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 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
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Detailed close-up aerial video of wrecked reactors at Fukushima


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Quoting pottery:

LOL

see? I told you....
heheheheh


Yup. They are all over the place. LOL
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Quoting SQUAWK:


No, it is just a minor inconvenience. I'm an expert and I know about these things.

LOL

see? I told you....
heheheheh
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Quoting SQUAWK:


No, it is just a minor inconvenience. I'm an expert and I know about these things.

LOL there alot of "experts" on the blog today
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Quoting presslord:
"reactor core meltdown" is bad...Right?

Are you Privvy to info. that we dont have? Or are you asking 'just in case'?
In either case, I think it's bad....
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Quoting presslord:
"reactor core meltdown" is bad...Right?


No, it is just a minor inconvenience. I'm an expert and I know about these things.
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Quoting twincomanche:
Then the defense clearly is insanity. More LOL.

Well, that lets ME out.
The fact that I can use this keyboard while wrapped in this tight white suit with chains and padlocks, proves nothing. Except that the people who put me in here are crazy.
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"Vary Bad", said the wabbit.

Huh,,huh..huuhhhhhhh
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"reactor core meltdown" is bad...Right?
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
..Maybe zee world's wont notice da radiation plumes,no?"...
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Quoting twincomanche:
People here could claim ignorance of the facts or insanity.LOL.


Too bad I'm such a nice guy. I could have fun with that line, eh twin??
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Quoting Ossqss:


I think I am indecisive on how to respond to that comment, but I am really not sure :^)

LOL Yeah!
I seem to have straddled the fence very nicely there.
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Here is what God revealed to John that would happen yet before the end of times Revelations 8;10


And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
11


And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
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Quoting twincomanche:
People here could claim ignorance of the facts or insanity.LOL.

On this Blog?
Claim ignorance??
No Way is that ever going to happen.
Every poster here has Superior Knowledge. About Everything.
I thought that you knew that.
It's just that we get to pick-and-choose the Data and the Research, and it's Interpretation, depending upon our point-of-view that day.
It's Wunderful!
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Quoting pottery:

And just where would you draw the line, Indicting people for manipulation of Climate Data?
You would need to lock-up half the posters on this blog for a start, and Ignore the other 50%.


I think I am indecisive on how to respond to that comment, but I am really not sure :^)
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"He was turned to steel
In the great magnetic field
When he traveled time
For the future of mankind"..




"I am Iron Man..
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Quoting Grothar:


How do you know I didn't? LOL When learning Japanese, the very first day the class is told, "It is not only important to learn what to say, but what not to say" Too, bad they don't teach that lesson in English. It could save a lot of arguments on here, but what else would we have to entertain us.

Good advice.
Unfortunately, I can NEVER be accused of saying the right thing.
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Quoting twincomanche:
The weather?


Good point!
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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

And just where would you draw the line, Indicting people for manipulation of Climate Data?
You would need to lock-up half the posters on this blog for a start, and Ignore the other 50%.
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Quoting hydrus:
You antiquated? How absurd.....:)


By implication of ommission, I infer that I am useless. LOL
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470. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting 47n91w:


What's the difference between a "fire incident" and an "other incident"?


Illegal burns, smoke complaints & such. Click on the blue "i" at the top right of the map, then click on them to identify each one.
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Quoting pottery:

You never learned Niponese???
Your education was a complete waste of time.
Start again...


How do you know I didn't? LOL When learning Japanese, the very first day the class is told, "It is not only important to learn what to say, but what not to say" Too, bad they don't teach that lesson in English. It could save a lot of arguments on here, but what else would we have to entertain us.
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468. Skyepony (Mod)
SteveG~how's that end all BEST study by Berkley, funded partly by Koch, that Watt's was all excited about coming?
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Quoting Grothar:


So, the 14+ years I spent learning all these languages was a waste of time. I feel so useless and antiquated. (sigh)


Ive forgotten all the Spanish Ive learned in school, I'm not built for being bilingual that's for sure. I love to write, and math and science I do well in, but foreign languages? forget it. I also hate writing poetry, or anything that has to do with business work.
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Quoting Grothar:


So, the 14+ years I spent learning all these languages was a waste of time. I feel so useless and antiquated. (sigh)
You antiquated? How absurd.....:)
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nice little spin just offshore s car.
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Quoting Xyrus2000:


Your forgetting a mach 1 pressure wave capable of scouring the surface of the earth.

A 6 mile wide meteor hit in the middle pacific would create a tsunami that would be measured in thousands of feet. Tectonic shifts would be measured in magnitudes greater than 10. The fallout zone would be the entire planet, meaning huge chunks of rock and mantle will be peppering the surface like shrapnel and lasting for weeks or longer.

You'd be half a planet away so you wouldn't be instantly incinerated by the initial impact. But you'd have more to worry about than just tectonic shifts and climate changes.


Yeah I don't think most people realize just how bad a large meteor impacting the earth would really be.

I wouldn't really want to be alive anywhere on the earth if a rock that big crashed into the earth. The energy released by it would put the biggest nuclear explosions ever to shame, combined.
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462. Skyepony (Mod)
check out that low off SC in that loop.
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459. Jax82
wildfires on radar near waycross in SE Georgia. Its a little hazy today in Jax because of them.

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Quoting Grothar:


So, the 14+ years I spent learning all these languages was a waste of time. I feel so useless and antiquated. (sigh)

You never learned Niponese???
Your education was a complete waste of time.
Start again...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24059
Taz, (if you're still on)..how much snow did ya get? Ya know, I've never been to California, but I think of warm sunshine, beaches, fruit trees,tan folks and wine.....snow just doesnt fit in....lol
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Quoting HarryMc:


I completely agree. Since this happened, surfing the web and getting local Japanese content, I've actually learned how to use Babelfish and some of the other translation software. Neat being able to read local sites and actually understand what the strange characters are saying. Ain't technology great?


So, the 14+ years I spent learning all these languages was a waste of time. I feel so useless and antiquated. (sigh)
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25392
Quoting AussieStorm:
I don't know if anyone has posted this before. Watch till the last second.


WOW~~~
That could be the Fukushima Generator, in the distance at around 30 secs and several other times. To the left of the plume of smoke ??
The ''cooling tower" configuration is familiar...
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Quoting NRAamy:



Can't we talk about this instead?

( photo by stumpsitting101 )


Awwww....I'll take 2 of those :)
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Quoting Chicklit:
I hope I don't get banned for this, but Archie asked me to post it for him!

(He said it's been a rough couple of weeks for a lot of people and thinks it's time one appreciate the simple things, like a good breakfast...)

Link


LOLOL...ya know it does make me feel better....smile...an animal or a baby will do it everytime ! TY :)
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Quoting NRAamy:



Can't we talk about this instead?

( photo by stumpsitting101 )



in your own blog you can
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I hope I don't get banned for this, but Archie asked me to post it for him!

(He said it's been a rough couple of weeks for a lot of people and thinks it's time one appreciate the simple things, like a good breakfast...)

Link
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:)
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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.