As The Snow Pack Increases, So Too, Does The Concern For Flooding This Spring

Wed 2-20-2019

(Spirit Lake)– As the snow pack across the region continues to increase, so too does the concern over the potential for flooding this spring.

Mike Gillespie, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls tells KUOO news based on current conditions, there’s a growing potential for atleast minor to moderate flooding… PlayStop

“We currently are looking at pretty much 10 to 20 inches of snow depth out there. We do have some areas that 25 to 30 inches up across parts of southwest Minnesota. The water equivalent in that snow pack is generally in the two to three inch range. So when that snow melts it’s going to be an equivalent of getting two to three inches of rain over that time period. So that’s a decent amount of water out there in the snow pack. It’s not huge right now, compared to, you know, like record type flooding or anything like that. But, you know, we did have some wet soils, they’ve been frozen pretty deep. We’re looking at 15 to 25 or 30 inches of frost in the soil so that’s going to take awhile to get out, so any rain or additional wet snows or quick melt that we would get over the next couple of months here is going to push those chances even higher to seeing moderate or major flooding as we head through the spring.”

Gillespie adds the long-term outlook for March and April is calling for above normal precipitation which would only complicate matters.

He says the potential for flooding along the Little Sioux River is especially concerning… PlayStop

“Just based on how the river flows, the Little Sioux tends to be more of an issue than what we have on say the Rock or the Floyd across northwest Iowa. The Little Sioux is a little bit bigger, has a bigger drainage area and is a little bit slower to drain out, where the Rock and the Floyd are a little bit quicker to move water downstream. So I would say right now one of the areas to kind of really watch out for would be the Little Sioux from Cherokee up through Spencer and Milford there.”

Gillespie says there are some things people with interests along area rivers should be doing now to be prepared… PlayStop

“If you’ve got something you can move, get it out of there as soon as you can because the chances are pretty high there’s going to be atleast minor flooding this spring. As far as any sandbagging efforts or anything like that, obviously it’s way too early to worry about that or to do anything specific with that kind of thing. Check your insurance policy, see if you need flood insurance and make sure you’ve got that. If you’ve got a house that’s in a flood plain that’s one of the things you really want to look forward to because once the flooding starts it’s a little late to buy the insurance. And I don’t know exactly what the date, the lead time is. I want to say it’s 60 days before a flood insurance policy kicks in. So if you’re in a flood plain, if you’re in that 100 year flood plain, check to see if you’ve got flood insurance. If not, it might be a good idea to start looking into that.”

Gillespie adds high water levels on area lakes will also be cause for concern going into the spring months.

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Story Courtesy of KUOO 103.9 FM