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 aspectre:
Pure coincidence. NHK World had announced a full day ahead of time that it's various livestream partners would cease continuous webcasting on 3/25 at 24:00JST.

There are horrendous scenes of devastation... and then there are the surreal.

o.O

How exactly do you fix that?
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

I'm hoping you will get in on some of that forecasted rain over the weekend as well. I'm sure it won't be enough to substantially have an impact on existing fires such as the one you mentioned; but at least will act to curtail future incidences hopefully.


We have rain in the forecast for Fri., Sat, and Sun.
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293. Skyepony (Mod)
Bringing another Babelfish translation from ZAMG..link here with a few more pics of this measuring devise.


The Tohoku quake releases natural oscillations of the earth
On the Conrad observatory in the down-Austrian Trafelberg the natural oscillations are based with the help of special Gravimeter.

As a bell can become lively the earth from heavy earthquakes to swinging. This behavior is noted among other things by highly soluble weight measuring instruments (Gravimeter) and made visible. One of the few of these measuring instruments world-wide is operated by the ZAMG in the geophysical Conrad observatory at the Trafelberg, Muggendorf in Lower Austria in co-operation with the University of Vienna. Because the Gravimeter not with mechanical parts but in superconducting environment (- 263 Celsius) with magnetic fields works, a measuring accuracy of the Schwerebeschleunigung within the nanometer range (billionth meter) can be obtained.


The illustration shows the weight signal from 9. to 17. March 2011. The oscillations, released by the main quake to 11.3.2011 and its Nachbeben, are clearly visible. These oscillations of our planet will only fade away after several weeks. The data inform about the internal structure to the earth.
ZAMG
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Good Morning,
It's 44 and smoky here on the Carolina Coast.... forest fire near Southport NC.
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Quoting TampaSpin:


ON THE WRONG SIDE......ROFLMAO


You ARE on the wrong side. I had a no iggy list policy until yesterday. Now there are several people on it and you've just joined them. I just realized it will save a whole lot of frustration and annoyance to quit reading blog posts to misinformed, irrational people who try to force their political ideology on everyone in a weather blog or complain and ridicule others who do not agree with them. I know I have been guilty of engaging in political debate but it just gets REALLY old after a while.
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Quoting TomTaylor:

You do realize I'm quoting you when I say that? Those were your exact words.

"When i post things anymore of Politcal opinion or even on the wrong side of most on here with Global Warming the attacks start."

The ignorance.

But you're right, ignore me, because I'm wrong.

LMFAO.


Best line of the day...
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Quoting aquak9:
I'd say g'morning, but at the moment it doesn't look so GOOD

WTO, do you ever sleep? or, like plazared, are you in a country that is not asleep right now?


I'm old like Grothar. Rust never sleeps.
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Thanks for 282 aspectre, I cant find any good photos today.

Just looking at this you would think these people are working at a poverty stricken demolition site for a disused grain store. You can actually see the chap in the foreground messing with an extension cable that looks like it came from the local abandoned hardware store.

The first thing you have to do if you are going to spray water on these things is put up remote controlled tower cranes with hose pipes connected to the boom carriage then you can put water anywhere you want to. Bring into the quayside a fire barge with a massive diesel powered pump on it from some docks, run a long hose from it to the tower crane boom and Set the whole thing going via a remote handset to direct the crane boom.

If I wasn't looking at this I would not believe it.These people are dealing with probably thousands of tons of highly radioactive material and I don't think they look like they have a clue what they are doing. They need some engineers on this problem and FAST!
Member Since: January 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2065
Workers in ?protective?suits? conduct cooling operations by spraying water...

...on the damaged No. 4 unit of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.

Are they ___ing me? "You've gotta go work in a radiation hazard zone.
Don this rain gear we borrowed from some school-crossing guards."
What they're wearing wouldn't qualify as work-clothes for hauling fish onto a cold-water trawler.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
Before I go: I think I may have discovered what JB has been up to.

;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13456
Number of dead in Japan disaster grows, thousands still missing

The number of people confirmed dead in Japan rose past 10,000 on Friday -- two weeks after one of the strongest earthquakes on record sent a tsunami plowing over the nation's eastern shore. At least 10,035 people were killed and 17,443 are missing, the Japan National Police Agency said in its latest tally. The numbers are expected to go up as rescuers comb through miles of coastline piled high with rubble.

The length of the tsunami that battered the coastline was about 550 kilometers (340 miles), according to Japan's National Meteorological Agency.

At an estimated monetary damage of up to $309 billion, it is the most costly natural disaster in recorded history and tops Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005.

Article...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13456
enginneer gunerson says he thinks a core has been serverly damaged cnn we might be talking about this for quite awhile they need some giant fiberglass dome cover it then pump the whole thing with concrete "out of sight out of mind" on the good side picked up this link from stephan marleys facebook page enjoy http://www.live365.com/index.live
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Link

Gro.Speaking of Danes,you might enjoy this. STXPAT
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We have been mulling this Japan news over during tea break and it seems that what might have happened here is that the place was a nasty mess after the observed fact that it got more or less blown to bits a few days ago, then with an assortment of fires and hosing down with a few million gallons of sea water that must have left a significant amount of salt incrustation on any warm surfaces a bit like you get on the inside of a veg pan after boiling.
The powers that be, 'or think' they be, sent in a virtual suicide team to take a look and they found out as we could have predicted that the cables had been burnt to a crisp or worse, so they went back with a thick extension cable to try and wire up lights,pumps etc. and waded through the puddles on the debris strew floor where probably the radioactive water is collecting from the cracked reactor vessel.

What a mess!
Member Since: January 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2065
I'd say g'morning, but at the moment it doesn't look so GOOD

WTO, do you ever sleep? or, like plazared, are you in a country that is not asleep right now?
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Pure coincidence. NHK World had announced a full day ahead of time that it's various livestream partners would cease continuous webcasting on 3/25 at 24:00JST.

There are horrendous scenes of devastation... and then there are the surreal.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
msnbc.com news services
updated 28 minutes ago

TOKYO — A suspected breach in the reactor core at one unit of a stricken Fukushima nuclear plant could mean more serious radioactive contamination, Japanese officials said Friday, revealing what may prove a major setback in the mission to bring the leaking plant under control.

The uncertain situation halted work Friday at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, where dozens had been working feverishly to stop the overheated plant from leaking dangerous radiation, officials said.

...
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They are re-broadcasting the info - it was not TEPCO but NISA that stated that this was most likely a reactor core leak ... my bad.
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Quoting WatchingThisOne:
NHK World English just went "dark" (after TEPCO let slip on live TV what was going on).

Unsettling.


I just checked your link on this one and it worked but readings running at these levels might be the tip of a very nasty iceberg.

Comments from a nuclear physicist might be of great value here.

I also saw a video on the news from the plant of people wearing ordinary shoes but with all the rest of the protective clothing on, they must be short of protective boots and they are walking about in highly radioactive water, not in the video but in the report that is.

Very disturbing all this!
Member Since: January 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2065
.

NHK World English is back online.

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270. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Fiji Meteorological Services
Tropical Disturbance Advisory #11
SEVERE TROPICAL CYCLONE BUNE (13F)
18:00 PM FST March 25 2011
==========================================

At 6:00 AM UTC, Severe Tropical Cyclone Bune, Category Three (970 hPa) located at 22.4S 179.2W is reported as moving south southeast at 4 knots. 10 minute sustained winds near the center is 65 knots. Position fair based on multispectral enhanced infrared imagery and peripheral surface observations.

Hurricane Force Winds
====================
30 NM from the center

Storm Force Winds
=================
50 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
================
120 NM in southwest quadrant
120 NM in southeast quadrant
100 NM in northeast quadrant
100 NM in northwest quadrant

Organization has significantly improved with rapid development occurring in the past 24 hours. System lies under a diffluent region in a low shear environment, favorable for further development. Outflow restricted to the west of the system but appears good elsewhere. Sea surface temperature is around 28-29C. Severe TC BUNE has adopted a slight southeast track in the past 12 hours due to the influence of an upper trough east of the system.

Dvorak assessment based on an embedded center patter with LG surround, giving DT=4.5, MET=4.5, and PT=4.0.

Dvorak Intensity: T4.5/4.5/D1.5/24HRS

Global models are continuing to develop the system while adopting a southwesterly track during the next 24 hours.

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
12 HRS: 22.9S 179.5W - 70 knots (CAT 3)
24 HRS: 23.2S 179.9W - 80 knots (CAT 3)
48 HRS: 24.4S 178.8E - 80 knots (CAT 3)

The next Tropical Disturbance Advisory from Fiji Meteorological Services will be issued at 14:00 PM UTC.
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NHK World English just went "dark" (after TEPCO let slip on live TV what was going on).

Unsettling.

Edit: it was NISA, not TEPCO
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TEPCO says leakage from reactor core is likely behind the extremely high radiation levels in the water that the workers were exposed to. They state that the spent fuel pools may have contributed.

This is reactor no. 3, the MOX (MOF) reactor.

The neutron beams are also suggestive of a fuel collapse. They are intermittent, but that could change.
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Quoting WatchingThisOne:
not good ...

MSNBC - Japan suspects nuclear reactor core at stricken plant has breached

from the article:

"It is possible that somewhere at the reactor may have been damaged," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the nuclear safety agency. But he added that "our data suggest the reactor retains certain containment functions," implying that the damage may have occurred in Unit 3's reactor core but that it was limited.

Certain containment functions? Wonder what those might be. They continue to display their mastery of vague working.


and here's the clincher:

Link

the article at NHK World:

Tokyo Electric Power Company says it has detected high levels of radioactive substances in water that 3 workers were exposed to at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The company says 3.9 million becquerels of radioactive substances per cubic centimeter were detected in the water that the workers were standing in. That is 10,000 times higher than levels of the water inside a nuclear reactor in operation. [emphasis added]

The level of radioactive cerium-144 was 2.2 million becquerels. Also, 1.2 million becquerels of iodine-131 was measured. These substances are generated during nuclear fission inside a reactor.

Tokyo Electric says damage to the No.3 reactor and spent nuclear fuel rods in a storage pool may have produced the highly radioactive water.

On Thursday, 2 of the 3 workers were taken to hospital after being exposed to 173 to 180 millisieverts of radiation while standing in 15-centimeters of water in the turbine building adjacent to the reactor. A third worker was also exposed to the higher-level radiation but did not require treatment.

Friday, March 25, 2011 08:22 +0900 (JST)
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not good ...

MSNBC - Japan suspects nuclear reactor core at stricken plant has breached

from the article:

"It is possible that somewhere at the reactor may have been damaged," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the nuclear safety agency. But he added that "our data suggest the reactor retains certain containment functions," implying that the damage may have occurred in Unit 3's reactor core but that it was limited.

Certain containment functions? Wonder what those might be. They continue to display their mastery of vague working.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Good NITE ALL .......got an early morning and a long day! NITE NITE

Night.

Hopefully by tomorrow you'll figure out I have nothing against you and mean you no harm.

All I was trying to say was I have no sympathy for someone who denies the earth is warming or that humans are partly responsible for the warming with no proof. Since all evidence we have indicates earth is warming and humans are at least partly responsible.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
Oh, just one "video" before I go...

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Good NITE ALL .......got an early morning and a long day! NITE NITE
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Look at Climataolgy versus current..........OUCH



The Eastern Pacific might see a very early start the way Shear has been running.
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Quoting Grothar:


Yes, we dodged a bullet with that one in Miami, but the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic were hit badly. It turned right before it hit the coast off of Miami. I don't think our winds got higher than 60 or 70 mph.
It could actually have been much worse here than it actually was. By the time it reached Nassau, David was running only minimal hurricane force winds, and so we had downed trees and a few roofs off, some associated flooding, but no serious damage. No deaths. That's why Andrew, small as it was, was such a shock for the Bahamas. David was the last "bad" hurricane we had here prior to 1992...
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Quoting TampaSpin:


I don't but, i sure you remember the one in 1879,,,,,LOL


I think I was in Denmark in 1879. We didn't pay much attention to the weather back then.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
I'm sure u will piss me the hell off at least once between June and November, but then nobody's perfect..... LOL


Only if your lucky only once.....hehehehehe
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Quoting BahaHurican:
I remember we had hurricane David that year... drowned my mother's onions...


Yes, we dodged a bullet with that one in Miami, but the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic were hit badly. It turned right before it hit the coast off of Miami. I don't think our winds got higher than 60 or 70 mph.
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Geez, I gotta go 2 bed :o(. Got another 16 hour day tomorrow [scowling] and need to rest my eyes. But I gotta say this week we actually talked some wx, which has been great. Hopefully I can find an hour or two this weekend, which also going to be hectic.

Meanwhile, sleep tight. Will check in in the a.m . to see if the Colombian low has started to move N yet.... another harbinger of spring?
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Quoting Grothar:
Anyone on here remember the record rainfall in April 1979. Miami recorded 15 inches in one day, but some places in Broward country received almost 24 inches. The rains were so bad State Road 84 was under 2 feet of water. There was no way to go from Dade County to Broward County. Very Strange event


I don't but, i sure you remember the one in 1879,,,,,LOL
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254. flsky
I vaguely remember hearing when I was a kid that, in polite conversation, one never mentions sex, politics, or religion. OK, that's probably somewhat archaic these days, but I still think it's a good guideline in certain circumstances. For example, when interested in a tropical weather website, maybe that should be the predominate topic. Let's face it, there are millions of other sites these days where other topics important to us can be discussed.

OK, with that bit of "preaching," I'm finally off to bed. Hope you all have a great day tomorrow - and let's hope the spring thaws don't cause too much of a catastrophe.
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Quoting Grothar:
Anyone on here remember the record rainfall in April 1979. Miami recorded 15 inches in one day, but some places in Broward country received almost 24 inches. The rains were so bad State Road 84 was under 2 feet of water. There was no way to go from Dade County to Broward County. Very Strange event
I remember we had hurricane David that year... drowned my mother's onions...
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Quoting TampaSpin:


I will be here to put my 1 cent worth in........LOL...thanks!
I'm sure u will piss me the hell off at least once between June and November, but then nobody's perfect..... LOL



Quoting TampaSpin:


I feel the Western Atlantic time is now coming. Look for the Bahamas and the Atlantic Coast to get hit hard this year. This might just be the year for that NY storm all have been talking for years.
I wouldn't be surprised by anything this year. This is going to be the year of the storm that hit the place that all the people thought would never get hit [again]. PLUS The Bahamas. I'd be very surprised if we don't get one something running up the archipelago or across the NW tier. But Tampa, Broward, JAX / GA coastline, NY / NJ - even Miami - I wouldn't surprised to see something make it into one of these not recently impacted areas this season. [Though Mia did get Andrew, so maybe I can cross that off.]
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Anyone on here remember the record rainfall in April 1979. Miami recorded 15 inches in one day, but some places in Broward country received almost 24 inches. The rains were so bad State Road 84 was under 2 feet of water. There was no way to go from Dade County to Broward County. Very Strange event
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Quoting Skyepony:
Tampa~ There's one that is threatening homes that was started by a car crash. That's dry.

Fisky~ I like the current version. It's faster than the older version.
This is my main reason for liking the new version. However, I'm stuck with loading the classic version on my mini Acer.
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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.