St. Louis, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Their March Spring Flood Outlook released last week warned: A large swath of the North Central United States is at risk of moderate to major flooding this spring. Heavy late summer and autumn precipitation have left soils saturated and streams running high before the winter freeze-up. National Weather Service models show this year's snowpack contains a water content ranked among the highest of the last 60 years, which is similar to the past two years. This threat area extends from northeastern Montana through Wisconsin and along the Mississippi River south to St. Louis. For the third consecutive year, forecasters predict major flooding along the Red River of the North, which forms the state line between eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota. Other areas of the Midwest primed for major flooding include Devils Lake in North Dakota, the Milk River in Northeastern Montana, the James and Big Sioux Rivers in South Dakota, the Minnesota River, and the Mississippi River from its headwaters near St. Paul, Minnesota, downstream to St. Louis.


Figure 1. U.S. spring 2011 flood risk. Image credit: NWS.


Figure 2. NOAA's latest significant river flood outlook shows that spring flooding is already occurring over South Dakota and on the Mississippi River near its junction with the Ohio River, but is not yet widespread across the Upper Midwest.

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 - 6 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 35% chance that Fargo will see its greatest flood in history this spring, up from the 20% chance they gave in their February spring flood outlook.

The situation is similar in Minnesota, which has received about double its normal precipitation over the past 3 to 4 months, resulting in the 5th snowiest winter on record in Minneapolis. Snow depths are in excess of 20 inches over wide swaths of of the state, and this snow has a very high water content equivalent to 4 - 6 inches of rain. NWS is giving a 95% chance that the Mississippi River at St. Paul will exceed major flood stage this spring.

In South Dakota, heavy snows this winter have also left a snowpack with a high water content over the northeast corner of the state. The NWS is predicting a 25% chance that the the James River at Huron, SD will reach its highest flood height in history, and a 50% chance for the Big Sioux River at Brookings, SD.


Figure 3. The snow water equivalent of the Upper Midwest's snowpack as of March 24, 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?
The latest guidance from the GFS model predicts winter-like conditions will persist over the Upper Midwest for the next week, with no major storms for the region through early next week. Late next week, there is the potential for a snowstorm that could bring an additional 0.5 - 1" of melted equivalent snow, though this is very uncertain at this point. The first chance of a major thaw will not occur until Sunday, April 3. This will give some time for the current pulse of flood waters generated during last week's warm spell over South Dakota and southern Minnesota to move downstream, and makes the peak of this year's spring flood unlikely to occur until at least the second week of April. Looking back at past great floods in the Upper Midwest, 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 expect this year's peak flood will most likely arrive during the 3rd week of April.

Mostly offshore winds expected over Japan for the next week
Radioactive plumes emitted from Japan's troubled Fukushima nuclear power plant will mostly head eastwards out to sea over the next week, thanks to high pressure that will dominate Japan's weather. Latest trajectory plots using NOAA's HYSPLIT model do not show air from the Fukushima plant heading towards Tokyo over the next four days.

Jeff Masters

Not liking Spring (all4paws)
10 inches of snow today. Not good if you're a robin.
Not liking Spring
Spring? (jf)
Spring?
Spring?

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Quoting Grothar:


Why is it no one ever argues with me? I feel left out.
No one really argues with me.......I guess it's a thing called respect?.Is it ringing in your ears Grothar?.
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Quoting Skyepony:
Situation Update No. 2
On 25.03.2011 at 15:17 GMT+2

Thousands of endangered penguins have been coated with oil after a cargo ship ran aground and broke up on a remote British South Atlantic territory, officials and conservationists said Tuesday. The shipwreck also threatens the lobster fishery that provides a livelihood to one of the world's most isolated communities. The Malta-registered MS Olivia was grounded on Nightingale Island in the Tristan da Cunha chain last week. The ship had been traveling from Brazil to Singapore and contained 1,500 metric tons (1,650 tons) of crude oil and a cargo of 60,000 metric tons (66,000 tons) of soya beans. The ship's 22 crew members were rescued before it broke in two. Tristan da Cunha's conservation officer, Trevor Glass, said oil was encircling Nightingale Island and called the situation "a disaster." The territory's British administrator, Sean Burns, said more than half of about 500 birds gathered by rescue workers had been coated in oil. An environmentalist at the scene estimated that 20,000 penguins might be affected. Tristan da Cunha is home to some 200,000 penguins, including almost half the world's total of northern rockhopper penguins. The bird is classed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Located midway between Africa and South America — more than 2,800 kilometers (1,700 miles) from the nearest land — Tristan da Cunha is home to about 275 people who rely on rock lobster fishing for their livelihood. more here


Thanks, Skye.

The good news just keeps rushing forward. What's next? I know. Don't ask.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting twincomanche:
We may just be being too modern day looking for the instant fix. I still bet they win out at the end.
Me too !!
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
692. Skyepony (Mod)
Situation Update No. 2
On 25.03.2011 at 15:17 GMT+2

Thousands of endangered penguins have been coated with oil after a cargo ship ran aground and broke up on a remote British South Atlantic territory, officials and conservationists said Tuesday. The shipwreck also threatens the lobster fishery that provides a livelihood to one of the world's most isolated communities. The Malta-registered MS Olivia was grounded on Nightingale Island in the Tristan da Cunha chain last week. The ship had been traveling from Brazil to Singapore and contained 1,500 metric tons (1,650 tons) of crude oil and a cargo of 60,000 metric tons (66,000 tons) of soya beans. The ship's 22 crew members were rescued before it broke in two. Tristan da Cunha's conservation officer, Trevor Glass, said oil was encircling Nightingale Island and called the situation "a disaster." The territory's British administrator, Sean Burns, said more than half of about 500 birds gathered by rescue workers had been coated in oil. An environmentalist at the scene estimated that 20,000 penguins might be affected. Tristan da Cunha is home to some 200,000 penguins, including almost half the world's total of northern rockhopper penguins. The bird is classed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Located midway between Africa and South America — more than 2,800 kilometers (1,700 miles) from the nearest land — Tristan da Cunha is home to about 275 people who rely on rock lobster fishing for their livelihood. more here
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 227 Comments: 39445
Quoting pottery:

Absolutely!
I think that the World is amazed, that it's the JAPANESE who cannot seem to get to grips with it somehow....
Makes us all feel a little less secure (as if that were possible).

And the confusion in MidEast is not helping matters.


I know it amazes me.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting Grothar:


Thanks, EYES. I should have about two naps in before 12. LOL


Sorry, Grothar. I did not read far enough ahead. I lost a brother in '84 and both of my parents in '92. Many friends spread throughout the years. I learned to remember the past, live for today and hope for tomorrow. Sometimes, this actually helps.
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Quoting Grothar:


Always. It is just that this whole nuclear situation is really beginning to take on a Kafkaesque scenario. Just hope someone takes a good lead soon.

Absolutely!
I think that the World is amazed, that it's the JAPANESE who cannot seem to get to grips with it somehow....
Makes us all feel a little less secure (as if that were possible).

And the confusion in MidEast is not helping matters.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24914
Quoting TampaSpin:
Dang i swear this came from this blog..........LOL


Tyler Durden: The first rule of Fight Club is . . . you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is . . . you do not talk about Fight Club! Third rule of Fight Club: someone yells "stop," goes limp, taps out, the fight is over. Fourth rule: only two guys to a fight. Fifth rule: one fight at a time, fellas. Sixth rule: no shirts, no shoes. Seventh rule: fights will go on as long as they have to. And, the eighth and final rule: if this is your first night at Fight Club . . . you have to fight.


Kind of does remind one of "shirts" and "skins" sometimes, doesn't it. LOL
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting pottery:
Stay Strong, Gro.
Lots of us have been 'there'.


Always. It is just that this whole nuclear situation is really beginning to take on a Kafkaesque scenario. Just hope someone takes a good lead soon.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Dang i swear this came from this blog..........LOL


Tyler Durden: The first rule of Fight Club is . . . you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is . . . you do not talk about Fight Club! Third rule of Fight Club: someone yells "stop," goes limp, taps out, the fight is over. Fourth rule: only two guys to a fight. Fifth rule: one fight at a time, fellas. Sixth rule: no shirts, no shoes. Seventh rule: fights will go on as long as they have to. And, the eighth and final rule: if this is your first night at Fight Club . . . you have to fight.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Thanks, EYES. I should have about two naps in before 12. LOL


would that be a "cat nap' or a "power nap" ?
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
Quoting EYEStoSEA:
Grothar that video was so special....makes me miss so many loved ones....hope tomorrow will be a better day for ya......it's only a few hours away :)


Thanks, EYES. I should have about two naps in before 12. LOL
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Grothar that video was so special....makes me miss so many loved ones....hope tomorrow will be a better day for ya......it's only a few hours away :)
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
Quoting RTLSNK:



Yo, Snake. I needed that laugh.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting Neapolitan:
Kyodo: Radioactive iodine 1,250.8 times above legal limit in sea near plant.

Don't worry, though; it's no worse than a mild sunburn or eating a couple of bananas. :-\


Yep, what's next "self proclaimed all knowing one" ?

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188
Stay Strong, Gro.
Lots of us have been 'there'.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24914
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
Grow old with me! The best is yet to be


No argument there. I could not agree more.
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Quoting Grothar:



I am constantly peer-reviewed. Mrs. Grothar takes care of that quite well. Besides, even if I found my glasses it would be hard to read with a bit of teary eyes.



Eye drops? Bottom shelf on the right side of the medicine cabinet. Master bathroom. Yes, that means you have to ask Mrs. Grothar's permission to get them. Hurry now. The blog is progressin'!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:
You see, all of you are posting the greatest quotes from the last century. Many of those people realized that what binds us is more important than whay separates us. Call Liberals,commies, or Socialists and calling Conservatives, bigots and and fascists doesn't accomplish a thing. We must stop and reflect how our enemies perceive those insults that we toss around. One may not think it is important, but perception of division gives great comfort to one's enemies. Neither side can ever be 100% correct, no matter how much we would like to believe that. Spock's ancestor was a wise man, at least he was the way I remembered him.

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Quoting pottery:
I am now!!
DUUUHH!


I should have said, that the Earthquake starts at 7:00 mins, or so
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24914
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


One friend? You only have one friend on here? I can not believe you would say that! Just what do you consider a friend to be, may I ask? You are just being argumentative and have no peer reviewed consensus of this at all. Show us your proof! You make these claims and then you show no evidence at all that this would be the case. I guess that just makes you opinionated and self serving. You need to open your eyes and see the love for you on here. .......... Wait a minute. Did you misplace your glasses again? They are next to your car keys.
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Too much?


Even though in real life I am a bit of a tough guy. (As a few on here tonight who actually know me can attest) I think you and everyone else deserves this little video. Don't usually post them in "Prime Time" but just had to and don't go much for mush.

Today is a little bad day for me. I have lost many friends over the years, many comrades on the field of battle, too many to want to remember and others as I am sure we all have. I guess it is the reason I don't like fighting when I don't have to.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Kyodo: Radioactive iodine 1,250.8 times above legal limit in sea near plant.

Don't worry, though; it's no worse than a mild sunburn or eating a couple of bananas. :-\
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Neapolitan:

No, it goes to prove that even the evil and extremely deep-pocketed Koch Brothers can only spin and twist the fundamental facts so far.



+10^10
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


One friend? You only have one friend on here? I can not believe you would say that! Just what do you consider a friend to be, may I ask? You are just being argumentative and have no peer reviewed consensus of this at all. Show us your proof! You make these claims and then you show no evidence at all that this would be the case. I guess that just makes you opinionated and self serving. You need to open your eyes and see the love for you on here. .......... Wait a minute. Did you misplace your glasses again? They are next to your car keys.
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Too much?



I am constantly peer-reviewed. Mrs. Grothar takes care of that quite well. Besides, even if I found my glasses it would be hard to read with a bit of teary eyes.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
You see, all of you are posting the greatest quotes from the last century. Many of those people realized that what binds us is more important than whay separates us. Call Liberals,commies, or Socialists and calling Conservatives, bigots and and fascists doesn't accomplish a thing. We must stop and reflect how our enemies perceive those insults that we toss around. One may not think it is important, but perception of division gives great comfort to one's enemies. Neither side can ever be 100% correct, no matter how much we would like to believe that. Spock's ancestor was a wise man, at least he was the way I remembered him.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


One friend? You only have one friend on here? I can not believe you would say that! Just what do you consider a friend to be, may I ask? You are just being argumentative and have no peer reviewed consensus of this at all. Show us your proof! You make these claims and then you show no evidence at all that this would be the case. I guess that just makes you opinionated and self serving. You need to open your eyes and see the love for you on here. .......... Wait a minute. Did you misplace your glasses again? They are next to your car keys.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Too much?
Grow old with me! The best is yet to be
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


That is about the nicest thing you ever said to me. At least I have one friend on here.


One friend? You only have one friend on here? I can not believe you would say that! Just what do you consider a friend to be, may I ask? You are just being argumentative and have no peer reviewed consensus of this at all. Show us your proof! You make these claims and then you show no evidence at all that this would be the case. I guess that just makes you opinionated and self serving. You need to open your eyes and see the love for you on here. .......... Wait a minute. Did you misplace your glasses again? They are next to your car keys.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Too much?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I am now!!
DUUUHH!

Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24914
Quoting pottery:
Heh!!
Not able to post a u-tube. Tried several times, 'get embed code' etc used to work...

wazzup?


Are you clicking Use old embed code at the bottom?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Gordie Lachance: Mickey's a mouse, Donald's a duck, Pluto's a dog. What's Goofy?

Teddy Duchamp: Goofy's a dog. He's definitely a dog.

Chris Chambers: He can't be a dog. He wears a hat and drives a car.

Vern Tessio: God, that's weird. What the Hell is Goofy?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pottery:
Heh!!
Not able to post a u-tube. Tried several times, 'get embed code' etc used to work...

wazzup?


Well, I wondered if my hearing was going too....lol
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
Heh!!
Not able to post a u-tube. Tried several times, 'get embed code' etc used to work...

wazzup?
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24914
Quoting aquak9:
some days...this about the only thing a'keepin' me sane...


you are in deep, deep trouble...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
strong active area in view with two other areas to come



makes my temperature go up about 20 degrees... and I see the rain is a coming....for all who need it, I hope.:)
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
Quoting EYEStoSEA:
Anyone have cliff notes?


In my head, what do you need to know?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Anyone have cliff notes?
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Oh Lordy, there's that hot sun shot ! That'll wake u up.
strong active area in view with two other areas to come

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Capt. Spock: An ancestor of mine maintained, that if you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Klaatu: I am leaving soon, and you will forgive me if I speak bluntly. The universe grows smaller every day, and the threat of aggression by any group, anywhere, can no longer be tolerated. There must be security for all, or no one is secure. Now, this does not mean giving up any freedom, except the freedom to act irresponsibly. Your ancestors knew this when they made laws to govern themselves and hired policemen to enforce them. We, of the other planets, have long accepted this principle. We have an organization for the mutual protection of all planets and for the complete elimination of aggression. The test of any such higher authority is, of course, the police force that supports it. For our policemen, we created a race of robots. Their function is to patrol the planets in spaceships like this one and preserve the peace. In matters of aggression, we have given them absolute power over us. This power cannot be revoked. At the first sign of violence, they act automatically against the aggressor. The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk. The result is, we live in peace, without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war. Free to pursue more... profitable enterprises. Now, we do not pretend to have achieved perfection, but we do have a system, and it works. I came here to give you these facts. It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer. The decision rests with you.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
Rut-roh,,..never thought of dat angle
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


Oh Lordy, there's that hot sun shot ! That'll wake u up.
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
Quoting Patrap:


Well we were allies once in a Cold war, I mean it wasnt like Alexander's thing but we kicked some Mack-O butt eh?


That we did, Pat. That we did. 1984 all over again. Funny it would be that year? eh.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Capt. Steven Hiller:
[T]his was supposed to be my weekend off, but no. You got me out here dragging your heavy ass through the desert, with your dreadlocks sticking out the back of my parachute. You got to come down here with an attitude, acting all big and bad. And, what the Hell is that smell?!
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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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