Dakotas blizzard adds to extreme spring flooding risk

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 21. helmikuuta 2011 klo 02:13 (GMT)

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Heavy snows in excess of six inches have piled up over much of South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota today, with a storm maximum of 16 inches reported at Midland, South Dakota. This is bad news for residents in flood-prone areas of the Upper Midwest, as the new storm has added more than another half inch of melted rainfall equivalent to a snowpack that already had a record water content. When all that snow melts in late March, we can expect another spring of major and possibly record flooding for North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, or the Upper Mississippi River north of St. Louis, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Their February Spring Flood Outlook released last week warned: "Heavy autumn rains and above average water content in the snow pack throughout the North Central U.S. have produced a high risk of moderate and major flooding for the Spring of 2011. Areas of greatest concern include the Red River of the North in North Dakota and Minnesota, Devils Lake in North Dakota, the James River and Big Sioux River in South Dakota, and areas along the Upper Mississippi River including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.

Heavy late summer and autumn precipitation (twice the normal amount since October in parts of North Dakota and Minnesota) have soils saturated and streams running high before the winter freeze-up. Another winter of above average snowfall has added water to the snow pack on top of the frozen saturated soils in the North Central US. NWS models show this snowpack containing a water content ranked in the 90 to 100 percentile when compared to a 60 year average. These factors have combined to create some of the highest soil moisture contents of the last century. "



Figure 1. North Central U.S. flood risk. Image credit: NWS. The outlook will be updated on February 24, and a final outlook issued March 17.

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 - 5 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 20% chance that Fargo will see its greatest flood in history, and a 10% chance for Grand Forks.

The situation is similar in Minnesota, which has received about double its normal precipitation over the past 3 to 4 months. Snow depths are generally around 18 inches in the Upper Mississippi watershed, with a high water content. If one were to melt this snow, it would amount to 3.5 - 5.5 inches of rain, which ranks among the wettest snow packs in the 60-year record. NWS is giving a 15% chance that St. Paul will see its highest flood in history this spring.

In South Dakota, heavy snows this winter have also left a snowpack with a high water content, and NWS is predicting a 30% chance that the the James River at Huron, SD and the Big Sioux River at Brookings, SD will reach their highest flood heights in history.


Figure 2. The snow water equivalent of the Upper Midwest's snowpack as of February 18, 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? Generally, late March through mid-April is the time when the big spring melt occurs. 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'll have a new post Tuesday or Wednesday.

Jeff Masters

Blinding snowstorm hits Detroit area (MichiganSnowLvr)
The Detroit area was hit with a blinding snowstorm this afternoon and evening, with near zero visibility and thunder/lightning, as the snowfall piles up quickly and deeply.
Blinding snowstorm hits Detroit area

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608. caneswatch
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 03:23 (GMT)
Quoting twincomanche:


Don't you think it's unlikely that this would happen here since we believe in due process? Or don't you believe in this?


It's just a thought, not saying it would happen.
Member Since: 8.10.2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
607. Neapolitan
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 03:20 (GMT)
NEW BLOG ENTRY
Member Since: 8.11.2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13306
604. GeoffreyWPB
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 03:15 (GMT)
Quoting twincomanche:


That be ding dong liberal clueless entertainers.


We were joking around twin. As far as liberal clueless entertainers...I will leave that to Patrap.
Member Since: 10.09.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10589
603. sunlinepr
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 03:15 (GMT)
Member Since: 2.08.2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9656
602. caneswatch
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 03:13 (GMT)
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Actually...it was the guy who did the flip off the wall who was drunk. Many takes on that shot. And what is happening in Libya, is a very important news story, which we do post about. Weather related or not.


It is. It's happening all across the Middle East, like a giant revolution. It makes me think what would happen if this were happening in the US of A?
Member Since: 8.10.2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
599. GeoffreyWPB
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 03:07 (GMT)
Quoting caneswatch:


Ask him what happened to the woman that inspired Never Gonna Give You Up LOL


Actually...it was the guy who did the flip off the wall who was drunk. Many takes on that shot. And what is happening in Libya, is a very important news story, which we do post about. Weather related or not.
Member Since: 10.09.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10589
598. caneswatch
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 03:03 (GMT)
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Rick Astley asked me to post it.


Ask him what happened to the woman that inspired Never Gonna Give You Up LOL
Member Since: 8.10.2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
597. GeoffreyWPB
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 02:55 (GMT)
Quoting caneswatch:
How'd we get to the subject of oil on the blog LOL


Rick Astley asked me to post it.
Member Since: 10.09.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10589
595. caneswatch
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 02:51 (GMT)
How'd we get to the subject of oil on the blog LOL
Member Since: 8.10.2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
593. Quadrantid
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 02:46 (GMT)
Quoting Cochise000:


This really amazes me. AGW proponents are readily willing to admit that the sun could affect tectonic plates of the earth, but aren't willing to admit that sun cycles could be the primary drivers of world climate. How closed could one's mind be if you accept the fact that solar flares could cause earthquakes but not severely affect the weather? It is truly mind boggling.


Bah, I'll bite -- mainly because I'm feeling under the weather and can't concentrate on work.

I guess I'm an AGW proponent -- I'm someone for whom all the evidence points towards AGW being the single best explanation for what we're observing. The astronomical drivers that are put forward to explain AGW hold no water whatsoever. The Milankovic cycles, on which I've worked, occur on a totally different timescale to the observed effects, and simply, can not be involved. Full stop. No doubt. There's less life in that theory as an explanation for the currently observed trends than there is in the theory that my left leg played a critical role in the assassination of JFK. Seriously.

As for Solar cycles, it's well worth noting that the maximum variation in the radiation emitted by the Sun over the last 100 years is significantly, significantly less than the variation in incident radiation the Earth receives from the Sun as it moves through its eccentric orbit.

That's right, the annual difference in irradiation from the Sun as a result of the Earth's eccentric orbit (aphelion in July, perihelion in January) is significantly larger than the small variation in flux emitted by the Sun as it moves from high activity to low and back again.

Simply put, the idea that Solar cycles are driving the observed variation in climate is just as dead as the idea my left leg was sitting on the grassy knoll.

As for solar activity influencing seismicity on the Earth, I have to admit I've never looked into it, but instinctively, I feel that it's something that wouldn't stand up to close scrutiny... I could well be wrong, however - as I say, I'm not qualified to talk about that, and haven't read widely enough around the subject to form an informed opinion. My uninformed opinion, however, is that it sounds an unsound link. I could well be proved wrong though, but I guess I'm a flarequake sceptic :)
Member Since: 13.06.2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 106
592. Neapolitan
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 02:45 (GMT)
One the tallest buildings in Christchurch--The 20-story Grand Chancellor hotel--is leaning increasingly to one side, and is expected to collapse at any time. (Link to Google Street View of the hotel entrance)

Official death toll stands at 75, with at least 300 still unaccounted for.

Article
Member Since: 8.11.2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13306
590. GeoffreyWPB
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 02:42 (GMT)
Quoting twincomanche:

I have no idea what you are referring to. I made that post based on forty plus years in the petro chemical business. These are the real facts not something junked up from Fox News. If you don't think these are the facts, you need a reality check.


The link was from Fox. That's all I was saying. The second part was my own opinion.
Member Since: 10.09.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10589
588. caneswatch
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 02:40 (GMT)
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


From Fox News...I copy and paste...You decide.


ROFL
Member Since: 8.10.2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
586. Xyrus2000
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 02:36 (GMT)
Quoting twincomanche:

The spike in oil prices is largely a a result of short term hysteria. Libya supplies two percent of the world supply, hardly a major issue what with the large inventories and excess capacity presently. The traders grab onto this stuff to try to make a quick buck and largely succeed.

Everyone trashes the Saudis for not putting more oil in the system when the price spiked up to $145 but the facts were there was plenty of oil in the pipeline just like there is now.


The price isn't reflecting Libya's output. The price is reflecting the general instability throughout the region that seems to be spreading and growing.
Member Since: 31.10.2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1227
585. GeoffreyWPB
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 02:35 (GMT)
Quoting twincomanche:

The spike in oil prices is largely a a result of short term hysteria. Libya supplies two percent of the world supply, hardly a major issue what with the large inventories and excess capacity presently. The traders grab onto this stuff to try to make a quick buck and largely succeed.

Everyone trashes the Saudis for not putting more oil in the system when the price spiked up to $145 but the facts were there was plenty of oil in the pipeline just like there is now.


From Fox News...I copy and paste...You decide.
Member Since: 10.09.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10589
582. Xyrus2000
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 01:38 (GMT)
Quoting AussieStorm:
Tornado spawned by TC Carlos


For these guys next trick, they're going to wait for a thunderstorm, go the highest point they can, tape their sensitive parts to a long metal pole, and wait for the awesome buzz.

Definitely Darwin award material right there.
Member Since: 31.10.2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1227
581. washingtonian115
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 01:29 (GMT)
Quoting PcolaDan:


Then there is always this season

Season of the witch!.The monster goes RAWR!!
Member Since: 14.08.2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 15738
580. PcolaDan
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 01:20 (GMT)
Quoting washingtonian115:
Mmmm I know theirs no season for earthquakes,but It's like last year.The big ones always happen in the beginning of the year.Lol now a volcanoe is going to try and erupt!lol.Now is their is earthquake season,volcanoe season,tornado season,and hurricane season?.I know theirs 2 but.....


Then there is always this season

Member Since: 22.08.2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
579. washingtonian115
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 01:08 (GMT)
Mmmm I know theirs no season for earthquakes,but It's like last year.The big ones always happen in the beginning of the year.Lol now a volcanoe is going to try and erupt!lol.Now is their is earthquake season,volcanoe season,tornado season,and hurricane season?.I know theirs 2 but.....
Member Since: 14.08.2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 15738
578. bappit
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 01:08 (GMT)
.
Member Since: 18.05.2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5563
576. AussieStorm
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 00:51 (GMT)

Click for more
Member Since: 30.09.2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15750
575. plywoodstatenative
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 00:36 (GMT)
GeoffreyWPB,

Check your mail, something going on I would like you to have a look into.
Member Since: 15.11.2005 Posts: 16 Comments: 4189
574. PcolaDan
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 00:32 (GMT)
Quoting MrMixon:
Thanks for sharing this.  Speaking as a geologist and professional map-maker, I think that's a very clever way to visualize seismograph data.  Would like to see this kind of thing available for all U.S. seismographs.



YW
There's a name at the bottom:

Site concept and development: Paul Nicholls of the University of Canterbury's Digital Media Group (Christchurch, New Zealand)

Maybe you could contact them (although they might be a tad busy right now). I suspect this shouldn't be too difficult for a programmer that works with GIS type of stuff.
Member Since: 22.08.2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
573. Patrap
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 00:22 (GMT)
Hurricane Elena inside the eye from the ground in 85 Gulfport,Biloxi Miss.











Member Since: 3.07.2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125715
572. PcolaDan
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 00:21 (GMT)
Quoting NRAamy:
dashboard cowman! did you see me wave from the airplane?

:)


And the BIG smile shining out the window too. :)
Member Since: 22.08.2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
571. MrMixon
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 00:21 (GMT)
Thanks for sharing this.  Speaking as a geologist and professional map-maker, I think that's a very clever way to visualize seismograph data.  Would like to see this kind of thing available for all U.S. seismographs.
Quoting PcolaDan:
Animation of aftershocks since Sep

http://www.christchurchquakemap.co.nz/

Member Since: 26.03.2006 Posts: 44 Comments: 1520
570. NRAamy
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 00:20 (GMT)
dashboard cowman! did you see me wave from the airplane?

:)
Member Since: 24.01.2007 Posts: 316 Comments: 31944
569. AussieStorm
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 00:17 (GMT)
7 confirmed building where people are trapped
CTV building, 24 rescued, 7 fatalities 22+ still missing.
Pyne gould guinness building, 24 rescued, 7 people detected.
Christchurch Cathedral, 22 missing, 20 fatalities expected but the building is very dangerous and is off limits.
Christchurch Press Building, 4 rescued, 1 fatality, possibly more.
2 buses that were crushed by falling buildings, 6 fatalities.
Bakery in the heart of the city, 3 fatalities.
Member Since: 30.09.2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15750
568. PcolaDan
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 00:08 (GMT)
Animation of aftershocks since Sep

http://www.christchurchquakemap.co.nz/
Member Since: 22.08.2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
567. AussieStorm
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 00:05 (GMT)
Quoting flsky:

All I can say is, what idiots!

Yeah, thought it was funny at first then wwas like aaaaarrrrrrrhhhhhhh
Member Since: 30.09.2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15750
566. washingtonian115
23. helmikuuta 2011 klo 00:02 (GMT)
Ah.
Member Since: 14.08.2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 15738
565. NoNamePub
22. helmikuuta 2011 klo 23:54 (GMT)
Geoffrey -
I don't even have AC since my move....
WEIRD coming from S. Fla
Member Since: 13.07.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 518
564. flsky
22. helmikuuta 2011 klo 23:46 (GMT)
Quoting AussieStorm:
Tornado spawned by TC Carlos

All I can say is, what idiots!
Member Since: 24.10.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1737
563. GeoffreyWPB
22. helmikuuta 2011 klo 23:43 (GMT)
My last electric bill was $90! Those days will quickly be coming to an end.

For West Palm Beach:

Member Since: 10.09.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10589
562. AussieStorm
22. helmikuuta 2011 klo 23:41 (GMT)
Here is a link to ABC News 24(LIVE), no geo block
Member Since: 30.09.2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15750
561. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
22. helmikuuta 2011 klo 23:35 (GMT)
got eight out of nine now last one bottom right not showing
Member Since: 15.07.2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52383
560. AussieStorm
22. helmikuuta 2011 klo 23:30 (GMT)
Tornado spawned by TC Carlos
Member Since: 30.09.2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15750
559. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
22. helmikuuta 2011 klo 23:23 (GMT)
Quoting Orcasystems:


7 out of 8?
Did you have it set to display the full rage (9 cam setting)
Boy did they ever change our week long forecast... went from Spring back to Darkest Winter in a hurry:(
i will go back try again it loaded kinda slow first time had to download active x ie add on but i will check again give me a minute

o by the way remember winter started at your place so it would only be right to end at your place:)
Member Since: 15.07.2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52383
558. Orcasystems
22. helmikuuta 2011 klo 23:19 (GMT)
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
talking about a place in the trees i checked out the cams they look good nice and clear 7 out of eight are working

by the way u need an underwater cam so i can watch the water freeze from below:)


7 out of 8?
Did you have it set to display the full range (9 cam setting)
Boy did they ever change our week long forecast... went from Spring back to Darkest Winter in a hurry:(
Member Since: 1.10.2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26493

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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.

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