NWS Spring Flood Outlook updated 3/9

NWS Drought Monitor for the midwest shows improvement from last November.
Picture of Drought monitor from NWS Spring Flood Outlook Story map.

NWS Spring Flood report shows improvement in drought

The National Weather Service has updated the spring flood outlook to account for changes due to the latest snowfall. First and foremost, drought conditions have been improving over the winter, especially with the last snowfall. This clip shows a map where you can slide the bar across and compare the drought monitor from November last year, to late February this year. Most of the area has seen a one- to two-class improvement; for example, the Nine Mile Creek watershed has gone from “extreme drought” to “abnormally dry”, which means the area is nearly out of the drought.

Frost Depth

Interestingly, the early snowfall kept the ground from freezing as deep as it normally does, in some cases not even freezing completely beneath the snow! This means that once the melt starts up again, a lot of this snow may soak directly into the soil, rather that running off of frozen ground. This will also help the drought situation tremendously.

Above normal outlook for flooding

Map of Minnesota showing Snow Water Equivalent as of February 23, 2023. Much of the state has between 2-4 inches of water contained in the snowpack.
Much of the state has between 2-4 inches of water contained in the snowpack.

Most of our watershed area now has 3-4 inches of Snow Water Equivalent on the ground, due to the latest snowfall. The map at the right shows the snow water equivalent for the whole state, with warmer colors indicating a higher snow water equivalent.

It is hard to predict flooding at this point in the year, because it still depends on how fast the melting occurs and how much more rain or snow we get in the spring. But, with lake, river, stream, and wetland levels being low going into winter, there is more room for runoff there, which could bring the flood threat down.

All told, spring flood outlook is still uncertain thanks to a variety of unknowns, but the latest snow has helped alleviate the drought which is good news.

Read the full details at the NWS Story Map

The next update will be on March 23, 2023.