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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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: 421 Comments: 127628
Quoting oceanbug:


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?
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 141 Comments: 16257
Quoting gordydunnot:
Pcola take a look at the link I posted on comment 65 what blogger does that remind you of on the far left.My response to Plazared comment 62.


OK, I admit it, ya lost me.
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Quoting Chicklit:
Good Evening, here's an interesting opinion piece about the Japan nuclear issue from this person:

Mark Hibbs is a senior associate in Carnegie's Nuclear Policy Program, based in Berlin. Before joining Carnegie, he was an editor and correspondent for nuclear energy publications for over 20 years.


KyodoNews


Hello Chicklet, Just wanted to say, your dog always makes me smile...looks like he's smiling :)
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WooHoo! I got the quote thingy to work! Just had to unblocked a few more things in Firefox.
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Quoting beell:
Off the AP newswire a couple of days ago:

Tons of highly-radioactive spent fuel are being stored at U.S. nuclear reactor sites. The Associated Press analyzed state-by-state data that nuclear power plants voluntarily report annually to the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry and lobbying group. The NEI would not make available the amount of spent fuel at individual power plants...
I put the top 10 spent fuel totals together by state, (metric tons) for Spent Fuel Pool, Dry Cask, and Total on-site storage at active nuclear reactors.

Spent Fuel Pool
IL 8,300
PA 4,936
NY 3,345
NC 3,248
FL 3,002
AL 2,756
SC 2,541
MI 2,293
NJ 2,226
CA 2,180

Dry Cask
SC 1,749
VA 1,533
PA 1,510
IL 1,001
CA 956
AZ 941
MD 844
AR 796
CN 676
MA 597

Total
IL 9,301
PA 6,446
SC 4,290
NY 3,800
NC 3,794
AL 3,295
FL 3,199
CA 3,136
MI 2,795
GA 2,745


Thanks for this information, although it isn't encouraging. Illinois has the most spent fuel stored in pools which will be vulnerable when the New Madrid fault wakes up.
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Know we"ll get it here ( usually with storms this time of year), but I sure would share the rain with parts La,Tx and Fl...if I could..
I'll give them some of my rain to.
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Good Evening, here's an interesting opinion piece about the Japan nuclear issue from this person:

Mark Hibbs is a senior associate in Carnegie's Nuclear Policy Program, based in Berlin. Before joining Carnegie, he was an editor and correspondent for nuclear energy publications for over 20 years.


KyodoNews
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11180
.
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A couple of weeks ago I flew AC/United from Chicago to Vancouver. About three years ago I made the same run.
My observation:
There is a massive amount more of snow this year.
Three years ago the hills were brown and this trip the valleys were white
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
ya things always change give it a couple of days picture will be totally different


Know we"ll get it here ( usually with storms this time of year), but I sure would share the rain with parts La,Tx and Fl...if I could..
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Looks kinda promising for parts of Florida....but just kinda ~~~~~
ya things always change give it a couple of days picture will be totally different
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


Looks kinda promising for parts of Florida....but just kinda ~~~~~
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I forgot it was spring.Totally forgot it.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
are you asking for rain again


again? no, more like STILL- ALWAYS-

do you ever here me say, gee I wish it would quit raining?

hahaha
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25758
Quoting FLPandhandleJG:
Brush fire in Crestview florida.. Heres are some pictures.. B/c my dad is a fire chief!









In Crestview.. Humidity is 21% and occasional gust up to 15 to 20mph.. but winds died down some bit .. winds with 5 to 10mph.. Very dry after cold front came thru last night! Just spreading whats going on and havent been on for awhile..


Ouch, I lived in Crestview 2005-2007. My brother still does.
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Quoting aquak9:


hey

HEY!! what about central and north FLorida, huh??

what are we, chopped liver?
are you asking for rain again
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Quoting PlazaRed:

There appears to be a trifle of winging and moaning about the lack of precipitation in the south of Florida, well not to worry forks as we have been in contact with the people who inhabit the 'armpit of Africa' as Skye calls it and they assure us that they are going to send you quite a lot of assorted 'damp patches' a bit later in the year, with a few accompanying cyclonic breezes!


hey

HEY!! what about central and north FLorida, huh??

what are we, chopped liver?
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25758
Quoting caneswatch:


Lovely............
I wish I could take some of the rain that we've gotten in the last few days and dump it down their.We've been under a flood watch/warning 1 to many times.
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Quoting PlazaRed:

There appears to be a trifle of winging and moaning about the lack of precipitation in the south of Florida, well not to worry forks as we have been in contact with the people who inhabit the 'armpit of Africa' as Skye calls it and they assure us that they are going to send you quite a lot of assorted 'damp patches' a bit later in the year, with a few accompanying cyclonic breezes!


Lovely............
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Off the AP newswire a couple of days ago:

Tons of highly-radioactive spent fuel are being stored at U.S. nuclear reactor sites. The Associated Press analyzed state-by-state data that nuclear power plants voluntarily report annually to the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry and lobbying group. The NEI would not make available the amount of spent fuel at individual power plants...
AP News/Miami Herald

Spent a good bit of time at the Nuclear Energy Institute site looking for the source data for this hastily thrown together story. Never found it.

I put the top 10 spent fuel totals together by state, (metric tons) for Spent Fuel Pool, Dry Cask, and Total on-site storage at active nuclear reactors.

Spent Fuel Pool
IL 8,300
PA 4,936
NY 3,345
NC 3,248
FL 3,002
AL 2,756
SC 2,541
MI 2,293
NJ 2,226
CA 2,180

Dry Cask
SC 1,749
VA 1,533
PA 1,510
IL 1,001
CA 956
AZ 941
MD 844
AR 796
CN 676
MA 597

Total
IL 9,301
PA 6,446
SC 4,290
NY 3,800
NC 3,794
AL 3,295
FL 3,199
CA 3,136
MI 2,795
GA 2,745
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 141 Comments: 16257

There appears to be a trifle of winging and moaning about the lack of precipitation in the south of Florida, well not to worry forks as we have been in contact with the people who inhabit the 'armpit of Africa' as Skye calls it and they assure us that they are going to send you quite a lot of assorted 'damp patches' a bit later in the year, with a few accompanying cyclonic breezes!
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I think of the golden triangle.
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Pcola take a look at the link I posted on comment 65 what blogger does that remind you of on the far left.My response to Plazared comment 62.
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Quoting islander101010:
burma to me


That's funny, every time I hear Myanmar I have to look it up. Burma I know exactly where you mean. :|
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surly
adj \ˈsər-lē\
sur·li·ersur·li·est
Definition of SURLY
1
: menacing or threatening in appearance
2
obsolete : arrogant, imperious
3
: irritably sullen and churlish in mood or manner : crabbed
-----------------------------------------------

surely
adv
\ˈshu̇r-lē, especially Southern ˈshȯr-\
Definition of SURELY
1
: in a sure manner: a archaic : without danger or risk of injury or loss : safely b (1) : with assurance : confidently (2) : without doubt : certainly
2
: indeed, really —often used as an intensive
-----------------------------------------------

Sirly And The Boys

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burma to me
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4350
Well said Jed. Lake O is about right I believe, which means it has been much worse before.But bring on the rain.
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Brush fire in Crestview florida.. Heres are some pictures.. B/c my dad is a fire chief!









In Crestview.. Humidity is 21% and occasional gust up to 15 to 20mph.. but winds died down some bit .. winds with 5 to 10mph.. Very dry after cold front came thru last night! Just spreading whats going on and havent been on for awhile..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It is close to sunrise where the magnitude 6.8 Myanmar earthquake struck, and so far 11 deaths and 3 injuries have been reported. USGS PAGER estimates suggest around 200 killed and $100 million in damage.

Striving for updates: Wikipedia article
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Might be the best posted video posted to this blog.If I must say so myself and I probably must. Going up to The Spirit in the sky.Sang by the cast of the underground bloggers. oLink
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Quoting Grothar:


Hey, Jed. Thought you might find this interesting.

Excerpt:
Since October 2010, an average of about 7.5 inches of rain have fallen across urban areas of Collier and Lee counties, about 56 percent of the historic average, according to district rainfall data.

Across the 16-county water management district, the dry season rain deficit reached 7.7 inches Tuesday in the wake of the driest October-to-February period in 80 years. The region received just 5.7 inches of rain during that period, less than half the historic average.

Link


I am aware that it is well below average, but keep in mind, that fact that it is the dry season shows its more likely there is going to be a deficit than say the wet season. Also, this is a La Nina Spring, so its to be expected.

I understand that people are begging for rain, believe me, I always beg for rain because I am a weather freak, unlike most people, I prefer stormy weather by far above boring "fair" weather, lol.

All I am trying to point out, is that people need not worry, Florida goes through its very wet and very dry periods. That his how our Climate is.

Remember how average is counted mathematically? Just think of math and it all makes sense, just because South Florida is experiencing well below average rain does not mean there is anything to worry about.

Eventually above average rain will arrive to balance things out. I wish it would come quicker, I wish Florida had a year round wet season, but we don't so we might as well sit back and wait for rain cause doin a rain dance or scolding that atmosphere ain't gonna help :)
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Iodine can do her own shopping. And don't call me Sirly! I work for a living.
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Quoting gordydunnot:
I know it's a little early to start, put pressure and shear is low in the NW Caribbean. Is this normal or maybe I should go back to sleep for a couple more months.Take it easy now.


We are Gravely Concerned:-
About everything, simultaneously,
'And' [bad grammar,] 'Where is everybody?
Surly not out shopping for iodine!!
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I know it's a little early to start, put pressure and shear is low in the NW Caribbean. Is this normal or maybe I should go back to sleep for a couple more months.Take it easy now.
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Quoting PlazaRed:

Well I just typed that and pressed the 'post comment button' and it seems to have come up OK so no probs from our end.
Must be on your side of the abyss?

Maybe they just had a little nap...lol...getting their second wind now...
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Quoting alfabob:
The main problem with potassium iodide is that it only increases protection for those two isotopes when in reality there are much greater quantities of isotopes which can not be removed from the body, and emit more dangerous alpha radiation.


The Iodine is a bit of a short term stop gap, and will pass like a ship in the night.
The real concern must be the possibility of a plutonium discharge and the 23,000 year half life, after all that 5 times the age of Stonehenge? Or more!!
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Earthquakes....World 5M+ Link
Earthquakes....USA 3M+ Link
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54- Darpa- That. Was. Fantastic.

Awesome- I got it right away. Wow.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25758
omg

behind the robin in the pic in doc's header, the feeder looks like a mushroom cloud...

I'm just sayin'...
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25758

Well I just typed that and pressed the 'post comment button' and it seems to have come up OK so no probs from our end.
Must be on your side of the abyss?
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:
Hmmm....been a long time since last post....wonder if peeps are having trouble getting on, know there were some problems yesterday...I know Ive had a couple up updates today....oh well, talking to myself now.......:P


Not quite 'talking to yourself' but things are very quiet.
Few nasty rattles on the old crust in the Burma region and apart from that we are just waiting for your updates.

First reactor workers in hospital, lets hope they get out OK.
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Hmmm....been a long time since last post....wonder if peeps are having trouble getting on, know there were some problems yesterday...I know Ive had a couple up updates today....oh well, talking to myself now.......:P
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Quoting Skyepony:


It's 60-70% of Chernobyl's rate per day but how long is this going to last? & the difference in the amounts laying around to release is huge...

says Wotawa. "When the fuel is damaged there is no reason for the volatile elements not to escape," and the measured cesium and iodine are in the right ratios for the fuel used by the Fukushima Daiichi reactors. Also, the Fukushima plant has around 1760 tonnes of fresh and used nuclear fuel on site, and an unknown amount has been damaged. The Chernobyl reactor had only 180 tonnes.

It's good idea for everyone to getting they're daily need for Iodine (& the rest of the elements). I've known 2 women in their mid-30s to die while having goiter surgeries. Lots of people having thyroid problems. Used to have Iodine in the bread but that got switched to Bromide which actually depletes or blocks Iodine.

If I was in Japan I'd make sure to have a few tsp of Iodized salt a day if I didn't have any other source of it. Unfortunately the salt in processed foods generally aren't iodized. Ridiculous the Chinese though... they are the farthest down wind in this.

I personally like kelp as an Iodine source. It binds & protects from several radioactive elements including Cs-137. It's got to come from clean waters though.


The ironic thing is almost everyone who is taking potassium iodide in the US right now is more likely to be receiving more radiation from the pills than they will from the reactors. Natural potassium is around .01% radioactive.
Member Since: October 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1455
Bune is a full fledge cyclone (hurricane) it has a well defined eye
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Fiji Meteorological Services
Tropical Disturbance Advisory #8
TROPICAL CYCLONE BUNE (13F)
6:00 AM FST March 25 2011
==========================================

At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Cyclone Bune, Category Two (982 hPa) located at 21.5S 179.9W is reported as moving south southwest at 2 knots. 10 minute sustained winds near the center is 50 knots. Position fair based on hourly GMS enhanced infrared radar and peripheral surface observations.

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

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

Organization has significantly improved with rapid development occuring in the past 24 hours. System lies under a diffluent region in a low shear environment. Outflow restricted to the west of the system but appears good elsewhere. Sea surface temperature is around 29C. TC BUNE is being steered southwest by weak northeast deep layer mean wind.

Dvorak assessmetn based on curved band pattern with 0.90 degree wrap on LOG10 spiral. Yielding DT=3.5, MT and PT= 3.5.

Dvorak Intensity: T3.5/3.5/D1.5/24 HRS

Global models are continuing to develop the system while maintaining a slow moving southerly track during the next 24 hours.

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
12 HRS: 22.1S 180.0E - 60 knots (CAT 2)
24 HRS: 22.5S 179.7E - 60 knots (CAT 2)
48 HRS: 23.2S 178.8E - 60 knots (CAT 2)

The next Tropical Disturbance Advisory from Fiji Meteorological Services will be issued at 2:00 AM UTC..
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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.