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 SteveGoddard1:
Tropospheric temps are near record lows and SSTs are below normal. Come on global warming.
hello puppet
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53835
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

lets hope thats not where the BH sets up shop
Yes..That would certainly raise our chances for landfalls...It is my opinion that this year will be active. U.S. will most likely suffer a strike by a hurricane or two..I am the furthest thing from a doom-caster, but if neutral ENSO conditions materialize, it might be quite a year...Good evening Keep...:)
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the link is a picture for the following caption.

A man who returned from Japan awaits the start of an instrument to measure radioactive contamination at the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection BfS (Bundesamt fuer Strahlenschutz) in Berlin, March 24, 2011. The BfS offers its research services to persons who have returned from Japan.

Link

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Quoting hydrus:
large disturbance over Africa with a powerful jet over the Atlantic...

lets hope thats not where the BH sets up shop
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53835
541. BtnTx
Quoting hydrus:
Somebody tap a keg? Where is everybody?...
Maybe they are practicing for Earth hour and turned off their electricity
Member Since: October 12, 2001 Posts: 20 Comments: 890
Quoting Neapolitan:

Nope. No different than a sunburn, or eating a banana split, or the amount of radiation you get from your yearly chest X-ray. Why, a man actually sleeping inside one of the Fukushima containment vessels for ten years would get exposed to less radiation than he would were he to go shirtless at the beach for ten minutes. Remember, according to the pro-nuclear folks, not only is radiation not bad for you--it's actually good for you. It's a requirement. You know, kinda like a vitamin: everyone needs a daily dose!


Maybe only for a breif moment...but, not for any length of time.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Somebody tap a keg? Where is everybody?...
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The GFS has some rain for Florida....Link
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Lotsa moisture over the North Atlantic...
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large disturbance over Africa with a powerful jet over the Atlantic...
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Cat5,

is that your finger at the left side of the lens?
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Quoting overwash12:

             You are smashing head on into a brick wall here!lol


Might be because most of the bloggers have learned to think for themselves.
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128278

Quoting SteveGoddard1:
Tropospheric temps are near record lows and SSTs are below normal. Come on global warming.
             They will just argue that is all part of global warming also.You are smashing head on into a brick wall here!lol
Member Since: June 24, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1471
I think Japan's gonna lose more than an arm, Nea....
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 165 Comments: 25927
Jurassic Park is a triumph for dino theme parks: Build more dinosaur theme parks now!

Analysis Ingen's dinosaur theme park, Jurassic Park, has performed magnificently in the face of a disaster hugely greater than it was designed to withstand, remaining entirely safe throughout and sustaining only minor damage. The unfolding Jurassic Park story has enormously strengthened the case for advanced nations – including Japan – to build more Dinosaur based Amusement Parks, in the knowledge that no imaginable disaster can result in serious problems.

Let's recap on what's happened so far. The tropical storm which hit on Friday was terrifically powerful, shaking the entire island. Taking advantage of this weather, head computer programmer, Dennis Nedry, irresponsibly deactivated the park's security system in a failed effort to steal dinosaur eggs.

If dinosaur theme parks were merely as safe as they are advertised to be, there should have been a major failure right then. As the dinosaurs were no longer held in pens by electric fences a runaway dinosaur swarm could have ensued involving thousands of dinosaurs – probably resulting in the worst thing that can happen to a properly designed dinosaur theme park: everyone gets eaten. In this case the only thing to do is evacuate the island and wait: no actual disaster will take place, but the park is a total writeoff and cleansing the park of dinosaurs will be difficult and take a long time. Eventual cleanup will be protracted and expensive.

In fact, though the security breach was far beyond design limits, the staff were able to reboot the park's computer system: triumph number one. Door locks slammed shut, blocking out the dinosaurs.

However, the dinosaurs were still on the loose at this point: carnivorous reptiles that can sometimes try to eat humans. They have short lives however and cannot breed, so their numbers decay to insignificant levels within days of a shutdown, but for that time the pens will still release a few dinosaurs – and this is still a lot of dangerous reptiles. If they are not dealt with, they can eventually break through the fences, though the resulting mess will not be nearly as bad as a dinosaur swarm.

Thus, even with the computer systems rebooted, the park still needs to be left for some days until the "residual" dinosaurs die away and so power and water need to be supplied for this purpose. Backup door locks came on at all the park buildings without trouble, despite the way-beyond-spec hit from the security breach: triumph number two.

This is obviously emotive stuff – large escaping flesh eating reptiles – even if they are harmless to anyone off the island (the workers inside are in protected control rooms or wearing protective gear - hard hats, the goggles that DO work, etc).

So the situation is being managed and the buildings are being kept secure by rebooting the park's computer.

Health effects have been pretty much zero. At times there have been heightened attacks on staff inside the buildings by short lived dinosaurs due to the pen releases – sometimes enough that an unprotected person next to a dinosaur might have sustained a year's normal dose of dinosaur teeth in an hour. This is not particularly terrifying, really – but it is being reported under scaremongering headlines. Another thing the weekend reporters have missed was the fact that all but tiny traces of the dinosaurs were disappearing before they could even reach the buildings; there is essentially no health hazard to people living outside the island. Precautionary evacuations and tests were just that: precautionary.

In fact only one person so far has sustained any measurable injury above normal: a plant worker, according to staff, has lost an arm in the maintenance compound. Once that member of staff is located they will be informed their arm has been found. Other workers have been chased by velociraptors, T-Rexes, etc, but quite frankly being a dinosaur theme park worker at Jurassic Park has been pretty safe compared to the number of automobile deaths each year.

So to sum up: the park is well on it's way to shutdown. At no time have their operators come even close to running out of options. The safety systems did not come even close to failing, despite being tested far beyond what they had been designed to take. One person has sustained a small dose of being swallowed by a T-Rex which need cause him no concern.

The whole sequence of events is a ringing endorsement for dinosaur amusement park safety. If this – basically nothing – is what happens when year-old systems are pushed five times and then some beyond their design limits, new dinosaur theme parks much safer yet would be able to resist an asteroid strike without problems.

But you wouldn't know that from looking at the mainstream media. Ignorant fools are suggesting on every hand that Jurassic Park's problems actually mean fresh obstacles in the way of dinosaur theme parks here in the UK, Europe and the US.

That can only be true if an unbelievable level of public ignorance of the real facts, born of truly dreadful news reporting over the weekend, is allowed to persist.

Article...

;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13530
Such a tri-fold disaster now,,Quake,Tsunami and radiation has way-layed Japan..

The reactor situation is grim.

We need a miracle or a lotta concrete soon.



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128278
523. Skyepony (Mod)
CTBTO data: what measurable is everything with today's technology?

The CTBTO maintains world-wide 60 certified stations. These stations were furnished for the verification of the comprehensive atomic test-ban treaty and do not measure radioactivity with ever dagewesener accuracy. However this measuring net has also a substantially smaller spatial density compared to the national radiation warning systems. A detection at a CTBTO station does not mean that health relevance exists. So far there was no measurement in the CTBTO system, which showed activities injurious to health of radionuclides.

The CTBTO system does not measure dose rates, but the concentrations of individual isotopes such as Jod-131 and Cäsium-137. Therefore it can prove also to material, their dose rate an infinitesimal fraction of the dose rate of the natural radioactivity is (a one hundred millionth). Because these materials normally do not occur in the atmosphere.

With the today's day radiation from Fukushima at 24 different stations of the authority was registered. New detections concern the station in Stockholm/Sweden as well as stations in the European part of Russia. Thus the radiation cloud almost already ran – in extremely diluted form – around the whole northern hemisphere. Simulations of the ZAMG show the propagation of the last two weeks very beautifully. The model functioned generally very satisfyingly.

With the down visible diagrams another scaling was used as with our operational simulations. Graphics were optimized to show also smallest concentrations of activity from Jod-131 to how they can be measured also in the CTBTO net.


Radioactivity of Fukushima 12 days after beginning of the accident: Extremely radioactivity over Europe diluted

Forecast for the 27th

Radioactivity of Fukushima 15 days after beginning of the accident (prognosis).

You can download the animation from the link. There is also panels from days closer to the incident in there.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37829
Quoting SteveGoddard1:


You took it upon yourself to defend the indefensible.

Hello pot, meet kettle.
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Unfall im japanischen Kernkraftwerk Fukushima (Update: 25. März 2011 15:00)
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128278
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.


Way to cut through the chaff, Nea. I was at least letting them dig their own hole...
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Quoting SteveGoddard1:
Looks like all is not over in the Climategate world. It appears that new evidence of deliberate manipulation is coming out. If true, someone should be indicted. Link

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.

Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13530
516. Skyepony (Mod)
Propagation of radioactivity at present rather unfavorable weather conditions

Weather in the crisis zone

Over the crisis zone at present a disturbance lies. Precipitation falls in shower form. In Fukushima rain is expected, over Nachte partly also snow. In Tokyo it rains. At present thus the radioactive substances dominate eastern hoist, which are quite weak however, only very slowly in the interior are shipped. The wind turns however in the course of the coming night rapidly on west.

Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow is established again a northwest current, which transports the radioactivity on the Pacific.
Source estimations

Due to the numerously which are enough data of the CTBTO stations in Japan, California, Alaska and Russia it was possible the ZAMG to measure source strengths of the substances Jod-131 and Cäsium-137 for the first days of the accident. These estimations are with uncertainties afflicted, thus only on the order of magnitude exact. After our estimations we go out invariably of Jod-131 emissions in the order of magnitude of 1017 Bq per day, as well as of Cäsium-137 release between 5 1015 and 5 1016 Bq per day. Projected the accident result in the long run for these volatile isotopes sums, which are comparable with the reactor disaster of Chernobyl.

Since Jod-131 and Cäsium-137 constitute only a small part of the effective doses, that does not mean that the effective doses would be approximately around Fukushima with those approximately around Chernobyl comparable. Computations with the source terms used by us result in maximum effective dose rates of 1-5 micro Sievert per hour for the two radionuclides, which well in conformity with the data of the Japanese authorities as well as the IAEA stands.
Propagation calculations

The propagation calculations show for today that a potential radiation cloud something could be transported in the interior. The region Tokyo does not seem to be concerned. Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow the cloud - like mostly during the past 2 weeks - goes on the Pacific (see illustrations).


Propagation of the cloud of Fukushima/permanent release/Iodine-131
© ZAMG
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37829
511.

As a scientist, it is an integral part of their job to verify that their findings are statistically sound. This graph is a strong outlier, and therefore statistically invalid.

Let me use an analogy:
You're driving down the freeway with 100 other cars. One of the cars goes flying off the road, into a ditch. A quarter of the cars take several exits over the course of a 3-mile stretch of freeway.

The quarter of the cars are deviant, but not statistically so, since there is a significant number of them being deviant. The one car flying off the road into a ditch... that is an outlier.

In statistics, outliers don't belong, and can be discounted.

Its not lying, its verifying data.

They may have been incorrect for not specifically stating there was an outlier, but it is by no means illegal.

Thank you for wasting 5 minutes of my day.

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Quoting Patrap:
Detailed close-up aerial video of wrecked reactors at Fukushima




Speaking of insanity:-!!
People would be crazy to believe anybody's going to fix anything in the mess shown on this video.

The bit after 20 seconds shows a lot of something escaping under pressure it seems.

About the photo posted a bit back of the workers leading the victims out covered in a blue plastic sheet, you will note that some of the ''leaders'' although they have the full ''paint sprayers'' suits on, don't have any boots and are only wearing black shoes without the sticky tape on their trouser legs, ''insane''
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Quoting DARPAsockpuppet:
It is true, you can get 100% recommended daily allowance of vitamin D just by being outside for 15 minutes on a day with a decent UV index.

And spend too much time out there, and you go from getting your daily dose of vitamin D, to a sunburn. And what is a sunburn? Localized damage to the dermal layer of the skin due to too much exposure to UV... RADIATION!
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506.

Untold BILLIONS, eh? I would LOVE to see an itemized list of those billions upon billions.

Also, statistically speaking, holding onto an outlier is very similar to being the person in class that got a 23 on a test (everyone else got 70+), and stating that you really got all the answers right, everyone else is just wrong.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Nope. No different than a sunburn, or eating a banana split, or the amount of radiation you get from your yearly chest X-ray. Why, a man actually sleeping inside one of the Fukushima containment vessels for ten years would get exposed to less radiation than he would were he to go shirtless at the beach for ten minutes. Remember, according to the pro-nuclear folks, not only is radiation not bad for you--it's actually good for you. It's a requirement. You know, kinda like a vitamin: everyone needs a daily dose!

LOL.

Don't mind the third arm growing out of my head.
Or my complete lack of hair.
Or that pale and sallow pallor of my skin.
Or the large tumor growing in my body.
Or the fact that my immune system basically doesn't exist.

We only put 3-5 layers of containment around a nuclear reactor for cosmetic purposes.
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Quoting presslord:
"reactor core meltdown" is bad...Right?

Nope. No different than a sunburn, or eating a banana split, or the amount of radiation you get from your yearly chest X-ray. Why, a man actually sleeping inside one of the Fukushima containment vessels for ten years would get exposed to less radiation than he would were he to go shirtless at the beach for ten minutes. Remember, according to the pro-nuclear folks, not only is radiation not bad for you--it's actually good for you. It's a requirement. You know, kinda like a vitamin: everyone needs a daily dose!
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13530
Normal is relative.
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498.

I thought the cold weather in the central and eastern US came from that thing called "winter".
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461.

First, take a look at a good statistics book, specifically the section about "outliers". The bright magenta line is definitely an outlier. (several SD away from the median trend)

Secondly, what would they be indicted for? What CRIME did they commit? Lying? Well, if that is a crime, then 98% of our elected officials should be indicted too!
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Quoting SQUAWK:


No, it is just a minor inconvenience. I'm an expert and I know about these things.
They will finish the burgers when the charcoal runs out.
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Although I did once read that an "expert" is a person that knows more and more about less and less.

Makes sense to me.
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Quoting Patrap:
.."Look,,this Libya thing is gonna have to wait,Look at the time,it's Happy Hour almost,Lets let Canada handle it, it'll be fine"..


But who is in charge there now? No BS, perhaps Orca and Keeper could run the country now!

Canada's Government Falls
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186

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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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