Spring snowstorm adds to flooding potential for the Midwest

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

Share this Blog
4
+

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?

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 146 - 96

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23Blog Index

Quoting caneswatch:


It doesn't matter paid or free member. This place has gotten too hard to handle for their own good.


For whose own good; the bloggers or Admin? Be specific. Very vague sentence structure. Keep this up and I'll hide your twinkies and double fudge oreo cookies.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting flsky:


OK, I'll talk about weather - it was quite breezy and in the low 80s in CFL today. Actually, quite wonderful - however, there is a smell of smoke in the air tonight.


Funny, we had weather today here, too. I don't smoke either.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting flsky:


OK, I'll talk about weather - it was quite breezy and in the low 80s in CFL today. Actually, quite wonderful - however, there is a smell of smoke in the air tonight.
I envey you right about now.It was cold,and rainy.More cold is suppose to stick around.That's why I forgot it was spring until I looked at the trees of course.Despite it being cold they still have decided to come out.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


I am a paid member and it really doesn't matter. Can't tell you the people that no longer come on here since they changed the blog. The photos in one's blog don't all show up. Images lock the screen. The printing is so faint one must have their head on the screen to see it. Not their best work. By the way, how you doing fl? Still dry down here. Haven't seen anythink like it except back in the early 1930's.


It doesn't matter paid or free member. This place has gotten too hard to handle for their own good.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hydrus:
You seem grouchy tonight 115...outta weed perhaps....
Oh no.I don't smoke.It's just that I don't want this blog to turn into a fox news blog,but this is a weather blog..Now you all are probally wondering what's with that.Well Fox news blogs usually talk about everything besides weather.And in the comments section peopel usually have pointless debates.Not a good sight at all.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
141. flsky
Quoting washingtonian115:
(Fingers tap desk.Looks at computer screen dissapointed).Anyone want to talk about this whacky weather?.I sure as hell forgot it was spring.It's been the coldest since that February storm that happend on the 21.


OK, I'll talk about weather - it was quite breezy and in the low 80s in CFL today. Actually, quite wonderful - however, there is a smell of smoke in the air tonight.
Member Since: October 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1940
Quoting flsky:
So I actually renewed my $10 membership yesterday hoping that would solve these issues, but, guess what? Same ol' sh--! This is getting REALLY tiresome.


I am a paid member and it really doesn't matter. Can't tell you the people that no longer come on here since they changed the blog. The photos in one's blog don't all show up. Images lock the screen. The printing is so faint one must have their head on the screen to see it. Not their best work. By the way, how you doing fl? Still dry down here. Haven't seen anythink like it except back in the early 1930's.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Quoting TampaSpin:


I will never pay here again.
I never have, and never will. The service is fine as it is, not to mention there's a way around the 6 frame doppler radar loop that's limited to non-paying members; a subtle loophole I'm honestly surprised hasn't been corrected yet.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting flsky:
So I actually renewed my $10 membership yesterday hoping that would solve these issues, but, guess what? Same ol' sh--! This is getting REALLY tiresome.


I stopped giving my $10 after getting banned twice for just answering questions and helping people during troubled times. I will never pay here again.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting washingtonian115:
Booooo.
You seem grouchy tonight 115...outta weed perhaps....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting EYEStoSEA:
For those who havent been here today....It's HAPPY BIRTHDAY TAZ.....day :)


Thanks for the heads up , and Happy Birthday TAZ!

out>>>>
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
134. flsky
So I actually renewed my $10 membership yesterday hoping that would solve these issues, but, guess what? Same ol' sh--! This is getting REALLY tiresome.
Quoting Grothar:


A lot of people havent' been able to get on the blog. I could hardly get on yesterday, and today. The graphics are messed up, keeps locking my PC, you can't read whether or not you have gotten mail because the lettering is too faint. This new blog really has a lot of flaws in it.
Member Since: October 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1940
<
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Personally, I think they would look better in the trees, but that is up to you how you want to keep your lawn.
I guess you are right....I will nail them all back on tomorrow.....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Researches from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne have reported that The world’s biggest waves and fastest winds may be getting even bigger and faster.

Not fun if you go to sea much.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good evening to all!! The latest Tropical Cyclone landfall probabilities are out now, just in case anyone is interested. Puerto Rico has a 51 percent chance of getting a direct hit this year by a tropical cyclone.
Link
it would be the 2nd option
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Now W115...calm down...you won't be un-bored until there is a cane out there.....lol
I was really saying that becuase it seems like no one is talking about well...... weather.This blog as of late has reminded me of uh.....of.....uh(gulps)Fox news blog.(horriffic music in the background).
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
For those who havent been here today....It's HAPPY BIRTHDAY TAZ.....day :)
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Booooo.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting washingtonian115:
BORING!!


Now W115...calm down...you won't be un-bored until there is a cane out there.....lol
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Quoting TampaSpin:
The enso is almost like 2008.Ohhhhhh and I notice something today that I'm excited to share with everyone.Not enough people are on though.It's about myyyyyy favorite topic!.Tropical weather!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Some may, and some may not, understand :)

Gnight!

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting beell:


LMAO! I'm a goober! Must be bedtime.
Thanks for the correction.


No biggie. I don't know if a big quake on New Madrid would be felt in Pennsylvania. Then again, I think I read somewhere that they felt the ones 200 years ago in Boston. The central part of the country is mostly one big block o' rock.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
(Fingers tap desk.Looks at computer screen dissapointed).Anyone want to talk about this whacky weather?.I sure as hell forgot it was spring.It's been the coldest since that February storm that happend on the 21.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hydrus:
Hello Gro..got tree branches on my lawn (again)...


Personally, I think they would look better in the trees, but that is up to you how you want to keep your lawn.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


A lot of people havent' been able to get on the blog. I could hardly get on yesterday, and today. The graphics are messed up, keeps locking my PC, you can't read whether or not you have gotten mail because the lettering is too faint. This new blog really has a lot of flaws in it.


GROTHAR !! There you are (for now, anyway). It is a mess....I dont understand...........~~~~~~~~~~~
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492



I know many think last year was busy......, but look at the Global ACE. We did not even come close to much of a peak. An upward ACE is coming over the next 2 years as you can see on this graphic. This year might be even more busy than last year, at least globally.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting Grothar:


A lot of people havent' been able to get on the blog. I could hardly get on yesterday, and today. The graphics are messed up, keeps locking my PC, you can't read whether or not you have gotten mail because the lettering is too faint. This new blog really has a lot of flaws in it.
Hello Gro..got tree branches on my lawn (again)...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
BORING!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Been strange today....I think there are folks that can even get on......too many good folks missing in action../)


A lot of people havent' been able to get on the blog. I could hardly get on yesterday, and today. The graphics are messed up, keeps locking my PC, you can't read whether or not you have gotten mail because the lettering is too faint. This new blog really has a lot of flaws in it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
110. beell
Quoting oceanbug:


Umm, I didn't say anything about Pennsylvania.

I mentioned Illinois!! And parts of Illinois are on the New Madrid fault.


LMAO! I'm a goober! Must be bedtime.
Thanks for the correction.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The two tone has risen! hurricane season getting closer!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting beell:


You don't think the New Madrid is far enough away from Pennsylvania?


Umm, I didn't say anything about Pennsylvania.

I mentioned Illinois!! And parts of Illinois are on the New Madrid fault.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Neutron Beam Seen 13 Times at Japanese Nuclear Plant
By Helena Zhu
Epoch Times Staff



Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, said Wednesday that it has observed a neutron beam 13 times at the plant, Kyodo News reported.

The company detected a neutron beam, a type of radioactive ray, about 0.9 miles (1.5 kilometers) southwest of the earthquake-crippled plant’s No. 1 and 2 reactors between March 13 and 15. The beam was about 0.01 to 0.02 microsievert per hour, which is not a dangerous level of radiation.

The neutron beam may be evidence that uranium and plutonium—used in the cores of the reactors for nuclear fission—have leaked.

In order to contain the escalating nuclear crisis, TEPCO has been trying to restore power, knocked out by the March 11 earthquake, to the plant’s six reactors for the past few days.

Once power is restored, the key equipment can be restarted, including the cooling functions and ventilation systems to filter radioactive materials from the air and gauges in the control room.

Though the work has been progressing, it has been repeatedly hampered by difficulties. Work was disrupted on Wednesday afternoon when workers had to evacuate after black smoke started spewing from the No. 3 reactor building, according to Kyodo News.

On Monday, work was also disrupted when unidentified smoke emerged from the No. 2 and 3 reactors.

Since the magnitude 9.0 earthquake damaged the plant, the plant has been the center of the nuclear crisis. The government had already evacuated residents within a 12-mile radius of the plant and urged those living within 12 to 19 miles to stay indoors.

Radiation Levels Surge in Tokyo

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, who has been the government’s public face during the disaster, said on Wednesday afternoon at a press conference that the radiation levels outside of the 19-mile range exceed the legal radiation level of 100 microsieverts per hour, according to data from the Nuclear Safety Commission.

However, Edano said that residents living in those areas do not need to evacuate or stay indoors yet.

After radioactive iodine was detected in water in a Tokyo purification plant exceeding government limits for infant consumption, the Tokyo metropolitan government advised residents not to give tap water to babies younger than 1 year old.

Edano reassured the residents that the water is still safe for adults to drink and use in everyday life.

"The level is not dangerous unless you keep drinking the water for a long period of time," Ei Yoshida, manager of Tokyo’s Waterworks Bureau, said at a press conference, according to The Japan Times. "If there is nothing else to drink, you can let babies drink the water every once in a while."

In a statement on Facebook, Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s office said that even if people other than infants drink water that exceeds the legal limit temporarily, it would be “very unlikely” to affect human health.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127855
Quoting TampaSpin:
what has happped to this blog and why are the graphics all messed up recently!


Been strange today....I think there are folks that can even get on......too many good folks missing in action../)
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
104. beell
Quoting TampaSpin:



I know and realize the fear of Nuke energy, but how many people have been killed in the US from Nuke energy and how many coal miners have been killed over the past 20 years......we gotta keep nuke energy and it should be here to stay and more to build.


I hope it's not here to stay. But it is here now and will be for quite some time. No amount of whining and crying is going to change that.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
Waterford 3 Nuclear Power Plant 35 Miles upriver from NOLA


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



And Grand Gulf Nuclear just a little further north.. Link
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
what has happped to this blog and why are the graphics all messed up recently!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439


Hummm...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting beell:


For sure, PA appears to lead the rest of the states by a wide margin.

According to yet another Govt Agency, The US Energy Information Administration

With over 9,300 MW, Pennsylvania has the second highest nuclear capacity in the US.

Nuclear capacity represents approximately 21% of Pennsylvania’s total electric generating capacity.

Nuclear generation accounts for a third of the State’s total generation.

Like many States with a large nuclear power industry, Pennsylvania is a net exporter of electricity, exporting 37% more electric energy than it uses


You don't think the New Madrid is far enough away from Pennsylvania?



I know and realize the fear of Nuke energy, but how many people have been killed in the US from Nuke energy and how many coal miners have been killed over the past 20 years......we gotta keep nuke energy and it should be here to stay and more to build.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Japan NHK TV English, LIVE
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127855
Gators escaped a close one. Now the Butler Bulldogs gotta come thru also!!!!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Waterford 3 Nuclear Power Plant 35 Miles upriver from NOLA

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127855

Viewing: 146 - 96

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Mostly Cloudy
77 °F
Mostly Cloudy