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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596. Ossqss
12:15 AM GMT on March 26, 2011
Well, I gave him 15 minutes to clarify things. He did not. Speaks for itself.

Yes, I do have a very active real life also. How did I get here! :)

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
595. hydrus
12:12 AM GMT on March 26, 2011
Quoting WatchingThisOne:


Perhaps he has a life. Some here do.
lol
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21734
594. WatchingThisOne
12:12 AM GMT on March 26, 2011
Quoting SteveGoddard1:


Oh my, hope I didn't wreck your party. You and the ten other gaiaists preaching to your own choir. Maybe you should have read the headlines the other day. The majority of the population doesn't believe in this money-grab called "global warming." I suppose that's why your panties are in a wad.


Before I disappear for the evening, let me just point out that your language is every bit as inflammatory as that you were earlier objecting too.

Later all. Mebbe see one or two of you on the night shift.

*poof*
Member Since: July 15, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 1269
592. WatchingThisOne
12:09 AM GMT on March 26, 2011
Quoting weatherboy1992:
Ossqss hasn't responded. Much less give a shred of evidence. That settles it.


Perhaps he has a life. Some here do.
Member Since: July 15, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 1269
591. Patrap
12:07 AM GMT on March 26, 2011
Detailed close-up aerial video of wrecked reactors at Fukushima

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
590. WatchingThisOne
12:05 AM GMT on March 26, 2011
Quoting SteveGoddard1:


You call those who don't believe in AGW "deniers." I think term more fits those who don't believe anything corrupt happened in climategate. In fact, there's more and more corruption uncovered every day in that scam they call science. You and others are definitely living in denial.


Although I think there is a great deal of support for AGW, I do agree that the use of the term "deniers" is inappropriate. Ditto any similar derogatory term.

The same goes for those who are not convinced.

Pulling out word daggers rarely advances any debate.

IMHO
Member Since: July 15, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 1269
589. TampaSpin
12:04 AM GMT on March 26, 2011
Quoting PcolaDan:
OMG

Never saw this one before. Camera person must have been scared $hi*less. First surge, then seems to settle down, then another, and another, and so on, until... OH CRAP!!!!!!!!




that is amazing
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
587. Ossqss
11:58 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Quoting weatherboy1992:
564 and 565, just attacking me without posting any scientific information. I pointed out that Steve McIntyre is not a scientist. He's a paid consultant for mining companies. When I point that out, the denier goon squad attacks. With no scientific evidence for their side.

Ossqss, I'm not simon. You've been insinuating that for a long time, and now it's time to put up or shut up. Give evidence, or refrain from posting about it. Thank you.


Sure if ya like. I will open up my blog so you can post on it and then we will know and everyone can view it. OK, so put up :)

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
586. hydrus
11:58 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Here,s a big surprise..jk...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21734
584. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
11:53 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Quoting TampaSpin:
i love hitting the - button and the red !
what you did not like the picture
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
583. PcolaDan
11:53 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
OMG

Never saw this one before. Camera person must have been scared $hi*less. First surge, then seems to settle down, then another, and another, and so on, until... OH CRAP!!!!!!!!

Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
582. TampaSpin
11:52 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Quoting Ossqss:


You speak of the Source? It is ultimately about the facts in the end.



why can't you just behave :)
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
580. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
11:49 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Quoting Patrap:

New leak fears in Japan reactor zone
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
579. RastaSteve
11:46 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Local mets in Orlando are already advising of the potential dangerous situation in FL next Friday. Could be a very significant severe wx event but ahead of that will be a lot of rain from Fort Myers to West Palm north.
Member Since: March 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 885
576. hydrus
11:46 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
This also looks good for Florida...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21734
575. ShenValleyFlyFish
11:45 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
574. NRAamy
11:44 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
hi rich....
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 317 Comments: 31946
572. Patrap
11:43 PM GMT on March 25, 2011

New leak fears in Japan reactor zone
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
570. SteveGoddard1
11:41 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Quoting Neapolitan:

grasping at straws (also clutching at straws) v.; idiom 1. trying to find some way to succeed when nothing you choose is likely to work. 2. trying to find reasons to feel hopeful about a dire situation. 3. tactic of last resort to be used when one's anti-science denialism continues to encounter one logical dead-end after another.



Usual M.O. Attack the one who presents a valid fact. The house of cards is crashing down.
Member Since: March 17, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 52
569. SteveGoddard1
11:40 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Quoting Ossqss:


You speak of the Source? It is ultimately about the facts in the end.



Your link was banned by Wunderground Admin. What was it? I guess it disproved their opinions.
Member Since: March 17, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 52
568. weatherboy1992
11:39 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
564 and 565, just attacking me without posting any scientific information. I pointed out that Steve McIntyre is not a scientist. He's a paid consultant for mining companies. When I point that out, the denier goon squad attacks. With no scientific evidence for their side.

Ossqss, I'm not simon. You've been insinuating that for a long time, and now it's time to put up or shut up. Give evidence, or refrain from posting about it. Thank you.
Member Since: January 25, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 173
567. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
11:36 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Quoting hydrus:
I noticed that...Florida needs a big dose of the wet stuff. The NOGAPS has them gettin a bunch...Look at dis..Link


gfs 18z run

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
566. RastaSteve
11:36 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Quoting hydrus:
I noticed that...Florida needs a big dose of the wet stuff. The NOGAPS has them gettin a bunch...Look at dis..Link


We need it!! What a pattern change on the way from where we've been. I'm also watching next Friday for severe wx here.
Member Since: March 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 885
564. SteveGoddard1
11:36 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Quoting weatherboy1992:
#461 SteveGoddard1

Steve McIntyre is a "semi-retired minerals consultant with no advanced degree, no scientific training or education and no publication record in a peer-reviewed journal. Not a trustworthy source.


As usual, attack the messenger, not the message. Anyone with a fair knowledge of statistics and modeling can understand what he has pointed out is real. Even the Climategate emails demonstrate this fact. They were worried about McIntyre and others discovering their manipulations. It doesn't require a degree in anything to understand when so-called scientists are modifying results to suit their own preconceived biases.
Member Since: March 17, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 52
563. Patrap
11:36 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
I think Im gonna go rub some Vicks on my chest and wash my hands.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
562. Grothar
11:35 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Interesting to watch this.


Link
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26814
561. Grothar
11:33 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
As if we don't have enough to worry about. Excerpt and full link follows:


CRKP is an enterobacterium, and is part of the same category as other killer bacteria like E. coli. Now, this superbug is not new. In fact, the CDC has been monitoring the pathogen′s progress across the United States. The first cases of CRKP occurred in North Carolina. The New York and New Jersey began reporting cases. Now, it appears that the disease has spread to most of the country.

Before you go into full panic mode, doctors and scientists do agree that the odds of you contracting CRKP are remote. As stated earlier, the disease is mostly appearing in nursing homes and hospitals, particularly among elder patients who are on respirators and ventilators. Some cases are also associated with infections stemming from wounds and surgical procedures. Most of the victims of CRKP have been women with an average age of 73. The bacteria can only be spread through direct person-to-person contact, although it would seem that it can spread either by respiratory means or by contact with infected blood and tissue.

So the CRKP superbug is in California. While many people are worried about radiation from Japan, folks in Los Angeles County may want to pay some attention to this instead. The Carbapenem-Resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae is deadly, much like E. coli, with a 40% mortality ratio. Also it is like strains of TB that are drug resistant. Some 356 superbug cases have been reported in L.A. County, mostly among elderly patients at nursing homes, hospitals and other long-term healthcare facilities. The Center for Disease Control advises keeping hands and any wounds especially clean in such places. Wash your hands regularly, especially after coughing and before rubbing your eyes or lips or when dressing wounds.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26814
560. hydrus
11:31 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Quoting RastaSteve:
Lot's and lot's of rain coming to FL starting Monday and lasting for 5 to 6 days!! Some areas (maybe area wide) of C and N FL could see 5" to 7".
I noticed that...Florida needs a big dose of the wet stuff. The NOGAPS has them gettin a bunch...Look at dis..Link
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21734
559. BtnTx
11:29 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
The horrible multiple crises (how do you spell plural of crisis) all related to the earthquake in Japan has got to be one of the biggest ones in human history!
Member Since: October 12, 2001 Posts: 20 Comments: 891
558. RastaSteve
11:27 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Lot's and lot's of rain coming to FL starting Monday and lasting for 5 to 6 days!! Some areas (maybe area wide) of C and N FL could see 5" to 7".
Member Since: March 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 885
557. WatchingThisOne
11:27 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Quoting weatherboy1992:


It's not over and the reactor situation is very serious---but relative to the tsunami devastation it is being hyped more.


No it's not ... it's being ignored.
Member Since: July 15, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 1269
556. hydrus
11:22 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Quoting BtnTx:
#550. Thanks for reminding me to go buy ice!
Priorities my friend,...Priorities....:)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21734
555. weatherboy1992
11:15 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Quoting WatchingThisOne:


On an acute basis, I couldn't agree more. But the reactor story is far from over, IMHO.


It's not over and the reactor situation is very serious---but relative to the tsunami devastation it is being hyped more.
Member Since: January 25, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 173
554. weatherboy1992
11:14 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
#461 SteveGoddard1

Steve McIntyre is a "semi-retired minerals consultant with no advanced degree, no scientific training or education and no publication record in a peer-reviewed journal. Not a trustworthy source.
Member Since: January 25, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 173
553. Patrap
11:11 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Japan NHK TV LIVE, English Feed 07:11 AM JST
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
552. BtnTx
11:08 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
#550. Thanks for reminding me to go buy ice!
Member Since: October 12, 2001 Posts: 20 Comments: 891
551. WatchingThisOne
11:05 PM GMT on March 25, 2011
Quoting weatherboy1992:
The reactor story is very serious, but the tsunami is still the bigger story in my opinion. The confirmed death toll has now passed 10,000. Currently 10,102 with 17,053 missing.

The number of missing is continuing to rise. The number missing was less than 13,000 on Tuesday. Confirmed death toll is now rising about 300 a day.


On an acute basis, I couldn't agree more. But the reactor story is far from over, IMHO.
Member Since: July 15, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 1269
Quoting BtnTx:
Maybe they are practicing for Earth hour and turned off their electricity
Thats cool..... Long as the brew is iced down...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21734
The tsunami hit Japan at the worst possible time of year. The season does matter.
Member Since: January 25, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 173
The reactor story is very serious, but the tsunami is still the bigger story in my opinion. The confirmed death toll has now passed 10,000. Currently 10,102 with 17,053 missing.

The number of missing is continuing to rise. The number missing was less than 13,000 on Tuesday. Confirmed death toll is now rising about 300 a day.
Member Since: January 25, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 173
watch this video on NHK of a NISA official and tell me that we don't have a primary containment vessel leak.

He starts off by saying that the composition of the water suggests that the source of the water seems to be the reactor core. He mentions spent fuel as a possibility, and that they can't rule out that possibility either, but "I think it is more likely that the water came from the reactor core."

Cracked primary containment?
Member Since: July 15, 2005 Posts: 3 Comments: 1269
Quoting SteveGoddard1:
Tropospheric temps are near record lows and SSTs are below normal. Come on global warming.
hello puppet
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827

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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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