Record snowfall across the region in February has significantly upped the prospects for spring flooding along the entire Minnesota River.
Record snowfall across the region in February has significantly upped the prospects for spring flooding along the entire Minnesota River. Last week, the National Weather Service, Chanhassen/Twin Cities Office, released their 2019 Spring Flood Outlook, and the outlook is anything but good.
Craig Schmidt, Service Hydrologist for the NWS Chanhassen/Twin Cities, acknowledged that conditions are indicative of potentially moderate spring flooding throughout the Minnesota River Basin, as well as southern Minnesota and western and central Wisconsin. He said, “We have an enormously large snow pack for late winter. The chances for flooding are looking better each day, but how much depends a lot on weather conditions as we move through March and into early April.”
Conditions for wide-spread flooding are particularly favorable this spring. According to the NWS 2019 Spring Flood Outlook, which can be viewed on the NWS website, there are several typical spring flood factors that will impact the severity of flooding across the region. These include:
• Soil Condition: how much precipitation has there been in the past, and how much moisture is in the soil?
• Snowpack: how much water will be added to streamflow this spring?
• Frost Depth: will melting snow soak into the soil or run freely?
• Weather Outlook: what is the potential for snow, rain, and warmer temperatures?
So far, there is ample moisture available this spring, with six to eight inches of water content in the snowpack in west-central Minnesota, and up to 12 inches of water content in parts of southern and central Minnesota into western Wisconsin. Those amounts are two to four inches above normal for this time of year.
Winter snowfall throughout the region stands at 40+ inches of snow, with a large swath through central Minnesota and Wisconsin at five feet, which is nearly double the normal amount of snowfall.
“This is a solid two to four inches of water, and up to six inches of water in parts of the upper and central Minnesota River Basin,” said Schmidt. “This is higher than we’ve seen recently, and higher than any year since 2014. We’re well above normal for the end of February and beginning of March.”
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