All Weather News

Warm Weather Enhancing Flood Concerns

10 Mar 2014, 11:04 am

You know it’s spring (or almost spring) when you start to see scenes like this one below, out of Montana:


Miles City, MT: Ice Jam Forming/Formed


We’re watching the Musselshell River in Montana, northeast of Billings, reach major flood stage… but this is more of a symptom of the overall change in patterns.

It’s warming… and there is a quite a bit of snow on the ground.


The Musselshell River managed to jump high enough briefly to see record flood levels, and with more warming on the way we could see more major or even record-breaking flooding in other spots around the nation.

Here is a map showing where we’re seeing flooding (in river gauges, at least) as of today:



Thankfully, most areas don’t have little squares/dots over them… but you can see a few areas with reds and pinks overhead.  Those are moderate (red) and major (pink) flood zones, and areas we’re focusing on.

With all of the water left in the snow pack, however, and much more warming to come as we enter spring, there are major causes for concern.  Look at this map showing snow water equivalent, which is basically the amount of water you can expect if you were to melt the snow on the ground right now:



See those pink shaded areas?  Those are regions with potentially 3-6″ or MORE of water within their snow pack.  Very impressive.  Imagine a rain storm coming through and dumping 3-6″ of rainfall over 3+ states.

When you calculate the snow water and future warming, you start to see a possibility of flooding downstream from these snowy locales, and sure enough, a newer map at the National Weather Service shows some of the flooding forecasts for various spots around the nation:


Flood Risk: Any Squares On This Map Indicate 50% Risk Or Greater For Flooding. Orange = Minor, Red = Moderate, Pink = Major


Unfortunately all of the snow water has to go somewhere, and that will end up being in rivers that travel all the way to the Gulf, or at least very far downstream.

The final verdict: Stay aware of flood forecasts in your area if you live somewhere flood-prone, and we’ll keep you as up to date as possible as we get into the heart of the spring flood season.

WeatherNation Meteorologist Aaron Shaffer @ashafferWNTV

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