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Wet Winters to Cause Spring Flooding
National Weather Service Projects Flood Levels

Wet Winters to Cause Spring Flooding

According to, on average, six inches of old snowpack will melt down to one inch of water. As temperatures rise above freezing, the snow melts and the water flows toward the nearest body of water. When this water reaches streams, rivers and drainage systems, it "can quickly overwhelm them, causing water to rise out of the banks, flooding adjacent land and roads."

As Spring looms on the horizon, the consequences of an extremely wet winter will begin to wash over the country. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), the 2018/2019 winter season ended with total precipitation amounts being above to well above normal across most of the United States. "A large area from central Iowa into southern Minnesota through northeast Wisconsin had observed total amounts upwards of 200 percent of normal."

The California mountains have received much more snow than is usually expected, and the state will soon be facing temperatures in the 80s. Due to a deep snowpack across much of the region, the coming snowmelt will likely cause some rivers to reach levels near or above the flood stage. The NWS reports that confidence is high on widespread minor flooding across the country.

River levels in the Midwest are generally running above normal for this time of year, and the NWS states that they have remained at elevated levels since September. The continuation of cold temperatures across the Midwest has kept ice on several rivers. This has already caused flooding on some rivers through the winter months, keeping levels above normal.

While the National Integrated Drought Information System estimates positive change in the percentage of drought areas in the U.S. due to the recent abundance of precipitation, several regions across the country will experience mild to serious flooding as a result of snowmelt. As can be seen by recent weather conditions, the importance of sustainable landscapes that can absorb flood waters is proving to be vital to the safety and protection of U.S. cities.

To read the NWS's full flood outlook, click HERE.

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February 26, 2020, 9:25 pm PDT

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