Metro flooding risk is minimal but in northwest Minnesota, where snow was not expected, the worry has instead been about flooding in the Red River Valley.
Updated: April 23, 2013 - 9:11 AM
Peter Doran is in the landscaping and snow-removal business, but he might also serve as a weather anxiety counselor.
“Everybody’s wintered out, and I can’t blame them,” Doran said Monday, shortly before the latest blast of snow arrived in a seemingly endless winter. “But it doesn’t help anything. You’ve got to enjoy the moment, and take it as it comes.”
Twin Cities residents and motorists may not be so relaxed to find more snow to shovel on their doorsteps Tuesday morning, four days after clearing off 7 inches of mid-April slush.
But this time it really seems there is something to look forward to: the first 60-degree temperatures in five months, expected to arrive Friday and continue through the weekend.
The warmth should melt the latest snow quickly, and the darker landscape should be able to hold heat better, noted assistant state climatologist Pete Boulay. The warmth should also blow the ice cover off many southern Minnesota lakes. The line of ice-free lakes Monday was still about 50 miles south of the metro area.
“We’re next. How long it takes for us to be next, I don’t know,” Boulay said.
In northwest Minnesota, where snow was not expected, the worry has instead been about flooding in the Red River Valley, particularly with the abundance of recent precipitation.
The North Central River Forecast Center released a forecast showing a rise of almost 16 feet, to 32 feet, by next Monday on the Red at Fargo-Moorhead. But the agency won’t predict an actual crest until later this week, which indicates the crest will occur next week. The river has been given a 40 percent chance of reaching the record level it reached in 2009.
Fargo officials have expressed confidence in their ability to handle a crest of that level without significant disruptions.
Upstream, conditions around Wahpeton, N.D., and Breckenridge, Minn., where the Otter Rail and Bois de Sioux rivers meet to form the Red, are not looking as dire as they have recently, said Tom Richels, retired Wilkin County engineer who’s working as a consultant on spring flooding.
The river there is expected to be approaching a crest early next week, when it will be about 8 feet higher than it was Monday morning. It has about an 80 percent chance of reaching a top-five historical level, but, as in Fargo and Moorhead, new dikes and other improvements should help the cities avoid serious problems, Richels said.
Recent cool weather — warm enough to melt snow during the day but cool enough to freeze and stop the meltwater flow at night — has helped the situation, said Richels. Also, much of the frost has thawed out of the soil, allowing meltwater to sink in. Flood forecasters had thought in recent weeks that the ground might stay frozen, forcing meltwater more quickly into waterways.
Back in the metro
Across southern Minnesota, including the metro area, flood risk potential has been low. The new snow is not expected to have much impact on that, said Pedro Restrepo, hydrologist in charge of the Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service.
In the Twin Cities area, 1.1 inches of snow overnight would have made April the snowiest month of this winter. With 7.7 inches, it would tie for the snowiest April ever.
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