Friday, March 5, 2010

Red River flooding and weekend update

Well, what a beautiful week it was! A nice, sunny stretch of temperatures around 40 degrees. Just warm enough to crack open a car window to get some fresh air, or take advantage of a peaceful walk. As you have seen from looking outside, we have lost much of our snow pack. Snow lovers fret as they are now on borrowed time to get the most out of their winter activities. Dare we see some patches of dormant grass already? If not for the snow, we may have seen temperatures 10 or 15 degrees warmer this week and borderline shorts weather! Much of the sun energy this time of the year is used to melt the lowest layers of the snow.

It has been very dry month of February across Minnesota with most places seeing less than an inch of precipitation. This has aided in the decrease of widespread flooding concerns across the state.

Change in the air? It looks like our streak of dry days are about to come to an end. The GFS forecast model above is showing some rain moving into the area for Saturday. The pink line, called the "540 line" in the meteorological world, is the rain/snow line. We will stay in the warm sector, so the precip will fall as rain. Some of the roads may become slick as temps will fall below freezing as the sun sets Saturday. Take it easy out there if you must drive. Sunday looks like the better day of the two as the rain moves out of the area and sunshine returns.

The updated spring flooding outlook came out for south central Minnesota and eastern North Dakota from the North Central River Forecast Center. With the lack of precipitation over the last month, the probabilities of major flooding along the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers are low. The exception here is the Mississippi River at Hastings - there's about a 70% chance of the river reaching a flood stage of 18 feet.

That's the good news, now the bad news. Our friends that live along the Red River are still likely to experience severe flooding due significant rainfalls last fall and a greater, and heavier snow pack this winter. The city of Fargo will likely receive the brunt of the flooding as flooding will be imminent within 90 days. There's a greater than 98% chance the the river will crest to major levels at 30 feet. Last week, Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker declared a state of emergency for the city. Citizens should already begin preparations for sandbagging and moving valuables to higher ground. If there is any positive news, the river in Fargo does not appear to reach the 2009 level of 40.84 feet. Only a 30% chance of this happening.

Next week's outlook: The weather pattern becomes more active as we will see rain chances increase Tuesday and into the middle of the week. Temperatures in the mid-40s throughout the week.

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