River flooding worries remain high; storm potential late next week

Precipitation and temperatures will be key the next few weeks

flood risk map
Risk of flooding on various points in the region
National Weather Service

The chance of major flooding this spring on some rivers continues to be much higher than normal spring probabilities. Snowfall and the slow thaw continue to be major factors. March 2011 serves as a good comparison of a snowy season with a more normal thaw.

Updated flooding conditions

We continue to see a likelihood of major flooding for many places along the Red, Mississippi and St. Croix rivers. Fargo, N.D., Aitkin, Hastings, Stillwater, Red Wing are just some places where major flooding stage is expected. The probabilities are 3 to 8 times higher than an average spring.

flood risk map
Risk of flooding on various points in the region
National Weather Service

There is still a lot of water stored in the snowpack. Snow water equivalent ranges from 2 to almost 7 inches for many areas across Minnesota.

Water equivalent in the snow pack across Minnesota
National Weather Service

One of the few things working in our favor this year is the lower-than-average frost depth. This is due to the early start of our snowpack season, which works to insulate the ground.

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A lower frost depth is beneficial because it means the ground can start absorbing snow melt sooner with thawing.

frost depth
Current frost depth
National Weather Service

Snowfall, precipitation remain key factors

How severe the flooding becomes will depend on weather conditions the next few weeks. Namely, how fast do we warm up? How much precipitation do we receive?

Despite the desire for warmer weather, we want a slower thaw since March offered little in that respect. We also need a break from the large storm systems. While the next several days look dry, late next week could bring a large storm system with heavy precipitation.

QPF next week
Forecast total precipitation March 30 through April 1 with the next potential larger storm system from numerous computer models
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, via Pivotal Weather

This past week didn’t see widespread, big precipitation events but portions of northern Minnesota did see heavy snow Tuesday night.

snowfall this past week
Snowfall this past week across the region: the Twin Cities was missed but northern Minnesota saw some heavy snow Tuesday night
NOAA, via Pivotal Weather

Of course, it’s been a very wet several months. Large areas from central to northeastern Minnesota have seen double to triple the normal snowfall and precipitation amounts.

seasonal snow
Seasonal snowfall totals so far through Thursday
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The Twin Cities is sitting at the eighth snowiest season at 81.2 inches, just one-tenth of an inch from the No. 7 spot.

In the Twin Cities we still have about 17 inches to get to our No. 1 ranking. Duluth sits at their sixth snowiest season with 125.4 inches. Duluth has a real shot of getting to its No. 1 spot, just 10 inches away.

DLH snow rank
Top seasonal snowfalls for northern Minnesota
National Weather Service