Wet winter could lead to increased flooding this spring

Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 4:35 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) -- Eventually, spring will come to the Northland, and with it, the potential for a lot of spring flooding, thanks to our heavy, wet winter.

“So most of the Northland has an above normal chance of flooding, though the flooding that we could see is going to be driven by the weather we see over the next six to eight weeks,” Joe Moore, with the National Weather Service Duluth, said. “Drier weather could mean a reduced amount of flooding. If we have a really wet pattern like we had last April, that can mean an increased chance of flooding.”

Moore said there are several factors that could impact flooding totals.

“It’s not just the amount of snow. We don’t care if it’s that deep or if it’s shallow, but what we care about is how much water is in that snow,” Moore said.

The NWS said in this year’s snowpack, there are 6 to 7 inches of water that, when melted, could increase the chance of flooding.

Some of the most impacted areas could be the North and South Shores, the Upper Mississippi Basin, the St. Louis River and the St. Croix River Valley.

The North Central River Forecast Center (NCRFC) said flooding is a concern because of the potential damage it could cause.

“If the flooding’s bad enough, and spread out, it might cause damage to infrastructure, it could take out some pipes or power lines, it might cause erosions along roads and such, so those are the types of things that we’re watching out for,” Mike Welvaert with the NCRFC said.

How quickly the snow melts is also key to how much flooding could happen.

“If we get a rapid snow melt, temps warm really quickly and the snow melts rapidly, then if we add any additional precipitation on top of that, that’s just going to add more water to the system than the rivers can handle, and that’s the worst case scenario,” Welvaert said.

He said the ideal situation would be mild temperatures in the 30s and 40s during the day, then freezing temperatures overnight, so only a little snow melts at a time as opposed to all at once.

Experts recommend people make sure their sump pumps are working properly and remove as much snow from the outside of their homes to avoid flooding in basements.